QB Alex Smith – From 2011 to 2017, Smith was one of the best QBs in the league winning games. He went 69-31-1 over this span with a winning record each year. Despite only passing for 4,000 yards (4,042 in 2017) once in his career and never throwing over 26 TDs, Alex won games by not making mistakes (43 Ints over his 102 games). His completion rate has been exceptional in 2016 (67.1) and 2017 (67.5) while setting a career high in yards per pass attempts (8.6) last year. He led the NFL in QB rating (104.7) in 2017. Some of his growth last year can be attributed to more willingness to throw the ball downfield thanks to a hotshot QB sitting behind him on the bench. Over his last 76 games, Alex rushed for 1,672 yards with ten rushing TDs. Last year the Redskins’ QBs passed for 4,093 yards with 26 TDs while also rushing the ball 49 times for 179 yards and four TDs. I do believe Kirk Cousins has more talent, but Smith should fit this offense like a glove. In essence, Washington added a winning QB who produced almost identical stats in 2017 as their production at QB. The big difference in this equation is that the Chiefs had an elite TE and developing speedy WR. I view Alex as backup Fantasy QB with game management skills. He should pass for 4,000 yards with some value in the run game and about league average TDs. His key to his success is a healthy season from Jordan Reed and growth in Josh Doctson.
RB Derrius Guice – Over his last two seasons at LSU, Guice rushed for 2,638 yards with 29 TDs plus 27 catches for 230 yards. His yards per rush (7.6) and yards per catch (11.8) were much more impressive in 2016. Those two stats fell to 5.3 and 6.9 last year. The difference in his last two seasons in college came down to more long runs in 2016. Derrius will attack the line of scrimmage if the play calls for him to be a north/south runner plus run with vision and acceleration to the outside. His burst upfield is sneaky leading to defenders being left in the dust if they fail to take the correct angle on a tackle. Guice creates space and separation with his quick cut and the ability to downshift and up-shift in a matter of a couple of steps. He’ll break many tackles while also taking some unnecessary hits in his quest to finish runs. Derrius has a talent for breaking out of tight quarters when a play looks dead in the water. Last season Washington’s RB ran the ball 352 times for 1,269 yards and seven TDs. Their RBs gained only 3.6 yards per rush with only three runs over 20 yards. Guice is a player who will upgrade the Redskins rushing attack and prove to be a factor at the goal line. His passing catching upside will be limited with Chris Thompson scheduled to be the third-down back. Derrius will handle his responsibilities in pass protection while still adding some value in the passing game. He has relatively low mileage in college. I full expect 275+ touches for 1,300+ yards with a chance at double-digit TDs and more than 20 catches. He projects as RB2 with his best value possible coming late in the season.
Update: 8/3/2018 > Maybe I’m naive or ignorant of the rising draft value of Guice, but the lack of health of Chris Thompson is real. A Fantasy owner needs to keep an open mind when reviewing the backfield in Washington.
Update: 8/11/2018 > Unfortunately for Redskins’ fans, Derrius Guice will miss 2018 with a torn ACL.
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RB Chris Thompson – Thompson played well in 2016 (705 combined yards with 49 catches and five TDs) while being on a higher path last year (704 combined yards with 39 catches and six TDs). A broken leg in Week 11 led to six missed games. Chris doesn’t have the skill to be an early down back, but he can hit on a long run while being electric in the passing game. His best success in the passing game in 2017 came in Week 3 (6/150/1), Week 6 (4/105), and Week 8 (8/76) with each game coming at home. He even hit on a long run in Week 2 vs. the Rams, which led to 106 combined yards with two TDs and three catches. The Redskins’ RBs caught 86 passes for 885 yards and six TDs on 111 targets in 2017. Thompson will see between five to seven touches per game on early downs while having a chance at about four catches per game. Possible 900 combined yards with a handful of TDs and about 65 catches with a full season of games.
Update: 8/3/2018 > Thompson isn’t health heading into August, which paints a lower than expected opportunity over the early part of the season. My sense is that Chris a player to avoid in 2018 adding fuel to the rising value of Derrius Guice.
Update: 8/14/2018 > There still hasn’t been a positive report about Thompson in mid-August. He’s an easy name to be drawn to with Guice out for the season, but he looks like a trap.
RB Samaje Perine – Over three seasons at Oklahoma, Perine rushed for 4,122 yards on 685 carries with 51 TDs. His best year came in his freshman year (1,821 combined yards with 21 TDs and 15 catches) due to splitting touches with Joe Mixon over the last two years. Samaje runs in a similar way as Maurice Jones-Drew where he breaks and sheds tackles at the first and second levels of the defense with an uncanny feel to keep his balance. His best success will come from power while showing sneaky separation speed at the linebacker level when tacklers are trying to get a hand on him. His top gear is well below the top RBs in the league. I don’t think he’ll be dead in the water in the passing game. He caught 40 passes for 321 yards and two TDs in his college career. Most scouts don’t believe in his value on the outside, but I see a player that will win many one-on-one battles in the open field due to his ability to beat up his opponents. In his rookie season, Perine gained 785 combined yards with two TDs and 22 catches on 197 touches. His lack of explosiveness led to one run over 20 yards in his 175 carries. As bad as he may look, Samaje did flash in Week 11 (126 combined yards with one TD and one catch) and Week 12 (130 combined with three catches). In these two games, Perine had 51 combined touches. He’s a must-handcuff to Derrius Guice.
Update: 8/11/18 > Perine should have a great opportunity for touches with Guice out of the year. For now, he’ll compete for Rob Kelley for touches. Over the next three weeks, this situation should be less cloudy.
Update: 8/17/2018 > Samaje Perine flashed on his first and only carry (30 yards) in the Redsskins’ second preseason game, but he suffered an ankle injury. When watching the play again, it appears to be a high-ankle sprain, which tends to kill RBs for multiple weeks. On the positive side, he’ll have 3+ weeks to recover. At this point of the Fantasy draft season, it would tough to commit an early draft pick on Perine even if he does have sneaky upside after the Derrius Guice injury. More a stash player in mid-August.
Rob Kelley (RB) – In 2017, Kelley ended up being a Fantasy bust after a nice season in 2016 (786 combined yards with seven TDs and 12 catches on 180 touches). Last year Rob gained 3.1 yards per rush and 4.5 yards per catch leading to a trip to the IR over the second half of the year. His only game of value in rushing yards came in Week 2 (12/78), but he did score a pair of TDs with short production (14/18/2) in Week 9. In his defense, Kelley suffered a high ankle sprain early in the year plus a rib and knee issue. He came into camp in better shape an effort to gain more playing time. His resume in college is rather boring (1,997 combined yards with 12 TDs and 86 catches on 394 touches) over four seasons at Tulane with short yards per rush (4.0) while flashing more upside than in the passing game (8.5 yards per catch).
Update; 8/14/18 > With Derrius Guice out for the season and Chris Thompson recovering slower than expected for his leg injury in 2017, Kelley has a shot of earning early-down touches or even being a sneaky pass-catching option. His game is built on power, but he has a lot to prove to keep the job all season. Only a late-round flier for me until we have more information for the Redskins coaching staff.
Update: 8/17/2018 > Rob Kelley now becomes the front-runner for early down action for the Redskins, but he didn’t play well this week (seven rushes for 17 yards). Kapri Bibbs didn’t look any better running the ball (five runs for six yards), but he did add value in the passing game (seven catches for 47 yards). For now, I would think of Bibbs as the Chris Thompson insurance.
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WR Jamison Crowder – 2017 was a frustrating season for Fantasy owner who drafted Crowder. He looked poised for a breakout season after catching 67 balls for 847 yards and seven TDs on 99 targets in 2016. Terrelle Pryor ended up being a bust last year, which was another plus for Jamison to have success. In the end, Crowder finished with 66 catches for 789 yards and three TDs in 103 targets to rank 33rd in WR scoring in PPR leagues. Jamison did flash in two games at home midseason (9/123 and 7/141/1). Over his nine games, he caught 47 passes for 640 yards and three TDs on 73 targets, which projected over 16 games would have delivered 84 catches for 1,138 yards and five TDs. He missed one game last year with a hamstring injury. Crowder isn’t a big WR (5’9” and 177 lbs.), so a heavy workload may lead to some injury risk. I expect him to be the top receiving option in this offense, and Alex Smith likes to get the ball out quickly if a play breaks down, which works in Jamison’s favor. Excellent value WR3 with a chance to catch 90+ balls for 1,100+ yards with five to seven TDs. His offseason reports have been positive, and Crowder looks motivated to become a better player.
WR Josh Doctson – Over his last two seasons at TCU, Doctson caught 143 passes for 2,344 yards and 15 TDs. His best season came in his senior year when he caught 78 balls for 1,326 yards and 14 TDs over ten games. Josh did miss three games in 2015 due to a wrist injury. Doctson has excellent quickness with an edge in his route running. He needs to add some strength to help his release in press coverage. His hands have a chance to offer upside while owning plus athletic ability. Josh should add big play and scoring ability in his third year in the league. After watching Doctson in action last year, I didn’t get the feeling he was ready to be an impact player. He showed the ability to get behind a defense and make some tough catches. In 2017, there were too many times where he didn’t create separation downfield while coming up short when asked to win jump balls. On the year, Josh caught 35 passes for 502 yards and six TDs on 78 targets. His catch rate (44.9) needs a huge step forward to become a relevant Fantasy option. Last year he never had over four catches in a game while gaining over 65 yards just once. Washington tried to let him shine over the last two games of the season (23 combined targets), but he couldn’t beat the Broncos (2/61/1) or the Giants (4/37) secondaries on enough plays. Doctson has the making of a 65-catch guy for 1,000 yards with some value in TDs. His price in the early draft season (ADP of 121 in the Fantasy Football World Championships) looks to be a buying opportunity. Buy the talent while expecting an improved opportunity and better success catching the ball.
Update: 8/3/2018 > Only a week into training camp and Doctson already has heel and shoulder injuries. His lack of health may lead to disaster risk on draft day with any more negative news.
WR Paul Richardson – The Redskins thought enough of Richardson after two short seasons in the NFL (21/288/1 and 44/703/6) to sign him to a five-year deal worth $40 million. Last season he scored five TDs over his first seven games highlighted by his success in Week 8 (6/105/2). Paul had four catches or fewer in 14 of his 16 games while averaging only five targets per game. His best value came in the deep passing game (13 catches of 20 yards or more and three catches of 40 yards or longer). His skill set does overlap Josh Doctson while offering lower scoring value in the red zone. More of a coin flip for me while expecting him to fall short of being a starting Fantasy WR in PPR leagues. Possible 50 catches for 750 yards and about five TDs while starting as an outside WR for the Redskins.
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TE Jordan Reed – Reed missed the last nine games of 2017 with a hamstring injury. His season started relatively quiet in Week 1 (5/36) and Week 2 (6/48), but a chest injury cost him Week 3. Over his six games played, Jordan only had success in Week 7 (8/64/2) against the Eagles. The only real positive out of last year was that he didn’t success another concussion injury. Over 26 games in 2015 and 2016, Reed caught 153 passes for 1,538 yards and 17 TDs on 203 targets. His success broken down comes to 5.9 catches for 59 yards and 0.65 TDs per game. Jordan is a top TE when healthy, but he carries the threat of having a career-ending concussion. His injury-riddled season in 2017 knocks his draft value into a much favorable area where a Fantasy owner can buy him as an upside TE2. Alex Smith will throw the ball to the TE highlighted by Travis Kelce’s 307 catches over the last four seasons, and the Redskins will look Reed’s way when he’s on the field. 80-type catch TE who may deliver a couple of short games to Fantasy owners after early exits. I’m interested in him for sure if I’m buying at a discount as Jordan has top-five TE talent. Reed had toes surgery as well in the offseason.
TE Vernon Davis – Some wise guy Fantasy owners believed than a Reed/Davis handcuff should still deliver high value in the Fantasy market in 2017. From Week 3 to Week 10, that theory held true as Vernon caught 29 passes for 447 yards and one TD on 40 targets over seven games. Unfortunately, Davis lost his way over the last six games of the season (ten catches for 121 yards and two TDs on 21 targets) thus leaving Fantasy owners with an empty feeling at TE. Vernon failed to catch over two passes in any of his last six games. Last season the Redskins’ TEs caught 85 passes for 966 yards and six TDs on 120 targets. At age 34, the days of trusting Davis as a playable TE are over.
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