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Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Redskins Fantasy Preview

Monday, July 23, 2018


Redskins Offensive Profile Under Jay Gruden

2014-2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 18th, 20th, 7th, 18th
2014-2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 21st, 14th, 27th, 24th
2014-2017 Play Volume Rank: 22nd, 22nd, 21st, 27th
2014-2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 10th, 10th, 2nd, 14th
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 1,207 (15th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 13 (27th)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Alex Smith
RB: Derrius Guice
WR: Jamison Crowder
WR: Paul Richardson
WR: Josh Doctson
TE: Jordan Reed
LT: Trent Williams
LG: Shawn Lauvao
C: Chase Roullier
RG: Brandon Scherff
RT: Morgan Moses


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Passing Game Outlook

Alex Smith arrived from Kansas City in exchange for CB Kendall Fuller and the 78th overall pick before signing a four-year, $94 million extension through 2022, which would be Smith’s age-38 season. The Redskins bought high on Smith after he logged career highs in passing yards (4,042), yards per attempt (8.0), and QB rating (104.7), and was a legitimate 2017 MVP candidate in a Chiefs offense that ranked No. 6 in scoring. Last year’s fantasy QB3, Smith never before finished above QB13 in his 12-year career. The Redskins do have an intriguing assortment of passing-game weapons and more pass-catching depth than last year’s Chiefs, particularly if difference-making TE Jordan Reed can somehow eke out 12 or more games played. Smith’s floor is buoyed by rushing stats; he averaged 22.0 rushing yards and 0.13 rushing TDs per game in five seasons with K.C., good for an additional 2.98 non-passing fantasy points per week. Coaching is also working in Smith’s favor; Jay Gruden oversaw three-straight top-eight QB1 finishes by Kirk Cousins in D.C. after coaching Andy Dalton to ascending QB18 > QB12 > QB5 results in Cincinnati. Smith is a virtual lock for 2017-to-2018 regression and low on “sexy” factor, but I have a hard time ignoring Smith at his 13th- to 15th-round ADP. At very least, he should be a useful streamer in Weeks 1-3 (@ ARZ, vs. IND, vs. GB).

Jamison Crowder enters his contract year as Washington’s locked-in slot receiver after OTA/minicamp reports stated Crowder and Smith showed an impressive in-practice rapport. Despite leading last year’s Skins in targets (103), catches (66), and receiving yards (789), Crowder disappointed due to a painfully slow start in which he averaged 24.8 scoreless yards in the first six games while battling recurring hip and hamstring injuries. Crowder finally found a groove at midseason and was the WR16 in PPR points per game from Weeks 8-17. His production uptick coincided with pass-catching back Chris Thompson’s year-ending leg fracture, however, and Crowder’s final box-score tally especially underwhelmed in the context of Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor, and Thompson’s 23 combined missed games. Reed’s healthy return would be a concern for Crowder, who averaged 3.3 more PPR points per game with Reed out of the lineup over the past three years. With Paul Richardson on board, Josh Doctson tentatively expected to ascend, and Thompson back, Crowder is tough to get excited about as a low-ceiling middle-round pick.

Paul Richardson went to D.C. on a five-year, $40 million pact after setting career highs in targets (80), catches (44), yards (703), and TDs (6) for last year’s Seahawks. Richardson averaged just 1.29 yards per route run – 69th among 93 qualified wide receivers at PFF – and 2.4 yards of separation at target with mediocre Game Speed in Josh Hermsmeyer’s charts. On average, Richardson was targeted 15.1 yards downfield, the NFL’s fifth-longest distance among pass catchers with at least 70 targets. Richardson has a secure role based on the Skins’ monetary commitment and lack of proven perimeter alternatives, but it’s fair to question his fit with Smith, who has never been a tight-window downfield thrower. Even during his 2017 career year, Smith ranked 40th among 41 qualified quarterbacks in Next Gen Stats’ Aggressiveness Rate, which tracks the percentage of passes thrown where a defender is within one yard of the receiver at time of completion or incompletion. Unlikely to command fantasy-relevant volume in Washington, Richardson is a late-round dart much more preferable in best-ball than re-draft leagues.

Josh Doctson returned from a rookie year lost to double Achilles’ tendinitis to appear in all 16 games as a sophomore, struggling to get open (2.2 average separation yards), failing to turn opportunity into production (1.10 yards per route run), and managing a team-worst 44.9% catch rate. 2017 did amount to Doctson’s rookie season, but he came out of TCU older than most prospects and turns 26 later this year. Doctson led the Redskins in red-zone targets (16) and targets inside the ten (7), although those chances will likely wane if Jordan Reed returns as a big factor. First-round receivers who failed to clear 600 yards through their first two years are littered with busts, including Breshad Perriman, Jon Baldwin, David Terrell, Charles Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, A.J. Jenkins, and Laquon Treadwell. Doctson is worth a late-round fantasy stab, but his skill set is a questionable match with Smith, and Doctson has joined a dangerously low-percentage cohort at his position, even if it has been largely due to injury.

Jordan Reed’s 2017 season was essentially ruined before it began, reporting to training camp with a fractured big toe, then twisting his ankle while overcompensating for the toe injury. Reed missed Week 3 with chest and shoulder ailments. He finally seemed out of the woods with an 8/64/2 eruption against the Eagles in Week 7, only to suffer a year-ending hamstring injury in Week 8. Reed underwent offseason “procedures” on both of his big toes and was limited throughout spring practices. The only “good” news was that Reed avoided concussions after suffering six brain injuries previously in his career. Reed’s fantasy outlook is obviously tough to project but very straightforward; he’s finished as the TE2 (2015), TE1 (2016), and TE9 (2017) in PPR points per game over the past three seasons but has missed 35% of 80 possible career games. Reed’s ninth- to tenth-round ADP is the lowest it’s been since his rookie year, lowering the risk for injury-agnostic fantasy drafters willing to gamble on a potential difference maker. When Reed has not played over the past two seasons, 34-year-old backup Vernon Davis has averaged 9.08 PPR points per game, which would have made Davis last year’s overall TE10.

 

Editor's Note: The 2018 Rotoworld Draft Guide provides more than 500 extensive player profiles, tiers, projections, Evan Silva’s Sleepers and Busts and much more. Get the NFL Draft Guide now.

 

Running Game Outlook

Derrius Guice fell to No. 59 in the draft due to nebulous “off-field concerns” despite very-arguably being this year’s second-best running back prospect behind Saquon Barkley and a first-round talent on tape. Guice’s high-velocity, high-effort running style reminds Ezekiel Elliott with 4.49 speed at 5-foot-11, 224. As is the case with almost all LSU backs, Guice’s passing-game experience is limited after managing 32 catches in three college seasons, and Chris Thompson’s presence severely curtails Guice’s receptions ceiling. Guice should have little trouble blowing by Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley for early-down and goal-line/short-yardage work, however, and Washington is capable of fielding a plus run-blocking offensive line if the unit experiences better injury luck; 4-of-5 starters return from a unit that ranked No. 6 in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards in 2016 before last year’s group lost 18 combined games to injury. Guice is a viable third-round pick in non-PPR leagues and a fringe third-/fourth-rounder in PPR.

Chris Thompson was on a tear before fracturing his right fibula last Week 11, averaging career highs in touches (10.3) and total yards (80.4) per game with overall RB9 results in PPR. Washington ranked No. 3 in the NFL in total offense before Thompson’s injury. They ranked No. 30 thereafter due to Thompson’s loss and an injury-ruined line. Although Thompson truly is one of the Skins’ most valuable players, his 2017 efficiency is unsustainable after averaging a wideout-like 13.1 yards per reception and scoring six TDs on only 103 touches (5.8%). Thompson’s previous career averages were 6.8 yards per catch with a 4.1% touchdown rate. Thompson’s 2017 usage was also enhanced by Washington’s anemic rushing attack, forcing Jay Gruden to put more on his passing-down back’s plate; the Skins ranked 30th in yards per carry (3.61) and averaged 3.39 YPC excluding Thompson and Jamison Crowder’s runs. Thompson’s single-digit-round ADP is quite aggressive for a brittle role player destined for box-score regression.

2018 Vegas Win Total

The Redskins’ Win Total opened at 7.0 with -130 odds to the under. Jay Gruden’s 2015 and 2016 Skins both topped seven wins, and last year’s club went 7-9 despite finishing dead last in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost. Working against Washington is this year’s ninth-hardest schedule in Warren Sharp’s ratings, including the NFL’s toughest Weeks 3-17 slate after opening with the beatable Cardinals (away) and Colts (home). The Skins also have the earliest bye (Week 4) in the league. Outside the NFC East, they draw the imposing NFC South and AFC South divisions, plus aforementioned Arizona and Green Bay (home). I think the Redskins are a 6-8 win team and their total was properly set. I’m taking the over because of the superior odds-based payout and hoping they get better injury luck.



Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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