Washington fans are hoping the Redskins’ performance this preseason is not symbolic of things to come. Kirk Cousins again directed several three-and-outs to start Sunday’s game against the Bengals, coming alive in the second quarter just enough to make Colt McCoy’s fourth quarter efforts worth a victory.
Coach Jay Gruden is as concerned as the fans are about his team’s slow starts, pondering whether a different pre-game meal, hotels, busses, or anything else might help his offense click sooner in the games. One serious difference he is considering is tilting the balance of his scripted game-opening plays toward the run.
And why not? Rob Kelley (ten carries, 57 yards, and a score) and Mack Brown (three carries, 13 yards) moved the ball consistently. Brown has earned a roster spot with Kelly, Chris Thompson (three carries, 9 yards, and a 27-yard reception), and Samaje Perine. Matt Jones is among the others not expected to survive Saturday cuts.
There are not many surprises expected on the receiver selections, but Cousins and new arrival Terrelle Pryor, Sr. need to get more familiar with each other. Pryor snagged one catch on four targets in the Bengals game but had to open himself to a big hit for the completion. Cousins asserts it may be October before they feel comfortable with each other.
Josh Doctson, a popular sleeper candidate, was a late scratch due to a strained hamstring. Gruden sounded perturbed with his young player’s injuries.
Meanwhile, the defense let the opposing team march down the field for a first-possession touchdown drive for the second week in a row. They did shut the Bengals down after that, but they were upset about putting the Redskins offense in the hole right away, as well as several third-and-longs the Bengals were able to convert.
What did we learn?
The Redskins starters don’t look ready, except for Kelly. And maybe Jamison Crowder, who caught two of his three targets for 24 yards. Jordan Reed returned to action for the first time, catching two passes as did his understudy, Vernon Davis.
Nose tackle Phil Taylor will miss the 2017 season after suffering a torn quad. That is a big hole- literally and figuratively- to fill on their front line. Redskins coaches are very happy with their young secondary, but if their pass rush is affected by the loss of Taylor, things could get dicey back there, too.
Slow starts are nothing new for Cousins. Last year, they didn’t stop him from becoming one of five quarterbacks who topped 300 fantasy points. He may need a couple of weeks to get comfortable with Pryor, but he’s still a good bet to be a top-ten fantasy quarterback again. His current QB9 ADP is safe. You could make an argument for reaching to QB7.
But… I have Cousins on my list of potential busts. He almost can’t be horrible, but he could fall into the mid-teens simply because of unfamiliar receivers and head coach Jay Gruden’s play calling. This will be especially true if Rob Kelley and his backups continue to look as good as they have so far.
Pryor is also on my busts list, partially for the same reasons as Cousins. Before Doctson missed two games with a hamstring, I thought he might take the bulk of the long-passing targets. Crowder is the only one of the three to boast off-the-line quickness. I think his ability to get open quickly has a chance to give the incumbent Crowder as many, if not more, targets than the other receivers.
DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Crowder finished as WR 30, 31, and 32 last season. Pryor wound up at 18 as the only option in Cleveland. I am not as high on Doctson’s sleeper status as I was earlier, but he could still be a bargain at his current WR61 ADP. Crowder is coming off the board as a WR30. I would consider reaching for him as high as 20, based on Cousin’s apparent preference for familiarity.
I am not sold on Pryor as a top-notch receiver based on one season in Cleveland. At best, he might wind up in the 20s if Cousins can get on the same page with him early enough. My gut tells me Crowder will be a fantasy surprise while Pryor struggles for a while, winding up near WR30. He is not worth the 13th spot he is enjoying now.
Kelley is a must-draft and may be an even bigger bargain than Crowder. Gruden likes him and already said before the season that he wants to run the ball more. Kelley is sneaking up the draft board, currently at a seventh round RB32. I expect him to go in the fifth round around RB24 and that could still be a bargain. I see the three backups sharing the load while Kelley becomes a workhorse for Washington.
Those other fantasy guys
Jordan Reed is back… for now. He is a top-five value. If you can handcuff him with the reliable Vernon Davis, you have a good tight end plan, except for that bye-week.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins finished last season as the third-highest scoring fantasy kicker, but he is getting little love on fantasy draft boards with an ADP of PK14. He should be on someone’s roster as a top-ten lock.
Washington’s defense has too many questions to be draft worthy. Hold off and see if they have any streaming value down the road.
So… that’s that
Redskins faithful are reeling from a recent report that says their gridiron heroes enjoy the second-lowest home-field advantage in the league. They’ll get over it eventually. Right now, I want to pillage their team for fantasy players.
There are some interesting plays and fantasy stars performing for the uninspiring masses in D.C. Pick them, but check back with us often to make sure they are still worth anything!
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?