Friday, June 20, 2014

Fantasy Football Augury, Chapter 10: Washington Potomac River Basin Indigenous People

QB:  One word of advice in this year's fantasy football draft: don't reach for a quarterback.  And the following is a perfect example of why...

There is one mistake many inexperienced fantasy owners make -- the assumption that fantasy football is just like real football.

Here's a clue: It's not.

The most dangerous thing any fantasy football owner can do is look at a player's stats or profile, strike a pose and say "what have you done for me lately?"  (Maybe it happens in the real world, but fantasy football is not the real world.  It's FANTASY.)

This is precisely why I love Robert Griffin III this season.

Most fantasy owners are going to recall a gimpy RGIII in 2013, saddled with a knee brace -- which is akin to a chastity belt for a player like RGIII -- who did not live up to expectations last season.

But let's not forget, even though this banged up version of Griffin missed three games, he still had over 3,200 yards passing and 484 yards rushing (fifth-most among quarterbacks).

Yes, he did disappoint with only 16 passing touchdowns (and no rushing touchdowns).  But who cares?  Fantasy football is not "What have you done for me lately."  Don't get caught in that trap.

The compelling part is this:  fantasy owners have not yet seen a healthy and experienced Robert Griffin III take the field.  But we will this year.

The Redskins have a quarterback-friendly new head coach, a new offensive system and RGIII has got ridiculously talented weapons around him.  I look for him to explode this season and you can get him for bargain basement value.  He is lower-end top tier material that you can get in the middle rounds of the draft.

Do not draft a quarterback early.

RB:  Speaking of top tier talent, Alfred Morris enters his third professional season as a proven, reliable fantasy running back.  I say that while acknowledging Morris rushed for 325 fewer yards and six fewer touchdowns last year.  Still, he had good enough numbers to be a fantasy starter (1,275 yards rushing, seven TDs).

Despite worries last season that Roy Helu would sap touches away from Morris, Helu carried the ball just 62 times, compared to Morris' dominant 276 rushes.  It's doubtful this year that Helu will be much more than a situational player.

Bear in mind that Gruden's system isn't as running back friendly as Shanahan's, but Morris is the primary bull in the Redskins' running back stable.  He is worthy of a top tier ranking, especially with an improved passing game.  And improved it will be...

WR:  Pierre Garcon had an outstanding season in 2013.  He was tied for most targets in the league (181) and had the most receptions in the league (113).  He also had the eighth-most receiving yards.  All with a beat up quarterback.

It is scary to think what Garcon will do with a healthy RGIII.  But let's keep everything in check here.  While Garcon will have another big year, he drops to the upper level of the second tier because he's got company (and competition) for the ball now.

This offseason, the Redskins pulled off perhaps the best free agent acquisition of the past five years.  Not only did they get a terrific wide receiver in DeSean Jackson, they got him from a divisional rival.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly called cutting Jackson a "football decision," but this notion is laughable.   Coaches do not cut the best receiver on their team in the prime of his career because it is a solid football decision.

It bears mentioning that Jackson was the first receiver under the age of 30, coming off a 1,300+ yard season, to be cut from a team.


In NFL history.

I rest my case.

Jackson had the best season of his six year career in 2013, posting the ninth-most receiving yards in the league (14 yards behind his new teammate, Garcon) and nine touchdowns.  The thought of Jackson and Garcon on the field together should make NFC East defensive coordinators shudder and it should make fantasy owners rub their hands in giddy anticipation.

Jackson is an upper-level second tier receiver, just like Garcon.

TE:  Another player to keep a fantasy eye on is tight end Jordan Reed.  In his rookie season, he was one yard shy of 500 yards receiving although he played in just nine games.  He was eventually placed on IR related to concussion-like symptoms (he actually suffered two last year, but didn't tell anyone about the first), which is the one big red flag I have waving high above his name.

As long as he stays healthy, he could be a top tier prospect in Gruden's new system.  Because of his brain being rattled around I would draft with caution, but he's got a ton of potential.