2018 Team Preview: Washington Redskins

Alex Silverman takes a look at the fantasy potential of the Washington Redskins.

Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire

Hello again guys! Today your resident NFC East writer is gonna take a stab at outlining the fantasy players who are stuck playing for the Redskins organization. Like my run through the Giants’ fantasy contributors, we’ll start with the team as a whole…

How’s the Team Lookin?

Good, thanks. Same old, same old for the most part. The front office and coaching staff for the ‘Skins remain largely intact, meaning the system shouldn’t be all that much different. However, in addition to a bevy of talented defensive draft picks, the Redskins traded a HAUL consisting of breakout corner Kendall Fuller and their 2018 3rd round pick for QB Alex Smith, replacing the new Minnesota Viking Kirk Cousins. The ‘Skins also went out and signed young receiver Paul Richardson to a hefty 5 year, $40 million contract, so this offense should be quite different, even with the lack of coaching or front office changes, meaning last year’s fantasy contributors can expect fluctuations in their production. With all of that said, let’s start with the team’s new franchise QB…

Alex Smith (QB1)

 Last year saw Smith go from simple game manager to straight BALLER. Behind the league’s 18th best O-line (as ranked by PFF) Smith posted his best season to date: 1st in adjusted yards per attempt, 2nd in deep ball completion percentage, and completing 27 “money” throws, good for 2nd in the league as well. The man has always been an efficient passer, but never to this degree and certainly not downfield. Now, we have to consider how Smith’s new environment will influence his ability to repeat last season’s performance. He’ll throw behind a slightly improved O-line (12th in the NFL), though to receivers that, while still talented, are not named Tyreek Hill, and tight ends not named Travis Kelce. In addition, I would consider Chris Thompson an upgrade from Kareem Hunt in the passing game, and Smith remains in an offense throwing about a league average 60% of the time like he had in KC. All in all, I expect Smith to put up slightly lower numbers than last year, but still produce as a firm QB1.

Chris Thompson (RB2)

The dynamic receiving back’s trouble with injuries has defined his career thus far. Luckily, this preseason his new friend in the backfield Derrius Guice was the one to sustain a season-ending injury and not him. While that obviously doesn’t preclude Thompson from injury, it does, however, put him in line to see an uptick in both carries and receptions this year. It was safe to assume that Thompson would see more targets thanks to the jump from reliable Alex Smith from his former gunslinger Captain Kirk, but now that’s pretty much a sure thing now. Keep in mind, Thompson’s brittle nature will likely keep the coaching staff from giving him 15-20+ touches a game, but averaging 15 touches a game in that offense will be sure to provide RB2 value, and even high-end RB2/low end RB1 value in PPR, even with a regressing TD rate.

Rob Kelley (RB3/4)

There’s been a lot of talk about the man formerly known as “Fat Rob”. Now amicably referred to as “Fit Rob”, Kelley has shown added burst and similar power throughout training camp and the first two preseason games. Do I think he may be building momentum toward starting RB duties? Yes. Do I think it will amount to much of anything with PPR stud Chris Thompson around? No. Kelley profiles as a late round lotto ticket for those seeking boom or bust value from their last picks, and as such sits as a RB3/4.

Samaje Perine (RB3/4)

He was given a shot at full-time, bellcow duties last year, and HE BLEW IT…sort of. He spent all of last year doing nothing particularly bad, but nothing of real note, averaging a relatively poor 4.0yard per touch. I wouldn’t expect him to take back the reigns, even with Guice out for the year (RIP), but if you’re not in PPR and you want to handcuff the rushing side of the backfield, I have no issue using a last or second to last pick on him.

Jamison Crowder (WR2/3)

“The Slot Machine” as I amicably refer to him as had a bit of a rough 2017. Between Kirk’s short game inconsistencies, a near complete lack of red zone targets, and a bit of a drop issue, Crowder posted about 50 yards, 4 TD’s, and 1 rec less than his previous year on 4 more targets. Well, luckily for my favorite Washington receiver, all three of these issues can be easily explained away: 1) Crowder now has accurate Alex Smith tossing the rock to him, 2) He’s one season removed from a healthy 7 TD’s on a slightly lower red zone target share, and 3) Crowder posted only 2 drops all of 2016, lending a bit of credibility to the notion that this season was an anomaly. With his regular target share, decent red zone production, and the oft’ conservative Alex Smith tossing him the ball, you can comfortably draft Crowder as your WR3, and in PPR I dare say even as your WR2.

Paul Richardson (WR3/4)

Ok, this one really left me scratching my head. When I watch Paul Richardson, I see a dynamic receiver making acrobatic catches, doing so with more regularity than his oft’ broken former teammate Tyler Lockett. Now, did I think he would get a 5 year, $40 million contract? NO. GOD NO. BUT, not unlike Jerrick McKinnon, there has to be a reason (other than an inflated market) that the ‘Skins feel ok giving this much money over 5 years to a receiver known primarily for stretching the field. When I dug into the numbers, nothing immediately jumped out at me, aside from a 56% catch rate deflated by nearly 25% of his targets last year being deemed uncatchable, so I’m gonna have to just got on feel here. I think the ‘Skins brought Richardson in to do more than just stretch the field aside fellow burner Josh Doctson, so I’m expecting an increased target share for the speedy 26 year old. However, I feel there’s only room for one fantasy breakout between he and Doctson; as such, I’m casting my vote for Richardson given his better bill of health, placing him as a high upside WR3/4 to be taken at the back end of drafts.

Josh Doctson (WR4/5)

Man does this kid look talented. He’s 6’2″, 205 lbs, runs like a gazelle and has long arms and solid hands. For reference, Alshon Jeffery, whom I LOVE as a 5th round sleeper, by the way, is 6’3″, 215 lbs, with a similar wingspan and what i would consider less burst. If he could just stay healthy, I think he could be the rock for what looks to be a dynamic and consistent Redskins offense. Unfortunately, he’s already dinged up this preseason, and in all likelihood, he will not remain on the field this season, or not log enough to carve out the role he could 100% fill. It’s a shame, but for this reason, I would relegate the young gun to a post-draft flier, and a WR 4/5 unless something were to happen to Richardson.

Jordan Reed (TE1)

Diving into the stats for Jordan Reed would be a true waste of time, as we all know what he is: a talented player with an injury history that would make Gronk blush. That being said, I’ve had Mr. Reed fall in several of the drafts I’ve conducted past his current FantasyPros #90 (TE9) ADP, and if you can snag him, along with a high upside youngin at the end of the draft for when he’s hurt, past round 9 or 10 I’d be game. Be warned though: if you think this is the year Reed remains healthy, then you’re delusional.

Bench Boys

While these players could conceivably see a good volume of touches given the injury-prone nature of many of the Redskins starters, for the time being, they’re still just bench warmers, none of whom outside of Vernon Davis has shown much of any promise or simply haven’t played yet. Trey Quinn and Simmie Cobbs Jr. highlight some young talent that could bubble to the top of the Redskins depth chart with a few untimely injuries, though backup-backup running backs Capri Bibbs and Byron Marshall will likely do nothing for fantasy this year. If backup QB Colt McCoy is starting under center, then the entire team is at risk of losing value, let alone McCoy himself.

The Defense

This could legitimately be a solid streaming defense. The team was middle of the pack in terms of yards allowed last season, but with the additions of impressive rookies Da’Ron Payne, Tim Settle, Troy Apke, and Quin Blanding, the team is flush with new talent that could push a strong defensive line and secondary into the top tier. Keep an eye on how the first couple games of the season go for the ‘Skins on D, as this unit could be the post-draft D for you.

Well, that about covers the multitude of contributors for the ‘Skins. Not a huge amount of top-end value on this team, but if things shake out right we could have 3 legitimate sleepers arise out of this offense and defense. Hopefully, the little bits of info I’ve given you will help you nab the value in these low ADP players. I hope you enjoyed the piece, and see you folks next week when we outline the Cowboys and Super Bowl Champion Eagles’ fantasy contributors. Auf Wiedersehen!

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