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Washington Redskins: 2012 Offseason Breakdown


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WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Stadium : Fed Ex Field (Outside)

Schedule Strength : 18th

Postseason Weather issues : at Cleveland (Week 15), at Philadelphia (Week 16)

Offensive Line Ranking : 26th

Head Coach – Mike Shanahan 

A quarterback in his playing days, Shanahan spent several years in the college coaching ranks before moving up the professional game as an offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. After a handful of seasons in Denver, along with his notorious stint as the Oakland Raiders’ head coach, Shanahan spent time as the offensive coordinator in San Francisco, making him yet another member of the Bill Walsh coaching tree and connecting him to the West Coast offense. Shanahan is most famous for capturing two Super Bowls with John Elway as the Broncos’ head coach in the late 1990s. But in the minds of fantasy football owners, Shanahan is infamous for popularizing the now widely adopted running back by committee. After turning everybody but my grandmother into a 1,000-yard rusher, Shanahan decided, “Why not try it with two running backs?” It should be noted that Shanahan’s version of the West Coast offense is more the traditional sense with a balanced run/pass attack utilizing short-to-intermediate passes to open up the defense.

*Side story - in college as a player, during a practice, Shanahan took a vicious hit, causing his heart to stop for 30 seconds. A devout Catholic priest was even called upon to read Shanahan his last rites. He obviously recovered, but it is a reminder that every day is a gift.

Offensive Coordinator – Kyle Shanahan     

As the son of the head coach, Kyle is literally a replica of his father. This team’s offensive system will follow the history of the elder Shanahan's west coast roots.

QB – Robert Griffin III

Examining the quarterback position over the past 15 years, we find only one rookie quarterback has finished inside the Top 10 in fantasy scoring. It just so happens that was Cam Newton last season. Although Griffin III has a similar skill set, he doesn’t possess near the physical size to be a powerful goal-line threat. With that said, Griffin is a special talent with the brains to be one of the league’s better young gun slingers (he wasn’t drafted No. 2 overall for no reason). We should expect the Shanahans to lean on the running game and ease their rookie quarterback into the pace of the NFL. I’m not willing to hang my season on a rookie signal caller, as Griffin should be viewed as more of a “spot starter” with a player rating of 7.8.

RB – Roy Helu / Tim Hightower

Right off the bat, the first problem we encounter when evaluating any Redskins' running back is the Shanahans, who happen to be the modern day godfathers of the “running back by committee" (the ugliest four words in fantasy football). Last season Tim Hightower was touted as the “lead back” given his veteran status and superior pass blocking (rookies typically struggle with blocking assignments). Hightower would suffer a devastating torn ACL in Week 7, landing him on Injured Reserve and making way for rookie Roy Helu. Taking over the starting job in Week 8, Helu would finish 12th in fantasy scoring amongst all running backs between Weeks 8-15 (he missed Week 16 with ankle and toe issues). Perhaps more surprising, according to Pro Football Focus, Helu finished the season ranked fourth in pass blocking behind only Fred Jackson, Michael Turner and Jason Snelling. Entering 2012 and coming off a season-ending ACL injury, Hightower will be slow to recover, while being much more susceptible to a re-injury. This will open the door even further for Helu, who should emerge as the lead ball carrier by season’s end. All told, Helu deserves a player rating of 8.2 (sleeper?), leaving Hightower with a player rating of 6.0.

WR – Pierre Garcon   

I’m going to be very straight forward and tell you that without preseason, I’m not sure what to expect from Garcon. Based on recent comments, the Shanahans are excited to have Garcon, stating that “He was the best free agent wide receiver available” (must have been after the signing of Vincent Jackson). We do know from time spent with the Indianapolis Colts that Garcon has good speed and size, making him a deep threat and a red zone option. We also know he has questionable body control and below average hands. It should be noted that Garcon will face “shutdown cornerbacks” Joe Haden and Nnamdi Asomugha in the fantasy postseason. I’m always interested in whichever wide receiver will lead his team in targets to become the team’s No. 1 wide receiver.  Reading between the lines, that player should be Garcon. However, due to a rookie quarterback, and the presence of veteran wide receiver Santana Moss (see below), and the difficulty of his fantasy postseason schedule, I’ll stick with a conservative player rating of 7.7.

WR – Santana Moss   

Garcon may be touted as the best pure wide receiver on the roster given his size, youth, strength and speed, however, Moss is a savvy veteran posting decent numbers over the past few seasons despite poor quarterback play (a fluke broken finger last season caused him to miss four games). Few teams are capable of sustaining two fantasy worthy wide receivers, and with Moss slated to receive a secondary role, his offseason player rating should be viewed in the range of 7.3.

TE – Fred Davis   

There are many different interpretations of the West Coast offense, and most will utilize the tight end over the middle as a receiving threat. That is the same system that Shanahan has run for years (think Shannon Sharpe). Last season Davis was on pace to finish in the Top 6 in tight end scoring before testing positive for marijuana and crippling my team after being hit with a four-game suspension in Week 14 (it was tough finding a fantasy tight end in Week 1 of the playoffs, and DeMarco Murray going down on Monday Night Football didn’t help). Playing in a contract year will create added motivation while being a solid red zone option. We must not forget that Chris Cooley is still on the roster along with a rookie quarterback under center. Personally, I still see Davis finishing inside the Top 12, with upside deserving a player rating of 7.9.

D/ST - Washington Redskins   

The Redskins have pieced together a formidable defensive unit with Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher and DeAngelo Hall. The problem is they play in a very tough division with three highly productive offensive teams (New York Giants, Philadelphia, Dallas). This equates to six tough matchups before we even examine their schedule outside the division (at Philadelphia in Week 16). Therefore, the Redskins defense carries a rating of 7.5, meaning we should be able to find a better option.

K – Graham Gano/ Neil Rackers  

At this juncture, we don’t even know for sure who will be the kicker. Neither is recommended.