The 2017 NFL regular season has concluded, so it’s time to briefly examine the state of each team’s skill positions for fantasy purposes with an eye towards next season. I will be reviewing each team in the reverse order of the 2017 NFL standings. The next team on the docket:
Washington Redskins (7-9)
Kirk Cousins went for more than 4,000 passing yards for a third straight season, a feat that is all the more impressive considering he lost his top two wideouts from the year prior via free agency (Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson), and presumed top target Jordan Reed spent most 2017 hobbled or on the sidelines. With the 29-year old Cousins eligible for free agency once again after playing 2017 on a one-year franchise tag, the Redskins put the speculation of their (former) franchise quarterback’s future with the team to bed early in the offseason by engineering a trade with Kansas City to bring in Alex Smith (at the expense of a 2018 third-round draft pick and cornerback Kyle Fuller), and promptly signing Smith to a four-year, $94 million contract extension. The aforementioned move makes it a virtual lock that Cousins hits the open market this spring, and there should be no shortage of quarterback-needy suitors (Denver? Arizona? New York Jets?) who are willing to pony up the cash for him that the Redskins weren’t. Wherever Cousins lands, he figures to remain a low-end QB1 in 2018 playing for a team that will likely offer more internal stability than Washington did. Smith on the other hand, put up career numbers in 2017 (finishing as the fantasy QB4) , which fueled speculation the looming presence of first round Patrick Mahomes looking over Smith’s shoulder lit a fire under the 12-year veteran. With a less dynamic supporting cast in Washington than he had in Kansas City, it’s hard to envision Smith carrying 2017’s success into 2018 and beyond, making him more a of a QB2 going into summer fantasy drafts.
Outside of a pair of 100-yard efforts from rookie Samaje Perine, the Redskins rushing offense was nearly non-existent for most the season. Rob Kelley opened 2017 as the Redskins’ backfield starter, though rib, ankle, and knee injuries limited him to 30 rushing yards or less in 6-of-7 games played before landing him on Injured Reserve in November. Chris Thompson was Washington’s most effective back through the season’s first 10 games, as the fifth-year scat back had 16 game pace of 1,286 total yards (80.4 per game) and 9.6 touchdowns before going down with an ankle injury during the Redskins’ Week 11 loss to New Orleans. With Kelley and Thompson both out of the picture, the stage was set for Perine to operate as the Redskins’ workhorse, and while he did put up 256 total yards and a score between Weeks 11 and 12, he battled various nicks and bruises the rest of the way, accumulating just 264 scoreless yards from Week 13 onward. Though his 3.4 yards per carry was underwhelming, Perine likely did enough to show he deserves the first crack for 2018 early-down carries. That said, it’s most likely Thompson will again be the Redskins running back to own in fantasy, though his ceiling should be capped at about 12-14 touches per game, as his diminutive stature (listed at 5-foot-8 and 191 pounds) and proneness to injury makes him a poor fit as a workhorse. Kelley will most likely need to fight for a roster spot this summer, as there isn’t much he can do that Perine cannot do better.