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Redskins Fantasy Preview

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: August 15, 2019, 6:28 pm ET

2018 Stats (Rank)

Total Offense: 4,795 (28th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 28 (28th)
Offensive Plays: 967 (27th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 553 (24th)
Rush Attempts: 414 (14th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 138 (14th)
Unaccounted for Carries: 91 (17th)

Coaching Staff

Jay Gruden is entering his sixth season on the job. The former Bengals’ OC, Gruden went 4-12 in his first season in D.C. and has compiled a mediocre 31-32-1 record since. Gruden’s Redskins made the playoffs in 2015 after winning the NFC East with a 9-7 mark only to lose to the Packers in the Wild Card round. Gruden did an okay job to keep Washington in it right down to the wire last year despite all the team’s injuries, but it’s grown evident he’s in a do-or-die year in 2019 and even admitted to it in the offseason. Gruden is somehow the fifth-longest-tenured coach in the NFC. Gruden is on his third offensive coordinator, having promoted Kevin O’Connell to the position and firing Matt Cavanaugh, who didn’t work out as Sean McVay’s replacement. This will be O’Connell’s first coordinator gig after serving as QBs coach the last two years. Gruden is expected to continue to call his own plays. On defense, the Redskins seemed intent on replacing DC Greg Manusky but ultimately couldn’t find any takers for the job and decided to bring him back for a third season. This is lame-duck staff as a whole if Gruden is unable to turn the Redskins around. Owner Daniel Snyder may have a playoffs-or-bust ultimatum. It’s going to take a whole lot for this Washington team to reach the postseason.

Passing Game

QB: Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy
WR: Josh Doctson, Terry McLaurin
WR: Paul Richardson, Kelvin Harmon
WR: Trey Quinn, Robert Davis
TE: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

The Redskins traded for Alex Smith last offseason, sending CB Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick to the Chiefs for the quarterback. Smith then signed a four-year, $94 million extension through 2022. Smith started the first 10 games of last season before suffering a gruesome spiral fracture to his leg that has his career in serious jeopardy. Just two weeks ago, Smith had the “external fixator” contraption removed from his leg. He’s on the PUP list and obviously is not going to play in 2019, though Smith has yet to give up on his career. If he does play again -- major “if” -- it’s unlikely to be in D.C. after Washington used the No. 15 pick on Haskins in April.

This quarterback situation is the battle to watch in Redskins camp. Haskins is going to be starting sooner than later, but there seems to be a decent chance Keenum gets the Week 1 nod. Keenum had the outlier season of all outlier seasons in 2017 with the Vikings, even putting himself in the MVP conversation, helping lead Minnesota to the NFC title game. The Vikings weren’t buying that Keenum could repeat his performance and let him walk as a free agent, signing ex-Redskin Kirk Cousins. Keenum landed in Denver and unsurprisingly was exposed and reverted to mediocrity. He managed just 20 touchdowns for the Broncos and turned the ball over 16 times, aiding in the firing of coach Vance Joseph and lighting a raging fire under GM John Elway’s seat. The Broncos traded for Joe Flacco this offseason and shipped Keenum to D.C. He’ll be nothing more than a short-term bridge for Haskins and has zero fantasy value.

Haskins was just a one-year starter at Ohio State but earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and finished third in the Heisman voting. He went 13-1 for the Buckeyes, producing a dazzling 50:8 TD:INT mark along with a 69.8% completion rate and 9.14 yards per attempt. Haskins is a statuesque pure pocket passer at 6’3/231 with molasses-slow feet but is tough in the pocket with a strong arm. He needs to be protected, which is a big concern in D.C right now with LT Trent Williams, arguably the Redskins’ best player, holding out and refusing to ever again play for the team due to an inability to trust management and the medical staff. The Redskins are currently trotting ex-Giants mega-bust Ereck Flowers out there at left tackle. Over the long haul, Haskins would do well to carve out a Nick Foles-like career as a big-armed pocket sloth who is willing to take chances. Haskins is highly unlikely to be a fantasy asset early.

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The No. 22 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Doctson has yet to really provide any reason for excitement. Injury-plagued early in his career, Doctson has actually appeared in 31-of-32 games over the last two seasons, but he produced just 44-532-2 a season ago after going 35-502-6 the previous campaign. Doctson had the cards stacked against him production-wise after Smith broke his leg and the Redskins became even more run-heavy with Josh Johnson under center, but Doctson has done nothing at the NFL level to suggest he’s going to develop into a productive starter. Doctson does possess good size at 6’2/202 with long speed and leaping ability, so perhaps the move from conservatives Smith and Johnson to gunslinger types Keenum and Haskins will do Doctson some good. But that’s all we really have to go off, and the Redskins used draft picks on McLaurin and Harmon after declining Doctson’s 2020 option. That would suggest they’re not as committed to Doctson as a starter. He’s just a deep-league late flier.

Signed to a big free-agent deal last March, Richardson was literally on the injury report every week last season before eventually landing on I.R. after seven games. He battled both knee and shoulder issues and needed surgery on the shoulder. Richardson caught just 20 balls in a miserable first year with the Redskins and has mostly become an afterthought. An exciting young talent in Seattle with Russell Wilson, Richardson is almost surely having regrets about his decision to sign in D.C. Richardson will likely make some plays here and there as a deep threat, but this passing game projects to be one of the worst in the league, keeping Richardson well off the fantasy map heading into Week 1. McLaurin could push Richardson for snaps right away. McLaurin was college teammates with Haskins and was taken in the third round of April’s draft. He has decent size at 6’/208 and straight-line wheels after running a 4.35 forty. McLaurin’s main contributions may come on special teams, but he at least has a prior rapport with Haskins.

Mr. Irrelevant as the last pick of the 2018 draft, Quinn is easily the most exciting piece of this wideout group. He appeared in just three games as a rookie due to recurring ankle issues but entered the offseason healthy and has been a favorite topic of Gruden’s at press conferences. According to Gruden, Quinn has the slot receiver job “locked down” as Jamison Crowder’s replacement. A good fit with either Keenum or Haskins as a middle-field safety blanket, Quinn has a legitimate shot to lead Washington in targets and catches if health is on his side this time. Quinn caught 114 balls in his final college season at SMU and had the lowest drop rate among all draft-eligible receivers in last year’s class. Quinn has elite short-area quickness to go with a sure pair of mitts. He’s certainly someone to eye in the latter rounds of PPR drafts.

After missing 10 games in 2017, Reed bounced back to appear in 13 last season, his second-most ever for a season behind his 14 in 2015. But in an offense that struggled to do much of anything through the air and in the red zone, Reed’s two touchdowns were a four-year low. His 84 targets were also a low point in that span if we remove Reed’s six-game 2017. Perhaps the departure of Crowder in the middle of the field will help free up Reed for more looks, but he doesn’t appear to be anything more than a late-round, matchup-specific streamer right now. Reed will need plenty of touchdown luck on his side to reverse that thinking. The Redskins still want to run the ball more than ever with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice.

Running Game

RB: Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine
OL (L-R): Ereck Flowers, Wes Martin, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses

Peterson was on the street as a 33-year-old until about this point last year when Guice blew up his ACL in the Redskins’ preseason opener. Peterson immediately took over as the starter and never looked back, starting all 16 games and making some history with another 1,000-yard season at his advanced age. There’s no question Peterson is slowing down, but he can still get the job done and runs with power, as evidenced by his league-leading 45 missed tackles last year. He single-handedly kept the Redskins in the playoff hunt and was re-signed to a two-year contract. Peterson’s 2019 situation is entirely dependent on how Guice rebounds from his mess of an ACL recovery. Guice tore the ACL last August and required multiple corrective surgeries. But my money is on Peterson opening the year as the lead dog in this backfield. How long Peterson is able to hold onto that job is anybody’s guess, but I much prefer Peterson at his RB4 price tag than Guice at his back-end RB2 rate right now. There’s just no way I’m touching Guice at his price and am unlikely to own him in any leagues. I already have a smattering of Peterson. I’m not particularly high on either player, however, especially if Trent Williams leaves D.C.

Despite all the injury concern surrounding Guice, it’s undeniable that he possesses the biggest upside in this offense. He was a legitimate first-round talent coming out of LSU who slipped to Day 2 because of some off-field stuff. Guice is big and fast at 5’11/225 with 4.45 pre-injury jets. Many were comparing Guice to Ezekiel Elliott coming into the NFL. Guice has (or had) the tools to be a true workhorse at this level. On a positive note, Guice was cleared for the start of training camp 11 months off his ACL tear. His knee then got infected, requiring three additional operations, setting him back in his rehab. It’s fair to wonder just how good of shape Guice is in this summer. It can take running backs and skill players two years to truly return to form. The injury and Guice being stuck in one of the league’s worst offenses has me totally off him in fantasy at his price. And if Trent Williams doesn’t report, this Redskins offensive line becomes one of the ten-worst in the NFL. I’ll let somebody else take Guice at his RB2/3 going rate.

Thompson has missed 12-of-32 games over the last two seasons. In 2017, he was on pace for nearly 1,300 total yards and 10 touchdowns before breaking his leg in Week 11 at the Superdome. Thompson never looked the same last season and battled a months-long ribs issue. He scored one touchdown in Week 1 and never again visited the end zone. Thompson is still just 28 and was previously one of the best change-of-pace backs in the league. If he’s going to get back to that point, health is going to have to cooperate, and the Redskins are going to have to take some serious steps forward on offense. The latter seems unlikely, leaving Thompson on the outskirts of fantasy relevance in the deepest of PPR leagues.

Win Total

The Redskins’ projected win total currently sits at 6.5, the fifth-lowest mark in the league. The juice is also on the under. The Redskins are going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL and will likely be picking near the top of the 2020 draft. With a rookie quarterback taking over sooner than later, the Redskins look like a five- or six-win team at best. They have a mediocre offense and middle-of-the-pack defense that isn’t going to be able to pick up the slack. Gruden will likely be fired at season’s end, if not before then. Washington is in a total rebuild.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.