Can the Redskins Make the Playoffs with Roster turnover at key positions?
The Washington Redskins are coming off of an all around decent season, they finished 8-7-1 and barely missed the playoffs. They enter the season with a Vegas projected win total of 7.5, about the same as the year they had last year. However, this is not the same team.
Losses: P. Garcon, D. Jackson, C. Baker
Additions: T. Pryor, DJ Swearinger, J. Allen(1st round), R. Anderson(2nd round), S. Perine (3rd round)
Breaking down the Washington aerial attack, we can start under center. Kirk Cousins ended last year as the only QB to have thrown a pass for this team, and there’s almost no question it will end the same way this year (barring injury). He’s being paid a pretty penny this season, with no long term commitment to him, so he’s playing for his future too. If you believe in the contract year narrative, he may produce as a top of the line cash-play throughout the year again.
Turnover in the Wide Receiver Core
DeSean Jackson & Pierre Garcon are departing from the nation’s capital and are being replaced by Terrelle Pryor & Josh Doctson. Pryor is an “outside hire” and Doctson is receiving a promotion in this WR Corp. But to analyze the situation they’re stepping into, 214 targets departed between Jackson & Garcon, along with 25 red zone targets. Both of these numbers look mighty juicy for Terrell Pryor. In Pryor’s first season as a WR, he ranked 17th in the NFL in receiving (per Pro Football Focus), and he projects to get much better. He is a dynamic physical specimen who will absorb the bulk of those 214 overall targets and 25 red zone targets, so he will have more than enough opportunity. Josh Doctson has struggled to stay healthy in his young career, but his price will be the at the floor in season-long drafts along with (at least) the early weeks of DFS. He’s not the most reliable player health-wise, but when he imminently gets his snaps on the field, there will be plenty of chances for fantasy production. Jamison Crowder cannot be forgotten in this WR corp, and as the slot WR for the team, his role doesn’t figure to change very much from last year. He saw 99 targets, gained over 800 yards, and found the end zone 7 times (most on the team). Crowder will be an interesting player to target week-to-week in DFS in tournaments when the Washington passing game is in favorable positions. Oh yeah, Jordan Reed might just be the top fantasy option at TE in the NFL. He saw the most red zone targets on the team last year, despite missing 4 games, and without Garcon and Jackson, Cousins will likely focus more on his most talented offensive weapons, like Reed. He’s a stud, and I rank him 1st or 2nd in my TE rankings overall.
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“Fat Rob” has competition in the backfield
Robert Kelley saw the bulk of the carries for this Washington team last year, but I’m going to pump the brakes on him seeing that volume again this year. Samaje Perine was drafted in the middle of this NFL Draft, and in many ways, he is a close replica to Robert Kelley, except he has a higher ceiling than Kelley does. I’m going to be keeping a close eye on this position in the NFL Preseason to monitor Perine’s production levels, because as they rise, so do his chances of starting for this team.
To go into the play calling tendencies for this team a little bit I’ll address their play-caller, Jay Gruden. It’s the same play-caller as they had last year, so I expect much of this data to stay the same. In wins, the Redskins’ splits were 47.7% run to 52.3% pass, and in losses, the splits were 35.2% run to 64.8% pass. They ran the ball 13th most in the league in their wins and the 7th least in their losses. In a season where their division is undoubtedly stronger as a whole than it was last year, the passing numbers overall may drift a bit higher than last year.