The electrifying NFL debut of Robert Griffin III is likely to be the first in a long line of exceptional performances for the Washington Redskins quarterback. This Sunday won't be indicative of that trend, though.
It would be wise for fantasy owners to bench the dynamic dual-threat No. 2 overall pick at least for this week, because Griffin's numbers should dip in Week 2 against the St. Louis Rams.
This past Sunday, the New Orleans Saints didn't even know what hit them by the time Griffin had hung 40 points on the Superdome scoreboard. Even replacing Curtis Lofton at middle linebacker for Jonathan Vilma didn't soften the blow, as the Saints' new coaching staff looked outclassed at home.
Another new coaching staff led by veteran sideline presence Jeff Fisher will go against Griffin in another indoor atmosphere, but the results will be markedly different.
St. Louis was the very team that traded with Washington to move up to No. 2 in the draft and snag RGIII, and they made the most of one of the picks involved in the trade.
In addition to acquiring free agent cornerback Cortland Finnegan—whom Fisher coached during his tenure with the Tennessee Titans—the Rams used the Skins' 39th overall pick to select Janoris Jenkins. The extremely talented DB had off-field issues at the University of Florida that forced him out of the program and into playing FBS subdivision football at North Alabama.
That humbling experience led to one team taking a chance on him, and Jenkins making the most of the opportunity. Fisher is also the perfect coach for the situation, having a history of taking on talented players with alleged attitude issues. He also played defensive back in the NFL.
Jenkins now starts opposite Finnegan and made a wonderful interception in the red zone against the Detroit Lions in his first start. The Rams picked off 5,000-yard passer Matthew Stafford three times in their Week 1 contest.
To put it mildly, Griffin has a much tougher secondary to match up against, and one which made an elite quarterback prone to mistakes.
The fact that Fisher and Washington head coach Mike Shanahan are good friends also means that two coaches with successful track records will be squaring off, fully knowing each other's tendencies.
A huge chunk of Griffin's 320 passing yards last week also came on an 88 yard pitch-and-catch to No. 1 target Pierre Garcon, who took advantage of a blown coverage by the Saints on third down to generate the game-changing play.
Two-time All-Pro safety Quintin Mikell is not as liable to yield a big play downfield despite the problems Griffin presents with his ability to find receivers deep once a play breaks down.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan also started Griffin off with a lot of conservative, quick-hitting passes to get him comfortable against the Saints.
The last thing both Finnegan and Jenkins do is give much of a cushion. Both corners love to be aggressive and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, and they have outstanding ball and recovery skills to make up ground in a hurry even if the receiver beats the press.
Unless Griffin looks to run more, his fantasy value for this week will be down. This matchup could lend itself to a disappointing day of airtight coverage and multiple turnovers in St. Louis.
RGIII will have a stellar inaugural fantasy season, but his trip to the Edward Jones Dome will be a negative anomaly.