Robert Griffin III's scary concussion on Sunday may keep him out of action in Week 6, but fantasy owners who depend on the dynamic Washington Redskins QB should find value in backup third-round pick Kirk Cousins.
In relief duty against the Atlanta Falcons, Cousins played like a rookie at times, but also capitalized on a blown coverage to hit Santana Moss on a 77-yard touchdown pass to put the Redskins briefly on top.
Atlanta is the 27th-ranked rush defense, and it showed when it went up against Washington running Alfred Morris. Where the 'Skins got into trouble was third down, where they converted just one out of nine attempts with a very conservative passing game.
Once Cousins entered, the team was trailing every time he touched the ball, which put Washington in obvious passing situations. The Falcons have one of the best pass defenses in the league, not to mention Ray Edwards and John Abraham to apply pressure on the quarterback.
Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson baited Cousins into his first interception. The QB had to read which receiver Robinson would jump to, and Cousins got greedy trying to go for the further, tighter throw. Robinson easily undercut the route and made the pick.
On his second turnover in as many throws, Cousins was leveled as he hit it, and the ball intended for Moss sailed on him into heavy coverage. He was simply trying to make something happen with all odds stacked against him.
The Minnesota Vikings come to town for a late afternoon showdown, with a slightly more generous secondary but a much more stout run defense.
Head coach Leslie Frazier will likely stuff the box, forcing Cousins to beat the Vikings with his arm.
One positive in an otherwise dismal defensive effort for the Redskins through five games is that their rush defense ranks ninth in the league. They'll need to play like an elite unit squaring off with the likes of Adrian Peterson, who is on pace to eclipse 1,300 yards this season even without a true breakout game.
In all likelihood, Christian Ponder should find plenty of holes in Washington's secondary, and hit a variety of big plays to versatile wide receiver Percy Harvin and down the seam to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Ponder has proven that he can take advantage of defenses keying on Peterson. If Washington gets overzealous against the run, Ponder will burn the Redskins' thin defensive backfield.
Thus, the Redskins are likely to play from behind without the threat of RGIII's mobility under center, which may diminish the opportunities for Morris to break off chunks of yardage on the ground.
Look for Cousins to be aggressive, learn from his mistakes, and utilize his arm talent and structured game plan to prove he can be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback in his own right.
It's not the greatest matchup in the world, but it's likely that quality starting quarterbacks aren't on the waiver wire this week. If Griffin can't go, Cousins is not a bad option at all.
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