Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was held below 20 fantasy points for just the second time all season last week. The dynamic rookie was kept under control by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he should bounce right back against the Carolina Panthers in Week 9.
Since the Steelers defense has been living up to its usual high standards this season, Griffin's lackluster showing isn't a major surprise. The Steelers are a veteran group that has faced their fair share of rookie quarterbacks over the years.
In other words, they have a couple tricks up their sleeve for the playmaker, and he wasn't able to dominate like he had in previous weeks. But he'll be better off for it because there's a lot to learn from his experience last week.
Despite the low score, Griffin still leads all fantasy players in scoring with 169 total points. That's one more than Aaron Rodgers, who was drafted in the first round of most leagues, well before owners were even considering the Redskins rookie.
So his scoring average of more than 21 points per game has been a pleasant surprise for owners, who are likely receiving somewhere between amazing and solid value from him depending on where they selected him.
The best thing about Griffin is his ability to make plays with his legs—something he hasn't shied away from after suffering a huge shot earlier in the season. It helps limit the downside of starting him regardless of the matchup.
He gets a Panthers defense that ranks in the middle of the pack of the major defense categories, including yards allowed at just over 340 per game. But after facing the Steelers, it should look like the passing and running lanes are double their actual size.
A lot of comparisons will probably be made throughout the week between Griffin and Cam Newton, who was last year's breakout fantasy star. But while their skill sets are similar, their mental approach is completely different, and that's what should give RG3 the edge over the long term.
He should have the edge on Sunday as well. Expect him to get back above the 20-point barrier after a one-week hiatus, and he'll continue that roll once he returns from his Week 10 bye.
Treat him like an elite fantasy quarterback from here on out even if he has a couple off games. He has too much upside to leave on the bench, even against tough opposing defenses.
Prediction: 21 fantasy points