Can Robert Griffin III hit the ground running after no preseason and eight months of rehab?
What’s the difference between a good fantasy pickup and a great one? You could say that there are three things: research, planning and luck. The last one is especially prevalent when choosing members from the Washington Redskins roster.
In terms of fantasy value, Redskins players carry with them a great deal of uncertainty.
Will Robert Griffin III be able to repeat his 2012 heroics coming straight from rehab with no preseason? Will Alfred Morris continue to plow through defenders to consistently pick up yards after contact? Will any member of the receiving corps stay healthy and break 1,000 yards?
Nobody yet knows, but that doesn’t stop us from making predictions. Read on for the top six fantasy options in Washington this year, along with some stat projections.
Note: All stat projections are based on a full 16-game season. All 2012 stats via ProFootballReference.com
Everyone is waiting for Hankerson's breakout year.
This year is going to be Leonard Hankerson’s year. That’s been the cry of Redskins fans since the beginning of last year, but the feeling persists that maybe this year will in fact see him fulfill his potential.
Last year, Hankerson started five games and hauled in 38 receptions for 543 yards and three touchdowns. He’s still likely to sit behind Pierre Garcon and Joshua Morgan on the depth chart, and Santana Moss is not to be counted out.
However, Hankerson looked stronger in preseason, with none of the reticence to go over the middle that he showed last year. Now is the time for him to produce when it really matters.
2013 Stat Projection: 49 receptions, 708 yards, four touchdowns.
Joshua Morgan is free of injury and ready to improve his numbers.
Morgan was reliable for Washington last year, but that’s not going to set any fantasy leagues alight. However, John Keim at ESPN.com revealed that he played through most of last year with torn ligaments in his hands and seven screws in his ankle.
Despite this, he had a team-high 48 receptions and emerged as the toughest pass-catcher on the roster. His blocking was impressive and he never shied away from contact. Robert Griffin III’s highlight-reel touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings? Made possible by Morgan’s block on the sideline.
Now that the ligaments are healed and the screws removed, it should equate to more yards after the catch. He’ll be able to get out of his breaks and make quick cuts to evade defenders and eke out extra yards on the play.
He’s already shown himself to be a great possession receiver and an effective option on third down, but now’s the time for him to put up some good numbers, too.
2013 Stat Projection: 57 receptions, 765 yards, four touchdowns.
Fred Davis is looking to return to his 2011 form.
Fred Davis is the original Leonard Hankerson in that Redskins fans have been waiting for him to take the league by the throat, but something always gets in the way.
Whether it’s due to drugs, injuries or ridiculous court cases, Davis is still getting by on potential rather than production. This is evidenced by his franchising last year and his signing of a one-year deal this offseason.
Everyone’s waiting to see what he can really do.
He was on course to break 1,000 yards in 2011 before his four-game suspension. He led the team in receiving yards before going down with an Achilles injury last season.
If he can make it through 2013 with a clean bill of health, there’s a very real chance he’ll rank among the top five tight ends in the league by the time the postseason arrives.
2013 Stat Projection: 52 receptions, 805 yards, five touchdowns.
Pierre Garcon is the No. 1 receiver on the Redskins roster.
Last season, the Redskins went 9-1 with Pierre Garcon in the lineup. That’s a staggering statistic. It’s not all down to Garcon, obviously, but there’s no other receiver on the roster who offers the same combination of speed, strength, power and reliability.
Garcon made catches off inaccurate passes and took them to the house. He stuck his head in tight windows to make catches and took off away from defenders to the end zone. He was physical in his blocking and opened up good lanes for Alfred Morris on the outside.
Garcon is a genuine No. 1 receiver, despite the doubts about his big contract and his health last year. If you’re going to take one receiver from the Redskins in 2013, make sure it’s Garcon.
2013 Stat Projection: 67 receptions, 1,018 yards, six touchdowns.
Robert Griffin III will look to improve on his Rookie of the Year 2012 season.
Everyone is holding their breath until he takes his first hit and gets back up again. Griffin also needs to demonstrate that he can protect himself when he gets out of the pocket.
Furthermore, he needs to show the world he can consistently plant on his surgically repaired knee in a game situation and deliver an accurate ball. Every week.
His ability to recover from his injury has been monumental, so no one is doubting that he can do it. He’s looked sharp in 7-on-7 drills, then again in 11-on-11s. He was also able to further work on his chemistry with Garcon and Davis as they recovered from their own injuries.
Don’t bet against him throwing for 350 yards and four touchdowns in his first real action since that fateful night against Seattle in January.
However, until he’s actively proven himself in a real NFL game, he remains an unknown quantity and fantasy owners will be slightly wary of pulling the trigger.
2013 Stat Projection: 3,782 yards, 24 touchdowns, eight interceptions. 547 yards rushing, four touchdowns.
Alfred Morris is the most consistent and reliable player on the Redskins roster.
Alfred Morris has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone, but the Redskins faithful will hope that he still runs like he has.
The sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic took on the world and won last year, churning out yards almost every time he touched the ball.
The running back situation in Washington has more depth than in previous years, with rookie Chris Thompson joining Morris, Evan Royster and Roy Helu in an already-crowded backfield.
With Niles Paul also putting in some time at fullback, Morris is likely to get much less than his 335 carries of 2012. But that’s also a good thing.
John Keim at ESPN.com noted that Morris “is a better runner than last year,” so it makes sense to keep him fresher and get him some third-down help. Roy Helu will fill that spot, along with offering a dynamic receiving threat.
While it’s true that having Griffin as his quarterback opened up extra holes for Morris to exploit, the patience and vision he displayed while the play developed is something that cannot be taught.
Morris helped Griffin as much as the other way around. Keim noted for The Washington Post that the zone read only accounted for 334 yards of Morris’ 1,613 last year. He’s as effective on uncomplicated running plays as he is when feeding off Griffin’s play-action fakes.
He’s not the fastest running back in the NFL, not by a long shot. However, he’s one of the most consistent and is very difficult to bring down. That means yards every week and makes him the most reliable fantasy option on the team.
2013 Stat Projection: 258 carries, 1,389 yards, 12 touchdowns.