Robert Griffin III Is Must-Start Fantasy Commodity Despite Early-Season Issues

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2013

Sep 15, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA;  Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) throws a pass during warmups prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first three weeks of the 2013 NFL season, the Washington Redskins are 0-3, and there are plenty of question marks surrounding star quarterback Robert Griffin III. For those who own RG3 in fantasy football, however, the reality of Griffin's situation makes him a fantasy stud moving forward.

After he suffered a severe knee injury in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks last season, it was unclear if Griffin would be ready for the start of the 2013 campaign. Griffin rehabbed all offseason and missed the entire preseason, but he was able to heal up in time for Week 1.

Because of that, fantasy owners took a chance on RG3 as they remembered what he did as a rookie last season. Not only did RG3 throw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns, but he also rushed for 815 yards and seven more scores on the ground, which made him the league's preeminent dual-threat quarterback.

Most assumed it would take him some time to get his legs under him this season, but fans and fantasy owners alike have already become frustrated. Griffin has attempted just 15 rushes this season, and he is averaging a tick over 20 yards per game on the ground. He has essentially developed into a pocket passer while he waits for his comfort level and confidence to return.

While that may not be ideal, it's no secret that pocket passers can produce from a fantasy perspective. Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are just a few examples of that, so it isn't as if Griffin's value has disappeared. In fact, Griffin is sixth in the league in passing yardage with 975, and he is three-for-three when it comes to 300-yard passing efforts.

Detractors will argue that Griffin's yardage has come during garbage time, and while that may be true, statistics are statistics regardless of how they are produced in fantasy football. Griffin obviously isn't himself despite the gaudy passing numbers, though, and there has been some talk that he should be benched in favor of backup Kirk Cousins.

There are a number of reasons why the Redskins are 0-3, and Griffin's play isn't chief among them. Washington's defense is among the worst in the league against the run and the pass, which has put a great deal of pressure on Griffin and the Redskins offense.

NFL Network's Albert Breer is among those who believe that benching Griffin would make little sense.

It's hard to argue with Breer's assessment since sitting RG3 now would be awful for his psyche, and it would create an unnecessary quarterback controversy. There is no doubt Griffin is a different player right now than he was last year, but it's difficult to justify benching a player who is averaging 325 passing yards and nearly two touchdowns per game.

Besides, the 'Skins aren't nearly as bad as they have played thus far. The roster isn't much different than it was last season, and the only real deviation is that the defense has struggled. With that said, Washington has faced three of the league's most-explosive offenses this year in the form of the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

A reprieve is finally on the horizon as Washington will take on the Oakland Raiders in Week 4. While the Raiders have made some strides on offense thanks to quarterback Terrelle Pryor and running back Darren McFadden starting strong, the Redskins should be able to hold them in check to some degree.

That means Griffin won't necessarily have to throw the ball 40 times, which is something he has been forced to do in each of the first three contests. Even so, Griffin can put up big numbers as he was among the league's most-efficient passers last season. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning torched the Raiders last week as he completed an incredible 86.5 percent of his passes, and Griffin will look to do something similar.

RG3 has a great matchup this week, and then he has a bye in Week 5, which he can use to rest up. With the Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings and Eagles on the schedule in the second half of the season, there will be plenty of opportunities for Griffin to turn in strong fantasy performances moving forward.

Even if Griffin can't replicate his on-field success in terms of wins and losses from last year, he is an elite fantasy quarterback right now, and that will become even clearer as the season progresses.


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