What DeSean Jackson Signing with Redskins Means for Fantasy Owners in '14

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What DeSean Jackson Signing with Redskins Means for Fantasy Owners in '14
Eugene Tanner

DeSean Jackson might have left the uptempo, attacking Philadelphia Eagles offense, but his deep-threat skills are not going to go to waste for fantasy football owners with the Washington Redskins. If you're a burner, a run-oriented offense is exactly the type you can thrive with.

Jackson and Robert Griffin III owners are in for a treat next season. Pierre Garçon and his touts won't be as nearly excited, but it is a numbers game. There are five weapons to cover—and one dynamic, running quarterback to contain. You cannot double all six of those players. Defenses have only 11 players, of course.

It fits together all so brilliantly.

The threat of the run helps remove a safety from the equation over the top, and Jackson is still going to find himself in a lot of one-on-one situations downfield after signing with the Redskins late Tuesday night, according to NFL insider Adam Schefter.

The Washington Post's Mark Bullock took an in-depth look here at how Jackson can beat single coverage deep. Football nuts will enjoy that blog post, but casual fans should already know what the threat of the run does for the vertical passing game.

The running games in Philly and Washington might be worlds apart in pace, but they are both equally effective.

Where would you slot DeSean Jackson among fantasy wide receivers now?

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Philadelphia had the No. 1 rushing offense in football last season, rushing for 2,566 yards. It led to Jackson posting the best season of his career to the tune of 82 catches for 1,332 yards and a 16.2 average. Among players with as many receptions, only Josh Gordon (18.9) and Calvin Johnson (17.8) averaged more yards per catch than Jackson. That is some company.

A methodical run-oriented team like Washington might not run as many plays or get as many passes off, but Jackson should find himself getting deep in one-on-one coverage a lot. The Redskins didn't lead the league in rushing like Eagles did, but they weren't far behind at No. 5, with 2,164 yards. In fact, Washington was even closer in yards-per-carry (4.8, good for third in the league) to Philly's 5.1.

Tallying this up, you have to figure Jackson will lose some catches and yards—just because of the fewer plays the Redskins likely will run—but he should remain just as effective getting deep and scoring.

Let's make this an early projection of Jackson's 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early DeSean Jackson 2014 Fantasy Projections
G REC YDS AVG TD
2013 16 82 1,332 16.2 9
3YR AVG 14 62 998 16.2 5
2014 PROJ 15 65 1,050 16.2 8

Pro.Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

Also, remember, Jackson was a relative one-man show last season in Philly, because Jeremy Maclin (knee) was out for the year. He will have to share some targets with the likes of Garçon and fellow offseason signee Andre Roberts.

The rough-sketch numbers we pin on Jackson above would put him around the top 10-12 wide receivers in fantasy, just as he was in Philly last year. Let's generally move him from being a borderline No. 1 fantasy receiver to being a very good No. 2. It should still bring him off the board among a team's first five picks, even if it might drop him a round. 

 

RGIII Impact

As much as Jackson's situation shouldn't radically change with the move to Washington, RGIII's certainly is looking golden.

While he will have to deal with a change in head coach with Jay Gruden, new offensive coordinator Sean McVay is a holdover. That gives RGIII some continuity there. The upgrade comes with the weapons now at his disposal.

 

Roberts gives the Redskins a very good slot receiver, and returning go-to man Garçon is coming off a year of surprising health, playing in all 16 games. Tight end Jordan Reed looked like a future star at times as a rookie—thanks in part of McVay as his position coach—and he should prove far more consistent in Year 2.

Where would you slot Robert Griffin III among fantasy quarterbacks now?

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Running back Alfred Morris will still be the focal point of a ground-based attack, of course, but that should be seen as a good thing. You have to move that safety up in the box to respect one of football's most potent rushing attacks.

This certainly lines up as a dynamic set of weapons for Griffin. You can make a case this is a poor man's Peyton Manning-Denver Broncos group. Reed can be the next Julius Thomas, and while neither Garçon is a great excuse for Demaryius Thomas nor Roberts for Wes Welker, Jackson is yards, if not miles, better than Emmanuel Sanders.

This has the makings of a receiving group that can combine for 4,000-plus yards passing. Couple that with a 2,000-yard running game, and the Redskins offense will be a pulsating fantasy beast led by Griffin week to week.

Let's make this an early projection of RGIII's 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early Robert Grifffin III 2014 Fantasy Projections
G COMP ATT YDS TD INT RUSH YDS TD
2013 13 274 456 3,203 16 12 489 0
2YR AVG 14 266 425 3,202 18 9 652 4
2014 PROJ 16 300 500 4,000 25 10 500 4

Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

It might seem like a leap of faith to move RGIII from 3,200 yards to 4,000, but you have to figure if Garçon-Jackson-Roberts-Reed-Morris all stay healthy, it is far more plausible. They will each have to get theirs.

Also, the defenses the Redskins face in the NFC East were ranked 32nd (Dallas Cowboys), 29th (Philadelphia Eagles) and eighth (New York Giants) a year ago. Only the Giants made significant improvements. The Cowboys have no place to go but up, but they will have to do it without DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher—cap casualties, all.

The above rough projections on RGIII would have slotted him as a top-eight quarterback in fantasy football last season. He is going to be drafted after the likes of:

  1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
  2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
  3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
  4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
  5. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
  6. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
  7. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
  8. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Some might also make a case to draft these quarterbacks before RGIII:

  1. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
  2. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
  3. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
  4. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
  5. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

That is one more quarterback than would be a weekly starter in 12-team league.

With his outfitted weapons, RGIII is no fantasy backup in 2014. He is potentially a steal in Round 6 or later. Late-round quarterback fans, take note.

 

Effect on Other Redskins Receivers

I like Pierre Garçon...

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Pierre Garçon

We said above Garçon might be the only player in Washington not doing back flips after the signing of Jackson, but that is only because it muddies the line between who will be RGIII's primary receiving threat. Garçon's targets might conceivably drop with the additions of Jackson and Roberts—not to mention the continued emergence of Reed—but Garçon's effectiveness and efficiency could rise.

The Washington Post's Jason Reid writes Wednesday morning:

Garçon's work immediately becomes easier. Few Redskins players were as mentally drained as Garçon after last season’s 3-13 debacle. The losing was bad enough, and Garçon also was frustrated because he rarely had the opportunity to help the Redskins as much as he envisioned, people in the organization say. The problem? Double coverage.

There's no nice way to put this: Garçon was the only Redskins wide receiver who concerned opponents. He often was covered by the cornerback opposite him and a safety. On deep routes, Garçon almost always was "bracketed." Even if Garcon was not completely double-teamed, a safety usually would move toward Garçon's side of the field.

This is where Jackson's addition is most key. You cannot double Jackson, Garçon, Roberts and Reed, while focusing on stopping Morris in the running game. You are going to run out of defensive players to counter with in a hurry here.

If we assume Garçon takes a dip in quantity with a subtle uptick in quality, let's make this an early projection of his 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early Pierre Garçon 2014 Fantasy Projections
G REC YDS AVG TD
2013 16 113 1,346 11.9 5
3YR AVG 14 76 975 12.8 5
2014 PROJ 14 90 1,080 12.0 8

Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

Garçon is coming off a career year in which he lead the league in receptions (113) and tied for No. 1 in targets (181) with Andre Johnson. Expect the presence of Jackson to cause Garçon's receptions, targets—you don't get fantasy points for those anyway—and yards to decline. His touchdowns can rise, though, as the Redskins offense becomes decidedly more potent and threatening.

Garçon's overall ranking in fantasy circles won't change much in that event. He remains a solid No. 2 fantasy receiver, even if you might be lured to draft Jackson before him now based on the hype of his offseason move from a mediocre quarterback to a potentially elite one.

 

Jordan Reed

The tight end will have a nice backing in the Redskins' new-look offense, because the coordinator, McVay, is the former position coach here. As we said, Reed was already going to be a candidate for a nice bump in his second season.

Having Garçon and Jackson draw the attention of safeties can make Reed a huge threat down the hash marks.

The Post's Reid wrote Wednesday morning:

Reed runs routes so smoothly and finishes them so sharply, he's essentially another highly effective wideout. Now that they have better tools with which to work on deep passing plays, Gruden and McVay plan to fully capitalize on what Reed is capable of doing in the middle of the field.

Let's make this an early projection of his 2014 fantasy football numbers:

Early Jordan Reed 2014 Fantasy Projections
G REC YDS AVG TD
2013 9 45 499 11.1 3
2014 PROJ 14 70 780 11.1 5

Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

We have to admit, those numbers are modest expectations for Reed in his second season. They were reached merely adding the games of a more healthy year. The numbers reflect the relative production his nine-game rookie season would have paced out to for 14 games. He could prove to be far more than that in this dynamic, new-look Redskins offense.

Regardless, Reed is a tight end that was going to be drafted as one of the last starting tight ends in standard fantasy leagues, behind the likes of:

  1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
  2. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
  3. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
  4. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
  5. Rob Gronkowski (knee), New England Patriots
  6. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
  7. Greg Olson, Carolina Panthers

Are you inclined to draft Jordan Reed as a fantasy starter now?

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This ignores the likes of: Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts; Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears; and Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers. Reed has to at least jump that sketchy group now...if you don't want to take the leap of faith that he can penetrate the top five most productive fantasy tight ends going in.

We have a hunch that is where the rising value of Reed will wind up, though, particularly if Gronk isn't 100 percent coming off another serious surgery.

 

Andre Roberts

The Jackson addition slides the former Cardinals slot man into the position for which he is best suited, running the underneath routes. Roberts lost some fantasy steam after Jackson's signing, but it isn't any steam that was yet to be realized. He remains a solid option to round out your fantasy backups.

In fact, if you assume Garçon, Jackson and Reed remain as susceptible to injury as they have been in their young careers, there are going to be weeks where Roberts is a must-start fantasy option. It makes him a very good late-round pick as a reserve fantasy wideout.

Early Andre Roberts 2014 Fantasy Projections
G REC YDS AVG TD
2013 16 43 471 11.0 2
3YR AVG 16 53 605 11.4 3
2014 PROJ 16 55 605 11.0 3

Pro-Football-Reference.com/Eric Mack

Those numbers don't give much draft-day fantasy intrigue to Roberts, but you have to assume some missed games for the trio ahead of him in the Redskins/RGIII pecking order. There are going to be games/weeks Roberts performs like a fantasy starter. Consider him a viable bye-week replacement option.

Would you consider picking Andre Roberts late?

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The sum of the parts will make the Redskins one of the most difficult offenses to stop next season. The front office did a great job dressing up RGIII's targets for what should be a huge third season. Jackson is merely the piece that completes the whole puzzle.

 

 

Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, was the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this past season. He is now an NFL featured writer here. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.

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