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Fantasy Football Preview: Washington Redskins 2010

Fantasy Football SpinCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2010

ASHURN, VA - APRIL 6:  Mike Shanahan, head coach of the Washington Redskins, answers questions during a press conference introducing Donovan McNabb to the media on April 6, 2010 at Redskin Park in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

This is the final installment of our fantasy football preview of the NFC East.  Check out the previews of the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys right here the Bleacher Report or at www.ffspin.com.

The Jim Zorn era couldn’t end soon enough for Hogs fans. Enter NFL coaching legend Mike Shanahan, who has the unenviable task of turning around Daniel Snyder’s mess. The first order of business - upgrade the QB position.

The Skins new front office accomplished this by trading the 37th pick in the 2010 draft, plus a conditional 3rd or 4th rounder in 2011, for the 33 year old signal caller Donovan McNabb.  Since 2005, McNabb has missed 17 games due to injury, but was a top 10 fantasy option when on the field. With the new Shanahan/McNabb union, comparisons between the former Eagle star and John Elway have become popular.

Those comparisons are silly considering McNabb is not a very accurate QB and has never been one to come up big in the most important games or lead his team on game winning drives. But, McNabb is an upgrade over Jason Campbell and is about as familiar with the West Coast offense as a quarterback can be.

Shanahan has inherited a shaky O-line, which yielded 46 sacks in 2009. The second order of business – upgrade the tackles so that their new, high-priced QB won’t get killed.   Mission accomplished. The massive Trent Williams was selected at #4 overall in this year’s draft and should man the left side from day one.

The Redskins weren’t finished there as they acquired former Pro Bowler Jamaal Brown, with plans of inserting him into the starting right tackle position. These acquisitions give the Skins flexibility to move players around and should have positive a positive impact all along the line.

The pass catchers are an area that remain in need of help. The receiving corps lacks a true No. 1 WR considering Santana Moss led the team in 2009 with 900 yards and only 3 touchdowns. The Redskins are one of a handful of teams rumored to be pursuing a trade for San Diego’s pro bowl receiver Vincent Jackson, which would be a major upgrade to their entire offense.

The one true bright spot for the offense coming into 2010 is the presence of two above average tight ends in Chris Cooley and Fred Davis – each could be worthy of starting in fantasy leagues. Cooley is rumored to be learning some of the receiver routes in OTAs, and that could make him a steal on draft day since some owners are going to avoid Cooley for fear that two active tight ends in DC are one too many.  Remember, however, that Shanahan loves to use his TEs.

The Redskin running game was even worse than the mediocre passing attack in 2009.  Washington finished last season ranked 27th in the NFL, averaging only 94 yards per game on the ground. Clinton Portis, aside from admittedly being a bad teammate and not giving full effort, battled injuries that limited him to only 8 games. Despite that fact, Portis still led the team in rushing with just under 500 yards and 1 touchdown.

The addition of model citizen Larry Johnson and no longer Fast Willie Parker to the running back committee will not likely strike much fear in opposing defenses. None of the running backs on this roster should be selected as anything more than a low end RB3, at least until one emerges as the clear starter and recipient of the majority of the work.

The fact that Dan Snider may be looking to feed his misguided addiction to over the hill big names by signing Brian Westbrook makes the Redskins RBs that much less attractive.

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Stud:  None. The closest thing could be the newly acquired QB Donovan McNabb, and that is only if the Redskins are able to pull off a trade for Vincent Jackson or some other No. 1. As the team is currently constructed, D-Mac will be hard pressed to come close to his stats from his days in the city of brotherly love. The Eagles offense averaged 27 points per game in 2009, while the skins checked in near the bottom of the NFL at 17 points per game.

At 33 years of age, I’m not sure all the Chunky soup on the planet will give him the strength to endure the pounding that he’s likely to sustain from opposing defenses. The high injury risk and lack of a go to receiver make McNabb a fantasy football QB2 in my book - you are likely better off selecting Joe Flacco. or possibly even Matt Stafford.

Dud:   RB Clinton Portis’  fall from greatness was dramatic in 2009. In the two previous seasons he topped 1,200 yards and averaged 10 TDs, making him a low end RB1. The 2009 season saw Portis miss 8 games due to concussion problems as he gained only 500 yards. Most shocking was the touchdown total, a grand total of one. 

The addition of Larry Johnson and Willie Parker will limit Portis’ red zone touches, sapping his value to below that of a fantasy starter.  Its hard to believe that “SouthEast Jerome” is only 28, yet his declining skill set, injury concerns, timeshare situation, and that fact that he is more interested in playing dress up than football, has diminished his fantasy value to a low end RB3 (current ADP at 107 overall -RB43). Now, having bashed him, I do have a caveat. If he emerges in training camp as a player who cares, and it becomes clear that he will see the bulk of the action, he might be a steal. 

Sleeper:   TE Chris Cooley  sustained an ankle injury in week 7 that abruptly ended his 2009 season. Undervalued may be a better term than sleeper here. The Skins don’t have a classic sleeper, but people may dismiss Cooley based on the injury and the presence of Fred Davis.

In the first four weeks of last season, the best white fro in sports averaged 6 catches for 60 yards. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is tight end friendly and recent reports from training camp are that Cooley is lining up all over the field. The junior Shanahan is clearly looking to capitalize on Cooley’s athleticism and versatility.

Fred Davis being in the mix is concerning, but the lack of a true No. 1 WR should make both TE’s top options when Washington enters the red zone. From 2005-2007, Cooley averaged close to 750 yards and 7 touchdowns, which is a similar stat line to what I’m projecting for 2010. His current ADP of 111 overall (TE11) makes him a great value, as I believe the 27 year old Cooley is in line for a bounce back season. 

Note: Santana Moss might be closer to a true Sleeper. Moss should play the Desean Jackson role for McNabb. Now, he is not nearly as good as Jackson, and McNabb may not be hauling it deep quite as much in DC, but I believe Moss will be a quality WR3 this season with upside of being a low end WR2.

See the full version of this article, complete with views from other fantasy football experts at http://www.ffspin.com/?p=2018

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