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Projecting the Redskins: Alfred Morris is a Fantasy Landmine

This off-season the RotoViz crew have generated (and are continually updating) projections for all 32 NFL teams using a souped up version of the Projection Machine. These projections are powering some great Apps like the Cheat Sheet Calculator, the Draft Optimizer and the Auction Dominator, and have been fodder for numerous articles. In this article I won’t be covering every player like I did on RotoViz Radio. Instead I’ll be sharing the most interesting (and visual) stats, trends and tendencies that I uncovered while researching the NFC East–along with potential value plays for your upcoming fantasy drafts.  I’ve already covered the Cowboys. Next up: The Washington Redskins.

Familiar Script

It hasn’t been a great pre-season for the Washington Redksins. Since the Texans, Jets and Bills have settled on starting quarterbacks, the Redskins thought this would be a good time to re-ignite the QB controversy that has engulfed their franchise for most of the last two years. Considering new starter Kirk Cousins‘ career marks in AY/A (6.2) and Interception Rate (4.7 percent), it’s hard to be optimistic about his chances as the starter. Also consider that for all of Robert Griffin‘s struggles, he’s never posted a season with an AY/A worse than 6.5 or an interception rate worse than 2.8 percent. I don’t think this will ultimately be a good move for the Redskins offense.

Given their QB situation and suspect defense, this offense is facing a familiar enemy this season: poor game script. Over the last two seasons the Redskins have been absolutely terrible in terms of playing from ahead in games. On any given play they been behind by an average of 6.2 points, better than only the Raiders and Jaguars.

TeamPoint Margin per Play
JAC-7.9
OAK-7.5
WAS-6.2
CHI-5.4
NYJ-5.3
TEN-4.8
TB-4.6
MIN-3.4
ATL-3.1
NYG-2.6
STL-2.5
CLE-2.4
HOU-2.2
NO-1.4
ARI-1.3
MIA-1.3
BUF-1.3
SD-1.2
PIT-1.1
DET-0.7
BAL-0.6
CAR-0.4
IND0.2
DAL0.9
PHI0.9
CIN1.3
KC1.7
GB1.9
NE2.0
SF2.2
SEA3.6
DEN3.7

With uncertainty at QB and defense and with a Vegas Win Total of just 6.5, poor game script is likely to be a fact of life for the Redskins once again in 2015.

Fantasy Takeaways

In regards to Cousins’ fantasy value, I’m not optimistic on Cousins’ chances of holding the job or producing consistently when he has it. But QB maven Joshua Lake thinks Gruden’s system could make him a viable streaming option against poor defenses, so keep him on your Waiver Wire speed dial.

Value At Receiver

The Redskins players I’m most optimistic on are the receivers. I have DeSean Jackson rated as a slight bargain to his ADP, and Justin Winn thinks I’m still too low. The primary reason for optimism for Jackson is that he’s insanely efficient. Check out what he did last year with the same QB turnstile he’ll see this year:

Jackson_AYA_2014

He’s also efficient in all areas of the field, so no concerns about him Switching from the Z to the X WR this year.

Jackson_AYA_Location_2014

Pierre Garcon also looks like a value at his ADP, but for the opposite reason: target volume. Last year was Garcon’s lowest target market share in six years, and the coaching staff has made noise all off-season about getting him more involved. Even to the point of having him switch positions with Jackson. Garcon lacks anything resembling league winning upside, but he should have some viability as a WR3.

At the tight end position, Jordan Reed could present some value this season as well. Reed is being discounted not just due to his offense, but due to past injuries. But given his price–free–the only thing I care about is that he’s healthy right now. For a TE, Reed has been a highly efficient yards producer (7.8 career YPT) but a poor TD producer (2.4% career TD rate); seems like a good fit for a garbage time offense. When healthy Reed should be a top 12 option at the position and only costs a roster spot.

Avoiding Alfred Morris

The area of the Redskins offense that I’m avoiding most is running back, specifically starting RB Alfred Morris. As a two down RB, Morris has the most to lose if the Redskins are playing from behind all year. The counter argument is that this is exactly where Morris found himself last year and he was fine, producing as PPR RB17. But a couple things have changed for Morris since last season. For starters the Redskins drafted Matt Jones in the third Round. Jones profiles as a better pass catching RB than Morris and is likely to cut into his passing game volume–the one positive development in his game under Jay Gruden.

Jones also represents a legitimate threat to Morris’ early down role. That threat is made all the more real by a second factor that has changed for Morris: he’s entering the last year of his rookie contract with the Redskins. If the Redskins are out of the playoff race and Morris doesn’t improve on his 4.1 YPC from last year, there’s a good chance that the Redskins will want to see what they have in their third round rookie, who will be playing on a much cheaper contract in 2016.

Speaking of Morris’ YPC, there’s also this:

Morris_Griffin_Split_2014

Morris average 4.4 YPC with Griffin last season, and just 3.5 YPC without him. And this effect isn’t just limited to 2014. Over his career Morris has averaged 4.7 YPC when playing with Griffin and just 3.7 YPC without him.

Fantasy Takeaways

As a two down runner on a bad team Morris lacks upside and comes with more substantially more risk than last year. I’ll be avoiding him in all drafts unless the value hits me over the head. As for Jones, he’s a worthy late round flyer in redraft and a potential buy low in dynasty given his quiet pre-season, which has slightly lowered his ADP from where it was two months ago.

Want more? Check out my breakdowns on the AFC East (BillsPatriotsDolphins, and Jets) or use the the Projection Machine to generate your own projections in just a few minutes.

 

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