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2017 Projections: Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins

In this series, I use an internal version of the Projection Machine to explore likely outcomes for offensive players on all 32 NFL teams.

The Projection Machine employs a top-down approach that builds on team-wide assumptions to develop expectations of offensive output. I will use staff averages to help guide the inputs underlying the projections. Check out this article for further information on the process used by the RotoViz team. All 2017 Washington Redskins projections are based on PPR scoring.

The Redskins won eight games in 2016. Pythagorean win percentage and Vegas expect a similar outcome in the coming season. As a result, the team is projected with a slight increase in scoring margin. It will operate an average pace and is expected to favor the pass. Given these assumptions, the Projection Machine forecasts 562 passing and 426 rushing attempts.

Scoring Margin Pass Tendency Pace Tendency
League 75th percentile 1.00 0.02 0.85
League 50th percentile -1.25 -0.01 -0.85
League 25th percentile -3.75 -0.04 -2.70
Redskins 2015 0.00 0.00 -1.00
Redskins 2016 -2.00 0.04 -0.75
Redskins 2017 (Projection) -1.50 0.06 -0.50

Chris Thompson’s ADP Should be Lower

Samaje Perine was expected to win the job as Washington’s starter after being selected in the fourth round of the draft. He doesn’t boast an exceptional profile but when compared to Rob Kelly he’s clearly the superior athlete. A quick trip to Player Profiler illustrates just how horrid a prospect Kelley was coming out of Tulane.

rob kelley

Despite his lackluster profile, Kelley managed to be productive in 2016. He didn’t see significant volume until Week 8 but averaged 13 points per contest after becoming the team’s starter. He scored six touchdowns and averaged 4.2 yards per attempt. Still, it seems likely that the more athletic Perine could do more with Washington’s rushing duties than Kelley. However, an underwhelming training camp and preseason fumbles have him stuck firmly in the RB2 role. The RotoViz staff thinks that he could eventually win the job, but when the season starts it will belong entirely to Kelley. As a result, both backs have weak season-long projections.

Kelley is projected with 42 percent of rushes and Perine 28. Both are expected to see four percent of targets and produce with modest efficiency. Kelley is drafted outside of the top-36 running backs, making him a useful option for zero-RB drafters. While he might not be relevant for the entire season, he should see significant work in the first half and can provide you with points while you wait for chaos to ensue.

Chris Thompson will be the team’s receiving and third down back. He projects as the team’s best value and is expected to significantly outplay his RB60 plus ADP. He saw 62 targets last season and finished as the RB28. He’s projected with a rushing share of 14 percent and is expected to see 10 percent of targets. With solid efficiency for an RB3, Thompson makes for a great late-round target.

Kelley, Rob 179 734 5 22 16 118 0 132
Perine, Samaje 120 500 4 22 15 102 0 104
Thompson, Chris 60 274 2 56 42 337 1 122

The staff average projects Kelley for 128 points. With a standard deviation of 26, per the RotoViz Draft Lab, he’s expected to score between 102 and 154 fantasy points. Perine’s projections average 86 points with a standard deviation of 22. Thompsons is placed with 116 points and a standard deviation of 41. His wide range of outcomes speaks to how difficult it is to project Washington’s backfield. There’s a lot of uncertainty, so it’s players should only be drafted when they are coming at a discount and on teams that can absorb the risk.

It’s a Trap!

Pierre Garcon was targeted 114 times last season and DeSean Jackson 100. With both players departed from Washington it would seem that Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, and Josh Docston are destined for large workloads. While Docston should see an uptick in targets, assuming he’s healthy, Pryor and Crowder may simply inherit the target shares vacated by Garcon and Jackson. In this case, it would be hard for either to crack the top-24.  

Pryor broke out in 2016, translating his 140 targets into a WR19 campaign. This was a remarkable achievement given Cleveland’s poor quarterback play.

pryor aya

If he could produce a top-20 season when catching only 55 percent of targets and playing with a Frankenstein of mediocre quarterbacks, he should crush it in Washington, right? Unfortunately for Pryor, even with an increase in efficiency, the volume just doesn’t seem to be there. The staff projects him with 22 percent of targets and average efficiency. While this could make him a low-end WR2, he’s being drafted as a fringe WR1. Personally, I think he could see a target share increase of three of four percent which would boost his estimated production by thirty or so points. Of course, this is reflected in his standard deviation.

Crowder received 99 targets in 2016. He’s projected with a target share of 19 percent in 2017; a year over year increase of only one percent. As a result, the dramatic step forward that many hope he will take may not be realistic. Doctson’s average projection estimates modest efficiency and 12 percent of targets.

If Jordan Reed, who’s expected to see 18 percent of targets were to get hurt, Pryor and Crowder would see major increases in workload. 

Pruor, Terrelle 124 80 1,000 12.5 6 218
Crowder, Jamison 107 72 914 12.6 5 197
Doctson, Josh 68 38 506 13.4 3 109

With an average projection of 211 points and standard deviation of 27, Pryor is expected to score between 184 and 238 fantasy points.

Crowder is pegged for 197 points and a standard deviation of 20. Doctson is expected to accrue 116 points with a standard deviation of 22.

Tough to Reed

Jordan Reed is a dominant tight end but his struggles with concussions and other ailments are a cause for concern. Since 2014, he’s missed an average of 3.5 games per season but has been a force when on the field. He’s expected to shoulder a substantial workload, 18 percent of targets, with above 75th percentile efficiency for a TE1. If Reed can manage to play a full 16-game season, he could certainly finish as the TE1. In the case of Reed, that’s a big if; magnified even further when one considers similar but safer options in Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen.

reed weeks

Reed, Jordan 100 72 747 10.4 7 188

The staff average projects Reed with 200 fantasy points and a standard deviation of 27.

Captain Kirk

Kirk Cousins finished as the QB8 in 2015 and the QB5 last year. He averaged over 4,500 yards and 27 touchdowns in that time frame. An additional nine rushing touchdowns inflated his production and the RotoViz staff expects his rushing numbers to drop in 2017. Cousins will still accrue yardage while being an efficient passer but the subtraction of these bonus points will push him down quarterback rankings. He’s being appropriately drafted as a fringe starter, based on the staff’s composite projection.

Cosuins, Kirk 562 381 0.68 4,195 26 11 34 102 1 278

Cousins average projection assumes 270 fantasy points with a standard deviation of 13.

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