Washington running back Chris Thompson was carted off the football field on Sunday after suffering a right leg injury against the New Orleans Saints. The team later revealed that he suffered a broken right fibula that will require season-ending surgery. Thompson was the RB11 in PPR formats heading into Week 11. Formerly disappointing rookie Samaje Perine now has a chance to fulfill his potential with Thompson and Rob Kelley out of the equation in Washington.
Washington’s RB BY COMMITTEE
Here is a line of sight of the statistical production of the Washington RBs.
Thompson was the most productive RB as highlighted by his combined fantasy volume. He tallied 112.1 total expected points (EP) before his injury. He was also the most efficient with positive rushing and receiving fantasy points over expectation (FPOE). He was outperforming his volume by a wide margin. Kelley and Perine had a negative rushing FPOE and were minimally involved in the passing game.
Things began to change even before Thompson’s injury. Perine provided a much-needed spark to the Washington running game after receiving a high number of practice snaps with the first team heading into Week 11. He generated 117 rushing yards and one touchdown on 23 attempts. The highly touted NFL rookie was their first RB to gain 100 or more rushing yards since Week 11 of last season.1
Perine is in a prime position to dominate the rushing attempts on early downs, in short yardage situations, and at the goal line. I also believe Washington will also use him more as a receiver out of the backfield. Byron Marshall, whom many suspects will fill the receiving back role, has spent the entire season on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. He was an undrafted free agent out of Oregon in 2016. Marshall recorded 31 carries for 111 rushing yards, a rushing touchdown, and four receptions for 14 yards in four preseason games.
PERINE THE PROSPECT
Perine generated 4,443 yards from scrimmage during his three seasons at the University of Oklahoma. The school’s all-time leading rusher scored 51 total TDs and set the single-game NCAA record for rushing yards (427) against Kansas during his freshman year. Perine averaged 3.3 yards after contact per attempt((per PFF) during his final collegiate season before being selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft.
Perine’s mix of comparables from the Box Score Scout includes players like Eddie Lacy and Alfred Morris, but also disappointing names (David Cobb) and non-prospects. His slow forty combined with dwindling production numbers to give him a very poor score in the RB Success Model. The model may have foreshadowed his inability to quickly dispatch Kelley, but the collegiate timeshare with Joe Mixon was a complicating factor.
Sun-Tzu said that “There is always opportunity in chaos.” The unfortunate injuries to Thompson and Kelley provide Perine an opportunity to finish the season as a solid RB2. Let’s take a brief moment to discuss the Washington offensive line situation.
EVALUATING THE PLAY OF THE REDSKINS OFFENSIVE LINE
Heading into this season the perception was that Washington had one of the top offensive lines in the NFL since they were bringing back all of their starters from a season ago. The offense produced 1,696 rushing yards and 17 TDs in 2016. This season through Week 11 games they produced 1,096 rushing yards and nine rushing TDs.
The Washington running game so far this season has an eerily similar balance between adjusted line yards and open field yards according to Football Outsiders. This translates to the running game not being heavily dependent on either its offensive line or long runs from its backs. Perine generated a 30-yard run during the team’s first scoring drive and was very successful producing yards after contact. This performance for Perine against the Saints was the equivalent of the football light bulb coming on inside his head.
WASHINGTON’S REST OF SEASON SCHEDULE
Washington’s rest-of-season schedule is not ideal, but these matchups are not as intimidating as they were earlier in the season. Perine’s biggest asset for the rest of the season is volume, but he will be TD-dependent against these tough run defenses.
Perine can be viewed as a volume RB2 moving forward. Washington’s offense is productive enough to provide him opportunities to score TDs. They ranked eighth in total yards (3,594), yards per play (5.7), and score points on 37.7 percent of their offensive drives. If Perine happens to be available in your fantasy football league, this is an opportunity worth extinguishing your FAAB dollars on or using your No. 1 waiver wire claim.
- The team’s 156 rushing yards was its second-highest total this season since Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams (229). (back)