HC Mike Shanahan essentially proclaimed his team eliminated from the playoffs following a Week 9 home loss to the Carolina Panthers that dropped the Skins to 3-6. But behind two rookies, QB Robert Griffin III and RB Alfred Morris, Washington won seven straight games to advance to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 season. The Skins became the first team since the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars to reach the playoffs after a 3-6 start.
Offense: QB Robert Griffin III ranked first in rush yards (815), yards per rush (6.8) and yards per scramble (9.6) among quarterbacks with at least 50 rushes last season. His rushes will decline this season, as he recovers from surgery to repair his right ACL and LCL performed on Jan. 9. However, Griffin was on the field more than two weeks ahead of schedule, as the Redskins began their first training camp in on July 25. He will need his arm a lot more this season. While he was deadly accurate throwing the ball, his numbers were pedestrian in terms of fantasy value. He ranked 22nd in yardage (3,200), and T-19 in TD passes (20). The injury could affect his ability to throw on the run and that would not be good. LY, one of the things that made Griffin so dangerous was his ability to throw accurately when outside the pocket. His 60 percent completion rate prior to the injury on those throws was the best in the NFL. Griffin ranked seventh or eighth among quarterbacks in fantasy points in 2012.
RB Alfred Morris was the Redskins MVP down the stretch last season. He finished second in the NFL with 1,613 rush yards this season — the third-most rush yards by a rookie in NFL history — and he did it with big plays. Morris had 55 rushes with gains of 10 or more yards last season, second-most in the NFL behind Adrian Peterson (61). Since the start of 2001, only Peterson LY season and Ricky Williams in 2002 (57) finished a regular season with more 10-yard rushes than Morris in 2012. In the Week 17 showdown with archrival Dallas for the NFC East title, Morris ran for 200 yards (just the fifth Redskin to do so) to break the franchise season mark, a total exceeded by only two rookies in NFL history (Eric Dickerson and George Rogers).
At WR there are plenty of options but no real threats in the fantasy world. Pierre Garcon injured his right foot on an 88-yard touchdown pass from Griffin in the opener LY and was not the same again until Week 12, but he was very productive during those final six straight victories even though he was not 100 percent. Garcon, who was held out of spring practices as he recovered from shoulder surgery, caught 44 passes LY and led Washington with 633 receiving yards. Josh Morgan led the Redskins with 48 catches and could be better this year after having the screws removed that were placed in his right leg during surgery in 2011. Santana Moss was demoted to third receiver and responded by turning a team-high eight of his 41 catches into touchdowns while averaging 14 yards. Big target Leonard Hankerson was a little-used rookie in 2011 before injuring a hip, was Washington’s fourth 500-yard receiver in 2012. After catching 24 passes for 325 yards, TE Fred Davis injured his Achilles tendon in Week 7 against the Giants, ending his season. Davis is a good receiver, but is no more than a fantasy TE2.
Defense: The Skins ranked eighth in fantasy points in 2012 but only 28th in yards allowed (6,043) and T-23 in sacks (32), but a T-3 in interceptions (21) helped this unit to the fantasy top 10. Injuries are already an issue, as DE Adam Carriker and ILB Keenan Robinson will miss significant time. Kicker Kai Forbath was perhaps the biggest surprise of Washington’s season. He beat out veterans Olindo Mare and Josh Brown to replace off-target veteran Billy Cundiff during a Week 6 audition. And set an NFL record hitting his first 17 field-goal attempts, 12 of them from beyond 42 yards.
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Schedule: The Redskins’ 2013 schedule includes six games against teams that had double-digit wins last year and five games against teams that had double-digit losses. The winning percentage of this year’s opponents based on their 2012 record is .498 (the 17th highest in the league). Making the schedule a bit more challenging, four of the six games (Denver, Atlanta, Green Bay and Minnesota) will be played on the road. The other two (San Francisco and Chicago) are home games. RG3 will face the 12th easiest fantasy QB schedule while Alfred Morris will face the fifth toughest fantasy schedule. It may not matter who is at quarterback for the Redskins during the fantasy playoffs, provided they are able to replicate the success they had running the ball last season. Kansas City, Atlanta and Dallas were among the bottom nine-fantasy defenses against RBs.