Love of the Redskins Week 1 extended far beyond the DMV and into fantasy football leagues from coast to coast. Everyone loves a sleeper, a bargain, a steal and the burgundy and gold certainly provided that and more with a 40-point performance. As for what it all means going forward...Robert Griffin III Now thats what you call a debut, in both real and fake football where RG3 outscored the likes of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and 27 other starting quarterbacks. Only Atlantas Matt Ryan posted more opening week points than the Griffining wonder. The Heisman trophy winner generally ranked in the 12-14 range on most fantasy football sites so he easily outperformed expectations (were talking those of fantasy pundits and owners, not face painting fans).Griffin made for an upside fantasy draft pick for those owners who missed out on the truly elite options. However, starting him on the road in his pro debut was no doubt risky, which is why only 30 percent of owners did so,according to MyFantasyLeagues.com. Expect that number to rise dramatically even against a Rams defense that intercepted Matthew Stafford three times and held the potent Lions offense without a passing touchdown until the final moments. Does that mean owners should who spent an early round pick on the aforementioned or other passing studs should do the fantasy equivalent of the Seattle Seahawks - sitting the expensive Matt Flynn for the newbie Russell Wilson by benching those veterans for the charismatic rookie? Um, no, in most cases, though over at FFToolbox.com we ranked RG3 ninth this week. Seeing as Michael Vick doesnt figure to light up the scoreboard in Week 2 against the Ravens, owners that drafted one running threat QB to backup another should seriously consider flipping the depth chart, for one week anyway.Alfred Morris Whether they came via Twitter or Facebook, email or just from those bending my ear in casual conversation, questions about how to handle the Redskins backfield in Week 1 ranked very, very high among all fantasy football queries. Considering the location, the Saints being favored and the head scratching scenario the Morris-Roy Helu-Evan Royster troika presented, advising folks to wait a week before using any of the options seemed reasonable.Oops. Well, in fairness to yours truly even the most optimistic fans could not have envisioned a scenario where the Redskins would be in a position to run and run and run after halftime. The Florida Atlantic rookie took advantage and used his physically nimble style to rack up 96 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. His 21 fantasy points tied him with New Englands Stevan Ridley and Detroits Kevin Smith for second among with all running backs. Smith, who averaged 4.8 yards on 13 carries, finished with 91 total yards and two scores. Why does this matter? Because the effort came against theRams That bodes well for Morris, which is one reason why hes moved from uncertain to a top 24 RB play and starter in most formats this week. Yes, that accounts for the Mike Shanahan loves to mess with fantasy players factor. Pierre Garcon Sounds like No. 88 avoided major injury and now its a wait and see approach for this week, though Garcon vowed after the game to play against the Rams. When he lined up against the Saints, the ex-Colt was everything his new team could hope for, especially seeing as the Redskins so desperately needed someone with major YAC (yards after catch) potential.Last season the Rams allowed the eighth most points to fantasy wide outs. While their revamped secondary proved solid against the Lions, dont be shy about using Garcon as a low-end WR2 or flex assuming he starts. Should Garcon sit, Santana Moss figures to increase his so-so Week 1 numbers (3-43) though Aldrick Robinson took over for Garcon and shined. And the restFred Davis didnt seem to catch RG3s gaze much in preseason and that carried over into the opener, but he remains a starting fantasy tight end in 12-team leaguesWhile I wouldnt go out of my way to acquire them, starting Billy Cundiff or the Redskins defense this week isnt a stretch, especially the latter seeing as the Rams just lost their starting center and tackle to injuries. Forward thinking owners will also note the Redskins defense only faces one high-end quarterback (Matt Ryan) over the next five weeks so adding them as a sign-and-stash could work if your regular defense has tougher matchups.
A crazy second period got a little more insane late with a disputed go-ahead goal from Evgeni Malkin. After Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist slid into Philipp Grubauer on the goal, Barry Trotz challenged the play for goalie interference.
The challenge was unsuccessful.
The NHL released an explanation of the call:
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed that the actions of Washington's Daniel Winnik caused Pittsburgh's Patric Hornqvist to contact Grubauer before the puck crossed the goal line. The decision was made in accordance with Note 2 of Rule 78.7 (ii) which states, in part, that the goal on the ice should be allowed because "the attacking Player was pushed, shoved or fouled by a defending Player causing the attacking Player to come into contact with the goalkeeper."
Therefore the original call stands - good goal Pittsburgh Penguins.
You can view the play in the video above.
None of this explanation is incorrect. Winnik trips Hornqvist which causes him to slide into Grubauer. But from my point of view, it's not the trip that's the issue.
As Hornqvist slides into Grubauer, he clearly — and seemingly intentionally — hits and pushes Grubauer's pad with his stick. Unless the rule means that a player can legally do whatever he wants to a goalie so long as he was pushed into him (which we all know is not the case), this goal should have been called back for goalie interference.
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The development of a talent as raw and intriguing as Wizards forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. rarely happens overnight. Usually it's small steps along the way that ultimately add up to a finished product. On Monday afternoon against the Portland Trail Blazers, there were two things Oubre did that may qualify as significant signs of progress.
First, on the offensive end. The Wizards blew out the Blazers after getting off to a scorching hot start in the first quarter. They scored 37 points in the first and 75 in the first half, both season-highs. Oubre helped lead that charge with 10 points of his own in the first quarter on 2-of-3 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 from the line.
He kept it going in the second quarter with a bucket just over a minute in that saw him go around Evan Turner with a crossover. Oubre went right, dribbled behind his back and got to the rim where he finished with contact.
Oubre, 21, has shown this season he can knock down threes, finish on the fastbreak and scrap for putbacks in the lane. But beating a man off the dribble is a sign of young player growing more confident in his ability to put the ball on the floor.
"He's working on it. He knows that's not his greatest strength," guard Bradley Beal said. "Now he's perfecting it a little bit. He's using it to his advantage. He understands that he's knocking down more threes, so teams are going to run him off the line. He knows that he can now use his athleticism to get to the basket versus having to force up a tough one. He's got a pretty good package going for him. His three-ball is falling and he's starting to put it on the floor, which is even better."
Oubre finished with 18 points, just one off of the career-high he set against Bucks on Dec. 10. He finished 5-of-8 from the field, 3-of-4 from three and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. His three threes matched a career-best.
But defense is where Oubre may have taken another step on Monday. Sensing he has a player with unique versatility on the defensive end, head coach Scott Brooks decided to deploy Oubre on Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard in the second quarter.
Oubre helped limit Lillard to just 6-of-17 shooting and his contribution was the product of something Brooks had wanted to experiment with.
"Kelly did a great job of getting in his handle and making sure that he didn't get anything easy when Kelly was guarding him in that second quarter," Brooks said.
"I'm definitely exploring it. I'm just trying to find ways that he can impact the game defensively... when he's locked in, he can guard multiple positions. I've been trying to experiment to throw some more point guard responsibilities on him defensively. Nothing against the other guys. It just gives a bigger player on a scoring point guard. I thought he was really good on Lillard."
With more minutes offered, Oubre has helped improve the Wizards defensively this season. Brooks has often gone with lineups featuring both Oubre and Otto Porter along with John Wall and Beal. He feels those four can easily switch between guarding multiple positions.
This strategy took that to another level. Now Oubre was being asked to guard the smallest and fastest guy on the team.
"I can guard whoever on the court, honestly. That’s how I feel. Whoever they ask me to guard I’m going to guard them, take the challenge and have fun with it," he said. "Just staying down on his pump fakes, making it tough for him, using my length to disturb him and just making sure I keep him in front of me because he’s one of the quickest guards in the league. I think I did a solid job of that."
Oubre won't figure it all out in one afternoon against a struggling team, of course. But his teammates and coaches have pointed out certain times this season where it was obvious to him that he was showing improvement. Monday was one of those times.
"He's steady growing. He's constantly turning into what we want him to be and the kid that we drafted him to be. We just need him to continue to be aggressive," Beal said.
"I think the biggest thing is that he's definitely transitioned with his humility. He's grounded. He's always wanting to get better. He works hard and it's showing on the floor."