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Fantasy focus: Redskins, Cowboys, Ravens oh my

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Fantasy focus: Redskins, Cowboys, Ravens oh my

Earlier this week I posted a few of my pre-preseason fantasy footballtakes on various Redskins with a link to all 15 profiles. In addition to the locals, I wrote up thoughts on theCowboys, Eagles and Ravens.Regardless of one's personal take, beef or sports loathing toward those franchises, they all have star or intriguing players fantasy owners must target or at least monitor. I get that "rooting" for Tony Romo or DeSean Jackson creates an awkward situation for Redskins' fans, put to paraphrase Hyman Roth from Godfather 2,this is the game we've chosen.

Click on each team name for the full monty of profiles, which for each includes quarterbacks (2), running backs (4), wide receivers (4), tight ends (2), a kicker (two in the case of the Redskins) and defensespecial teams. You can also click here for some of my other fantasy football thoughts, podcast style.Since we all love a good sampler course, I served up one profile for each team below...

Washington Redskins-TE Fred Davis.: Based on talent and potential, Davis is a legitmate TE1 with upside rivaling those not named Gronk, Graham and Finley. However he's one failed drug test away from a year-long suspension. Playing on a one-year deal, Davis likely stays on the good behavior path and could easily top the Redskins in receptions. One to watch if you miss out on the high-end options.Dallas Cowboys - RB Felix Jones: Bad news for anyone who typically avoids the Felix Jones hype train: many more people are now on your side. After laboring through the Cowboys' first five games last season, injuries slowed Jones (shocker!) and DeMarco Murray happened. Both are training room regulars so a depth chart is possible, but for now Jones is the other guy and a fantasy reserve.

Philadelphia Eagles-WR Jeremy Maclin: Entered 2011 battling a mystery illness. Ended the season leading the Eagles in receptions. Missed three games or likely would have topped 1,000 yards for the first time as a pro. The safer of the Philly starting receivers and yet his skill set pops. Entering camp healthy should boost Maclin's numbers. Strong second fantasy receiver.

Baltimore Ravens -WR Torrey Smith: The true definition of a home run hitting receiver. Smith blazed onto the scene in Week 3 with five receptions for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Topped the catches and yardage total in Week 10 later. In all other games, went over 80 yards just once. Tremendous potential, especially once he learns how to run routes. Certainly a fun pick and fine as a low-end WR2, better as an all-upside WR3. Ben Standigblogs about the Redskins, Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C.area college basketball scene for CSNwashington. You can reach him by email at bstandig@comcast.net,follow him on Twitter @BenStandigand catch his musingsat the D.C. Sportalist.

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Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott spotted at marijuana dispensary in Seattle

Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott spotted at marijuana dispensary in Seattle

Football players are expected to scout opponents before a game, but Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott scouted much more than that on the team's strip to Seattle.

The Cowboys played the Seattle Seahawks in a preseason game on Thursday in Seattle and Elliott took in a bit of the local scenary. TMZ reported Thursday that Elliott was seen at a Seattle marijuana dispensary hilariously named "Herban Legends" earlier in the day. Elliott was seen on video and even posed for a picture with a fan. He did not appear to buy any items.

Marijuana is legal in Washington state and it is not unusual for tourists to visit local dispensaries even if they do not intend to buy anything. Marijuana is still banned in the NFL, however, and the Cowboys were not thrilled with Elliott's day trip.

"It's just not good," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "That's a part of just really getting the big picture here."

That's the same Jerry Jones who tirelessly defended Greg Hardy last season.

On the field, Elliott looked great. He received high marks (pun intended) for his performance against the Seahawks, rushing for 48 yards on seven carries. He even ran over safety Kam Chancellor on one play, bouncing off the bruising safety with relative ease.

Now he just has to be a bit more careful for how he spends his time off the field.

RELATED: IS STORK AN UPGRADE AT CENTER?

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Redskins will find out if Stork is an upgrade at center

Redskins will find out if Stork is an upgrade at center

Don’t look for newly-acquired Redskins center Bryan Stork to appear in tonight’s preseason game against the Bills. But look for him to move into the picture on the Washington offensive line sooner rather than later.

The Redskins gave up a conditional seventh-round draft pick in order to bring in Stork. After a reported brief flirtation with retirement the 2014 fourth-round pick of the Patriots is set to report to the Redskins, probably sometime this weekend.

The Redskins have been looking to improve the center position all year. They likely would have drafted Alabama center Ryan Kelly in the first round last spring had the Colts not scooped him up a few picks before the Redskins went on the clock. They have tried to convert Spencer Long from guard to center but that seems to be more of a long-term project than immediate help.

They would have been content to go into the season with Kory Lichtensteiger at center, although wary that the 31-year-old could have more health issues after he missed 11 games last year with a neck/shoulder injury. But when Stork became available the Redskins at a low price they jumped at the chance. Even if he isn’t not an upgrade over the incumbent starter—and until the coaches see him working some in the Washington offense they don’t really know—he is at worst a better option as a backup than Long, 2015 seventh-round pick Austin Reiter, or Josh LeRibeus, who was shaky filling in when Lichtensteiger last year.

Again, the price was right for Stork. A seventh-round pick and salaries of $600,000 this year and $690,000 next year, and no guaranteed money for a player who has been the primary starter for a very good team for two years is the very definition of a low-risk move.

But it should be noted that low risk does not mean no risk. Stork has suffered multiple concussions in his first two years in the league. The nightmare scenario would be for Stork to become a starter the team relies on and then suffer from concussions or other injuries.

To be sure, any player can suffer an injury at any time. Sometimes player have issues with concussions or other injuries and learn how to avoid them and stay healthy. Stork’s injury risk may be higher than that of an average player but it’s something the Redskins are willing to live with.

Even if Stork does prove to be a better option at center than Lichtensteiger don’t look for an immediate change to be made. It will take some time for the competition to sort itself out and for Stork to become familiar enough with the offense, protections, line calls, etc. They probably would like to wait four weeks before playing him although an emergency could push him to be ready sooner.

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Redskins vs Bills: 5 things to watch in the preseason game that matters

Redskins vs Bills: 5 things to watch in the preseason game that matters

When the Redskins take on the Bills Friday night (coverage starts at 6:30 CSN) this will be the closest to a regular season game Washington gets before September 12th. It's time for the 'Skins to show up. With starters slated to play a full half, the team will get the opportunity.

  1. Time for Cousins - Kirk Cousins got an unexpected night off last week when Jay Gruden decided to give backup Colt McCoy the start against the Jets. That should not be the case Friday as Gruden has said he expects the starters to go for the first half against the Bills. Cousins, for his part, is ready to take the field. "We want to be sharp, we want to stay healthy. We just want to move the football, convert third downs, stay out on the field and score points, and that really never changes. Whether it’s the preseason, whether it’s a practice session of moving the football, or whether it’s a real game," the QB said on Monday.
  2. Trent & Reed back out there - Arguably the Redskins two best players are set to make their preseason debut Friday night. Trent Williams and Jordan Reed should line up with Cousins and the Redskins offense, and coaches will be watching both. Injury concerns for either player aren't much of a consideration, but it will be interesting to watch as both guys look to get their wind and conditioning.
  3. Improved secondary gets test - The Redskins secondary should absolutely be improved this fall, as playmaker Bashaud Breeland has another year under his belt and 2015 All-Pro Josh Norman joins the squad. That doesn't mean Friday night against the Bills won't present a challenge though. Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor is known to elongate plays with his legs, so the corners will need to stay on their assignments longer than normal. Breeland said earlier in the week that he knows the challenge Taylor presents, and while the 'Skins defense did not gameplan for the Bills like they would against a regular season opponent, the secondary needs to be prepared for Taylor and WR Sammy Watkins.
  4. Will the Stork arrive? -  Scot McCloughan traded for the former Patriots center on Wednesday, and after much consternation, it appears Bryan Stork will report to the Redskins. When he will report remains a question. Stork would not play Friday night, but it will be interesting to see if he arrives on the sideline or waits until the weekend to meet his new team. Stork might help at center, but at least will bring a new level of competition for starter Kory Lichtensteiger. 
  5. Let's get physical - Rex Ryan coaches the Bills. Rex Ryan likes his teams to play very physical, and the Redskins better be ready for that physicality Friday night. Don't forget that beating Buffalo last year put the 'Skins on track for a playoff berth, but also took the Bills off course for an AFC playoff bid. Yes it's preseason, but this game should have some juice early. 

Stay tuned for updates throughout Friday as @JPFinlayCSN will be on scene at FedEx Field early.