Tier-ing up over RG3's slot among fantasy QBs

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Tier-ing up over RG3's slot among fantasy QBs

With NFL training camps opening for business, it's certainly time to start gearing up for the allimportant business of fantasy football. Or, to phrase it another way for all those in Redskins nation,determining where RG3 goes in fantasy drafts.I suspect in these parts Robert Griffin III's average draft position will be higher than the national average seeing as many locally have come down with a severe case of RGIII-itis (After a season dealing with Rex-Beck syndrome, it's a welcome problem). My take, excerpted below from an article I posted on FFToolbox.com and discussed on this podcast, looks at Griffin and all the fantasy quarterbacks from a tier (and non-burgundy and gold colored glasses) perspective. Essentially after the top 12 options, there is a very shallow pool ofpassers fantasyowners should target as starters in deep leagues or high-end backups with potential for stardom. The Redskins passer is one of them.For a single game, I can imagine selecting the likes of Joe Flacco or Josh Freeman or Ryan Fitzpatrick depending on the matchup for all involved. However, when you consider the potential for greatness - at least on a fantasy level - in 2012, I'll side with RG3's upside over the ordinary upside offered by the suspect bottom half of quarterbacks.The "Tier-ing up over fantasy quarterbacks" intro is below along with the section involving RG3 (plus Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub). Click here to find out which tiers the other 29 starting passers and intriguing backupslanded in...--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Based on the fantasy football calendar, it is now time to get in touch with my feelings, those that involve drafting one player over another, that is. Actually, I'm not much for rankings. As the title of this piece indicates, I'm more of a tier guy.

We can quibble about Tom Brady v. Drew Brees (Brady), Tony Romo v. Matt Ryan (Ryan), Griffin III v. Luck (RGIII) and so on, but in some of those cases we're talking eye of the beholder type differences. As Kramer once noted on Seinfeld, it's all about levels.

Just because, as the FFToolbox rankings currently indicate, Jay Cutler is one spot ahead of Andy Dalton does not mean the two are of comparable value. Brady vs. Brees, yes. An aggressive Cutler vs. a play it closer to the vest Dalton, no. Simply taking the next name on a list, especially when viewing the entire draft board, is not always smart business.

As Mike Tyson once famously said upon hearing before a fight that his opponent had a plan to beat him, Tyson brashly countered that, "everyone has a plan, until they get hit in the mouth." The fantasy football equivalent is stating, as many do, bumper sticker claims of "waiting on QB" or "drafting best available" yet not realizing when adaptability is called for. The best way to put all your strategic components together is tiers.

Unlike Kramer, I actually completed my quarterback levels, err, tiers with all six plus a bonus rainy day grouping listed below. The specific order of each player within said tier is indeed my personal and current preference, but that's certainly not the point of this exercise. Understanding when you can bob and weave and when you have to jab, jab, jab with a needed selection is
Tier 4 Jay Cutler, Robert Griffin III, Matt SchaubThe low-end QB1QB2 market dries up dramatically after these three. Cutler's jerky vibe can be tough to root for, but he played rather well last season and finally, finally has a legitimate WR in his former Broncos' buddy Brandon Marshall. Not ready to declare RGIII another Newton, but his legs make his fantasy floor higher than most and the Redskins receivers are better than projected. His presence speaks more to his dynamic potential than purely 2012 production. Schaub's proven, but is another Andre Johnson injury away from sliding.

Kirk Cousins is excited about Jamison Crowder's growth, Josh Doctson's potential

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Kirk Cousins is excited about Jamison Crowder's growth, Josh Doctson's potential

Kirk Cousins says he's excited about up-and-coming receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson and what they'll add to the Redskins’ offense in 2016.

Cousins expects Crowder, who turns 23 next month, to make a significant jump in his second NFL offseason following a breakout rookie campaign.

“It’s a little bit of confidence and common sense, but when it’s your second year and you caught [that] many passes in your first year, you come in a little more confident and sure of yourself and you know what it means to be a pro now,” Cousins said.

A year ago at this time, Crowder was competing with veteran Andre Roberts for the slot receiver role. This offseason, all of those reps will belong to Crowder, who finished third on the team in catches (59) and receiving yards (604) in 2015.

The chemistry between Cousins and Crowder was apparent during Wednesday's practice, the first session of the spring open to media. On multiple occassions, Cousins completed tough passes to the shifty, 5 foot 8 playmaker as he was in full stride.

“All of that lends itself to taking another step forward,” Cousins added. “He’s a great teammate, smart player, has a natural sense of how to get open, how to run different option routes and choice routes, great natural hands and is really good after the catch pulling away from people. So, just add him of guys who we are excited about being able to throw to.”

The newest addition to that list, of course, is Doctson. Although Doctson, 23, was limited a bit this week due to a sore Achilles’ tendon, Cousins is already well aware of what the TCU product will bring to the Redskins’ offense.

Last season, tight end Jordan Reed was Washington’s biggest red zone threat. Now, Cousins will have Doctson, who is 6 foot 2, 206-pounds with a 41-inch vertical, as an option, as well.

“I went back and watched some of his highlights from TCU, and he is a special player,” Cousins said. “Looks like he can make the contested catch. It’s very natural for him to go up and catch that type of pass. He can run well. He has got great size. I almost thought he was a tight end when he showed up because if his size …having a guy like Josh could also be a great weapon in the red zone.”

The challenge for Docston over the remaining seven OTA practices will be getting more comfortable with the playbook so he can hit the ground running in Richmond. The challenge for Cousins will be identifying Doctson’s strengths and weaknesses, so he can develop the type of connection he already has with the other pass-catchers on the roster. 

“We’ll try to build that chemistry as he’s here and as we can work together and just learn what he does well and what fits him, what he is natural at and try to get him the football,” Cousins said. “We certainly can spread it around with all the talent at the outside positions.”

Which, obviously, is another challenge for Cousins, who now must find a way to keep Crowder, Doctson, Reed, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon happy. That, however, is an issue for another blog post. 

Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

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Redskins teammates give Jordan Reed a hard time for new big-money contract

It all happened for Jordan Reed in 2015. He mostly stayed healthy - able to start 14 of 16 games - and played every game with the same quarterback in Kirk Cousins. The results broke Redskins records, as Reed hauled in 87 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Reed put up elite numbers for the tight end position, and in early May, the team paid Reed like an elite tight end. He signed a five-year, $46.5 million extension that will run through 2021, numbers that place Reed with the third-highest annual salary in the NFL.

His Redskins teammates noticed. It's common practice around the NFL for players to congratulate a new contract, and then promptly go into razz mode. It's part of the deal with getting a large contract extension, and Reed was no exception.

Asked if he had heard about his new contract during the Redskins OTA sessions this week, Reed smiled and confessed (full video above).

"I fell down yesterday and they were talking junk, ‘We ain't pay you 50 to fall down’ and things like that," Reed said on Wednesday. "They all over me man but it’s all fun."

The "50" in reference would be $50 million, so looks like the Redskins players are rounding up on Reed's deal. Plus, saying 50 is a lot easier than 46.5. More importantly, Reed knows the extra attention is meant in a fun way, and as other players have been asked about Reed's deal, all say the young tight end deserves it all.

"With Jordan Reed, you know he was so talented last year I mean how do you build on a season where you were as successful as he was?" Cousins said. "We would love to be able to develop sustained success where it is not just a one year flash in the pan and I think that is the challenge and message not just to Jordan but a lot of people."

Cousins' statement echoed the voices of many at Redskins Park. This team wants to prove that the success of 2015 was not a fluke, from GM Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden all the way down to the bottom of the roster.

And Reed is no different. On Wednesday Reed went deep on a wheel route, at least 30 or 40 yards downfield, and Cousins threw to him. The ball was slightly out of reach, yet Reed still fully extended and dove for the ball. In May. In OTAs.

"I can’t help it," Reed said when asked if the coaches and front office would want their new highly compensated tight end laying out for a ball in the offseason.

"I see the ball in the air and my instincts take over," he said. "I'm gonna go hard in practice."

Certainly Reed's size and skill were key to his new contract, but that attitude played a large role as well. 

 

 

Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

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Redskins' David Bruton excited to get 'first crack' at starting safety job

Safety David Bruton Jr. had options on the free agent market, but he ultimately chose Washington for one big reason: with the Redskins, he'd get the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

“We definitely have some competition back there, but I am blessed enough to have the first crack at it,” Bruton said this week. “Being in my eighth year, I was definitely looking to be more than just special teams ace and defensive role player. I felt like this was the best opportunity [to start], and I’m happy to be here.“

“I’m here to make this a new home,” he added, “and make my name known here.”

Well, so far, so good.

During Wednesday’s OTA practice, DeAngelo Hall occupied one safety position with the first-team defense and Bruton lined up at the other. The other player in the mix, Duke Ihenacho, worked with the second team.

Coach Jay Gruden hinted that Hall has been penciled in as one starter and that Bruton and Ihenacho are in competition at the other spot. Gruden, though, also made it clear that it’s awfully early in the offseason and that a lot can change.

“I always say that’s the beauty of a pencil—you got an eraser,” Gruden said. “We had to start somewhere.”

Listed at 6 foot 2, 225-pounds, Bruton, who spent the past seven seasons as a backup/special teams standout in Denver, is biggest defensive back on the roster. In 104 games with the Broncos, he made eight starts, including a career-high three last season. Ihenacho, meantime, won the starting job in Washington last offseason but suffered a season-ending wrist injury in the opener. Interestingly, Bruton and Ihenacho were teammates in Denver from 2012-13.   

“Bruton is doing a good job and Duke is in that mention,” Gruden added. “We [also] moved [cornerback] Will Blackmon back to safety; he’s learning, feeling his way through there. [Deshazor] Everett is doing a good job. Geno [Matias] Smith from Alabama, he’s learning it. So we’re going to have some people out there to compete. But right now, as a starting point, Bruton/Nacho are doing fine.”

For now, Bruton's got the first crack at it. But as Gruden said, there’s a lot of offseason left. This, indeed, could be a position to monitor throughout the spring and summer.