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Fantasy focus: Helu, Garcon, Hankerson

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Fantasy focus: Helu, Garcon, Hankerson

The reality there is a bit of a lull taking place now on the NFL calendar, at least until we get much closer to training camp. Might as well take advantage by indulging in some fantasy football homework. I have been putting together team and player profiles for FFToolbox.com, some of which will eventually wind up in a fantasy football magazine generated by an outlet that creates a weekly paper hotel guests often read. Admittedly, this is too early to draw many strong conclusions, but publishers have deadlines. Updates galore in the coming weeks.Anyway, here's a sneak peek at my Redskins outlook. The commentary is mine, the rank someone else's, the link for the rest is here.RB Roy Helu, WAS (RB - 20)
Following Tim Hightower's injury, Helu went from deep sleeper to electric fantasy star before his own late season ailments sidelined him. The dual threat topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage and finished with four 100-yard games, one coming as a receiver. Best suited as a situational option. If overworked with 20 touches, could break down. If used appropriately, could be explosive RB2.RB Evan Royster, WAS (RB - 75)
Injuries provided the Penn State rookie with playing over the final two weeks last season and Royster powered his way to consecutive 100-yard rushing games. The sneaky option in the Redskins backfield, but lack of speed suggests a limited role unless more injuries pop up. He is handcuff worthy if he remains at least third on the depth chart.WR Pierre Garcon, WAS (WR - 30)
Garcon amazingly nearly totaled 1,000 yards in the dreadful Colts offense last season. The Redskns paid a steep cost to land the free agent, who now must prove his skills translate into the number one target role. Despite his real life price tag and run after the catch skills, learning a new system and a rookie quarterback makes Garcon no lock for WR2 status.WR Leonard Hankerson, WAS (WR - 89)
What a tease. The third-round rookie last went catch-less until Week 7 then two games later flashed his playmaking ability with 8 receptions for 106 yards. However, the 6-foot-2 target injured his hip in the same game and his season was over. Now the red-zone threat islooking like a potential starter opposite Pierre Garcon. Hankerson is a true sleeper with greater value in non-PPR or TD-heavy leagues.PK Neil Rackers, WAS (K - 16)
Despite his penchant for splitting the upright, the Texans moved on from the reliable Rackers because of short kickoffs. His competition in Washington - Graham Gano - has the power leg, but not the experience. Unless the Redskins are thinking long-term, Rackers has the inside track for a team that could struggle in the red zone.Click here for profiles on Robert Griffin III, Santana Moss, the Redskins defense and the other prominent skill players.

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Redskins draft countdown: Washington safety Budda Baker

Redskins draft countdown: Washington safety Budda Baker

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 65 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Budda Baker
Safety
Washington

Height: 5-10
Weight: 180
40-yard dash: TBD

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Tremendously explosive and passionate in his play. Former high school track sprinter with good play speed. Screams off the edge as a blitzer. Always bouncing on balls of his feet just waiting to race to the action on a dead sprint. Plays with smooth backpedal and diagonal shuffle. Has a shiftiness that allows him to mirror change of direction in space . . . Scouts use terms like "winner" and "top notch person" to describe him.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: This doesn’t take a whole lot of explaining. The Redskins have not had a reliable pair of safeties since they lost Sean Taylor 10 years ago. Su’a Cravens is moving into the strong safety spot. A pick line Baker could solidify the position for years to come.

His passion for the game is a big resume enhancer for McCloughan. He wants players who love football and Baker appears to fit that mold.

Baker plays fast, as in fast enough to cover slot receivers when called upon. McCloughan doesn’t much care for 40 times; he will judge a player’s speed off the tape. But it will be interesting to see how Baker runs at the combine.

At Washington, they sent him after the quarterback on occasion and I could see the Redskins doing that as well. Baker had three sacks last season and in a game I watched him play against USC he had two quarterback hurries that led to interceptions by his teammates.

Potential issues: At 5-10, 180 he is on the small side for a safety, at least one that McCloughan might prefer. His size gives him trouble if he must tackle a tight end or a big running back.

His play against the run is inconsistent. At times, he takes bad angles, can’t get off blocks and misses tackles. But at other times he sniffs out a play and makes a tackle in the backfield.  

Baker might grade out to be more of a late first- or early second-round pick. McCloughan will stick to his draft board for the most part and if the value isn’t there in his opinion he could bypass Baker in favor of a higher graded player despite the need. Or perhaps he can execute a trade and end up with Baker with a pick somehwere in the twenties. 

Bottom line: Right now Baker is Mike Mayock’s fourth-ranked safety. Malik Hooker of Ohio State and Jamal Adams of LSU are likely to be gone by the time the 17th pick is on the clock. Jabrill Peppers, Mayock’s No. 3 safety, is too similar to Cravens and many think he might be a better fit on offense. If they want to get a first-round safety it appears that Baker is the guy.

Certainly, Baker’s size will give McCloughan pause. They can bulk him up some but he could have a problem carrying as many as 200 pounds. Not only could he have problems dealing with bigger players, he could deal with injury problems.

In Baker’s NFL.com profile they compare him to former Colts safety Bob Sanders. Every season in which Sanders played more than 10 games he was a first-team All-Pro. Problem was, he only managed to play in double-digit games in two seasons. The Redskins will be wary of the possibility of getting bursts of great play from someone like Baker with some stints on injured reserve. 

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Redskins position Outlook: Su'a Cravens will help, but safety needs more

Redskins position Outlook: Su'a Cravens will help, but safety needs more

Over the next few weeks, JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2016, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2017.

Safety

Starters: Duke Ihenacho, Will Blackmon

Backups: Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans

Injured/Reserve/Waived: Donte Whitner, DeAngelo Hall, David Bruton

Free Agents: Duke Ihenacho, Whitner 

Rewind: The Redskins tried to get by in 2016 without a serious investment in the safety position. In August the plan was for Washington to start DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton at the safety spots. Hall suffered an injury in Week 3, Bruton in Week 4, and neither player would return. 

Bruton's play was never starter level, and his replacement for many snaps came in the form of Donte Whitner. Once a great player, Whitner was past his prime, and though he got a ton of action for the 'Skins, was often a liability. Ihenacho missed tackles, but curiously got fewer snaps than Whitner. Deshazor Everett flashed in his few opportunities with the defense, but also rarely got snaps. Blackmon made some plays and gave some up, but fought injuries and was converting to the saftey position from corner for the first time in his 10-year career. 

Fast forward: One big piece of the safety puzzle should come with Su'a Cravens' move from linebacker to safety. A physical, intelligent player, as a rookie Cravens proved a nose for the ball and a sure tackler. He will help the 'Skins in the back of the defense. What player lines up next to him will be a major question. Cravens does not have elite speed, and Washington will need to pair him with a safety that can handle deep middle coverage. 

It's very hard to see Bruton or Whitner back on the roster in 2017, and Ihenacho seems like a long shot as well. After dealing with injuries for multiple seasons, Hall will need to rework his deal to stay with the 'Skins, something the veteran admitted in his locker clean out interview with the media. 

Blackmon has another year left on his deal, and is a versatile option for the 'Skins defense. His natural position, however, is corner, and the 'Skins should effort to get Blackmon back on the outside of their defense. Everett deserved to play more than Whitner late in 2016, but didn't, which creates questions. Everett should at least get a chance to compete for more playing time in 2017. There is also speculation that Bashaud Breeland could transition to safety, but that seems far fetched.

It's important the Redskins look to bolster the safety position this offseason, be it in free agency or the draft. After the defensive line, safety may be the greatest position of need for Washington. Cravens has all the tools to be great, but he still is a young player with zero NFL experience in the secondary. Scot McCloughan should take steps to cement a solid player next to Cravens, as well as more depth at the position to sustain injuries, like what happened in 2016.

Redskins Position Outlook: Running back | Defensive line | Outside linebackers | Inside linebackers Cornerbacks