Redskins

Fantasy Football: NFC North

Fantasy Football: NFC North

Green Bay Packers (15-1, 560 Points For, lost in Divisional Playoffs): The Packers looked so sluggish in their playoff loss to the Giants, it's easy to forget just how dominant this offense was in the regular season. Aaron Rodgers has established himself as the best quarterback in the league, and fantasy owners appreciate that he'll run for a handful of yards and touchdowns every year, too. Perhaps a few of those cheapies at the goal will fade away with Cedric Benson in the fold, but make no mistake, Rodgers can pass his way to another MVP award either way. Although Greg Jennings is the de-facto No. 1 receiver here, he didn't even see 100 targets in 2011 - that's how much the Packers spread things around. No one thinks Jordy Nelson can score 15 times again, but his crisp routes and breakaway speed should give him a strong chance at 9-11 spikes. James Jones and Randall Cobb will struggle to get significant looks; Cobb has a big upside but didn't do much this summer. Jermichael Finley would be a star at tight end if he found a way to fix his ongoing drop problem. Look for another division title in Wisconsin, and at least 450 points. Bang the drum all day.

Detroit Lions (10-6, 474 PF, lost in Wild Card Round): Everything broke right for Matthew Stafford as a fantasy play last year: he stayed healthy and the Lions couldn't run the ball or stop anyone else from the scoring. Detroit wound up throwing the ball 66 percent of the time, the highest clip in the league. Head coach Jim Schwartz would like more balance in the offense (as anyone would), but the Lions don't have any special backs between Kevin Smith (ordinary vet), Mikel Leshoure (injury issues, drug suspension) and Jahvid Best (concussion problems, may not play again). Okay then, let Stafford line up in the shotgun and let it rip. Calvin Johnson is an uncoverable freak at receiver and a justifiable fantasy pick in the overall Top 5, and he'll get more help from Titus Young this year (try to snag Young as your fourth or fifth receiver). Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is a solid volume play, but he's not a dominator in the red zone.

Chicago Bears (8-8, 353 PF): The Bears were on the short list of Super Bowl contenders before Jay Cutler busted his thumb in November. A 1-5 crash landing followed, as a nation grimaced at the sight of backup QB Caleb Hanie. The front office did all it could to help Cutler for 2012, adding his old running mate Brandon Marshall in addition to RB Michael Bush and rookie WR Alshon Jeffery. Marshall should be a force between the 20s, but he never had big touchdown counts back in the Denver days with Cutler. He's a strong fantasy play but not a Top 10 wideout. Bush probably can poach 6-8 rushing touchdowns from tailback Matt Forte, but Forte will get his 1500-1800 total yards anyway, even behind a pedestrian offensive line. If you're looking for a safe back in the late-first or early-second round, Forte is a smart play. TE Kellen Davis has a some sleeper value in deeper leagues.

Minnesota Vikings (3-13, 340 PF): It's notable to see 340 points tied to a team that just won three games; the Vikings outscored 13 clubs last year. There's offensive talent here, and second-year starter Christian Ponder might be the most improved quarterback in the league. Percy Harvin is a Top 10 wideout if the migraines leave him alone, and TE Kyle Rudolph has breakout written all over him. No. 2 wideout Jerome Simpson can jump out of the dome, but he's on a drug suspension to open the year. No one knows what to expect from RB Adrian Peterson after his holiday knee blowout last year. He didn't take contact or play in any preseason games. You need a lot of nerve to select AP in the Top 25 - we'll pass on that option, thanks. Backup Toby Gerhart will be underrated in many leagues; he went for 4.9 YPC last year and caught 23 passes (three for touchdowns). Even if Peterson is able to start most of the season, Gerhart might be good enough to see 8-12 touches a week.

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Kirk Cousins is real nice - and 3 other things we learned from the 49ers game

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Kirk Cousins is real nice - and 3 other things we learned from the 49ers game

Kirk Cousins got mic'd up during the Redskins win over the 49ers last Sunday, and well, it confirmed a few things Washington fans already knew about their quarterback. 

For starters, Cousins is a nice guy. A real nice guy.

On one play, Cousins completes a pass downfield while facing a bit of pressure. As soon as he throws the ball, he starts shouting to his offensive line, "Good pocket! Great pocket!"

He keeps going, "Hey that was you guys. I took forever, I took forever. Hey nice job."

NFL quarterbacks like to thank their offensive lines, but not always immediately, even while the play is going on. Kirk is a nice guy.

Some other things learned from the mic'd up session:

  • Josh Doctson has a nickname. It's "Papa Doc." No idea if that's an 8 Mile reference. 
  • Trent Williams believes Kirk Cousins' shoulder is worth $200 million. And he might be right. 
  • Kirk Cousins wants to stay aggresive. He laid it out to QB coach Kevin O'Connell. Cousins explained during the Redskins early lead:

"Sometimes I get in a weird place, you get a lead like this. Where you start playing conservative, not to lose. It’s smart to do that but it also kinda hinders your ability to just go play."

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Wizards vs. Pistons: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Pistons: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Andre Drummond, Avery Bradley and the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. DETROIT PISTONS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Wizards HangTime)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

Smith may not play

The Wizards may be down not one but two power forwards, as Jason Smith sprained his right shoulder in Wednesday night's opener while filling in for Markieff Morris, who is already out rehabbing from sports hernia surgery. Losing Smith will put extra stress on head coach Scott Brooks, who is already trying to form rotations with a bench full of new faces.

If Smith can't go, which seems likely, the Wizards will start Kelly Oubre, Jr. at the three and push Otto Porter to the four. That lineup itself should have no serious drop-off from the one with Smith. But the domino effect will be interesting. Who plays the three in the second unit? Brooks will probably have to go small with three guards, stagger the minutes of his starters to compensate or turn to someone like Tomas Satoransky, Carrick Felix or Chris McCullough for some playing time after all three were DNPs in the opener.

[RELATED: OTTO PORTER ON HANGING WITH J. COLE]

A familiar foe

Wizards fans rejoiced when the Celtics shipped Avery Bradley to the Pistons, knowing he would not be able to guard John Wall and Bradley Beal if the Wizards see Boston again in the playoffs this season. But he's still in the Eastern Conference and because of that will see the Wizards plenty. Bradley is flat-out one of the best defenders in the NBA and one of the only players who can give Wall fits. He's got the size to guard both Wall and Beal and is as tough as they come.

Bradley will provide a strong test for both Wall and Beal, who each appear to have improved this offseason based on the limited action we've seen so far. Wall is in better shape than he was last year and Beal's confidence handling the ball and running sets continues to grow. They are up for any challenge and Bradley certainly presents one.

[RELATED: HOW MAHINMI LOST WEIGHT, WHY HE LOVES D.C.]

Harris and Drummond

The Wizards' frontcourt injuries won't make it any easier to stop what is one of the better big men combos in the Eastern Conference. Tobias Harris is a well-rounded power forward who can stretch the floor with a solid three-point shot. He puts up similar numbers to Morris, but blew up in the Pistons' first game on Wednesday against the Bobcats. Harris dropped 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three, to go along with 10 rebounds and three assists. Last year he averaged 18.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in three games against Washington.

Drummond remains one of the best rebounders in basketball. He's a walking double-double, but did have a tough time against the Wizards last season. Washington held him to 8.7 points and 9.7 rebounds, modest for him, and he shot just 40 percent in three matchups. 

[RELATED: KELLY OUBRE CAN SEE WHY DURANT MADE A FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNT]