Quick Links

Fantasy Fix: Hankerson, roster strategy and Week 5 Waver Wire


Fantasy Fix: Hankerson, roster strategy and Week 5 Waver Wire

Starting lineup options and decisions rightfully dominate fantasy football discussion. How owners manage the back end of the roster might be the key ingredient over the remaining weeks.

We've concluded the first quarter of the fantasy football season, which is around the time the free agent pool starts having that picked over look. Sure, some interesting options like Duke Johnson, Allen Hurns and Coby Fleener might be available. However, even those players and certainly the next rung down are not necessarily better than those at the end of your bench unless you're like an owner in one of my friend leagues and still holding Kai Forbath. Yet bye weeks and injuries are starting to wreck havoc on your weekly options. What to do, what to do.

Before we get to the Week 5 fre agents, some strategy talk. Here's one random tactic I've used when in a roster pinch: Cut the kicker.

We could also call this "How to finagle an extra roster spot each week" and it goes something like this.

Unless you own Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Bryant, Mason Crosby, Brandon McManus, Justin Tucker and perhaps Cairo Santos or Josh Brown, cut your kicker. Specifically, use your kicker as your initial cut man each week if you don't have an obvious player to otherwise axe.

Imagine you're a DeSean Jackson owner hoping your guy returns from his hamstring injury this week. Alas, you also have Brandon Marshall on a bye, meaning you're on to plan C or possibly needing two helpful options in three-receiver leagues. Maybe Marvin Jones is on your roster. He isn't bad, but is facing Richard Sherman and the Seahawks.  Meanwhile Leonard Hankerson looks like a nice free agent pickup seeing as the Falcons are facing the beat up Redskins secondary.

The standard moves involves cutting a position player from your roster -- there is almost, almost no reason to have a backup defense or kicker for anything more than needing a one-week rental. That's not always an easy call. That's why you instead cut your lone kicker.

Now in theory you added Hankerson. Yes, you will eventually need to add another kicker by Saturday night or Sunday morning depending on your league rules. Until then, you have 4-5 days with which to, in this case, wait on Jackson news and contemplate options.

Oh, you also suddenly have an extra chip for trade talks. Since you need an open spot eventually, a generous 3-for-2 trade works perfectly. Worst case, you cut Hankerson or Jones -- though both are worthy of rostering -- or another player at the end of the week. No harm, no foul other than maybe a few free agent dollars. (Don't give up the top waiver spot for this gambit). Also note the late drop means nobody else will be able to pick up that released player for next week's waivers. If you miss having Hankerson or Jones or Alex Smith or Larry Donnell, get him back next week.

* All of this also applies to defenses when you don't have say the Seahawks, Broncos, Panthers, Cardinals or Jets. Speaking of defenses, another level of this cutting a player move is the "defensive look ahead." Those that stream defenses often wait until that week to snag the unit of choice. When possible, avoid the rush and make the move the week before. Not a full week out, but when you get to the weekend, take an honest look at your roster. If you have some dead weight, help your future lineup out. In Week 6, the Lions hosting Jay Cutler works. No need to grab the Jaguars against the Texans in advance, however.

* If you didn't listen to me about the importance of adding handcuffs during drafts, I implore you to do so now. Absolutely worth the investment for most of your top runners. Beats massively overspending with FAAB or being snaked in waivers. Not all backups are true handcuffs because they have standalone value (Giovani Bernard, Matt Jones, Ryan Mathews, etc). If you have their respective starters, owning Knile Davis (Chiefs), James Starks (Packers), Lorenzo Taliaferro (Ravens), Tre Mason (Rams) and perhaps even Charles Sims (Bucs) makes far more sense than sixth WR or maybe even a backup QB.

MORE NFL: After concussion, status for Jordan Reed remains unclear

Week 5 free agents


1. Jay Cutler - Can never feel terribly comfortable with Smokin' Jay especially on the road, but the Chiefs are allowing the most fantasy points to QBs this season.

2. Blake Bortles - Keeps posting productive fantasy numbers largely because of his two totally viable receiver playmakers, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Expect good numbers against the Bucs.

3. Alex Smith - Hold your nose and just note Smith faces a Bears defense is one of three that has allowed at least 10 touchdown passes this season.

4. Kirk Cousins - Unless they stun the world, good chance the Redskins are in catch up mode during the second half, which means lots of pass attempts.

Running backs

1. Ronnie Hillman - The Broncos backfield is no less than a true timeshare with Hillman looking like the better option over the laboring C.J. Anderson. The number one pickup overall if available.

2. Duke Johnson - Cleveland finally turned their rookie loose as a pass catcher. More importantly, Johnson received significantly more snaps than Isaiah Crowell. He could steal the job outright.

3. Thomas Rawls - Sounds like Marshawn Lynch will play in Week 5, but injury setbacks happen. Lynch owners should certainly own Rawls. Others can take a flyer knowing Rawls could be a weekly RB2 as a starter in this run-heavy attack.

4. Darren McFadden - Anybody else notice Joseph Randle only received four carries in the second half of the Sunday night loss to the Saints? McFadden is the obvious short-term get. For those thinking long-term, the Christine Michael train is starting to gain momentum.

5. David Johnson - Just keeps making explosive plays, but not receiving enough work to use and now Andre Ellington is set to return. Lottery ticket stash.

6. Antonio Andrews - The lead RB job for the Titans isn't exactly the most secure of job, but Andrews grabbed in Week 3. In case you forgot that with Tennessee on a bye last week, this is your reminder. More of a depth pickup than Week 5 start against the Bills seventh-ranked run defense against fantasy backs. 

Others: Chris Thompson, Christine Michael, Andre Williams, Theo Riddick, Charles Sims

Wide receivers

Reminder - Martavis Bryant is back from suspension this week. Grab above all others on this list if available, though need to rush him into your lineup in his first game back considering Michael Vick.

1. Leonard Hankerson - Not sure how this happened, but Hankerson is fantasy viable and extremely so against the Redskins' thin secondary. The ex-Redskin has passed Roddy White on Atlanta's passing game hierarchy. If Washington sends half the defense to cover Julio Jones, Hankerson should receive plenty of work from Matt Ryan. WR3 start this week.

2. Allen Hurns - Remains under the radar simply because of the team he plays on. Get past the Jaguars stigma and add the playmaking Hurns to your WR 2/3 rotation.

3. Nelson Agholor - Many thanks to the impatient owners who cut the rookie last week. I scooped him where possible and I'd recommend you do the same. Agholor played nearly every snap against the Redskins and most of all, Sam Bradford finally starting throwing deep. For those in a Week 5 lineup pinch, Saints-Eagles should be a high-scoring matchup.

4. Dorial Green-Beckham - The physical freak only has three receptions, but two went for scores. Stash the rookie because of his potential. He could emerge as the Titans go-to red zone target before long.

Others: Willie Snead, Rueben Randle, Ted Ginn, Eddie Royal, Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder

Tight ends

Notes - Antonio Gates is back from suspension. Grab him above all others if available. ...Coby Fleener is the top option, but could lose value with Dwayne Allen expected back from injury.

1. Owen Daniels - One week rental alert. Daniels and the Broncos face the Raiders. Oakland is allowing an insane 18 points per game to fantasy TE. The next team down on the list (Giants) is giving up 13. Daniels hasn't been anything special this season, but Peyton Manning knows how to target a weakness.

2. Gary Barnidge - Bizarre two-week surge for the journeyman TE, but follow the momentum if needed.

3. Derek Carrier - Jordan Reed's lengthy list of injuries combined with his history makes him a dicey for Week 5 and possibly beyond. The Redskins target the position almost regardless of who is active so Carrier should be good for 4-5 catches.

Others: Richard Rodgers

Defenses/Special Teams - Week 5 only

1. Giants - vs. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers.

2. Jaguars - on the road against Jameis Winston and the Bucs.

3. Falcons - hosting the Redskins. We saw what Washington did in its only other road game.


1. Chandler Catanzaro - Don't count on five field goals ago, but you should be able to count on Catanzaro indoors against the Lions.

2. Cairo Santos - Tied for second most points among kickers and faces a Bears defense allowing eighth most to kickers this season.

Quick Links

Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Quick Links

News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

News, notes and observations from the first week of NFL Free Agency

A whirlwind week in the NFL, but that's come to be the norm when free agency opens. Actually, not even when free agency opens, rather the legal tampering period opening two days before the actual start of the new league year. 

A lot happened, and more to come, but let's try to make sense of it all. 

  • The worst keep secret ever finally got revealed when the Redskins held their press conference to announce Alex Smith as their new starting quarterback. Everybody knows about the trade, and losing Kendal Fuller, but this trade makes a ton of sense and Smith was a homerun at the presser. He doesn't care about image or perception, a refreshing angle from the passer, and seems quite prepared for his new role. Smith was great in Kansas City in 2017. If he can replicate that in 2018 for the Redskins, the move will be loudly applauded. 
  • We still haven't gotten total clarity on Smith's contract. My intel says three years are really guaranteed, so Smith will be on the payroll through 2020 at least. Doug Williams joked at the presser that Smith could maybe play until he's 40, and since he's 33 right now, that would be a long time from now. 


  • Smith was the headline, but the Redskins also held a press conference with new WR Paul Richardson. He was possibly more impressive than Smith, just because the young speedster was more of an unknown. Smith has talked at a ton of podiums and faced a ton of reporters. I don't know, but that might have been Richardson's first ever press conference with a room that had probably 100 or more people in it. Check out the video above. 
  • Richardson had a great line when asked about the dangers of big hits on passes over the middle: "They gotta catch me." He's right. He will get a lot of opportunities for the Redskins, and he should make things better for Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. The Redskins wideouts did not get great separation in 2017, there are Pro Football Focus stats to back that up, and the offense got bogged down because of that. In 2018, with Richardson in place as a deep threat, defenses will need to react. 
  • The key to the Redskins offense truly succeeding in 2018: Jordan Reed. If he can stay healthy, the Washington air attack looks dangerous. 
  • Smart contract structure for the Redskins with Richardson. 
  • Zach Brown's contract is a 10/10 for the Redskins. A tackling machine that can actually improve from a strong 2017 season. Getting him back changed the entire tenor of Redskins free agency, as the team went from quietly sitting out the spending sprees (minus the Richardson move) to locking up their most important defensive player. 
  • Brown back, along with Mason Foster, gives the Redskins two strong inside linebackers. It's hard to remember now, but last September, that Redskins defense looked fierce. Injuries robbed the unit of a chance to completely gel and improve, but 2018 brings a new opportunity for that.
  • Offensively, the Redskins had to invest at wide receiver in free agency. The money for Allen Robinson got crazy and the team was smart to move forward with Richardson. He fits their desired profile: Young player coming off a rookie contract on a career upswing. 
  • The Redskins did not invest at running back, despite Jay Gruden and Doug Williams saying the team must improve at the position. Frankly, the Isaiah Crowell contract with the Jets was quite affordable, and he's a player some team sources had interest in. The Redskins do not have the luxury of taking a running back early in the draft, and I'd argue they shouldn't even look at RB in the second round. The Redskins should be focused up front on the offensive and defensive lines. A dream scenario: A player like Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne at 13, and then Ohio State interior offensive lineman Billy Price at 44. Price would have been a first-round lock but for a pectoral injury at the Scouting Combine. Medicals say he should be fine for training camp. Washington has shown a proclivity to draft players that slip due to injury concerns (Kendall Fuller in 2016, Fabian Moreau in 2017) and Price could fit the same mold. 
  • The vacancy at left guard has not been addressed, and wasn't going to be addressed in free agency, or at least not in the early days where the big money gets paid out. Washington has more than $26 million invested this season in just three players on their offensive line (Trent Williams at $14M, Morgan Moses at $5M, Brandon Scherff at almost $7M) and the team knows Scherff will cost more money soon. The Jaguars just gave Andrew Norwell $30 million guaranteed; the guard market has arrived. The 'Skins will want to keep Scherff, and to do it, they need to keep some cash on hand. That means the new left guard will either be a budget free agent find, or come from the draft.
  • To that point, the team viewed Spencer Long expendable. He was well liked by players and coaches, but has never played a full 16-game season and missed half the year in 2017. Also, the emergence of Chase Roullier helped the team move forward without Long. 


  • A bit of a surprise to see Trent Murphy leave, but he got good money from the Bills. Washington liked Murphy, and wanted to keep him, but not at the price Buffalo paid. 
  • What happened to Ryan Grant is complete junk. The Ravens are a first-class organization, but that was a bush league move. The guy has never missed a game in four years and now he can't pass a physical?!? C'mon man. Hoping the best for Ryan and will be interested to see if his represenatives seek retribution from Baltimore. 
  • Bashaud Breeland sure likes to keep it interesting. Why sign a contract if you know you have a hurt foot and can't pass a physical? Why would the agent not disclose that? Maybe it was disclosed, but that situation just seems so weird. The Redskins were never bringing Breeland back, something I reported as far back as December, but now it seems Breeland's next NFL team will have to wait to see when his foot can pass a physical. Bree is a good and funny dude, hope he heals up. 
  • Two crazy things from one draft class: The 'Skins NAILED their 2014 draft haul. Without a first round pick, they got five solid contributors in Murphy, Moses, Long, Breeland and Grant. But now, after their rookie contracts have all expired, only Moses remains with the team. Bizarre. 

  • Credit where it's due: The 2014 Draft belonged to a certain Bruce Allen. That was the year after the Shanahan crew was fired and the year before Scot McCloughan was hired. Credit where it's due. 
  • I think a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie deal gets done. I think a Junior Galette deal might get done. 
  • Ndamukong Suh is still out there. Just saying. 
  • So is Bennie Logan. Just saying. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!