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Need to Know: Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

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Need to Know: Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, September 4, one day before the Washington Redskins make their final cuts.

Five early thoughts on Redskins vs. Dolphins

The preseason is officially over and the next time the Redskins take the field it will count. Here are some thoughts on Redskins’ opponent for their opener, the Miami Dolphins

—Remember the 2013, when Robert Griffin III was so bad he was deactivated for the last three games? Well, you could take his numbers from that year, project them over 16 games, throw them into Ryan Tannehill’s career, and you’d never know the difference. The reasons Griffin is benched and on the roster bubble and Tannehill just got an extension worth $96 million is that Tannehill has been durable, never missing a start, and he has improved in most major areas from year to year in each of his three seasons. He’s not a guy to be scared of necessarily but he is a competent NFL QB.

—The line that will protect Tannehill is very much in flux. They likely will be starting a rookie right guard in Jamil Douglas, and may be without left tackle Brandon Albert, who is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last November. With a shaky secondary the Redskins’ ability to get pressure on the passer will determine in large part how well they defend the pass. A shuffled Dolphins offensive line could help.

—Welcome to the NFL, Brandon Scherff. You get to line up against Ndamukong Suh in your first official game. The fifth overall pick has struggled with his technique all summer and he will have to play well to keep Kirk Cousins upright. It seems likely that he will get some help from center Kory Lichtensteiger. At right tackle, Morgan Moses will have his hands full with left end Cameron Wake.

—Like the Redskins, the Dolphins are kind of scrambling at safety. They lost Louis Delmas for the year earlier and the competition to replace him is ongoing. They could be like the Redskins in that if the pass rush doesn’t hit home the defensive backs will be vulnerable. Kirk Cousins has shown a good knack for being able to evade pressure in the pocket; if he can do it for four quarters on September 13 he could have a chance to make some plays.

—This game offers the Redskins a chance to change the negative vibe that has surrounded the team in the past couple of weeks. With a win the Redskins would do a lot to push aside “I feel like I’m the best QB”, concussion clearance-then-reversal, “I just work here, man”, intern Instagram likes, QB controversy, the GM’s wife’s tweets, and whatever else might pop up between now and game time. The Dolphins will be favored by about a field goal but if Scot McCloughan’s work over the offseason has truly improved the team to a significant extent this is a winnable game for Washington.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

—It’s been 250 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 9 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Final cuts 1 Rams @ Redskins 16; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 20

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

The Week 12 fantasy football rankings are out -- but when it comes to Thanksgiving Day, everyone wants some player regardless of where they slot overall. Don't overthink it and take a lesser player, but for those on the fence or simply looking for Thursday action, here are some recommendations for all three games.

Vikings @ Lions

Obvious: Vikings -- Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs... running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are in the RB2/Flex discussion for most, but good luck picking between them; Lions -- Wide receiver Golden Tate and ... wide receiver Marvin Jones works in three-WR formats while quarterback Matthew Stafford is No. 14 among passers this week.

Start: Case Keenum averaged 19.3 points over the last four games while the Lions have allowed ample points to fantasy quarterbacks in that stretch, though only three touchdown passes. Having Thielen and Diggs up the potential for Keenum, who is QB17 in the Week 12 rankings. That's comparable with Matthew Stafford (QB14), Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett and ahead of Derek Carr.

Add: Not sure there's any fringe skill player worth taking a flyer on so take a look at Vikings kicker Kai Forbath. He's attempted at least three field goals in four of his last five games and he kicked five extra points in the lone exception. ... Some will start Ameer Abdullah based on their options, but just know the Vikings allow the second fewest points to fantasy tight ends this season.

Chargers @ Cowboys

Obvious: Chargers -- running back Melvin Gordon and wide receiver Keenan Allen; Cowboys -- Wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back Alfred Morris and... quarterback Dak Prescott, though his production is down without running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith.

Start: This hasn't been a vintage Philip Rivers season, but he's coming off his best performance (251 yards, two touchdown passes) since Week 5. The Cowboys aren't that special in the secondary and have surrendered two touchdown passes in three consecutive games. At QB13, he's on the cusp of QB1 status in 12-team leagues. 

Add: Kickers Nick Novak (Chargers) and Mike Nugent (Cowboys) are 15th and 16th respectively. So, there's that. 

Giants @ Redskins

The obvious: Giants -- tight end Evan Engram and... running back Orleans Darkwa is a viable RB2 option against a Redskins defense giving up gobs of yards on the ground; Redskins -- quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight Vernon Davis and...running back Samaje Perine is RB12 this week, though listed as questionable on the injury report with a finger issue.

Start: Jordan Reed is out for a fourth consecutive game, meaning Vernon Davis once again is Washington's main tight end. While he hasn't provided wow performances like Reed at his Pro Bowl best, Davis has been good for a solid 8-11 since taking on a larger role starting in Week 3. This could be his best statistical week of the season. The Giants allow the most points to fantasy tight ends on the season. Opposing tight ends scored a touchdown in each of the first 10 games before the streak snapped Sunday.

RELATED: NEW AND IMPROVED WEEK 12 FANTASY RANKINGS

Add: Josh Doctson is only owned in 55 percent of leagues on CBS even though he's moved into the role of Washington's top outside receiver. The second-year player had four receptions for 81 yards in Sunday's overtime loss, though all the production came in the first half. Consistency is the next step, but Kirk Cousins is showing more and more confidence in the 6'3" target especially on 50-50 balls. Doctson is WR36 in my Week 12 rankings, meaning he's worth starting consideration in three-WR formats regardless.