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Need to Know: Redskins week that was—Don't sleep on Niles Paul

Need to Know: Redskins week that was—Don't sleep on Niles Paul

RICHMOND—Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 31, 11 days before the Washington Redskins open their preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Off day, no practice scheduled

—The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago. It will be 43 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Preseason vs. Jets  @FedEx Field 19; Final roster cut 34; Cowboys @ Redskins 49

The Redskins week that was

Long-term effects from Jarrett lossThe loss of Junior Galette to injury was bad news for the defense, no doubt about it. But as he was on a one-year contract his long-term future with the team was unsettled. Before Kyshoen Jarrett had that fateful collision in Dallas he was going to be a key piece to the defense through at least the 2018 season. His injury may well be career ending and it could be a challenge for him to live a normal life dealing with his right arm.

Don't forget about Niles Paul—This was written before training camp started and he has done nothing to make a liar out of JP, who wrote the post, since. Paul plays with an edge and he fights for everything. He’ll get his share of snaps on offense and make some important catches. And don’t underestimate what he adds to special teams.

NTK—First down rushing woes must be fixed—The Redskins were the worst first-down rushing team in the league last year, on both sides of the ball. No team averaged fewer yards per first-down carry on offense or gave up more per carry on defense. I brought this up a few times during the course of the offseason not to be repetitious but because it was so surprising and so important to fix.

POD: Cousins improving under pass pressure—This is a series I’ll be running during training camp, taking a play or two from the previous practice and looking at how it demonstrates what they are working on or a problem area that they are addressing. Check out the post and let me know what you think of it.

NTK: 5 Redskins with a lot to prove—Kirk Cousins and DeSean Jackson are on this list, also done before the start of camp. So far they have hooked up on some spectacular long passes and there have been some head-scratching misses, too. The chemistry between the two is still a work in progress.

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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.