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Redskins Playbook: Despite losses at WR, pass game still projects among NFL's best

Redskins Playbook: Despite losses at WR, pass game still projects among NFL's best

The Redskins fielded one of the most potent passing attacks in the NFL in 2016.

Kirk Cousins ranked third among all quarterbacks with nearly 5,000 passing yards and the team produced two 1,000 yard receivers.

Unfortunately, both of those wideouts are gone.

DeSean Jackson left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pierre Garçon signed with the San Francisco 49ers once free agency opened. 

The cupboard is hardly bare, though.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

After 850 yards last year, Jamison Crowder looks poised for his first 1,000 yard season. A healthy Jordan Reed can absolutely post four-figure yardage totals. On the outside, free agent addition Terrelle Pryor had a 1,000 yard season with the Browns last year, and playing with Cousins, should certainly be capable of that figure or more.

Don't forget 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, who appears to have his Achilles injuries that cost him his rookie season behind him.

Knowing what they've lost, and considering the weapons still available, Pro Football Focus ranked the Redskins with the 7th best passing attack for 2017.

REDSKINS 2017 DEPTH CHARTWRs | Interior O-line | Def. line | OLBs | TEs | RBs

Gone are the likes of DeSean Jackson (the league-leader in deep pass receiving yards) and Pierre Garcon (the eighth highest graded WR), but back are Kirk Cousins, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed. Cousins led the league with 1,359 yards on passes targeted 20 yards or more downfield and had the fourth highest passer rating on those passes last season (118.1). Crowder finished with the 16th highest passer rating when targeted overall (112.9) and tied for second with seven touchdowns from the slot while Reed fielded the lowest drop rate among tight ends (dropped just 1-of-67 catchable passes). Add in newly acquired Brian Quick, a cast of reliable receiving characters and the possible emergence of Josh Doctson, and  there is no reason to believe the  Redskins won’t air it out again in 2017.​

Cousins seems a safe bet for at least 4,500 passing yards. In three seasons with Jay Gruden as head coach, the Redskins have thrown the ball at least 547 times, and last year Cousins threw the ball more than 600 times. 

The departure of Sean McVay to coach the Rams could mean a slight dip in pass attempts. McVay was known to favor the passing game, perhaps a little too much, over the run game. Gruden will probably try to balance the Redskins offense more, but there will still be plenty of passing attack in Washington. 

The Redskins ranked top among all NFC East teams in the PFF pass game rankings. Dallas was just behind the 'Skins at No. 8. The Eagles, who added Alshon Jeffery in free agency, came in at 15 while the Giants landed at 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.