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Should the 2016 Redskins go for two after TD's more often?

Should the 2016 Redskins go for two after TD's more often?

The Steelers, who are the Redskins’ Week 1 opponent, went for two points after touchdowns more often than any other NFL team last year. Ben Roethlisberger wants his team to be even more aggressive this year.

Will the Redskins have to follow suit, at least in their season opener?

Last year the Steelers went for two points after touchdowns 11 times, the most in the league. They were successful on eight of those attempts, a success rate of 72.7 percent.

Roethlisberger thinks that the Steelers should leave their kicker on the sideline after every touchdown.

“I think we should go for it every time,” he said earlier this week. “Why not?”

The simple numbers indicate that the two-point conversion is the better play if you’re as good at the two-pointer as the Steelers were last year. With the line of scrimmage for the kicked PAT now moved back to the 15-yard line, the one-point conversion rate dropped to 94.7 percent, the lowest the league has seen since 1979.

If a team scores 50 touchdowns and converts kicked PATs at the league average they will get 47 points from conversions. If that team is successful on two-pointers at even a 60 percent rate they will get 60 points from conversions. That’s like scoring two extra touchdowns over the course of the season. If those points are well placed they could equal an extra win, maybe two if they play in a lot of close games.

Of course, going for two is not Roethlisberger’s call. Head coach Mike Tomlin makes that decision. Tomlin already showed that he is willing to defy the orthodox thinking and be more aggressive by going for two 11 times last year. Even if Tomlin doesn’t go for two after every TD this year it would not be surprising to see him try for two more often than he did last year.

This brings up the question that Jay Gruden will have to answer. Can the Redskins afford to settle for seven points per touchdown in their opener if Pittsburg is getting eight points on three out of every four touchdowns?

The Redskins had a pretty good percentage on two-point tries themselves, hitting at a 66.7 percent rate. But it was just on a tiny sample size; they were successful on two out of three.

How did the Redskins fare in comparable situations? A two-point conversion try is essentially a fourth and goal play from the two. The Redskins had one such play last year and it failed. That’s an extremely small sample size.

Although it’s not the same situation, let’s look at how they did on third or fourth down with two yards to go. They had 21 such plays last year and they got at least two yards 12 times, a 57.1 percent success rate. It’s not a perfect comparison to two-point conversions, when you’re working in a very compressed area right there at the doorstep of the end zone, but if they can come close to that on two-point conversions it would make more sense to go for two than it would be to kick.

Another reason the Redskins may want to go for two more often is the fact that they have some very enticing red zone targets. Players like Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Josh Doctson, and Pierre Garçon can make the tough one-on-one plays needed to convert those two pointers.

Even though the numbers might recommend a more aggressive approach, it would be surprising if Gruden went for two more often than the score and “the book” dictate that he should. But he should have a good supply of two-point plays ready to go in Week 1 in case Tomlin and the Steelers throw out the book and do what Big Ben wants them to do.

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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.