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State of the Redskins, Week 14: Falling back into the NFC East pack

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State of the Redskins, Week 14: Falling back into the NFC East pack

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 5-7, T-1st in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 5-4
vs. AFC: 0-3
Home: 5-2
Away: 0-5

Key stats changes from 2014-2015

 

Rankings (through Sunday’s games)

Offense (yards/game): 333.4 (25th)
Defense (yards/game): 362.5 (21st)
Passer rating offense:  92.2 (13th)
Opp passer rating: 93.5 (20th)
Yards/rush attempt: 3.7 (26th)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th)
DVOA through Week 13 (Football Outsiders): -5.2% (18th)

Top three storylines:

Back in the scrum—The Redskins had plenty of chances on Monday night to put themselves a game clear of the division and have a defined path to the playoffs. But they didn’t get it done and while they are still in first place via tiebreakers they need help to win the division unless they win out.

Running game staples missing—Alfred Morris and Darrel Young were the keys to one of the more productive rushing attacks in the league from 2012-2014. On Monday in the most important game since 2012 they played a combined 8 snaps on offense (all of them by Morris). Sure Tom Compton at tight end is a good blocking option but his presence tips off the play; they run four out of every five snaps he plays. Why not keep your intentions a secret and give Young a shot?

Mason Foster—The inside linebacker who played well with Perry Riley sidelined is not the Cinderella story that Quinton Dunbar is. After all, he was the Bucs’ starting middle linebacker for the last four years. But he was on the scrap heap when the Redskins picked him up in late September and he joins the list of players Scot McCloughan has picked up for nothing who have played vital roles.

Next three games

Sunday @ Bears (5-7)—The Bears were in disarray early in the season and Jay Cutler was either the joke or the punch line. But coach John Fox righted the ship and they have gone 5-4 since their 0-3 start. They were starting to look like a Wild Card contender until the dropped an inexplicable stinker to the 49ers on Sunday.

December 20 vs. Bills (6-6)—The Bills’ defense was supposed to be dominant but that hasn’t materialized. LeSean McCoy, who burned the Redskins on occasion when he was with the Eagles, seems to be healthy and is playing better the last four games than he has all year. We will see what Rex Ryan brings to town in a couple of weeks.

December 26 @ Eagles (5-7)—You think the Redskins are inconsistent? The Eagles gave up 10 touchdown passes in two games in a four-day span. Then, of course, they went to Foxborough and stunned the Patriots. We will see if Eagles fans are showering Chip Kelly with gifts the day after Christmas or if they are putting lumps of coal in his stocking.

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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.