Redskins Year in Review
2015 Pass Attempts Rank: 20th (555)
2015 Rush Attempts Rank: 14th (429)
2015 Total Offensive Plays Rank: 22nd (1,011)
2015 Yards Per Play Rank: 10th (5.6)
Click here to read all of Silva's Team Fantasy Previews.
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Kirk Cousins
RB: Matt Jones
WR: DeSean Jackson
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Jamison Crowder
TE: Jordan Reed
LT: Trent Williams
LG: Spencer Long
C: Kory Lichtensteiger
RG: Brandon Scherff
RT: Morgan Moses
Passing Game Outlook
An average talent with problematic decision making dating back to Michigan State, Kirk Cousins took a leap as a timing-and-rhythm passer in his first full season as a starter under Jay Gruden. Not even named Washington's starter until 14 days before Week 1, Cousins' explosion began in a Week 7 comeback win over Tampa Bay made famous for his post-game "You Like That" quip. As Washington fielded one of the league's worst running games, Cousins excelled as the de-facto offensive centerpiece, leading the NFL in completion rate (69.8%) with a 24:3 TD-to-INT ratio across Washington's final 11 games, including the playoffs. Although they balked at signing him long term, the Skins thought enough of Cousins to commit a $20 million franchise tag to retain him while arming Cousins with a pass-catcher corps so loaded that first-round pick Josh Doctson may not even open the season as a starter. DeSean Jackson is healthy after a hamstrung 2015, and the running game remains a major question mark. Gruden has a history of maximizing quarterback talents, coaching Andy Dalton to a top-five QB1 finish in 2013. The Redskins also have a favorable-looking pass-defense schedule, particularly in their opening seven games (vs. PIT, vs. DAL, @ NYG, vs. CLE, @ BAL, vs. PHI, @ DET). In another contract year, Cousins is in prime position to beat his QB12-14 ADP.
Editor's Note: For updated rankings, projections, player profiles, positional tiers, mock drafts, sleepers and busts, exclusive columns and plenty more, check out our Draft Guide!
A top-20 fantasy receiver in each of his previous two seasons, DeSean Jackson's 2015 campaign was ruined by recurring hamstring problems that began in Week 1, cost him the ensuing seven games, and affected his on-field performance in the second half of the season. Jackson still proved fantasy viable in his Weeks 9-16 stretch of playing time, finishing as the PPR WR23 during that span. When he has played at least 50% of the Redskins' offensive snaps, Jackson's receiving line is 60-1,169-7 on 96 targets over his last 16 games, which would've made Jackson last year's WR15 in non-PPR scoring and WR20 in PPR. Jackson is currently being drafted in the WR36-39 range. At age 29, Jackson enters his contract year as one of fantasy's top bargains at wide receiver.
Once one of the NFL's most underrated run-after-catch receivers, Pierre Garcon's on-field play continued to take turns for the worse in 2015. Thrust into a lead pass-catching role with Jackson hobbled and Jordan Reed out for two early-season games, Garcon's yards-per-target average (7.0) dipped for the third straight year and he averaged a career-low 10.8 yards per reception. Despite ranking 25th among wide receivers in targets, Garcon cleared 60 yards in just 4-of-16 games and topped 70 yards twice. Scoreless in Weeks 7-14, Garcon was barely usable in fantasy leagues for the duration of the season, until he hit pay dirt in three straight games to close out the year. Returns to health by Jackson and Reed will cut into Garcon's target count, while first-round pick Josh Doctson poses a major threat to his playing time. Garcon's reliability should keep him in Washington's wideout rotation, but he doesn't belong on re-draft-league radars and doesn't offer a high enough weekly ceiling for serious consideration in best ball.
A comparatively small (5'8/185) and slow (4.56) slot receiver who wins with suddenness, crisp routes, and sure hands, Jamison Crowder earned a surprisingly huge role as a fourth-round rookie last year, logging 77% of Washington's offensive snaps from Week 3 on. In spite of all that playing time, Crowder's 78 targets ranked 71st in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, the percentage of pass routes on which Crowder was targeted (14.8%) was dwarfed by Jordan Reed (24.5%), Garcon (19.0%), and Jackson (16.2%), and even backups Rashad Ross (20.3%) and Ryan Grant (15.6%). Crowder has a place in the NFL as a chain-moving possession receiver, but he isn't a prominent part of Washington's passing game. With Jackson healthy and first-round pick Josh Doctson on board, Crowder's snaps and targets both seem likely to take significant hits this season. As Jackson and Garcon are both in contract years, however, Crowder will likely become very interesting in 2017. He should be owned in all Dynasty leagues.
The 22nd pick in April's draft, Josh Doctson needed only three seasons at TCU to set school records in career receiving yards (2,785) and receiving TDs (29), averaging 15.5 yards per catch. Doctson blazed 4.5-flat at the Combine with explosive vertical (41") and broad (10'11") jumps. An elite athlete with plus size (6'2/202), Doctson is a consistent winner in the contested-catch game and was one of the top vertical wideouts in this year's rookie class. Doctson has drawn comparisons to DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson, and was likened to A.J. Green by Jay Gruden after the draft. Entering a deep pass-catcher corps, Doctson fell behind when he missed most of the spring with an Achilles' injury. Beat writers expect Doctson to open the season as the Redskins' fourth receiver behind Jackson, Garcon, and Crowder. Doctson still has the requisite talent to become a belated factor a la Keenan Allen or Odell Beckham. Certain to have a red-zone role, Doctson's upside is worthy of a late-round pick in all season-long leagues.
Not even expected to start until Niles Paul went down with fractured and dislocated ankle last preseason, Jordan Reed nevertheless emerged as the focus of Washington's passing attack en route to TE1 (PPR) and TE2 (non-PPR) finishes in fantasy points per game. Including the playoffs, Reed has a 109-1,218-12 receiving line in 17 career games with Cousins at quarterback. Reed's major red flag is his lack of durability. Having missed 14 games through three seasons, Reed's NFL medical history includes a bone bruise on his knee, pulled quadriceps, mid-foot sprain, strained quadriceps, strained left hamstring, strained right hamstring, arthroscopic knee surgery, and more hamstring and quad issues early last year. Reed had two known concussions in college and has had three more in the pros, suffering the latest last October. Reed also sat out June minicamp with an ankle injury. The Redskins were comfortable enough with Reed's health to sign him to a five-year, $46.5 million extension in May. Fantasy owners looking to invest an early-round pick into Reed obviously have to be willing to embrace risk, but his scoring upside is non-negotiable. In 12-team leagues, I'm targeting Reed around the 3.12/4.01 turn.
Running Game Outlook
A surprise 2015 third-round pick after a nondescript career at Florida, Matt Jones generated tons of preseason hype by averaging 7.0 yards per carry on 20 attempts last August before falling flat in the real games. He shuttled in and out of Gruden's doghouse, fumbling five times -- losing four -- and averaging an anemic 2.85 YPC from Week 3 on. Jones missed Weeks 16-17 and Washington's Wild Card loss with a hip injury, then underwent offseason surgery on his groin. An imposing, powerfully-built back at 6-foot-2, 231 with dreadlocks, watching Jones' tape can be deceptive because he looks like an explosive, violent runner at times, but is ultimately a BenJarvus Green-Ellis-level talent with worse ball security. Green-Ellis was a top-25 fantasy back three times, of course, and Jones' workload projection alone makes him an enticing fantasy pick when he lasts until the sixth and seventh rounds of 12-team drafts. The Redskins lost a whopping 244 running back touches from last year's roster, including 219 carries. In an underrated offense with an underrated line, 300 touches and double-digit touchdowns are within Jones' potential range of 2016 outcomes. He could also easily prove a total dud.
Jones' iffiness makes his backups somewhat intriguing fantasy prospects. Brittle passing-down specialist Chris Thompson has some PPR appeal coming off a 35-catch season in 13 games, followed by an eight-catch, 89-yard performance in Washington's playoff loss to Green Bay. A 5-foot-7, 192-pound speedster, Thompson needs to stay healthy and improve as a pass blocker to prevent the Redskins from signing someone like Pierre Thomas, who spent a month with the team last year. 5-foot-11, 219 with 4.31 speed, seventh-round pick Keith Marshall posted the best Speed Score ever recorded by Football Outsiders at this year's Combine, but was injured for most of his college career, got injured again at spring practices, and will enter camp on the roster bubble. More so than Thompson, Marshall has theoretical feature back ability if he can ever overcome the injury bug. Marshall is worth rostering in most Dynasty leagues.
2016 Vegas Win Total
I was a big proponent of the over on Washington's Win Total last year and am going back to that well this season. The biggest obstacle is a schedule ESPN's Mike Clay rated as one of the NFL's five toughest, and Warren Sharp deemed second most difficult behind only San Francisco. Nevertheless, GM Scot McCloughan has done an extremely impressive roster-building job through two seasons, combining an offense capable of both moving the chains and challenging vertically with a defense that can lock down the perimeter with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland and will therefore have more freedom to blitz. The Redskins' Win Total is 7.5 games. I think we'll see them win 8-10 and make a strong run at their second straight NFC East crown.