Redskins

Chiefs waiting to hit bottom during 7-game skid

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Chiefs waiting to hit bottom during 7-game skid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel laid out for his team Monday exactly what it will take to end their seven-game losing streak, then questioned whether the solution is even possible.

``We know we have to fight. We have to do everything in our power to be the best we can be, to be perfect,'' he said during a break in meetings. ``That's what I told them, we have to be perfect because that's the only way we have a chance.''

Later, Crennel admitted, ``Nobody is ever perfect, you know.''

That doesn't bode well for a team trying to reach mediocrity, much less perfection.

The Chiefs' 28-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday dropped them to 1-9 on the season, their lone victory requiring a franchise-record 18-point comeback at New Orleans.

They've been ravaged by injuries, lead the league in turnovers, can't settle on a quarterback and are now dealing with a full-fledged fan rebellion, which has resulted in people dressed in black occupying the seats at Arrowhead Stadium, and fliers calling for the general manager's job.

The Twitter account for a fan group known as ``Save Our Chiefs'' recently surpassed 80,000 followers, about 17,000 more than the announced crowd on Sunday and probably twice as many as actually found their way inside the stadium during another disheartening loss.

``We love Kansas City. We're not upset at our fans,'' linebacker Andy Studebaker said. ``They have a right to be upset. In the NFL, you have to create a home-field advantage. It doesn't just show up for you. It's a two-way street with us and the fans.''

Things certainly won't get any easier for Kansas City with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos visiting Sunday. After that comes a home date with Carolina that could help determine who has the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next year.

Jacksonville is the only other team sitting at 1-9, while Carolina and Cleveland are 2-8. The Chiefs visit the Browns on Dec. 9.

``We understand the fan frustration,'' cornerback Brandon Flowers said. ``This is the team they love, and they love watching, and they ain't winning. Who wouldn't be upset?''

Crennel said he hasn't decided who will start at quarterback against the Broncos after lifting starter Matt Cassel for Brady Quinn at halftime of Sunday's loss to Cincinnati.

Cassel was the starter early in the season before sustaining a concussion against Baltimore, and then lost his job when he was cleared to return. Quinn was knocked out with his own concussion in his second start, and wasn't cleared to play until late last week.

That's why Cassel got the starting nod and Quinn was brought on in relief.

Things aren't much more settled on the injury front, where wide receivers Jon Baldwin and Dwayne Bowe are both dealing with head and neck injuries. It's uncertain either will be available this week, though Crennel sounded optimistic they will be cleared to play.

The offensive line also remains in flux.

Right guard Jon Asamoah is being fitted for a cast after having surgery on his thumb, and he could be back after missing a game. Left tackle Branden Albert has been dealing with back spasms, and center Ryan Lilja has an ankle injury that kept him out of Sunday's game.

``It's tough,'' right tackle Eric Winston said. ``My rookie year (with Houston), we were 6-10, and that was tough. To be honest with you, I don't know if we were even good enough to win that many games. But that was a different team. It was a young team, a ton of rookies playing, a new regime kind of thing. I've never been around something like this, to tell you the truth.''

The Chiefs have only led twice in a game this season, and they've been outscored 185-84 during their seven-game slide. They converted just one third down against Cincinnati, two fewer than the Bengals converted on fourth down, and were fortunate to only lose one of their three fumbles.

Things have been so bad this season that Crennel fired himself as defensive coordinator.

Now, he's wondering whether there are any other strings he can pull to engender change in a franchise floundering hopelessly out of control, or whether the best he can hope for is to be competitive enough down the stretch that he still has a job come January.

``It's all about the mentality that the players have, because when you lose, nobody is happy about losing,'' Crennel said. ``Everybody is frustrated about losing, you know? Players, coaches, fans, owners, everybody. What we want and what we need is to try to win a game to make us feel better, give us a little confidence, and then if you win one, maybe we can win another.''

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

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Zach Brown says Redskins defense will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor during joint practices

Terrelle Pryor made a number of highlight reel catches last year during training camp, and it appears the Redskins defense didn't like it. 

Washington's marquee free agent signing last season, Pryor came into Richmond with sky-high expectations. Throughout the training sessions last August, Pryor put on one-handed displays at the Jugs machine and often made big catches in team drills. It's also important to remember there was never any live tackling during these drills, leaving defenders at a distinct disadvantage. 

Zach Brown remembers the scene quite well, and thinks it will look very different this summer when Pryor comes to Richmond as a member of the New York Jets. 

"That’s going to be something right there. The boys are gonna have it out for him. We can put hands on him now," Brown said on Inside the Locker Room on the Team 980 (full audio here).

Brown explained that Redskins coach Jay Gruden would not allow the defense to hit Pryor last year, even when the wideout did some showboating. 

"Jay ain't here to protect you anymore," Brown said.

The Redskins linebacker explained that he tried to explain to Pryor that the one-handed catches from training camp would not translate in the NFC East, where players get hit hard. It doesn't seem like Pryor listened, as he finished the season with only 240 receiving yards on 20 catches in nine games. 

"The boys were already hot for what he was doing last year," Brown said. He added, "Try to one-hand something while you’re with the Jets, you’re gonna catch a forearm."

One incident that supports Brown's comments came when Bashaud Breeland got thrown off the practice field last training camp. Breeland got mad that he wasn't allowed to get physical with Pryor at the line of scrimmage, and the scene blew up. Breeland eventually got sent off the field after arguing with coaches. 

The Jets visit the Redskins for three days of practices beginning August 12th. The two teams then square off in the second preseason game on August 16th. 

Brown will get his chance at Pryor, assuming the wideout plays. Pryor finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve, but is expected to be fine once training camp begins in New York. 

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

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Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Week 12

We're just a couple of weeks away from the midway point of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, which means many casual fantasy baseball players have collectively turned their attention to the gridiron. This is good news for those of you still interested, because outside of the truly competitive leagues, it's about to get much easier to navigate the waiver wire and make winning trades.

That said, we'll still be here all season long, providing advice for anyone looking to gain a competitive edge in their fantasy leagues. There's a lot to digest in the upcoming week, as many teams (including the Washington Nationals) will play a full seven game slate. It's an especially great time for stars in baseball, as a whopping six players are on pace to record seasons with 8.7 Wins Above Replacement or higher, but there's still plenty of great options beyond the obvious guys.

NOTE: Don’t expect to see guys like Bryce Harper or Trea Turner mentioned too often. They are clear must-starts every week. Don’t overthink it.

Week 12 (6/18-6/24)

One Nationals pitcher to start: Max Scherzer

We won't often include a guy on the level of Mad Max in our recommendations, but consider this a statement against the other pitchers. With Stephen Strasburg on the DL, Gio Gonzalez is really the only other startable option in the rotation, and while he's a fine play against the Orioles, he's not a sure thing. Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball, so when in doubt, it's easy to fall back on his name. For now, feel free to use Gonzalez if needed, but the only clear, recommendable one this week is Scherzer.

One Nationals position player to start: Adam Eaton, OF

Consider this your reminder to not get cute and just start Adam Eaton whenever he's healthy. When he can manage to avoid time on the disabled list, he's consistenly been one of the best players in Washington, and an absolute must-start in fantasy. Yes, he's hitting "just" .286 in five games since returning from the DL, but there's no reason to believe he won't bounce back to one of the top hitters in the National League once he gets back in the swing of things. As long as he's hitting at the top of the Washington lineup, he'll be one of the top run producers in baseball.

One Nationals pitcher to sit: Erick Fedde

We likely would have advised against starting Fedde regardless of matchup, given his relative struggles in his two starts with the Nats this season. He's got a nice 9:2 strikeout-to-walk rate, but the ERA sits at an unsightly 5.91. What makes matters worse is the matchup; Fedde is once again slated to face the vaunted New York Yankees lineup. In New York, he allowed two home runs in just five innings, and while Nats park isn't the hitter's haven that Yankee Stadium is, the sluggers in their lineup make for a daunting matchup in any city.

Fedde probably isn't owned in most leagues, and there's no reason for that to change, even with his spot in the rotation likely secure as long as Strasburg isn't throwing.. 

One Nationals player to sit: Daniel Murphy, 2B

Nats fans were understandably rejoicing when Daniel Murphy returned to the lineup last week. It's always fun when one of your stars is back on the field after missing so much time. Still, like most players who haven't face in-game pitching in several months, Murphy has been slow to re-adjust at the plate. He's recorded just two hits in 15 at-bats, has only walked once, and has yet to notch an extra-base hit of any kind. His OPS is below-.200, and while no one should expect that to last, there's no need to rush him back into your lineups either.

It would be pretty tempting to slot Murphy into your 2B or middle infield spot now that he's healthy, since you likely drafted him to be one of your studs, but given his lengthy absence, the nature of his original injury, and his slow start since returning, it's probably a good idea to leave him on your bench for a week or two. Once he starts driving the ball again, he can start to return value for you, but there's no reason to let him drag you down in the meantime.

Any 2-start pitchers for the Nationals this week?

Given that the rotation is currently in a state of flux, we can't confidently say any starter will get two starts. Fedde looks like the most likely candidate, but as we outlined above, he's still a pitcher you want to avoid for now.

Any 2-start pitchers worth streaming around MLB this week?

One of my favorite sleepers this week is Domingo German. One of the most surprising stats in all of baseball right now is that among starting pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched, German has the second best swinging strike rate, behind only Max Scherzer. Swinging strike rate is a great stat to use when projecting future strikeout potential, and German's 15.9% is mighty impressive. German has a start at home against the Mariners and on the road against the Rays, so while it's not a cakewalk week, it's not especially daunting either. As an added bonus for those in points leagues, German is RP-eligible, giving you some extra roster flexibility.

The walks are a little high (21 in 53.3 innings) which has let to an elevated WHIP and ERA, but it's a good rule of thumb to follow the strikeouts when identifiying quality fantasy pitchers, and considering most of the two-start guys this week are obvious studs who are certainly already owned in your league, German is the exact type of option you should be looking to stream.

One player you might not realize you should pick up: John Hicks, C/1B (Tigers) 

This is a sneaky move, the kind that could easily get overlooked in most fantasy leagues but could provide a great return on investment. With Miguel Cabrera's unfortunate season-ending biceps injury providing an opening in the everyday lineup in Detroit, Hicks (who is catcher elgibile) will be taking most of the team's at-bats at first base going forward. While he's probably not worth rostering as a first baseman in most leagues, catcher is a notorious black hole in fantasy baseball in recent years, and this season might be the wost yet.

Hicks will maintain catcher eligibility all season long, yet he'll play the far less demanding first base every day, giving him less wear and tear on his legs, less concern with running the pitching staff, and most importantly, regular at-bats in a surprisingly not-atrocious lineup. Hicks isn't the type of guy you'd refer to as a league-winner prior to Opening Day, but he could make a real impact on a championship roster in the second half of the season.

One player you might not realize you should drop: Jake Junis, SP (Royals) 

Junis isn't the type of pitcher that I'd classify as a must-drop, but you shouldn't hesitate to move on if there's a clear better option on the waiver wire. Junis started the season strong and looked like a legitimate breakout player, but he's allowed six earned runs in each of his last two starts. A poor two-start stretch isn't the end of the world, which is why I'm not suggest that everyone jump ship regardless of team context. That said, he doesn't have the pedigree of a top pitching prospect, and he plays for one of the five worst teams in baseball, meaning you can't expect many wins even when Junis is throwing well.

At the very least, you prbably should leave Junis on the bench for the time being, and again, if there's an option you've been eyeing on the waiver wire, now is the time to strike. Don't feel bad if that means leaving Junis behind to free up a roster spot for your team.

MORE NATS NEWS:

- Nice Threads: MLB reveals All-Star jerseys
- Rankings Update: Where did the Nats fall?
- On the Farm: Latest Nats prospect report