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Fantasy Football: Redskins options post-Derrius Guice injury

Fantasy Football: Redskins options post-Derrius Guice injury

Talking about fake football ramifications from a brutal real-world turn seems indelicate, particularly in this case to Redskins rookie Derrius Guice. Washington’s 2018 second-round pick brought boundless enthusiasm to the field, starry hope to the fan base and the highest ceiling for the running back room since Clinton Portis. Then Guice tore his left ACL in Thursday’s preseason opener. All that optimism gets shelved and “what now” questions take over. That’s the reality.

Fantasy owners were all ready to select Guice in the third round of drafts. Despite some unofficial depth chart tomfoolery, the LSU product was poised to handle early-down work for Washington. This wasn’t just about opportunity, always a key for fantasy hope, but a talented player set for heavy work. Guice’s pass-catching skills offered another potential outlet for production even with Chris Thompson around. 

Nobody will, or at least shouldn't consider selecting a Redskins runner anywhere in that vicinity. In fact, we’re not looking at a stay-away situation in standard formats. The actual Redskins football team has a deeper than usual group of running backs this year. It’s just that none offer the three-down potential and difference-maker ceiling as Guice. Only Thompson, who is still recovering from a season-ending broken leg last winter, is worth considering around the 10th or 11th round in PPR leagues. That’s the reality. 

Robert Kelley is the best bet to replace Guice initially. “Fat Rob” is clearly thinner and quicker this season. His coach is a fan. There’s just not much there, there in terms singular skills upon which the coaching staff can game plan around. That the offense remains dicey with run blocking adds further concern for a back who can turn a two-yard loss into a no-gain, but doesn’t have the gear and shiftiness to break off big plays.

Samaje Perine offers more power and potential. Without Guice, his goal-line touches go up. The 2017 fourth-round selection also brings shakier football instincts as a blocker and runner. He averaged a meager 3.4 yards on 175 carries last season playing behind an offensive rarely intact. If Perine keeps the pads low and the feet moving when in search of space, he could overtake Kelley and possibly turn into an RB2/flex candidate. For now, that’s not the reality.

Chris Thompson’s 2017 ended with a thud, but that injury didn’t remove the shine from his breakout campaign. The dual-threat scatback had 39 receptions and over 800 yards from scrimmage in 10 games. Thompson just isn’t built for a heavy workload. The ten touches a game he received last season is about right. The catches can help offset the limited work in PPR, but otherwise, there isn’t enough scoring potential. Thompson said he’s 90 percent of the way back from the injury with the remaining 10 percent mostly mental, meaning accepting the healing process is legit. 

Somebody will get the work, of course. If forced to pick I’d say Perine over Kelley in standard just because of goal-line potential, while Thompson is the best hope in fantasy as an RBBC option at best. 

There is another name worth considering. Byron Marshall might be the most intriguing player here. The 5-foot-9 runner provides the Redskins with insurance in case Thompson needs a break or isn’t quite ready for the opener. The former Oregon Duck showed his burst in the preseason opener with a catch-and-run touchdown. The Redskins might not be able to replace Guice’s power and vision, but with Thompson and Marshall they do have some explosive talent. Don’t look to draft Marshall – he still needs to make the team – but let’s see where we are in a couple of weeks with this backfield.

Kapri Bibbs is another player who could make the roster in most years. He showed some pop in work late last season and with a 41-yard run in the preseason opener, but Bibbs might be the odd man out even with the Guice injury.

With the Guice injury, the Redskins running backs should mostly be left out of any fantasy football conversations regarding building blocks. That's the reality.


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A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

A Madden ratings performance adjustor explains what goes into the job that everyone's jealous of

Even on a field filled with NFL players, experienced coaches and a few celebrities, Clint Oldenburg stood out. 

It wasn’t because of his stature or that he used to play pro football, either.

It was due to his jacket.

A jacket, which led to a photo, which led to a tweet, which led to unexpected Internet fame, all thanks to the four words written on Oldenburg’s back: “Madden Ratings Performance Adjustor.”

Oldenburg was spending Week 9 at FedEx Field, sent by EA Sports to get more information on Adrian Peterson at that afternoon’s Redskins-Falcons game. The future Hall of Famer is in the middle of a comeback season, so Oldenburg was charged with checking in on him.

4.5 million Twitter impressions later, Oldenburg now knows that countless people are supremely jealous of his weekend vocation.

"I wasn’t really engaging on my cell phone during the game, and then when I was catching my cab to the airport after the game I looked at it and said, ‘Holy crap,’” he said in a recent phone interview.

"I was in shock as to what was happening.”

A fifth-round pick of the Patriots in 2007, Oldenburg also had brief stints with the Jets and a few others, including the Redskins. These days, he spends Monday-Friday working to make Madden’s gameplay better.

But he’s also a part of the Ratings Adjustor team, a small group of evaluators who travel to stadiums, observe players and submit their notes to a fellow employee. That primary analyst takes their notes into account and then has the final say on every player’s precious overall rating, which can fluctuate with each Madden update. 

Now, you may find the idea of sending someone to the site of a matchup to do this gig a bit preposterous. But according to Oldenburg, being there in-person does make a major difference.

"The benefits of the sideline really are for pregame,” he explained. “Just seeing how guys are working in pregame, getting a close-up view of their actual athletic skills, their footwork.”

Oldenburg also likes the “better perspective” he gets once the action kicks off. For example, while focusing on Peterson during the Burgundy and Gold’s loss to Atlanta, he felt like No. 26 missed some cutback lanes, something Oldenburg always finds himself paying attention to thanks to his days battling along the line.

Much like the thousands of social media users who shared various reactions about his job, players take an interest in him as well.

While in Landover, kicker Dustin Hopkins found Oldenburg on the sideline and passed along a request: That day, the team was planning on kicking off short as opposed to through the end zone, so Hopkins wanted to make sure his kick power wouldn't be decreased. 

"They wanna come talk about what we’re doing,” Oldenburg said about the athletes he’s tasked with grading. "Information like that is always valuable."

After his playing career wrapped up, Oldenburg jumped into an internship working on the video game that he loved growing up. “Everything took off” after that 10-week program, and he’s been enjoying it ever since.

"I always had to scratch and claw for everything I got,” he said near the end of the call. "I wanted to find a career that I knew I’d be happy doing.”

In the end, he landed in a career that makes him happy. And as one viral tweet showed, plenty of others would be happy in his role too. 


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Don't look now but Redskins drafts are starting to produce among the NFL's best


Don't look now but Redskins drafts are starting to produce among the NFL's best

For years, maybe decades, the Redskins did not treat the NFL Draft with the seriousness of the best teams in the league. 

The organization often traded away important picks for veterans, and when Washington did make picks, they missed. 

T.J. Duckett for a third-round selection? Sure.

Malcolm Kelly, Fred Davis and Devin Thomas in the second round? Sure.

A second-round pick for Donovan McNabb? Sure. 

The trade to acquire Robert Griffin III doesn't even need to be mentioned. That trade, while giving up a boatload of first-round picks, at least produced an NFC East title, even if it ended spectacularly. 

Anyway, enough about how things used to be run. Things are run differently now, and the results are obvious. 

The 2018 Redskins defense contains plenty of draft picks. The team found first-round success with Daron Payne and Johnathan Allen, but also late round picks like Greg Stroman and Matt Ioannidis.

Offensively, many of the biggest names came through the draft, even if some are injured now. Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Josh Doctson. All draft picks, some early, some late, some mid-rounders. 

Add it all up and it shows the Redskins have overhauled their personnel philosophy. The NFL draft has become the centerpiece of team building, not free agency. 

This procedural change was a long time coming, and it's working. 

Keep in mind the above stat means draft picks still playing in the NFL but doesn't necessarily mean still playing on the team that drafted them. For the Burgundy and Gold, that means players like Kendall Fuller of the Chiefs, Ryan Grant of the Colts, Spencer Long of the Jets and Brian Orakpo of the Titans. 

Bigger picture, however, it means the Redskins are drafting and drafting well. Nearly half of the current 53-man roster came from Redskins draft picks, and that doesn't include undrafted success stories like Quinton Dunbar, Maurice Harris and Danny Johnson. 

The Redskins have become a team focused on acquiring more picks in each draft, even letting their own home grown players walk to pile up compensatory picks. 

It's a formula many successful teams like the Packers and Patriots have used for a long time.

In Washington, it's a relatively new way to design the roster, but it seems much more effective than the old way.