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Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Need to Know: Tandler’s Take—Dramatic improvement to Redskins rushing defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, October 16, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking Points

A better 3-2

For the third straight year, the Redskins are 3-2 after five games. As you know, they did not make the playoffs after either of the last two seasons. But they are in better shape in the standings now than they were in 2016 or 2017. Last year they were in second place in the division, a game and a half behind the 5-1 Eagles. They were worse off two years ago as they were in third place behind the 3-1 Eagles and the Cowboys, who were 4-1. 

It’s still very early, but it’s better to be in first place nearly a third of the way into the season than it is to be in second or third place and being in a position where you have to chase one or two teams. 

Take it away

The Redskins had three takeaways against the Panthers—the fumble recovery on the punt, Josh Norman’s interception, and the fumble forced by Norman and recovered by Mason Foster. They did not give the ball away. The last time they got at least three takeaways without giving the ball up was on Christmas Eve, 2016 in Chicago. Perhaps not coincidentally, that is the last game in which Norman had an interception until Sunday. 

After being either even or in the positive in takeaway ratio in four of their five games this year, the Redskins are now tied for fourth in the NFL with a plus-four turnover margin. If they can stay on the even or plus side from week to week they will have a very good chance at being successful. 

Rushing D much improved

After finishing 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed in 2017, the Redskins are currently sixth, giving up an average of 90.2 yards per game. The improvement has come even though they have faced premiere running backs David Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, and Christian McCaffrey. They have allowed no more than 104 yards on the ground in any of their five games. Last year's opponents ran for 127 yards or more 10 times. Their defense will be tested on Sunday against the Cowboys, who average 147 rushing yards per game on the ground, second in the NFL. 

Looking in the mirror

When the Redskins take a look at the Cowboys they might feel like they are watching themselves. Both teams run the ball well, although Ezekiel Elliott is more consistent than Adrian Peterson. Alex Smith has better passing stats than Dak Prescott but both teams are in the bottom third of the league in passing yards. The defenses on both teams are strong. Washington is sixth in yardage allowed per game and the Cowboys are fifth. 

And both teams have started off the season alternating wins and losses. Dallas started with a loss to the Panthers then beat the Giants, lost to the Seahawks, won over the Lions, suffered an OT loss to the Texans and then thumped the Jaguars. It will be an interesting match up on Sunday.

The agenda

Today: Off day, no media availability

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Giants 12; Redskins @ Eagles 48



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Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

Stock Up, Stock Down: Montae Nicholson and Samaje Perine going in opposite directions

The Redskins lost to the Bengals Thursday night at FedEx Field, but in the preseason, final results don't really matter. What matters comes in individual and group performances, particularly among first-team units.

In that vein, the Redskins starting defense looked strong against Cincinnati. Outside of some dumb and wacky penalty calls, the starting defense barely gave up any first downs. A number of players impressed on that group, so let's start with the stocks trending in the right direction. 

Stock Up

  • Montae Nicholson - The 96-yard interception return for a touchdown was an impressive display of playmaking ability and speed, but more than that, it was the culmination of a strong offseason and training camp. For the Redskins to be a Top 10 defense, Nicholson needs to be the hard-hitting stud that Washington fans saw glimpses of as a rookie in 2017. Last year was a lost season for Nicholson, who dealt with injuries, getting benched and legal troubles. 2019 is a new start, and so far, it looks quite good. 
  • Adrian Peterson - Not that a first-ballot Hall of Famer really needs preseason validation, but when Peterson ripped off a 26-yard run in the first quarter against the Bengals it became pretty obvious he's ready to go for 2019. And it's important too as second-year back Derrius Guice still isn't cleared for competition. 
  • Robert Davis - Another week, another long touchdown. If there's a handbook to show how to force your way onto a roster, Davis is reading from it. 
  • Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne - These dudes are beasts. 

Despite the good news, there was bad news too. Here's that list:

Stock Down

  • Samaje Perine - Five carries for one yard against Cincy. You read that right. That comes after a poor showing in pass protection in the preseason opener. Jay Gruden always sings praises of Perine but hasn't after the last two preseason games. Prior to Shaun Wilson's ankle injury, he seemed like a guy that could really push for Perine's roster spot. Could that be Byron Marshall now?
  • Paul Richardson - The speedster wideout missed the Bengals game, and the word from one Redskins coach was "he's hurt." Many players get held out of preseason action with slight injuries, stuff they would play through in the regular season. That's not the deal with Richardson. He needs to get right. 
  • Cole Holcomb - If you can't make the club in the tub, Holcomb needs to get back on the field. While he's not in actual roster danger because of the growing number of injuries at inside linebacker, Holcomb is dealing with an AC joint issue. Linebackers need their shoulders, and Holcomb missed a valuable opportunity against the Bengals with presumed starter Shaun Dion Hamilton already out for that game. 
  • Nate Kaczor - The Redskins new Special Teams coach is off to a rough start. In two preseason games Washington has already given up two punt return touchdowns, and against the Bengals, kicker Dustin Hopkins missed an extra point and a field goal. Special teams are tricky in the preseason. In the regular season with 53-man rosters, starting players land on special teams. In the preseason with 90-man rosters, it's largely a collection of players that won't make the final roster lining up on special teams. Still, ugly start. 


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Fantasy Football WR Rankings 2019 2.1

Fantasy Football WR Rankings 2019 2.1

With the preseason off and running it is finally time for fantasy football leagues to do the same.

For a tiered breakdown of each fantasy football position, click below:

Running Back
Wide Receiver
Tight End

By far the deepest position in fantasy football, wide receiver is also the hardest to predict. Statistics will yield trends in terms of matchups and volume, but can't account for injuries, whether or not the player is heavily targeted in one game or the next, or if a player in a good situation gets moved to an iffy one (see Golden Tate) or vice versa (see Amari Cooper). Some opt to select their wideouts later than others, but some wideouts (see DeAndre Hopkins) will put up just as good numbers as the best halfbacks that you can't afford to miss on them if you are selecting towards the back end of your draft.

TIER 1: First-round talent

1. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

2018 Stats: 115 Receptions, 1,572 Receiving YDS, 11 Receiving TD, 2018 WR1
Previous Ranking: 1

2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
2018 Stats: 111 Receptions, 1,386 Receiving YDS, 13 Receiving TD, 2018 WR2
Previous Ranking: 2

3. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
2018 Stats: 125 Receptions, 1,405 Receiving YDS, 9 Receiving TD, 2018 WR6
Previous Ranking: 4

4. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 75 Receptions, 1,005 Receiving YDS, 7 Receiving TD, 2018 WR19
Previous Ranking: 3

5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
2018 Stats: 113 Receptions, 1,677 Receiving YDS, 8 Receiving TD, 2018 WR4
Previous Ranking: 5

TIER 2: Borderline WR1's

6. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
2018 Stats: 87 Receptions, 1,479 Receiving YDS, 12 Receiving TD, 2018 WR3
Previous Ranking: 13

7. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
2018 Stats: 111 Receptions, 1,426 Receiving YDS, 7 Receiving TD, 2018 WR8
Previous Ranking: 8

8. Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
2018 Stats: 106 Passing YDS, 2 Passing TD, 77 Receptions, 1,052 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR15
Previous Ranking: 6

9. Antonio Brown, Oakland Raiders?
2018 Stats: 104 Receptions, 1,297 Receiving YDS, 15 Receiving TD, 2018 WR5
Previous Ranking: 12

10. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
2018 Stats: 97 Receptions, 1,196 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR12
Previous Ranking: 9

11. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings
2018 Stats: 113 Receptions, 1,373 Receiving YDS, 9 Receiving TD, 2018 WR7
Previous Ranking: 7

12. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
2018 Stats: 76 Receptions, 1,270 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR14
Previous Ranking: 17

13. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2018 Stats: 86 Receptions, 1,524 Receiving YDS, 8 Receiving TD, 2018 WR9
Previous Ranking: 11

TIER 3: High-end WR2's

14. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

2018 Stats: 40 Receptions, 566 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR50
Previous Ranking: 10

15. Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
2018 Stats: 102 Receptions, 1,021 Receiving YDS, 9 Receiving TD, 2018 WR10
Previous Ranking: 16

16. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
2018 Stats: 57 Receptions, 965 Receiving YDS, 10 Receiving TD, 2018 WR16
Previous Ranking: 20

17. Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
2018 Stats: 157 Rushing YDS, 1 Rushing TD, 86 Receptions, 1,219 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR11
Previous Ranking: 15

18. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
2018 Stats: 74 Receptions, 850 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR20
Previous Ranking: 29

TIER 4: On the cusp

19. Brandin Cooks, Los Angeles Rams

2018 Stats: 1 Rushing TD, 80 Receptions, 1,204 Receiving YDS, 5 Receiving TD, 2018 WR13
Previous Ranking: 18

20. Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
2018 Stats: 70 Receptions, 1,063 Receiving YDS, 5 Receiving TD, 2018 WR21
Previous Ranking: 19

21. AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals
2018 Stats: 46 Receptions, 694 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR43
Previous Ranking: 14

22. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2018 Stats: 59 Receptions, 842 Receiving YDS, 7 Receiving TD, 2018 WR27
Previous Ranking: 21

23. D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
2018 Stats: 172 Rushing YDS, 55 Receptions, 788 Receiving YDS, 2 Receiving TD, 2018 WR36
Previous Ranking: 22

24. Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
2018 Stats: 76 Receptions, 1,028 Receiving YDS, 7 Receiving TD, 2018 WR17
Previous Ranking: 26

25. Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
2018 Stats: 1 Rushing TD, 43 Receptions, 664 Receiving YDS, 10 Receiving TD, 2018 WR32
Previous Ranking: 39

26. Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 65 Receptions, 843 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR26
Previous Ranking: 32

TIER 5: Best of the rest and late-round finds

27. Josh Gordon, New England Patriots 

2018 Stats: 41 Receptions, 737 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR47
Previous Ranking: NR

28. Will Fuller V, Houston Texans
2018 Stats: 32 Receptions, 503 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR68 
Previous Ranking
: 23

29. Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
2018 Stats: 1 Rushing TD, 81 Receptions, 976 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR18
Previous Ranking: 25

30. Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
2018 Stats: 65 Receptions, 891 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR28
Previous Ranking: 35

31. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
2018 Stats: 64 Receptions, 821 Receiving YDS, 10 Receiving TD, 2018 WR22
Previous Ranking: 38

32. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears
2018 Stats: 55 Receptions, 754 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR39
Previous Ranking: 28

33. Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
2018 Stats: 35 Receptions, 508 Receiving YDS, 5 Receiving TD, 2018 WR62
Previous Ranking: 27

34. Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
2018 Stats: 40 Receptions, 519 Receiving YDS, 3 Receiving TD, 2018 WR63
Previous Ranking: 24

35. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
2018 Stats: 1 Passing TD, 69 Receptions, 734 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR25
Previous Ranking: 30

36. Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears
2018 Stats: 33 Receptions, 423 Receiving YDS, 7 Receiving TD, 2018 WR59
Previous Ranking: NR

37. Devin Funchess, Indianapolis Colts
2018 Stats: 44 Receptions, 549 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR58
Previous Ranking: 31

38. Robby Anderson, New York Jets
2018 Stats: 50 Receptions, 752 Receiving YDS, 6 Receiving TD, 2018 WR38
Previous Ranking: 37

39. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 1 Rushing TD, 41 Receptions, 774 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR41
Previous Ranking: 40

40. Golden Tate, New York Giants
2018 Stats: 74 Receptions, 795 Receiving YDS, 4 Receiving TD, 2018 WR29
Previous Ranking: 34