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Fantasy Fix: Hankerson, roster strategy and Week 5 Waver Wire

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Fantasy Fix: Hankerson, roster strategy and Week 5 Waver Wire

Starting lineup options and decisions rightfully dominate fantasy football discussion. How owners manage the back end of the roster might be the key ingredient over the remaining weeks.

We've concluded the first quarter of the fantasy football season, which is around the time the free agent pool starts having that picked over look. Sure, some interesting options like Duke Johnson, Allen Hurns and Coby Fleener might be available. However, even those players and certainly the next rung down are not necessarily better than those at the end of your bench unless you're like an owner in one of my friend leagues and still holding Kai Forbath. Yet bye weeks and injuries are starting to wreck havoc on your weekly options. What to do, what to do.

Before we get to the Week 5 fre agents, some strategy talk. Here's one random tactic I've used when in a roster pinch: Cut the kicker.

We could also call this "How to finagle an extra roster spot each week" and it goes something like this.

Unless you own Stephen Gostkowski, Matt Bryant, Mason Crosby, Brandon McManus, Justin Tucker and perhaps Cairo Santos or Josh Brown, cut your kicker. Specifically, use your kicker as your initial cut man each week if you don't have an obvious player to otherwise axe.

Imagine you're a DeSean Jackson owner hoping your guy returns from his hamstring injury this week. Alas, you also have Brandon Marshall on a bye, meaning you're on to plan C or possibly needing two helpful options in three-receiver leagues. Maybe Marvin Jones is on your roster. He isn't bad, but is facing Richard Sherman and the Seahawks.  Meanwhile Leonard Hankerson looks like a nice free agent pickup seeing as the Falcons are facing the beat up Redskins secondary.

The standard moves involves cutting a position player from your roster -- there is almost, almost no reason to have a backup defense or kicker for anything more than needing a one-week rental. That's not always an easy call. That's why you instead cut your lone kicker.

Now in theory you added Hankerson. Yes, you will eventually need to add another kicker by Saturday night or Sunday morning depending on your league rules. Until then, you have 4-5 days with which to, in this case, wait on Jackson news and contemplate options.

Oh, you also suddenly have an extra chip for trade talks. Since you need an open spot eventually, a generous 3-for-2 trade works perfectly. Worst case, you cut Hankerson or Jones -- though both are worthy of rostering -- or another player at the end of the week. No harm, no foul other than maybe a few free agent dollars. (Don't give up the top waiver spot for this gambit). Also note the late drop means nobody else will be able to pick up that released player for next week's waivers. If you miss having Hankerson or Jones or Alex Smith or Larry Donnell, get him back next week.

* All of this also applies to defenses when you don't have say the Seahawks, Broncos, Panthers, Cardinals or Jets. Speaking of defenses, another level of this cutting a player move is the "defensive look ahead." Those that stream defenses often wait until that week to snag the unit of choice. When possible, avoid the rush and make the move the week before. Not a full week out, but when you get to the weekend, take an honest look at your roster. If you have some dead weight, help your future lineup out. In Week 6, the Lions hosting Jay Cutler works. No need to grab the Jaguars against the Texans in advance, however.

* If you didn't listen to me about the importance of adding handcuffs during drafts, I implore you to do so now. Absolutely worth the investment for most of your top runners. Beats massively overspending with FAAB or being snaked in waivers. Not all backups are true handcuffs because they have standalone value (Giovani Bernard, Matt Jones, Ryan Mathews, etc). If you have their respective starters, owning Knile Davis (Chiefs), James Starks (Packers), Lorenzo Taliaferro (Ravens), Tre Mason (Rams) and perhaps even Charles Sims (Bucs) makes far more sense than sixth WR or maybe even a backup QB.

MORE NFL: After concussion, status for Jordan Reed remains unclear

Week 5 free agents

Quarterbacks

1. Jay Cutler - Can never feel terribly comfortable with Smokin' Jay especially on the road, but the Chiefs are allowing the most fantasy points to QBs this season.

2. Blake Bortles - Keeps posting productive fantasy numbers largely because of his two totally viable receiver playmakers, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Expect good numbers against the Bucs.

3. Alex Smith - Hold your nose and just note Smith faces a Bears defense is one of three that has allowed at least 10 touchdown passes this season.

4. Kirk Cousins - Unless they stun the world, good chance the Redskins are in catch up mode during the second half, which means lots of pass attempts.

Running backs

1. Ronnie Hillman - The Broncos backfield is no less than a true timeshare with Hillman looking like the better option over the laboring C.J. Anderson. The number one pickup overall if available.

2. Duke Johnson - Cleveland finally turned their rookie loose as a pass catcher. More importantly, Johnson received significantly more snaps than Isaiah Crowell. He could steal the job outright.

3. Thomas Rawls - Sounds like Marshawn Lynch will play in Week 5, but injury setbacks happen. Lynch owners should certainly own Rawls. Others can take a flyer knowing Rawls could be a weekly RB2 as a starter in this run-heavy attack.

4. Darren McFadden - Anybody else notice Joseph Randle only received four carries in the second half of the Sunday night loss to the Saints? McFadden is the obvious short-term get. For those thinking long-term, the Christine Michael train is starting to gain momentum.

5. David Johnson - Just keeps making explosive plays, but not receiving enough work to use and now Andre Ellington is set to return. Lottery ticket stash.

6. Antonio Andrews - The lead RB job for the Titans isn't exactly the most secure of job, but Andrews grabbed in Week 3. In case you forgot that with Tennessee on a bye last week, this is your reminder. More of a depth pickup than Week 5 start against the Bills seventh-ranked run defense against fantasy backs. 

Others: Chris Thompson, Christine Michael, Andre Williams, Theo Riddick, Charles Sims

Wide receivers

Reminder - Martavis Bryant is back from suspension this week. Grab above all others on this list if available, though need to rush him into your lineup in his first game back considering Michael Vick.

1. Leonard Hankerson - Not sure how this happened, but Hankerson is fantasy viable and extremely so against the Redskins' thin secondary. The ex-Redskin has passed Roddy White on Atlanta's passing game hierarchy. If Washington sends half the defense to cover Julio Jones, Hankerson should receive plenty of work from Matt Ryan. WR3 start this week.

2. Allen Hurns - Remains under the radar simply because of the team he plays on. Get past the Jaguars stigma and add the playmaking Hurns to your WR 2/3 rotation.

3. Nelson Agholor - Many thanks to the impatient owners who cut the rookie last week. I scooped him where possible and I'd recommend you do the same. Agholor played nearly every snap against the Redskins and most of all, Sam Bradford finally starting throwing deep. For those in a Week 5 lineup pinch, Saints-Eagles should be a high-scoring matchup.

4. Dorial Green-Beckham - The physical freak only has three receptions, but two went for scores. Stash the rookie because of his potential. He could emerge as the Titans go-to red zone target before long.

Others: Willie Snead, Rueben Randle, Ted Ginn, Eddie Royal, Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder

Tight ends

Notes - Antonio Gates is back from suspension. Grab him above all others if available. ...Coby Fleener is the top option, but could lose value with Dwayne Allen expected back from injury.

1. Owen Daniels - One week rental alert. Daniels and the Broncos face the Raiders. Oakland is allowing an insane 18 points per game to fantasy TE. The next team down on the list (Giants) is giving up 13. Daniels hasn't been anything special this season, but Peyton Manning knows how to target a weakness.

2. Gary Barnidge - Bizarre two-week surge for the journeyman TE, but follow the momentum if needed.

3. Derek Carrier - Jordan Reed's lengthy list of injuries combined with his history makes him a dicey for Week 5 and possibly beyond. The Redskins target the position almost regardless of who is active so Carrier should be good for 4-5 catches.

Others: Richard Rodgers

Defenses/Special Teams - Week 5 only

1. Giants - vs. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers.

2. Jaguars - on the road against Jameis Winston and the Bucs.

3. Falcons - hosting the Redskins. We saw what Washington did in its only other road game.

Kickers

1. Chandler Catanzaro - Don't count on five field goals ago, but you should be able to count on Catanzaro indoors against the Lions.

2. Cairo Santos - Tied for second most points among kickers and faces a Bears defense allowing eighth most to kickers this season.

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10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

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10 Questions in 10 days: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

Right or wrong, fans blamed Shawn Lauvao for much of the Redskins struggles on the offensive line last season. Pro Football Focus backs up the fans, as Lauvao landed a -19.1 grade, among the worst in the NFL at the guard spot. 

It's worth pointing out that Lauvao was playing hurt during much of his nine starts before getting shut down for the season just before Thanksgiving. In fact, injuries have probably been the biggest issue for Lauvao in his four seasons with the Redskins. 

In four seasons in Washington, Lauvao has never played a full 16-game slate. Last year he played just nine games, and in 2015 he only played three games. 

That points to what may be the bigger issue for the Redskins: offensive line depth. Last season was wild with the grotesque number of injuries Washington sustained up front. It seems almost impossible for the team to have that many injuries again.

Still, the Redskins lost Arie Kouandjio for the year in the offseason. Kouandjio played better last year than Lauvao, and having both men in Richmond would have provided real competition. 

And that might be the biggest question: Neither Lauvao or Kouandjio represent a difference maker at left guard, yet the team did little to address the position. 

All offseason, the Washington brass walked a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The organization believes strongly in the players they already have, and outside of signing Paul Richardson and re-signing Zach Brown, the team had a quiet offseason. The Redskins struggled to run the ball the last few years, and still, the team did not look to upgrade at LG. 

It's important to note that the Redskins have two All-Pro caliber offensive linemen in Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff. Morgan Moses is a plus at the right tackle spot too. The team likes Chase Roullier at center too, and they tried to add depth in drafting Geron Christian in the third round and bringing back swing tackle backup Ty Nsekhe as a restricted free agent. 

Left guard will be a question, and it's hard not to think that it will be the weakest position on the O-line. Should that submarine the group? It shouldn't. What if Lauvao gets hurt?  Then things get quite tricky.

For the Redskins, however, the expectation might be that the line needs to perform as a unit, and with talent like Williams and Scherff, that should cover up any weaknesses.

Time, and health will tell if that plan works. 

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Need to Know: The best cornerbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best cornerbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 20, six days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best cornerbacks the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the cornerbacks are up. They are roughly ranked by Pro Football Focus’ coverage metrics, although I did some juggling based on interception totals and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, running backspass rushers, and quarterbacks

1. Patrick Peterson, Cardinals—The athletic Peterson has been All-Pro three times and has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his seven years in the league. He hasn’t had a big interception total since he got seven in 2012, but that is mostly because quarterbacks only throw his way about once every ten snaps he is in coverage. 

2. Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars—I could easily have ranked Ramsey over Peterson. I went with Peterson because he’s been doing it for longer and he’s only 28. Ramsey has justified his No. 5 selection in the 2016 draft. His long arms and ball skills serve him well. He has the size to defend the bigger receivers and the athleticism to be effective against shifty and speedy receivers. 

3. A.J. Bouye, Jaguars—If Alex Smith tries to throw away from Ramsey he will encounter trouble on the other side. It’s been trendy to say that Bouye is underrated for so long he’s in danger of becoming overrated. But he’s not there yet. Bouye was one of four full-time (played at least 60% of snaps) cornerbacks who did not allow a touchdown pass last year and he had by far the most plays in coverage. 

4. Malcolm Butler, Titans—If the Brady-Belichick Patriots don’t win another Super Bowl, the coach’s decision to keep Butler on the bench as Nick Foles shredded the New England secondary will be marked as the end of that era. Maybe Butler isn’t good enough to have made a difference, but it would have been interesting to see. He’s with the Titans now and he will give Smith problems in December. 

5. Marshon Lattimore, Saints—Last year’s defensive rookie of the year plays an aggressive style both in press man coverage and when tackling receivers who have caught the ball. An ankle injury sent him out of the game against the Redskins early, perhaps one of the reasons why Kirk Cousins was able to light them up for 322 yards and three touchdowns. 

Best of the rest: Desmond Trufant, Falcons; Brent Grimes, Bucs; Logan Ryan, Titans;k Jaire Alexander (rookie), Packers

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 6
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 20
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 43

The Redskins last played a game 201 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 51 days. 

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