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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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Bruce Allen does not know why Redskins would expect suspension for Reuben Foster

Bruce Allen does not know why Redskins would expect suspension for Reuben Foster

MOBILE, Ala. — Florida authorities dropped domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster earlier this month, and for Redskins team president Bruce Allen, that should mean no NFL suspension.

Allen said as much when speaking with reporters on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl. 

"The league is still finishing their investigation of it," Allen said. "I don't know why we would expect a suspension, but we'll let the league finish up."

There is precedent for an NFL suspension regardless of legal action. Recent examples include a three-game suspension for Jameis Winston and a six-game suspension for Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys tried to fight Elliott's suspension in the courts, but eventually, the NFL won. Winston and the Bucs did not appeal his suspension. 

Neither Winston or Elliott were ever charged with a crime, but the accusations against both included salacious details and possible sexual assault, and the NFL did not relent in their rulings. 

For Foster, in the last calendar year he has been arrested twice for separate incidents of domestic violence. The first case fell apart when testimony was recanted, and in the second case, charges were dropped. The 49ers released him after the second incident, and Washington swooped in to claim the linebacker off waivers. 

Throughout this process, the Redskins have maintained that Foster would not play for the organization if he was deemed guilty of any wrongdoing.

"Let me be clear, Reuben will have to go through numerous steps including the full legal process, an investigation and potential discipline from the NFL, as well as meetings with counselors associated with the team before he will ever have the opportunity to wear the Burgundy and Gold as a player," Redskins VP of Personnel Doug Williams said in a November statement.

Allen said that the team conducted its own investigation then and expected Foster to be cleared. Now, Allen expects Foster to stay out of trouble. 

"We hold our players to a very high standard at the Redskins," the team president said. "We ask for a commitment that goes beyond the 60 minutes of a football game. Reuben understands what he has to do, and he's been doing it every day."

As a rookie in 2017, Foster played in 10 games and registered 72 tackles.

In 2018, Foster started the season on a suspension for a drug violation before playing six games. He logged 29 tackles but his year was cut short for injuries before landing on the commissioner's exempt list once the arrest in Florida happened. 

A first-round pick out of Alabama in 2017, Foster will be lined up with a number of his former college teammates on the Redskins. 

Assuming he gets through the offseason without any trouble, when Foster hits the field for Washington, he could be a major asset

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Bill Callahan should return as offensive line coach, answering one major question about Redskins' staff

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Bill Callahan should return as offensive line coach, answering one major question about Redskins' staff

Bill Callahan is expected to return to the Redskins for another season, taking care of one major question regarding Jay Gruden's staff.

Washington's offensive line coach of four years should be back for 2019, Bruce Allen told reporters at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

There had previously been much speculation that Callahan was on the outs.

Callahan came to D.C. in 2015 and has long been hailed as one of the league's top O-line gurus. His tenure with the Redskins has featured both positives and negatives.

Among the positives? Brandon Scherff has grown into an elite NFL guard, Morgan Moses earned a pricey contract extension and 2017 sixth-round pick Chase Roullier spent all of last year as the offense's starting center. And Trent Williams, of course, is still Trent Williams.

However, the unit has been decimated by injuries the past two seasons. Some wonder if Callahan's intense coaching — often times, he keeps his players for an extra 30 minutes after weekly practices — has something to do with it.

In addition, the Burgundy and Gold's running game has never really emerged as a dominant one for a 16-game schedule, and Callahan has always had a large role in that area.

Allen said Gruden's full complement of coaches will be finalized in a few weeks. The head coach wasn't at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday; instead, he was conducting interviews at the Redskins' Ashburn facility. 

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