Fantasy Football Team Preview: Redskins

From FanHouse

With Fantasy Football season ready to kick in high gear, FanHouse is here to preview each and every team — one per day until we’ve done them all.

Meet The …
Second consecutive season under the same playbook. This is quite significant because the Redskins’ current signal caller hasn’t been afforded this “luxury” since his senior year in high school. I can’t even imagine what Jason Campbell has done with all his extra time this offseason — what with not having to learn an entire new playbook. Every other player has to know his own job on each play. The quarterback has to know the job of all 11 players on each play. Comfort matters.

The Breakout
Jason Campbell is going 23rd among quarterbacks in current drafts. Now, I might be going a little overboard when I hype him, but this is ridiculous. He had a really high completion percentage and took incredible care of the ball last season through the air. His 3,245 yards were serviceable and the 13 touchdown passes were pretty modest, but he was handled with kid gloves. Expect those to come off this season, as he’ll finally have some level of comfort in the offense.

His offensive line is better — albeit not substantially — which will keep the running game consistent and defenses honest. He has two veteran, reliable wideouts and a great pass-catching tight end. The vets will help the progress of Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.

It really looks like the Redskins will have a wide variety of weapons on offense and Campbell is ready to be a leader. In this case, I’m expecting 3,500 yards and close to 20 touchdown passes. That’s a very solid QB2 at the minimum.

The Bust
I like Santana Moss a lot as a player, but he’s going in the top 30 for fantasy wide receivers and there are a few reasons to believe he’s going to fall short of that. Don’t confuse the pick of Campbell above with this pick of Moss as mixed signals. Moss is going to yield some of his touchdowns back to Cooley, who inexplicably only had 1 TD last season. The growth of Thomas will also penetrate some of Moss’ 2008 numbers. I’m looking for about 65 catches, 850 yards and a small handful of scores. That’s somewhere in the mid-30s for receivers anymore, and in most leagues he’s gonna go around 25.

He’s not a big-time bust, but Portis and Cooley are the only Redskins highly ranked and neither is being drafted as an elite-tier option (Portis’ ADP is 13th among RBs and Cooley’s is 7th among TEs). There’s really no one else I’d even consider putting here.

The Depth Chart
QB1 – Jason Campbell
QB2 – Todd Collins/Colt Brennan
RB1 – Clinton Portis
RB2 – Ladell Betts
WR1 – Santana Moss
WR2 – Antwaan Randle El
WR3 – Devin Thomas
WR4 – Malcolm Kelly
TE1 – Chris Cooley
TE2 – Fred Davis
K – Shaun Suisham/Dave Rayner (avoid both in all formats)

The D/ST
Because of defensive coordinator Greg Blache‘s scheme, the defense is much better in real life than fantasy. Only five teams allowed less points and only three teams allowed less yardage in 2008 — and the Redskins’ 2009 defense is better. The problem is that the ‘Skins were 29th in fantasy defense points in ’08. They get the job done by not putting up gaudy stats.

They’ve added run-stopper extraordinaire Albert Haynesworth — who also managed 8 1/2 sacks from up the middle in ’08 — and freakishly talented Brian Orakpo this offseason. Both should help the Redskins in the sack department, where only three teams had less last season. Only two teams had less takeaways than the Skins in 2008, and the added pressure on the quarterback should enable an increase there as well.

Still, the defense of Blache is predicated on stopping the opponent while minimizing the risks taken. Fantasy stats aren’t accrued easily this way, so the Redskins are likely to end up a top-5 real-life defense (and, seriously, I’m almost ready to say top-2) and down in the late-teens in fantasy football. Don’t get starry-eyed and allow the line between fantasy and reality to blur unless they are used as a stop-gap.

The Skinny
This team, as I alluded to in my concluding paragraph of the “bust” pick, is a group of bargains. Getting Clinton Portis as the 13th running back, especially considering he was the MVP of last season’s first half, is a bit crazy. Campbell is falling way too far and Cooley is a top-5 tight end you can get later than that. Then, there are three players with varying upside who won’t cost anything at all.

– Devin Thomas was a disappointment his rookie year, but he’s was only 22. He has plenty of talent and reports from OTAs have been good. Campbell seems to like him and it would behoove him to develop the young wideout from Michigan State as he looks to improve the passing attack. Thomas has enough big-play potential to warrant a last round pick in deep leagues as your fifth or sixth receiver in hopes he pans out. If not, no big loss.

– Malcolm Kelly is the possession guy of the second-year combo with Thomas. He’s reportedly looked solid in offseason workouts, but he’s going to have to fight for touches in this role with Moss, Randle El, Cooley and even Portis. He’s like Thomas in that you could take a flier late in huge leagues, but we like Thomas better.

– Fred Davis would have potential for growth if he played on a team like the Bears or Colts where they like to utilize two tight end sets frequently. The Redskins don’t, though, so he’ll be riding pine behind Cooley. If Cooley suffers a prolonged injury, immediately think about Davis. He’s got solid size and speed for a tight end.

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