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2011 Team Report: Washington Redskins

Quarterbacks

Starter: Rex Grossmaneck
Backup(s): John Beck

Starting QB: A year ago the Redskins were beaming at their good fortune. New head coach Mike Shanahan managed to trade for long-time division rival Donovan McNabb, and both the veteran Pro Bowler and head coach were all smiles as they ushered in a new era in Washington. As the saying goes, the honeymoon didn't last long. After a 4-4 start heading into the bye, the Redskins floundered down the stretch, losing six of their last eight. Along the way, Coach Shanahan decided that McNabb wasn't a good fit for his offense, and inexplicably benched him for Rex Grossman. Fast forward to this year, and there is nothing but uncertainty. Donovan McNabb was traded to Minnesota, Rex Grossman was re-signed and Kellen Clemens was acquired -- and John Beck remains in place. After a hotly contested preseason that saw both Beck and Grossman play well at times, Mike Shanahan has chosen Grossman to start in Week One. Rex Grossman hasn't done much in his NFL career, but he did displace Donovan McNabb last year -- and Kyle Shanahan seems to think Grossman is the best architect of his playbook.

Backup QB: Beck, a 6'2", 215 pound pocket passer, was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the 2nd round, and started 4 games as a rookie (going 0-4). He hasn't played a regular season snap since. The preseason talk seemed to favor Beck as the starter but he was outplayed by Grossman, if ever so slightly. Ultimately both QBs will probably see the field because neither are good enough to hold down the job convincingly.

Running Backs

Starter: Tim Hightower
Backup(s): Ryan Torain, Roy Helu
Fullback(s): Mike Sellers, Darrel Young

Starting RB: Year Two of the Mike Shanahan era is going to bring wholesale changes to the RB stable, and a true youth movement is in effect. Last year people were questioning whether Clinton Portis would lose carries to Willie Parker and Larry Johnson. This year none of them will be wearing Redskins' jerseys, with Portis being released earlier in the offseason. After the Redskins appeared to have a crowded backfield of also rans, an offseason trade for Tim Hightower put everything in place. Hightower looked fantastic in the preseason and seems to flourish in the Skins one-cut-and-go blocking scheme. Hightower has never been much of a pure runner, but is a good blocker and a better-than-average receiver. He must prove he can handle a full-time workload, and not fumble the ball in key moments.

Backup RBs: Had it not been for a hand injury early in the preseason, Ryan Torain might have been the 2011 starter in Week One. Torain was a 5th round draft pick in 2008 by the Denver Broncos, and Mike Shanahan brought Torain to D.C. with him as a backup. Even though Torain hadn't shown much in Denver, injuries to Portis opened the door for Torain, and he made the most of his opportunity. The 6'0", 213-pounder started 8 games and ran for 742 yards (4.5 per carry) and 4 TDs. Roy Helu enters the season as the 3rd tailback; Coach Shanahan was effusive about rookie Helu after the draft, saying, "He was that 4.45 guy coming out, very physical, and once he had that open lane, he could go the distance. I look at Helu as having that type of ability, that type of speed."

Fullback: At 6'3", 260 lbs, Mike Sellers is more like a 6th offensive lineman than an offensive threat with the ball in his hands. That said, the 35-year old fullback is an able receiver, and defied the odds by making the 53-man roster yet again.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney
Backups: Anthony Armstrong, Donte Stallworth, Brandon Banks, Leonard Hankerson [R], Niles Paul [R], Terrence Austin

Starting WRs: Santana Moss re-signed for three years, making it likely he will finish his NFL career as a Redskin. It was smart to re-sign him as Moss is not only the team's best pass catcher, but he's coming off a 93 reception, 1,115-yard season for an otherwise moribund passing offense. Moss deserves credit for evolving his game as he's gotten older. At 32 years old, the 5'10", 200-pound pass catcher no longer has the blazing speed to blow past defensive backs. In fact, last year marked the sixth consecutive season of declines in his yards per catch (12.0). However, he still has great hands, and has become a disciplined route runner; which allow him to overcome his small size and make plays in traffic. Jabar Gaffney is running as the other starter. He is a precise route runner with good hands who is not a threat to do much after the catch.

Backup WRs: The Redskins has struggled to get production out of their WR corps (other than Santana Moss) for years, which is why Washington used three draft picks on the position in April's draft. The gem of the group is 3rd round pick Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson was a productive receiver for the University of Miami, and has a nice size (6'2", 209 pounds) and speed combination. While he isn't the most polished route runner, he is physical and adjusts well to the ball. Coach Shanahan said Hankerson will have an opportunity to win a starting job early, and his size would be a welcome addition to what otherwise is a smallish group of projected starters. In the 5th round Washington grabbed another big receiver Niles Paul out of Nebraska. Paul (6'0", 224 pounds) doesn't have top end speed or the best hands, but play aggressively, can get off the line, and is an option in tight coverage. Anthony Armstrong is the likely #3. Armstrong started 11 games in 2010 and averaged an impressive 19.8 yards per catch on 44 receptions. At 5'11", 183 pounds, Armstrong isn't going to overpower defensive backs, but he does provide an essential deep threat that can keep defenses honest while Moss and TE Chris Cooley work the middle.

Tight Ends

Starters: Chris Cooley
Backups: Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen

Chris Cooley bounced back nicely from an injury shortened 2009 season, and started all 16 games for the Redskins on route to a 77-catch, 849-yard season. The only fly in the ointment was that Cooley only scored 3 times, continuing a streak of subpar TD production (6 total TDs in last three years). Either way, Cooley remains what he's always been, a hard working, smooth route runner with good hands. He's set to reprise his role as one of Washington's main offensive conduits as long as his troublesome knees cooperate. Fred Davis acquitted himself well in 2009 as a starter in place of Cooley, and many expected the Redskins to utilize two-TE sets with regularity as a result. That really never materialized as Davis only caught 21 receptions last year in 16 games. That said, we still saw glimpses of what he's capable of, indicated by his 3 TDs and 15 yards-per-catch average. Logan Paulsen returns as the primary blocking tight end.

Place Kicker

Graham Gano : Incumbent kicker Graham Gano faced veteran competition this August in Shayne Graham, who ended last year with the Patriots. Although he struggled last year, Gano took the early lead in camp and made 3-3 FGS in the first preseason game. Shayne went 0-2 and was subsequently released. The team also signed free agent punter/holder Sav Rocca, formerly with the division rival Eagles. He is now with the team after initially having been delayed obtaining a visa out of his native Australia. Nick Sundberg is back for his second year at long snapper. The Redskins jumped from 28th in attempted kicking points in 2009 to 13th in 2010.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Bryon Westbrook

Punt Returners: Brandon Banks

Brandon Banks survived questions about his knee to make the regular season roster as the return specialist.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Jammal Brown
Key Backups: OT Willie Smith, C Erik Cook, OT Sean Locklear

The Redskins continue to rebuild their offensive line, but it's unclear whether they've improved the unit in a significant way. The tackle spots are intact, as Trent Williams builds off an up and down rookie season, while Jammal Brown was re-signed to a new 5-year deal on the right side. The Redskins signed Sean Locklear, a bruising run blocker, who will provide serious competition for Brown on the right side. Washington also spent big money on free agent Chris Chester, who when healthy is an upgrade at guard.

Team Defense

The Redskins completely revamped their defense this year in an attempt to reverse several years of subpar performance. Adam Carriker returns at end, but he'll have new running mates in NT Barry Cofield and DE Stephen Bowen -- who have both looked good in the preseason. Rookie Ryan Kerrigan is transitioning to 3-4 OLB from 4-3 end in college, but has shown flashes as the preseason wore on. Kerrigan will have plenty of opportunities as opposing offenses have to worry about Brian Orakpo on the other side. Ageless ILB London Fletcher remains a tackling machine and is joined inside by Rocky McIntosh. Free safety LaRon Landry is a question mark as he struggles to get back from last season's injury, but free agents OJ Atogwe and Josh Wilson hope to cement the secondary.

Defensive Line

Starters: NT Barry Cofield, DE Adam Carriker, DE Stephen Bowen
Backups: NT Chris Neild [R], DE Kedric Golston, DE Darrion Scott

Starting DL: There's really not a whole lot to say about any of the Redskins' starting defensive linemen from a fantasy perspective. Barry Cofield did put up 40 solo tackles last year with the Giants, but shouldn't be counted on for week to week production in any leagues. If you are rostering any of these linemen come the start of the season, it's probably time to reevaluate your team.

Backup DL: If there was nothing to say about the fantasy prospects of any of the starting defensive linemen for Washington, then there is really nothing at all to say about the backups.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB London Fletcher, ILB Rocky McIntosh, OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Ryan Kerrigan [R]
Backups: ILB Perry Riley, OLB Rob Jackson, ILB Keyaron Fox, OLB Lorenzo Alexander, OLB Markus White [R]

Starting LBs: Although old and perhaps a bit worn out, London Fletcher remains the captain and an integral part of Washington's defense. He's been racking up 90+ solo tackles year in and year out since the turn of the century. Fletcher did show slight signs of slowing down a bit last season, but due to a record amount of tackle opportunity and a very generous scorekeeper, he was able to keep his tackle numbers in line with his career averages. He still has at least one more good year left in the tank and owners should count on him for low LB1 numbers. "Rocky" McIntosh re-signed with the Redskins during the off-season to a one year deal and should be able to hold off 2nd year linebacker Perry Riley for the starting SILB position next to London Fletcher. Expect LB4 matchup-type numbers from McIntosh this season. Orakpo is the 'backer to own in big-play leagues as he's averaged nearly 10 sacks a year in his first two seasons in the league. The addition of rookie Ryan Kerrigan at the other starting OLB position makes Orakpo all that more dangerous. He's a LB4 value in balanced leagues and a LB2+ value in big-play/sack heavy leagues. Kerrigan was drafted to take some pressure off Brian Orakpo. However, he was mainly a defensive end at Purdue and may struggle a bit at first to get acclimated to his new position at outside linebacker. Given time, he has the potential to develop into a talented pass-rushing linebacker.

Backup LBs: Perry Riley is the main linebacker to watch out of the backup players at his position. The short-term re-signing of Rocky McIntosh signals that the Redskins feel somewhat comfortable at giving Riley the chance to take over McIntosh's position as early as next year. The position has fantasy value especially in deeper leagues and therefore owners should keep a steady eye on the SILB situation in Washington as the season progresses.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB DeAngelo Hall, CB Josh Wilson, SS LaRon Landry, FS Oshiomongo Atogwe
Backups: CB Kevin Barnes, CB Brandyn Thompson [R], CB Phillip Buchanon, CB Byron Westbrook, FS Kareem Moore, FS Reed Doughty, S Dejon Gomes [R]

Starting DBs: Washington was atrocious against the pass last year as they allowed over 260 yards passing per game to opposing quarterbacks. With this said, "O.J." Atogwe was brought in early in the offseason to help shore up the defensive backfield as his coverage skills are his main asset. Expect an increase in big-play opportunities for Atogwe albeit at the expense of his tackle numbers. Strong safety LaRon Landry was an absolute tackling machine before injuring his Achilles' tendon in Week 10 against the Eagles. The injury still seems to be bothering him and he's stated that he may need off-season surgery. This news should be concerning to fantasy owners. Landry is likely to be one of the first defensive players taken in IDP drafts and seems to be slightly overvalued based off of his current ADP. He still should be one of the top 5 DBs taken in this years fantasy drafts, he's just not the lock at #1 that the majority of owners think he should be. Cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers were consistently picked on by opposing teams as the Redskins were torched week and week out by opposing aerial attacks. Rogers has since left and signed with San Fransisco. Meanwhile, the Redskins have brought in former Seahawks corner Josh Wilson in an attempt to tighten up the coverage on the perimeter of the defense. Out of these two starting cornerbacks, DeAngelo Hall is the player to own. Since he's thrown at quite a bit by opposing offenses, he tends to have a decent amount of tackle and big play opportunity. He had 95 total tackles last season and has snagged 4 or more interceptions in each of the last 6 seasons. You should feel comfortable with Hall as your DB2.

Backup DBs: With the recent injury issues with safeties LaRon Landry and Kareem Moore, the Redskins re-signed safety Reed Doughty to a three-year contract. Doughty put up decent numbers last season in spot duty (53 solo tackles, 39 assists) and could see a decent amount of snaps if LaRon Landry fails to recover adequately from his Achilles' injury.

Last modified: 2011-09-05 18:45:03

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