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Player Spotlight: Robert Griffin III

A detailed look at Robert Griffin III's fantasy prospects for 2013...

Normally, very few players come into the league with expectations as high as Robert Griffin III’s and then match those. Griffin did.

Not only that, but throughout the year we saw Griffin meet the high bar which had been set and then exceed it.

Of course, Griffin’s season ended on a sour note as he tore multiple ligaments in the Washington Redskins’ playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Things looked grim at the time, but Griffin has worked very hard rehabbing and while it appears that he will not see any action in preseason games, he’s practicing (in a limited fashion) and might be ready for Week 1.

That’s only half the battle, mind you. Once he returns, that knee has to hold up in order for him to once again play at a high level. Part of Griffin’s game is mobility and while his injury wasn’t a direct result of his playing style it isn’t hard to imagine that the way he runs—his refusal to hook slide or run out of bounds—as well as his body type (6-2,223 lbs is a bit slight).

Griffin’s body can only take so much abuse—one hit alone isn’t the concern, it’s the accumulation of them over the course of a season.

The question then becomes, how will Griffin adjust his playing style and how might the Redskins change how they use him?

The great thing about Griffin is, he and the team can adjust both things and he’ll still be an NFL and fantasy factor.

Griffin can throw the ball just as well from the pocket as he can on the run and can still run for plenty of yards—either on a read-option play or just scrambling during a busted one—even if he ends it with a slide rather than a big hit.

As is mentioned in our player outlook, Griffin had the lowest interception percentage in the NFL (1.3%) and the highest yards per attempt average (8.1) and his passer rating was 102.4—an all-time rookie record.

In other words, he is more than capable of putting up quality fantasy numbers regardless of the type of play or offense.

Aside from injury, the biggest question lies with his receivers. Pierre Garcon was only intermittently healthy during his career with the Indianapolis Colts and the trend continued in his first year with Washington.

The upside is, when he’s in Garcon is a reliable target and so far, the most reliable in camp for any quarterback.

The counterpoint to that is that the rest of the targets are very questionable. Santana Moss is in the midst of a precipitous drop marking the end of his career. Josh Morgan has never really lived up to the promise he had in San Francisco and Leonard Hankerson has been hurt and then underutilized though it’s unclear why.

Finally Fred Davis is wildly inconsistent, despite the constant hype seen almost every preseason in fantasy circles. Davis has the physical tools to be a big time tight end and will certainly see the targets given the other weapons Griffin has.

It’s hard to see him having the light switch turn on this year when it hasn’t happened before.

Positives

  • Tremendous athletic ability
  • Effective in multiple formations and play structures
  • Looks to be ready for Week 1

Negatives

  • Poor selection of weapons
  • Will the knee be an issue going forward?
  • Will playing style wear him down over season?

Final Thoughts

Right now Griffin is coming off the board as the ninth quarterback overall, with an ADP of 62 overall. That places him somewhere in the late fifth or early sixth round depending on the size of the league and that seems on point to me.

Especially since he’s clustered with the other young guns of the league—Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. All have only one year as a starter under their belt and all have question marks going into season two.

Griffin’s biggest question marks are his health and his weapons. From everything we’ve heard thus far in camp, RG3 is ahead of schedule in his rehab and will be ready early in the season—if not Week 1. I firmly believe that he adjusts his game to avoid big hits and the team will expand what he does—so you’ll get him for most (if not all) if the season and he’ll be productive even if he’s not running.

As a side note, I expect his ground yards to drop a bit as well because of the adjustment to his game. Don’t expect him to total 800 plus yards this year. That said, the 500-600 yardage total will be a welcome addition for most fantasy owners.

My biggest problem is really that lack of weapons. Garcon, if healthy, can be very good. However last year the rest of the receivers were non-existent. Even if Garcon is healthy, are there enough guys for him to see a big increase in his pure passing numbers? I’m not sold. Especially when, if need be, Alfred Morris can just run the ball in the red zone. Cumulatively it shouldn’t hurt Griffin too much—he’ll end up around the same total passing yards he did in 2012. But it lowers his ceiling a bit. It’s very similar to issues this year with Kaepernick (no Michael Crabtree and questionable depth) and Wilson (Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice both hurt).

He still has a ton of upside and is worth the ADP, but it will be the difference between a top ten finish and a top five finish.

Ultimately you have the choice of going a bit safer with guys like Tony Romo, Andy Dalton or Eli Manning, or shooting for more with Griffin.

To me, as long as you make sure your backup is a quality player just in case, you roll with RG3 because he has a much greater chance of hitting that top ten (or better) ranking come the end of the season than a “safer” option.

Garda's Projections

  • 290 completions
  • 450 attempts
  • 3375 yards
  • 22 TDs
  • 11 INTs
  • 90 rushes
  • 645 yards
  • 5 TD

Other perspectives

Christopher Harris of ESPN.com says if healthy, RG3 is a top five fantasy quarterback.

“As I discussed at length in my piece about running QBs, all RGIII has to do is maintain decent production as a thrower and he'd easily fit inside the top five fantasy QBs, provided his running stays strong. But that's the question, right?”

Erik Mack of SI.com is also concerned about Griffin’s health over the course of the whole season.

“Griffin has the potential to be a top-three fantasy scorer if he's 100 percent, but the injury risk he brings makes it unwise to target him before Round 5. Owners who do draft Griffin should strongly consider handcuffing him with backup Kirk Cousins. RGIII could be a game-time decision for more than a few games again this season.”

Finally, Bleacher Report’s Sean Douglas thinks even if he runs less, Griffin is still a capable fantasy starter.

“Keep in mind that while Griffin may not run for more than 350 yards, he did show us he’s capable


More from Andrew Garda:

Why Lacy is the best of the next guys at RB - August 14
A Fantasy Look at New York Giants Camp - August 7
Player Spotlight: Frank Gore - July 17
Player Spotlight: Chris Ivory - June 28
Handle With Care: Determining the Value of Marcus Lattimore - June 11