Cousins posted a second consecutive top-10 season in 2016 with
379.9 fantasy points (23.7 per game), yet his long-term future
in Washington is still up in the air as the Redskins front office
used the franchise tag on him as trade rumors swirled all off-season.
The primary knock on Cousins is his poor decision making in playoff
games, especially in the red zone, which has cost his team points
in critical situations.
Neither issue should keep fantasy owners from drafting Cousins
as a top-10 option in 2017, as he has proven to be a top-tier
performer in an offense that reloaded after the departure of free
agents Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. The signing of Terrelle
Pryor from Cleveland will give Cousins a viable deep threat and
a big body in the red zone, and the emergence of former first-round
pick Josh Doctson should help fill the void left by Garcon.
The Cousins-led offense finished as the No. 8 ranked passing
attack in both 2015 and 2016, and another top-10 finish is likely
as the Redskins' poor defense (fifth-most points allowed in 2016)
will force the offense to put up a large number on the scoreboard
to keep pace. The loss of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay
to the Rams could be a cause of concern for Cousins owners, but
the fact that former quarterbacks coach and Cousins confidant
Matt Cavanaugh was promoted to offensive coordinator should ease
Kelley ran away with the starting job beginning Week 8 last season
taking over for fumble-prone Matt
Jones, who is out of the picture and buried on the depth chart.
Rookie Samaje Perine, and third-down back Chris
Thompson join Kelley as a likely three-headed monster for
Jay Gruden in 2017.
“Fat Rob” finished with a respectable 704 yards and seven total
touchdowns in 2016, but his 4.2 yard per carry average, including
3.4 in his final four games did not separate him enough to make
him the clear-cut starter in 2017 but is instead penciled in to
receive the bulk of the carries on early-downs the time Week 1
rolls around. With Perine, a talented rookie taken in the fourth
round out of Oklahoma in the mix, Kelley could be in for a timeshare
or lose his starting role altogether depending on how well Perine
plays to start the season. Expect Chris Thompson to play his usual
third-down role and garner 2-7 rushing attempts per game.
A talented and physical running back that set the NCAA single-season
rushing record (427 yards) in 2014, Perine landed in an interesting
spot behind Rob Kelley in the Redskins backfield. With a comparison
of Michael Turner by some NFL scouts, Perine does not have the
shiftiness of a Le’Veon Bell or the burst of a young Adrian
Peterson, but he is a powerful runner similar to Kelley that will
fit will in Jay Gruden’s rushing scheme. He’s the
favorite to spell Kelley on early downs and has an outside shot
to take over the starting role at some point during the season.
Pryor joins the Redskins after one full season as a converted
WR with the Cleveland Browns. His 6’6” 230 LB frame
is a matchup nightmare for smaller cornerbacks, and he proved
to be a viable deep threat in Cleveland with 1007 yards and seven
touchdowns on the receiving end of less-than-stellar play from
a collection of Browns quarterbacks.
There is significant hype surrounding Pryor joining a passing
game that ranked 8th in the NFL in each of the last two seasons,
and Kirk Cousins is certainly an upgrade over Cody Kessler and
Robert Griffin III. But fantasy owners should be aware that one
of the reasons why Pryor was so effective is the fact that he
was peppered with targets (141) in a passing game with few options.
Pryor should receive a significant number of targets in the Washington
passing game, but Cousins has a well-developed rapport with Jamison
Crowder and top-option Jordan Reed, leading some to question if
Pryor will be able to garner enough volume to justify an ADP in
the 4th round. The key will be Pryor improving his efficiency
(55% catch rate) from last season on expected lower volume in
A former fourth-round selection from Duke University in the 2015
NFL draft, Crowder has quietly put together two solid seasons
in Washington, including an impressive 67/847/7 line in 2016.
As he continues to mature and gain the confidence of quarterback
Kirk Cousins, Crowder increased his production across the board
from his rookie season to year two, with 21 more targets, 243
more yards, and a jump from two touchdowns to seven.
With over 200 targets left on the table following the departure
of former starting wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon,
it is more than likely that Crowder will top the century mark
in targets while reaching 1000 yards for the first time in his
career. The question is will the addition of Terrelle Pryor and
a healthy Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed limit Crowder’s red zone
targets and chances of reaching and exceeding his touchdown total
of seven from 2016.
For fantasy owners that buy into the narrative of third-year
wide receivers taking a tier-leap in production, Crowder is someone
to consider based on the fact that the Redskins passing game has
ranked in the top-ten over the past two seasons, and is primed
for an increase in targets and production. Other third-year wide
receivers to consider are Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, Willie Snead,
and Tyrell Williams.
An Achilles injury limited Doctson for most of his rookie campaign,
limiting the former first-round pick from TCU to just two catches
for 66 yards in two games. At 6’2”, 202 pounds, with
an impressive leaping ability and elite ball skills in college,
Doctson was thought to be the big red zone target the Redskins
have been missing over the past two seasons.
Doctson appears to be healed from his lingering Achilles injury
and is currently participating, although limited, in OTA’s
and minicamp practices. With the addition of Terrelle Pryor to
a one-year contract, Doctson’s role may be reduced this
season as the team slowly works him into their game plan. However,
and injury to either Crowder or Pryor could make Doctson a hot
commodity in 2017.
Over the past two seasons, only Rob Gronkowski has averaged more
fantasy points at the tight end position than Jordan Reed. Unfortunately,
just like Gronk, Reed has been limited by numerous injuries, making
him a risk to play a full 16-game schedule.
In four seasons with Washington, Reed has yet to play more than
14 games in a season, including last year in which he managed
only 12 games for fantasy owners. But in those 12 games, Reed
was Cousin’s primary target, with 66 catches for 686 yards
and six touchdowns on 89 targets. In two of those games, Reed
left early due to injury, making his per-game points even more
attractive for fantasy owners.
The risk/reward of Reed might be too high for owners, especially
considering Reed’s fairly high ADP as the third TE off the
board. Those owners comfortable for the home run/bust potential
in Reed, be sure to take a viable second tight end in the draft,
as history has shown that Reed will not play a full season.