Shanahan preps for huge game vs. Cowboys
Our weekly look at the Redskins' matchup from a fantasy football perspective. In case you haven't heard by now, this is Dallas week. In case you're unaware, everyone from the pundits to Vegas expects lots of points scored, but does that mean start all the likely burgundy and gold options...
Pierre Garcon - Entering the bye week, Garcon ranked seventh among fantasy receivers in total points and did so with consistent production, catching at least six passes each game. In two games against Dallas's 3-4 defense last season, the physical receiver scored one touchdown while averaging 5.5 receptions and 66 yards. The Cowboys new 4-3 defense allows the 12th most points to fantasy wide receivers. Shouldn't need to say this, but Garcon is a must start.
Josh Morgan - In his four games this season, Morgan has fewer receptions (nine) than the 10 Alshon Jeffery hauled in for the Bears in Week 5. Enough said. Until he scores or pops for over 75 yards, we're sticking with the same analysis: It's not often said of a player that led his team in receptions the previous season, but unless your league gives points for blocks, there is no case for owning Morgan, let alone starting him. So let's move on to...
Leonard Hankerson - Every Redskins fan understands the upside and the uncertainty associated with the third-year receiver. Those daring types can throw Hankerson into their lineups knowing the game should be high scoring and their guy has played a healthy amount of snaps over the last two weeks. Dallas has surrendered at least one TDP to a wide receiver in four of its five games.
Santana Moss - From Rotoworld's Evan Silva: "Slot man Moss is the only other Redskins pass catcher worth any hint of fantasy consideration, though not much. He was targeted three times in the Skins' last game, had one drop, and finished without a catch. Opposing slot receivers versus Dallas over the past month: Wes Welker 5-49-1, Dexter McCluster 2-14, Tavon Austin 6-30, Eddie Royal 3-42." I'd rank Hankerson over Moss in terms of potential, but otherwise, what he said.
Jordan Reed - The rookie is back after missing Week 4 with a quad injury - and just in time for a tremendous matchup. Through five weeks, the Cowboys are allowing the most points per week to fantasy tight ends (in PPR formats) with an average of eight receptions for 93.6 yards and 0.8 touchdowns. Obviously, Reed hasn't performed anywhere near such heights in his young career, but he's been active when healthy, hauling in 13 receptions. No less than a mid-range TE2 this week, I have Reed No. 10 overall on my board.
Alfred Morris - Those only looking at rush yards allowed will view this week's matchup against Dallas as a difficult one seeing as the Cowboys allow the fourth fewest yards on the ground. Those noticing the same group allows the sixth most fantasy points to backs would have a different opinion. The reality is somewhere in the middle, but owners should have no fear starting Morris, who is fine after suffering a rib injury in Week 4. As a rookie, Morris dominated the Cowboys with 313 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Roy Helu - Mike Shanahan reiterated this week a desire to get Helu more involved. Considering the offense's inconsistencies plus the uncertainty at tight end and the receiver positions not manned by Garcon, we should hope so. Then again, the Redskins aren't inclined to limit looks for Alfred Morris, which is why Helu isn't suddenly a weekly fantasy threat. The hope is for 7-10 touches, enough to warrant some Flex consideration for owners in deeper leagues, particularly PPR formats. Note the word "hope."
Robert Griffin III - Fantasy owners should take the advice of Walter White and tread lightly when it comes to putting 2012 expectations on RGIII over the remainder of the 2013 season. Also, don't automatically expect Griffin to be the one who knocks over Dallas's secondary simply because Denver and Peyton Manning just did. ...Fine, enough with the tough love. RGIII showed progress as a scrambler against the Raiders and had a week off for more learning and healing. Garbage points or not, he has scored for his fantasy owners this season. The Cowboys are allowing the most points to fantasy quarterbacks. The matchup says start Griffin. Over the next six, he'll face five of the statistically worse pass defenses in the league. Whether additional progress happens against Dallas or not, better days are on the horizon.
The defense and kicker
Thanks to a bunch of pick-sixes and 15 sacks, the Redskins have scored for owners, but the Cowboys offense hasn't been a source of production for fantasy defenses. Tony Romo has only thrown two picks _ you might remember one of them _ while directing Dallas to 30.4 points per game. The offensive line is improved, though Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo should have opportunities against a unit that has allowed at least three sacks in three of the four last games. Kai Forbath should put up numbers, though this doesn't setup as a game Washington should settle for field goals.
On the other side...
Come on, let's be honest. On paper, this matchup screams start your Cowboys. Of course Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are always weekly plays. The real question comes at wide receiver. Terrence Williams (4-151-1 last week vs. Denver) loses some value with the expected return of Miles Austin (hamstring) after a two-week absence. Considering the Redskins 28th ranked pass defense, both are worthy WR3 starts in a risk-reward type of way.
In addition to CSNwashington duties covering the Wizards, Hoyas and the college basketball scene, Ben writes about and ranks fantasy football players for FFToolbox.com, rated the most accurate site for the 2012 season.