During the regular season, we'll look at the weekly matchup for the Redskins and Ravens from a fantasy football perspective. This week, it's a one-stop shop for those prepping for fantasy drafts.
- Redskins - As Rich Tandler notes, the first-team offense has thrown only 12 passes so far in the preseason. That's hardly enough to find a rhythm - or apparently, Pierre Garcon, whose first catch tonight will be his first in 2014. Garcon ranks No. 16 on my WR board with DeSean Jackson at 22. The gap widens in PPR formats. Then again, quarterback Robert Griffin III hooked up with Jackson and Andre Roberts down the field last week. Sure, Garcon led the NFL in targets last season, but that was under the old regime. That partially explains why Garcon ranks high on Rotoworld writer Evan Silva's "Shy-away Top 40" list. I'm cool with Garcon (41 overall) early in the fourth round, but let's get RGIII looking his way more tonight to feel secure. Jackson is an early fifth round candidate in standard scoring leagues. ...Reed and Baltimore's Dennis Pitta are part of an intriguing group of tight ends in the 6-11 range. Every player in this group has top-5, difference maker type potential, but with at least some level of concern. Both Reed (seventh among tight ends) and Pitta (11) are coming off injury-plagued seasons and both are potential PPR monsters. Bump up those rankings in standard.
- Ravens: Torrey Smith and DeSean Jackson are in theory big play options whose value in standard trumps PPR. That said, both set career-high in receptions last season. The belief is that Smith will have a more versatile role in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's scheme, which will lead to superior numbers across the board. Slotted among Tier 5 receivers (21-26) along with Jackson and Percy Harvin. ...Steve Smith is bringing attitude to the Ravens offense, but don't count on him bringing consistent production to fantasy teams. Will be a streaming option during the season, but take upside flyers late in drafts rather than the 35-year-old.
- Redskins - Last chance for Alfred Morris to show any signs of help in the passing game - or at least catch a single pass during the preseason. Regardless, "Alf" is a borderline RB1 in standard leagues, though it would also be nice to see a bit more pop with the team's ground game overall. Morris is averaging 3.6 yards per carry (16 for 56) through two games. ...Roy Helu remains Washington's third-down back and Morris handcuff. For simplicity sake, hope that the fourth-year veteran doesn't open the door for any competition from Lache Seastrunk or Silas Redd.
- Ravens - CSNbaltimore.com's Ravens Insider Clifton Brown lists the running battle behind Ray Rice among the five questions for Baltimore in this matchup. All three have healthy yards per carry averages, though Rice only has five carries. I've shown some interest in points per reception (PPR) league formats, but in standard formats he's about the 30th RB off the board. The better value and certainly the more intrigue comes with the other two options. The rookie Taliaferro has gone from "who's that guy" to "WHO IS THAT GUY" rather quickly. Pierce remains the best bet to step in during Rice's suspension if not truly turn this backfield into a true timeshare, but we can't forget his paltry production either. Those drafting this weekend can target Taliaferro as a final round flyer. ...The Redskins defense has allowed 3.2 ypc thru the first two games
- Robert Griffin III - As stated previously, Griffin is a polarizing player within the fantasy community this season; nobody denies his massive potential (No. 1 fantasy player in 2012 before his first knee injury), but some can't get look past the sizable downside (limited rushing attempts, knee, new offense). We can make all the "slide" jokes we want, but RG3 must learn that technique to stay alive, especially if he insists on taking off down field. Less mach0, more smarts. Entering this week, Griffin is part of my QB Tier 4, a group that stretches from 6-12 and includes Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Nick Foles. Since I am typically waiting on passers this year, my QB will come from this section. RG3 is at the bottom it (and No. 13 Russell Wilson is gaining ground). Yeah, from a fantasy perspective, this preseason game isn't just a preseason game for those thinking about selecting Griffin in drafts.
- Joe Flacco - He's averaging 20.3 touchdown passes over the past three seasons, has never thrown for 4,000 yards in a single year (though came close in 2013) and tossed an unsightly 22 interceptions last season. That's certainly not elite production. Flacco is a low-end QB2, but hope for more efficiency under Kubiak.
The defense and kicker
- The Ravens defense could be drafted in most 12-team leagues. The Redskins, probably not though the early schedule (@Texans, Jaguars) makes them a streaming option right off the bat. ...Baltimore's Justin Tucker is arguably a top-5 kicker. Washington's Kai Forbath is not draftable.