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Can The Redskins Capitalize in Kirk Cousins’ Final Year?

Brandon Murchison Staff Writer April 20, 2017 12:24PM EDT

The NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series : Cleveland – Chicago – San Francisco – Jacksonville – LA Rams – Tennessee – Jets – Chargers – Panthers – Bengals – BillsVikings – Cardinals – Saints – Eagles – Colts – Ravens

Team Needs: LB, S, RB

Projected Top Three Picks:

First Round- Reuben Foster, LB Alabama

Second Round- Jaleel Johnson, DT Iowa

Third Round- Josh Jones, S North Carolina State

This Washington Redskins team has all the tools on the offensive side of the ball, which puts them in the position in this draft to focus on the defensive additions. They will do just that with the first-round pick of Reuben Foster, who is perhaps the best inside linebacker in this draft. He will be a player that can control the middle of the field and allow others to stay within their zones to make plays. He could potentially go higher in this draft, but with the attitude problems at the combine, his stock has taken a hit. In the second round, they again go after the middle of the defense with the selection of defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson. Johnson is a big body with a motor that allows him to get off on the ball quickly. He is not as strong in the running game as you’d expect, but his quickness could help him develop into a pass rusher.

These additions will be nice developments for a defense that was finding their way down the stretch in 2016. Playing in a division with teams that can put points on the board, the Redskins have to develop a defense that can get stops and get their own high-octane offense back on the field. The Redskins could round into a sneaky defensive play in Fantasy, worthy of a late-round pick in drafts.

This could be Kirk Cousins' final season with Washington. Photo by Merle Laswell/Icon Sportswire)

This could be Kirk Cousins’ final season with Washington. Photo by Merle Laswell/Icon Sportswire

Kirk Cousins has had quite the up-and-down offense with this team. His former coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, is now the head coach of the 49ers and tried everything he could to trade for Cousins. The Redskins front office has seemingly balked at any offer and are content on letting Cousins play out his final franchise tag. This is all fine and good, but the receivers that he has been used to throwing to are now gone as he has to adjust to a few new names. The lone holdover is Jamison Crowder, who excels with his work out of the slot, and he is not cut out to be an every-down player on the outside. This is why the team added the big bodied Terrelle Pryor to be the man on the outside and another red-zone target for Cousins to utilize.

The main weapon in this passing attack, however, is the fragile Jordan Reed. Reed is the playmaker on this team, and if he can manage to play a full schedule, he would be the number one tight end in the game. He’ll likely be drafted as the second or third tight end off the board behind Rob Gronkowski and possibly Travis Kelce in most drafts, but he will have every opportunity to surpass them in 2017. With the receivers, I expect Crowder to have quite the year in PPR formats. He should be the receiver with the most targets in this offense, and don’t be shocked to see him close in on 100 catches. He will be drafted as a WR3 in most drafts, but don’t be afraid to reach for him as a low-end WR2. Pryor will be the hot name between the two during drafts and will likely go ahead of Crowder in most Fantasy drafts, but Pryor’s value will be very touchdown dependent. If he isn’t producing the scores, he takes a hit. I would go after Crowder first, mainly because he knows the system very well, while Pryor will be learning a more complex system than the one he had in Cleveland. There could be some growing pains there early on.

The running game took off in 2016 as soon as the reins were handed over to Rob Kelley. He finished the playoff run on a tear, and he gave this coaching staff the confidence to keep him around as the lead back for 2017. Will he be a flash in the pan, or will be pick up right where he left off? I think he continues his success into 2017, as this offense tends to play to his strengths, which is a powerful in-between-the-tackles running style with plenty of opportunities. The touches that Kelley should get alone are worth consideration as an RB2 in drafts. Some owners may shy away from him thinking he will be a one-year wonder, while others will see him as a sleeper. So, you will need to know the right time to strike with drafting Kelley. I would not be shocked to see him come off the board in the Round 4-5 range, which could be spot on with the value he brings in the new season.

Team Ranks:

Passing Offense- 297.4 YPG (2nd)

Rushing offense- 106.0 YPG (21st)

Points Per Game- 24.8 PPG (12th)

Top Fantasy Performers:

QB- Kirk Cousins, 290 points

RB- Rob Kelley, 110 points

WR- DeSean Jackson, 118 points


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