Matt Jones a potential TD vulture
On Friday, Washington Redskins beat reporter Rich Tandler of CSN Washington and Real Redskins stopped by the Pro Football Focus show hosted by Mike Clay on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 a.m. ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). Tandler talked about the running back situation with rising rookie Matt Jones, a potential bounce-back season for Pierre Garcon, and more. You can follow Tandler on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
The Matt Jones Hype Is Real
The CFF staffers were not high on Matt Jones entering the NFL based on what he put on tape in college. In training camp and the preseason, Jones has looked like a completely different player than who we saw at Florida. Is he a legitimate threat to Alfred Morris in any way?
“I think he’ll get more work than Roy Helu did last year,” Tandler said. “Helu was pretty much exclusively third down. The team ran the ball 401 times last year; they’d like to run it closer to 500 times this year. Morris will keep his carries right around 265-275. Those added carries, maybe as much as 100 carries, will go to Jones. I think he can be a vulture too and get a lot of work in the red zone. His work won’t always come at the expense of Morris.”
There was a lot to dig into there. Starting at the top, Helu saw 382 of 1,095 total offensive snaps in 2014. He had 40 carries and 42 receptions. If Jones is set to see even more work, and if he is also going to be worked in heavily in the red zone as Tandler mentioned, he could end up working his way into the every-week FLEX conversation.
The Redskins would love to run the ball first to open up the pass, but getting anywhere near 500 carries will require a major step forward on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins added a lot of talent to the roster there this offseason, most notably with defensive linemen Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton. The Redskins’ first-team defense allowed just 57 total rushing yards through three preseason games. It’s the pass defense that still gives reason for caution.
It seems like Jones will get his touches no matter what, and he is definitely worth a roster spot in 12-team leagues. Jones showed an explosive first step this preseason and rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown on just 20 preseason carries. What’s even more impressive for Jones is that 96 of those yards came after contact.
After catching 113 passes in 2013, Pierre Garcon saw his reception count drop to 68 in 2014. This offseason, head coach Jay Gruden flipped the script and moved Garcon to the Z wide receiver spot. In theory, he should see more looks in the short and intermediate passing game. Should we be expecting a bounce-back season?
“The plan is to run the ball a lot more and throw the ball a lot less,” Tandler said. “That’s the plan if the defense can do their job. I’m not sure that Garcon is going to get targeted a lot more than he was before. I think he’ll get more first downs and a few more touchdowns, but in terms of yards and catches, I don’t see it jumping by leaps and pounds.”
Garcon has never been a guy who puts up big touchdown numbers in fantasy, and it seems like his volume won’t see a major uptick either in 2015.
Worth A Flier
Jordan Reed has shown unique lateral agility throughout his NFL career, but he has also missed 12 of his first 32 NFL regular season games. In the 11 games he appeared in during the 2014 season, he saw 20 percent or more of the targets in six of those games. Can we rely on him in fantasy leagues?
“He’s healthy now, but it’s hard to rely on him,” Tandler said. “When he’s in there, everybody likes to throw to him. It’s a week-by-week thing. He said he’s figured out things as far as staying healthy and taking care of his body. He tends to be a little bit of a slow healer, and he has gotten tips on improving that. On Sunday against the Dolphins, he’ll probably get 20 percent of the targets.”
Getting healthy and staying healthy have been two separate issues for Reed throughout his career. Last season, Reed missed games with a hamstring injury that also hampered his play when he was on the field. In 2013, Reed missed the final six games with a concussion after missing an earlier game with a quad contusion.
However, when he’s healthy there is no denying his talent and role in the Redskins’ offense. If you are struggling at tight end or if you waited until the end of your draft to invest in the position, Reed is a worthy addition to your roster. He might even put together a better Week 1 box score than whoever you currently have slotted in to start.
An Attempt To Cut Down On The Interceptions
Game flow matters if the Redskins want to run the football 500 times in 2015, and the quarterback plays a big role in this area. Can Kirk Cousins improve on his career 18:19 touchdown-to-interception ratio?
“He tends to throw interceptions in bunches,” Tandler said. “He had seven interceptions in two games and other than that, he kept pretty clean. Cousins was good at avoiding sacks last year. He was only sacked on 3.8 percent of his dropbacks. But too often he ended up throwing the ball while trying to avoid the sack and it ended in interceptions. He might take more sacks this year to avoid interceptions.”
It’s Time For Some IDP!
As a nod to all of the IDP fantasy managers out there, Tandler took a crack at breaking down the outside linebacker position in Joe Barry’s 3-4 defensive scheme. The Redskins signed Junior Galette to play off the right edge, but his injury opens the door for a rookie to emerge.
“Initially it will be Trent Murphy [at right outside linebacker] but I wouldn’t be surprised if Murphy and Preston Smith play roughly an equal number of snaps,” Tandler said. “Smith will also sub for Ryan Kerrigan on occasion to get him a breather. They might use him as a down lineman in a nickel situation. Based on his size, there’s no reason you can’t use him there. I think by November, Smith will start games with Murphy coming off the bench.”
Preston Smith is definitely a player you want to keep your eye on in IDP leagues. Considered a tweener in this year’s draft, Smith boasts length at 6-foot-5 and size at 271 pounds. He has the kind of size and flexibility mold that often works best in a 4-3 scheme at defensive end, so he could also be used to spell Stephen Paea and Jason Hatcher at defensive end. In his final collegiate season, Smith racked up nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He is definitely a player to keep on your radar when he moves out of subpackages and into the starting lineup.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.