Redskins to stick with the hot hand approach at RB
On Friday, Washington Redskins beat reporter Rich Tandler of CSN Washington 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 Redskins backfield, Kirk Cousins and the team’s chances of taking the NFC East. You can find Tandler on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.
RB Will Remain Difficult To Predict
It has been a nightmare trying to predict which running back will lead the way in any given week for the Redskins. Just one week after Matt Jones doubled Alfred Morris in snaps, the Redskins complete flipped the script on their roles. Passing down back Chris Thompson has also seen a ton of work through the quarter point — mimicking in some ways what Roy Helu was able to do in head coach Jay Gruden’s scheme in 2014. Who emerges in this backfield over the rest of the season?
“It’s back to the Mike Shanahan days, pre Alfred Morris, where you were just guessing week-to-week who gets the workload,” Tandler said. “Between Morris and Jones, I think Gruden still looks at Morris as the lead dog. But Matt Jones is too fast, too powerful, and too good to leave on the bench. I think it’s going to switch up based on matchups and the hot hand. It will keep fantasy owners guessing all year long.”
Through four games, Morris leads the backfield with 130 snaps. Thompson is just behind him with 101 snaps and Jones has 83. Morris has a team-leading 66 rushing attempts. Jones is right behind with 43 and Thompson has 11 carries on the season. Only Thompson has made a dent in the passing game, with 11 receptions on 14 targets. Morris and Jones have seen seven targets combined with seven receptions.
Game flow and the hot hand approach will make starting both Morris and Jones a risky proposition on a weekly basis, but it might be easier to predict the games where Thompson will have value. Just like we saw with Helu in 2014, Thompson is going to be a major part of any game plan where the Redskins fall behind. There will be weeks where game flow will make Thompson a value play in PPR leagues.
The Offense Has A Blueprint
The Redskins have been extremely run heavy this season, but can this run-heavy approach continue?
“Yes, that’s the only way they’re going to stay competitive. If Cousins has to throw the ball 40 times, he’s going to be in trouble like he was against the Giants. They have three running backs, now with Chris Thompson, and I think Jay Gruden plans to use the heck out of them.”
There’s A New Slot Man
Jamison Crowder fell to the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft thanks in large part to a disappointing 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Throughout training camp and the preseason, it became abundantly clear that passing on Crowder for so many selections was an oversight. In Week 4, he led the Redskins with 10 targets after taking over the slot wide receiver role from Andre Roberts — a healthy scratch.
DeSean Jackson has been declared out for Week 5, but he took part in individual drills throughout practice this past week. Will Jamison Crowder be a large part of the offense even when Jackson comes back?
“He’s the slot receiver. Gruden declared that on Monday. It’s Andre Roberts who is going to go. He was a healthy inactive against the Eagles. Crowder is going to stay as the slot receiver.”
On the season, Crowder has turned 18 targets into 15 receptions for 117 yards. Despite playing 17 more total snaps than Crowder, Roberts secured just 5-of-9 targets and finished with two dropped passes. In 2014, Roberts led all wide receivers with dropped passes while lined up in the slot, with 7 on the season. Experience and salary are about the only two things that Roberts has going for him over Crowder, and it doesn’t look like either will get him back in the starting lineup. Keep an eye on Crowder in deeper PPR leagues.
Is Kirk Cousins The Future?
“I think the Redskins would like to make the next 12 games decide that. He’s had two big fourth quarter drives, one against the Rams and the other against the Eagles to take the lead. If he can stay away from the dumb turnovers. we’ll see.”
So You’re Saying They Have A Chance
The Redskins are 2-2 this season and they have shown well in both victories by following a simple blueprint. Control the clock with long drives on offense, via the run game, and combine that with excellent play from the front-seven. Is it a blueprint that can last the course of the season. Can the Redskins win this division?
“The big thing is that they need to figure out how to win on the road — they are 1-8 on the road under Gruden. Part of the issues is that they don’t make the plays that take a crowd out of the game — special teams, creating turnovers, preventing turnovers. What they do have is an ability to hold on to the ball. They have 13 drives of 10 minutes or more this year — the most in the league. If they can use that formula to win some road games, they will be in it.”