All eyes are on Robert Griffin III this upcoming season. With high expectations coming off a breakout season at Baylor and earning college football's top honor by winning the Heisman Trophy, RG3 has his work cut out for him.
Expect Griffin to get the nod as the starting quarterback entering the 2012 season. Rex Grossman will most likely take the role as the backup, while Kirk Cousins will serve as the team's third-string quarterback.
While Washington's quarterbacks have had a history of struggling in the second half of the season the past few years with veterans like Rex Grossman, Donovan McNabb, and Jason Campbell, Griffin should provide more and more fantasy production as the season goes on.
The team has built a strong running presence the past few seasons that should help take pressure off Griffin and help open up play-action pass plays. His mobility should also be a huge plus as defenses will have to respect his ability to run while trying to chase him out of the pocket.
Griffin will definitely be a gamble though at the quarterback position because it remains to be seen if his game will translate to the pros. However, his upside would make him a solid starter in larger leagues and steal for anyone looking for a quarterback in the later rounds.
For the Redskins this seems to be the position with the most uncertainty. Amazingly, while the Washington backfield had an injury-plagued 2011 season with Tim Hightower going down early in the season and Roy Helu getting injured later in the season, the Redskins still received good production from almost everyone they plugged in.
Hightower, Helu, and Evan Royster all put up 100-yard rushing/receiving performances throughout the season. Right now it looks to be Hightower's job to lose going into training camp with Helu as the backup and Royster as the third option.
The Redskins really liked how Hightower ran the ball last year so much that they re-signed him and have decided to name him the starter going into this season. His starting job though is hardly permanent with an injury-plagued 2011 season and breakout performances from Helu who ran for 640 yards, and Royster who notched a solid 328 yards rushing in the last few games.
For the time being, Hightower seems to be the safer bet as he will put up consistent production if he remains the starter, with Helu as a viable No. 3 fantasy RB, especially in leagues that have a flex position.
This position is perhaps the most upgraded one on the offensive side of the ball since last season. The team overall did not make many moves over the offseason but to aid their new quarterback they did manage to bring in wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Both players should add speed and depth to the previously older receiving corps.
While Santana Moss has been the leading receiver since being acquired from the New York Jets it looks like he will be passing the torch to the young and promising Garcon, who has come off two impressive seasons with the Colts. Garcon should prove to be a strong No. 2 option at wide receiver as he will most likely be Griffin's No. 1 target.
Moss, on the other hand, could also be viable in the later rounds since he has more experience in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's system, but most likely will be a third or fourth option at the most with the Redskins run-first offense.
The two front-runners to be Griffin's safety valve at tight end are veteran Chris Cooley and the up-and-coming Fred Davis. Chris Cooley has been one of the Redskins' top options on offense since taking control of the starting spot in 2005. However, it seems that the younger Davis will begin taking most of the reps with the starting lineup after a breakout season last year.
While Cooley started all games in 2010 and had more yards receiving with 849, Davis took advantage of Cooley's injury-plagued season last year and totaled 796 yards over the course of just 12 games. The Redskins will most likely look to utilize both players, but Davis will be the more viable option in 2012 with Cooley's time as a Redskin coming to an end.
Davis could very well be a strong candidate as a No. 1 option at tight end as he has been a consistent target in Shanahan's playbook. The only downside to Davis' production last year was his ineffectiveness in the redzone. He was only able to haul in three touchdowns all of last year.
However, he has shown in the past that he can be a threat to score by catching six touchdowns in his first real shot at playing time in 2009. If Davis is available in the later rounds it would be ill-advised to pass on him because of his upside.
Sleeper Watch: Pierre Garcon gets my sleeper pick because he has been playing second-fiddle to Reggie Wayne in Indianapolis ever since he entered the NFL. With his first real opportunity to shine this year it could be a breakout season for Garcon.
Most people expect him to put up solid production as he is perhaps the Redskins' biggest addition in the offseason, but nobody really expects him to light it up with a young quarterback in RG3 running the show. Garcon has shown he can be inconsistent by dropping balls at times but his potential makes him a player to really look at in the early rounds when selecting wide receivers.
With leagues that play keepers for the following season it could be a steal if him and Griffin develop some great chemistry.
Key Handcuff: Roy Helu gets my pick for this category. Helu had an impressive run last year when Tim Hightower went down and Ryan Torain lost his starting spot. He ran for over 100 yards in four consecutive games before going down as well with an knee injury.
Helu is viable flex option even with Hightower presumably the starter at this point. His 379 yards receiving were good for fourth on the team last year despite his limiting playing time. Although he may be limited throughout the season if he remains the backup, he could become a great gamble if he does become the starter because of his enormous potential.
Breakout Rookie: The clear cut pick is Robert Griffin III. There are obvious questions about his understanding of the game, his ability to translate to the pros, and his consistency, but most of these questions were the same ones asked of Cam Newton last year and we all know how that turned out.
It would be naïve to say Griffin will repeat Newton's performance of last season, but he definitely has the potential.
Unlike Newton, nobody questioned his accuracy and decision making. Griffin's arm strength and mobility only make him even more dangerous to opposing defenses. The Redskins' running attack will only help him as long as the offensive line keeps him off the turf and off a cart. Shanahan's relationships with his quarterbacks has been questioned since John Elway, but this time around he knows his job depends on Griffin's success.
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