Fantasy Football and the Washington QB Situation: Welcome to the Dumpster Fire

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Robert Griffin fantasy football

Nov 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) walks off the field after the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won the game 24-16. John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of off-season talk centered around Robert Griffin III was in regards to whether or not he would be healthy enough to not only complete the 2013 NFL season, but if he would be able to repeat his offensive rookie of the year season from 2012.

Fast forward to Week 15 of the 2013 NFL season, and RG3 is now being deactivated by the team for the last three weeks of the season, in order to ensure he’s healthy going into the offseason.

Yes, Washington head coach Mike Shanahan is benching a healthy starting quarterback to give him the best chance to not injure himself again.

Doesn’t sound ludicrous at all, does it?

Regardless of what Shanahan’s true motivations are in this power struggle between himself and Washington owner Dan Snyder, what matters in the world of fantasy football is that RG3 is no longer a fantasy quarterback option for this season, and Kirk Cousins is now the full time starter in Washington.

Just how some predicted it would go down, just probably not in this manner.

A look at RG3′s 2013 fantasy season, and we see that in standard scoring leagues, he sits at QB12 on the year, still keeping him in the QB1 discussion.

RG3 had to do it a different way this year though, as he dealt with his gruesome knee injury, forcing him to become more of a pocket passer, and less of a running quarterback.

If you take a look at some of his numbers, you’ll see in two games less than last year he completed 16 more passes, and attempted 63 more passes than last year. He already has three passing yards more than last season.

His completion percentage and yards per attempt is down from last season, but that comes with the territory when you’re tasked with having to pass more. However, he did have a higher completion percentage and yards per attempt average than Andrew Luck this year.

The big difference, and where most of his fantasy value came from last year, was his running, and RG3 was averaging 37.62 rushing yards per game this year.

Add up his current rushing yards, and tack on that average over the next three games, and RG3 would be about 215 rushing yards shy of his rushing total from last year (815).

Don’t forget RG3 also had seven rushing touchdowns last year, and this year he has zero. When you add up those missing rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns, you’re looking a fantasy points differential of around negative 69 points.

RG3 was getting used to the idea of being a pocket passer, and was also getting his legs back as he was starting to run more the longer the season went on. In his past five games, he had rushing totals of 44, 44, 27, 88, and 29.

But, he wasn’t the same effective runner as last season and that diminished some of his fantasy appeal, even as a fantasy QB1.

In 2012, RG3 had seven games where he scored at least 20+ fantasy points, and this year he has five such performances, with 26.32 fantasy points in Week 7 being the most he scored in a week. Last year, RG3 had four 29+ fantasy games.

We’ve gone over the difference between RG3 of last year, and RG3 of this year, so what to make of the Washington quarterback debacle going forward, and why does it matter in the fantasy football landscape?

Match-ups and Washington’s upcoming schedule is why we should care who is under center for the team going forward.

The end of season playoff schedule for RG3 was a prime one, with games against the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys the next two weeks.

If you had RG3 as your QB1, you didn’t need to worry about picking up another quarterback.

Now with RG3 done for the year, what do we do about Kirk Cousins?

The match-ups looks nice on paper, we’ll grant you that.

The Atlanta Falcons are giving up almost two passing touchdowns per game this season, and have allowed every quarterback they’ve faced, minus Matt Flynn to score two combined (rushing and passing) touchdowns against them.

The lowest fantasy points output by an opposing quarterback against Atlanta was 14.12 by Flynn last week. That’s a safe floor, when it comes to your fantasy quarterback. And here’s another worthy stat nugget to keep in mind regarding Cousins from XN Sports’ own Rich Hribar:

“Probably worth noting that the average weekly finish vs the Falcons in ATL is 6.8, all six QB were top 12 performers, only Glennon below QB8″

Then there’s the Dallas Cowboys, who just saw Josh McCown throw for almost 350 yards, and four touchdowns against them last week, while also adding 16 yards, and a rushing touchdown on the ground.

In re-draft 2-QB fantasy football leagues you can safely drop RG3 for Cousins, as long as nobody has beat you to the punch yet. However, should you start him?

The numbers look good, and CD Carter shared a tweet from Bob Harris of FootballDieHards.com, saying how we have to, “Divorce the name from the numbers”, sort of how I was saying we don’t need to concern ourselves with “brand name quarterbacks” in this article.

If you trust the numbers enough, then Cousins becomes an intriguing starting fantasy quarterback option the next two weeks in 2-QB fantasy football leagues, and could also find himself in the QB1 streaming discussion in 1-QB leagues.

However, something else Mr. Carter mentioned in his ‘Fantasy Football  Week 12: What We Learned’ article on XN Sports is also something we need to take heed of in regards to Cousins, and his fantasy potential.

In the article, Mr. Carter was talking about the situation in Houston and Case Keenum, specifically, when he said, “A flaming dumpster fire of an offense trumps match-ups every time.”

Back in Week 11, the Houston Texans’ offense was reeling, and Keenum was replaced by Matt Schaub, only to regain the starting job the next week, in what looked to be a prime matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 12.

Not only was the matchup a plus for Keenum, but it also looked good for Andre Johnson, and Ben Tate, as well. We saw what happened though, as the near comatose Week 11 Texans continued their descent into the fantasy dumpster fire, and flopped everywhere.

I’m not a psychologist or anything, but the situation in Washington does feel a bit dumpster fire-esque, no?

You have a head coach benching his star quarterback, who is relatively healthy, and only publicly worrying about his health now, when it seems to have never been a concern to him in the past.

Former head coach, and video game namesake, John Madden said it best in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, when he said:

“I’ve never heard of a football player being “shut down” when he’s healthy enough to play, its ridiculous.”

Ridiculous indeed.

Madden also had the following to say about the situation in Washington:

“When you’re 3-10 you have a QB problem, a coach problem and an owner problem. Its dysfunctional down there.”

Again, Madden is right.

It’s a dysfunctional hot mess in Washington right now, with a team playing for a head coach and offensive coordinator who are probably going to get fired by an owner who cares more about saving $7 million he would have to pay if he fired them, rather then step in and stop any of this from happening.

What happens to RG3 is that he gets caught up in the divorce proceedings, and loses out on valuable snaps and playing time. Something he could use as a young NFL quarterback.

Don’t forget Shanahan insinuated during his press conference that Snyder cares only about the quarterback position, saying how he went to Snyder to talk about the quarterback position only, because, “Dan could care less about the other positions.”

On top of the quarterback mess, you now also have an owner who only cares about his star quarterback, and nobody else.

If you’re any player on the Redskins, other than RG3, who has lost his job, and Cousins, who is fighting to make a name for himself, are you going to perform to the best of your abilities?

It’s not like it’s one of those situations where the payers rally around their coach, in a last ditch effort the save their leader.

We’ve seen players check out of games before, in much less circus-like environments.

When we look at the Washington Dumpster Fires (new name patent pending) not only do we have to wonder about starting Cousins in a plus match-up, but now we also have to worry about whether or not to bench the likes of Pierre Garçon, Jordan Reed, and Alfred Morris during the most important time of the fantasy football season.

The question of should we start Kirk Cousins this week, has now turned into should we start any Washington Dumpster Fires?

In the end, what it comes down to, is figuring out what you believe in more: the numbers or the potential for an end of season dumpster fire run?

Your answer could determine whether or not you flame out in Week 15, or hold up a fantasy trophy after Week 16.

*Stats used in this article from FantasyData.com, and Yahoo! Fantasy Sports

Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and believes that 2-QB fantasy football leagues will be the future of fantasy football. You can read about his 2-QB fantasy football opinions and analysis at XNSports.com.
4 comments
@2QBFFB
@2QBFFB

Thanks for reading, Brian! Out of those options, I would go with Cousins. He still has the safest "floor" and the other guys don't really appeal to me. You can make a case for Flynn against Dallas, but he's still in the same situation as Cousins. It might be tough to go with Cousins, or not tough at all, depending on your mindset. But I'd lean that route.

Brian
Brian

Thanks for the great post - very informative. I have a question related to your article topic. I have a really interesting QB choice to make his week - in a one QB league. I'm in the second week of a two-week playoff matchup, and after a poor week 14 I am down by 34 points. My team is very solid and could bring me back, but RG3 was my QB. Now, my QB choices are: Cousins (vs Atl), Flynn (vs Dal), Cassel (vs Phil), and Glennon (vs SF). Who would you go with, given my situation? Thanks.

Brian
Brian

Thanks for the reply! I definitely agree that Cousins has the highest floor - simply because I think he is more talented than Flynn. I could totally see Flynn throwing 4 INTs. However, I do think Flynn is surrounded by greater talent (Nelson, Jones). And the situation in Washington is ridiculous. Gosh, tough call!

@2QBFFB
@2QBFFB

Yup. Welcome to the dumpster fire that is now the Washington Redskins. Don't forget Washington might be out Jordan Reed again, leaving Garcon as the only true reliable pass catcher. If you feel more comfortable with Flynn over Cousins, then you might have found your answer.