If you had Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III on your fantasy team last year, you almost certainly got him cheap. Either at a low price in your auction draft or in a later round of your snake draft than his production ended up justifying. This made him a difference-maker, a lottery ticket -- the kind of fantasy football asset who wins leagues because he provides exceptional production from a draft slot or auction price that produces far less for your competitors than it does for you. If you had Griffin on your team last year, good work. Well done.
But what about this year? Christopher Harris looks at 10 players with the ability to make or break fantasy teams, and guess who's first on his list? That's right. The new Mr. Rebecca Liddicoat himself.
If he's free and clear of all knee woes and allowed to play instinctively, I've got him ranked way too low at No. 9 among fantasy QBs. Heck, his 815 rushing yards last year were fifth-most in a single season by a signal-caller. As I discussed at length in my piece about running QBs, all RGIII has to do is maintain decent production as a thrower and he'd easily fit inside the top five fantasy QBs, provided his running stays strong. But that's the question, right? Even if he's ready to go on Sept. 9, will he be as willing to scramble? And will the knee hold up just nine months after the catastrophe?
We won't know the answer to this question on Sept. 9. I don't personally think we'll know it on Sept. 15 or Sept. 22, either. I think that even if Griffin were fully healthy, it would be foolish to assume that the Redskins plan to run their 2013 offense in a manner identical to the way in which they ran their 2012 offense. I believe tweaks and alterations were planned all along for Griffin's second year, and the fact that he's now coming off a second major reconstructive surgery of his right knee means that even the Redskins' coaching staff can't know for sure the manner in which and the extent to which the offense will be different this year.
If your fantasy draft is in late August or early September, this affords you the chance to wait out training camp and the preseason and see how healthy Griffin's knee looks. Not that you'd see him run like crazy in the preseason even if he was 100 percent, because the Redskins wouldn't want to give anything away. But watching him in August, if we get the chance to, will afford us all the opportunity to evaluate his fluidity, his rustiness and perhaps his speed. If he comes out of the preseason looking and feeling good, you take a flier on the talent and assume he'll provide big value with his arm, his legs or both. You're not going to know what the Redskins' offense has planned or how much Griffin is going to run until we get into the season and see it in real games. So you draft the great player hoping for great things.
But if your draft occurs before you have sufficient evidence on which to base your opinion about Griffin's health, you probably have to wait. You can't take a chance on spending a second-round pick on a quarterback and then finding out (a) he's not going to be ready for Week 1 or (b) he's not going to score points with his legs for you anymore. Griffin "made" a lot of fantasy football seasons in 2012, and he certainly has the chance to do so again in 2013. But the opportunity for him to "break" your season remains too high at this point, and for me he's going to have to do a lot of convincing between now and my drafts if I'm going to spend big resources on him this year.