|ESPN.com: 2013||[Print without images]|
Here come the Smurfs Part II.
Washington Redskins fans remember the original Smurfs: Alvin Garrett, Charlie Brown and Virgil Seay. Those three wideouts helped lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl win in 1982, despite none of them standing taller than 5-foot-10. (Of course, the 6-foot-3 Art Monk was also on that team, but never mind that.) Eventually, Washington's receivers included Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and others, and were called "The Fun Bunch," and then "The Posse," but today, "The Smurfs" seem particularly relevant.
That's because DeSean Jackson will join Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and Santana Moss in D.C.
Provided they can rein in Jackson's off-field personality -- and really, we're never going to know the truth of Jackson's behavior with the Philadelphia Eagles, since the team is now busy spinning why they released him -- this is a great signing for the Skins. Might it be slightly redundant from a football perspective? Sure. Garcon, Roberts and Jackson all have serious downfield jets, and none of them stands over six feet tall. But having three such guys is rare. New coach Jay Gruden proved with the Cincinnati Bengals that he prefers a pass-based, downfield attack. Well, now nobody in the NFL features the kind of speed Washington will throw at defenses.
|Pierre Garcon shattered his previous career highs for catches and yards in 2013.|
Jackson and Garcon were fantasy's Nos. 10 and 14 wideouts last year. Garcon was second in the league in WR targets with 176, and Jackson had 125 in Philly; Garcon led the NFL with 113 receptions, and Jackson had a career-high 82. Simply from a workload perspective, my tendency would be to assume downticks in counting stats for Garcon and Jackson now that they toil in the same offense. Then again, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 301 targets and 189 catches for the Chicago Bears in '13, so maybe not. And even if those counting stats do go down for the Redskins' receivers, you should still see some big-play TDs. Jackson scored nine times in '13, and five of those were 25 yards or longer. Garcon scored only one TD of more than eight yards in '13, but history has proven that a man with his speed is going to get open deep if there are enough other weapons around. In my WR list for 2014, I didn't change Jackson's or Garcon's rank. Jackson stays at No. 13, and Garcon is still No. 16. It's a fluid list, and it wouldn't be a shock to see these guys wind up even higher. But there's an awful lot of WR talent in the NFL right now.
The news for Roberts and Moss would appear to be much worse. If Jackson and Garcon are really about to embark upon a Marshall/Jeffery kind of season, there won't be much left over for other wideouts. In fact, it won't be a surprise to see Moss released, or relegated to a bench role, and the idea that Roberts will log major targets has probably gone out the window. Roberts is now my No. 65 WR and Moss is No. 115. And you can forget about Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson altogether. I also lowered Jordan Reed one spot in my TE ranks, simply for volume reasons.
|Robert Griffin III is being supplied with the necessary weapons for a bounce-back season.|
The biggest potential beneficiary of this move is Robert Griffin III. I raised him from No. 14 to No. 10 in my QB ranks, not coincidentally one step ahead of Nick Foles. Frankly, I want to move RG III even higher, knowing what Gruden's offense did for the unimpressive Andy Dalton. (Dalton was fantasy's No. 6 QB last year!) Perhaps after a summer of drooling over this offense, I'll work up the nerve to recommend Griffin more highly. The hesitation, of course, is that last season, RG III proved he's not a finished product as a thrower, and the Redskins' offensive line was dreadful. There's no doubt Griffin has enough arm to take advantage of the impossible speed he now has at his disposal, but his accuracy on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield last year was awful: He had a 27.1 percent completion rate on such throws, while throwing four TDs and four INTs.
That said, there's reason for great optimism. If Gruden can get RG III's decision-making right and harness his instincts, and if Griffin's knee is 100 percent and he resumes his threat as a runner, we could easily be looking at a top-five QB.