Sunday, 20 July 2014 20:00

Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and his 2014 bounce-back potential

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Fantasy owners who drafted Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III in 2012 hauled in perhaps the best value quarterback of the 2012 season. With an average draft position of 12th overall among quarterbacks, RG3 owners ended up getting way more bang for their buck as he steamrolled to 26 total touchdowns and 4,000 yards combined rushing and passing. By the end of 2012, RG3 ranked fifth among all quarterbacks in fantasy points with 317.5.

If you had RG3 in 2012, you either substituted him for your previous QB1 or ended up trading him. Let’s all pause and raise our collective glasses to that guy/girl who selected RG3 in 2012 and hope he/she did the right thing and traded him for something good or eventually started him. Don’t worry imagined fantasy owner in my head, I’m sure you did one heck of a job.

Of course, he/she could’ve just stashed him away on his roster and not let anybody else use him against them. It’s a strategy people don’t often use, but sometimes an RG3 saved is an RG3 earned and not being used against you by some other opponent. That strategy goes for all owner’s that have great depth and often vow to trade for something less valuable simply because they can.

RG3’s 2012 onslaught made him appear destined for long-term fantasy greatness until he tore his ACL and LCL in an NFC Wildcard loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

It was an injury he never fully recovered from by the time 2013 rolled around. Instead of waiting until he felt truly comfortable, he attempted the Adrian Peterson comeback in Week 1 against Philadelphia. As valiant as the effort was, he looked like a different player, preferring to do most of work from the pocket in the form of short and intermediate throws rather than blaze trails with his feet.

RG3’s running game, which was always an important wrinkle in the way he kept opponents off balance, was reduced to just 5 rushes for 24 yards in the eventual 33-27 Week 1 loss.

While he threw for more than 400 yards in that game, both of his two passing touchdowns came in the fourth quarter when the Redskins trailed by multiple touchdowns and the Eagles took their foot off the gas. He would go on to do the same thing against Green Bay the following week, opting to pass his team back into it after Aaron Rodgers threw a first-half touchdown party to give Green Bay a substantial halftime lead.

RG3 also abandoned the recklessness around the end zone that benefited him so greatly in 2012. He rushed for zero total touchdowns compared to seven in his rookie season. His lack of rushing diluted his fantasy value to 18th among quarterbacks in 2013.

But his past injury wasn’t the only reason he struggled.

RG3 also suffered due to lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball. While wide receiver Pierre Garcon smashed reception records, his meager five touchdowns didn’t exactly take the pressure off RG3 when it came time to put the ball in the end zone. Concussion issues plagued tight end Jordan Reed and what could’ve been a fantastic rookie year for the former Gator. To top it off, an aged Santana Moss proved his best days are way behind him as he logged just 452 receiving yards, his lowest total ever as a Redskin.

All these occurrences contributed to RG3’s crash back down to earth last year. But there’s a lot of upside to him in 2014, mostly because the Redskins have gone out and addressed a few of the problems that strangled them in 2013.

The lack of playmakers instilled in the Redskins offense has been addressed. They inked wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a three-year deal after the pro bowler was released when he failed to see eye-to-eye with Coach Chip Kelly and Philadelphia’s offensive philosophy.

Jackson gives the Redskins the explosive playmaker they’ve so badly needed and they’ve so badly whiffed on acquiring one in seemingly every draft and free agency period in recent memory. Jackson is a YAC machine, and his presence alone should open up more running lanes when he’s decoyed down the field and RG3 is scrambling.

Another area Jackson can improve RG3’s game is the deep passing category. Only Joe Flacco struggled more when it came to passing accurately past 20 yards last season, and Jackson’s speed makes him very difficult to overthrow.

We mentioned TE Reed earlier. Reed displayed shades of a young, humane Aaron Hernandez in 2013. Had he not suffered a multitude of concussions that stifled his blistering early pace, he would’ve finished with 974 yards, six touchdowns, and ranked among the Top 5 fantasy tight ends. While his concussion problems are more than a minor concern at this point, he does have potential to scratch the 1,000-yard surface when healthy. He’s perhaps the biggest boom-or-bust tight end in fantasy in 2014 aside from Rob Gronkowski.

The new coaching staff should also work wonders for RG3. Head coach Jay Gruden’s version of the west coast offense is predicated on running the ball effectively to set up short, quick passes. RG3 proved effective with his accuracy during his rookie season with a 65 percent completion rate, but tapered off to just 60 percent last year.

Now 18 months removed from an ACL injury, RG3 should be 100 percent for the first time since his rookie season. He’s a high upside QB1 with potential to finish among the Top 5 fantasy quarterbacks so long as he combines the confidence he had in 2012 with the ability to learn from the mistakes he made in 2013.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 13:52
George Banko

George Banko started talking about fantasy football shortly after graduating college. He started as an intern at FFChamps.com before working as a staff writer for Fantasy Knuckleheads. He currently contributes to the Fantasy Hot Read podcast, which is available on itunes. He also educated himself on player evaluation and is a graduate of The Scouting Academy in 2015, which is an online course run by former NFL Scout Dan Hatman. He started Fantasy Football Helpers as a blog in 2011 and converted it to a full-scale website in 2014. Read more.

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