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Sounds Like Kirk Cousins Has Chris Baker’s Vote

Following the Redskins’ 23-20 victory over the Eagles on Sunday, defensive lineman Chris Baker (who’s having one helluva start to the season) chimed in with his validation of the starting quarterback in Washington (c/o The Washington Post).

Give Coach Gruden credit for making a hard decision, but making the right decision. This was the game that showed you why he went to Kirk. We all love Robert, and we hate to see him not getting the chance he worked so hard for. But you see the production with Kirk, and now you see he can lead us to victory in the fourth quarter.

Interesting stuff from Swaggy P. And from a fan perspective, reassuring too. The constant concern with this team is structure and leadership and inside the locker room, and comments like this (public ones, too!) carry some weight in that regard.

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Eagles I

take it

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 23-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. 

* * *

— It was a poorly officiated game (for both sides), but 10 penalties on the Redskins for 110 yards is terrible. As said in the past, this team isn’t good enough to absorb self-inflicted wounds.

— It wasn’t an efficient day on the ground for Washington if you take away that 42-yard scamper by Chris Thompson on a 3rd-and-19 early in the game, but credit to coaches for sticking with it throughout the game (32 attempts for 127 yards and a score) and keeping the defense honest. Philadelphia is quite good against the run, yet the Redskins didn’t run and hide from it.

— Nice job by the offensive line in terms of pass protection. Only one sack on the day and it was nice to see Spencer Long fill in for Shawn Lauvao and not have to see things crumble.

— As for the opposing offensive line — not a good game. The Redskins got home for five sacks on the day, and it could’ve been another two if Ryan Kerrigan could wrap up Sam Bradford (which is hard to judge depending on whether Kerrigan is fully healthy or not). Another nice game from Chris Baker too.

Chris Culliver clearly wasn’t 100 percent….I’d put him closer to 70 percent. This is a big deal moving forward, especially against Atlanta next week.

— Just when we all start talking about Trent Murphy and his look of being a bust, he shows up on the last drive and finishes with 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery to seal the game. Who knows what it means moving forward, but this was at least a step in the right direction.

Alfred Morris finished with just 62 yards on 17 carries, but he also dished out a huge 16-yard gain from the Redskins own 10-yard line to start their final — and ultimately game-winning — drive of the game. He then tacked on another 6-yard gain, and then a 13-yard gain just four plays later to put the Redskins in Philadelphia territory. Again, not an efficient day running the football, but the Redskins stuck with it and Morris came through in the clutch.

— A gritty performance — the kind we’re accustomed to — from Pierre Garcon. His 15-yard facemask penalty was an extremely bonehead play, but he competed all game and made some really tough catches on the final drive, including the game-winner, which required impeccable concentration and absorbing a big shot at the goal line. He’s frustrating at times, but you have to love Garcon’s fire.

— Awesome game from Kirk Cousins. There’s sure to be those who criticize, saying he should have tossed for more than 300 yards on 46 attempts, and that his receivers did him some favors (which you’ll definitely hear regarding the game-winning touchdown throw), but the important part is that Cousins managed the game, he never looked lost, and he led the Redskins when it mattered most. He came through in a big game, specifically in a big spot, and he was a guy the Redskins could rely on. More on Cousins’ performance later in the week.

— Some drops from Ryan Grant in this game, which felt uncharacteristic for him. Sure, the conditions were wet, but other guys didn’t seem to have much trouble.

— Even when DeSean Jackson comes back, Jamison Crowder still needs a role. His speed is something this team lacks, and he comes through with big plays. He finished with seven catches for 65 yards, including one amongst three defenders, which not only was a tough catch, but a tough catch in a big spot. This guy is good.

Special teams weren’t disastrous for Washington, which is a plus. But I’d be lying if I said Darren Sproles’ 45-yard punt return didn’t have me sweating. So no, not disastrous, but this special teams unit doesn’t provide any warm and fuzzy feeling, ever.

— The tape will show more, but Trenton Robinson may have gotten caught on one of the Eagles’ long touchdown passes. It didn’t help that Culliver wasn’t 100 percent either, but Robinson can’t continue to be fooled by his own eyes. Still, love Robinson’s competitive play and effort. He just needs to show a little more discipline in coverage.

— The Redskins were 9-of-17 on third down. That’s good. That’ll help win games.

— Combine that third down efficiency with dominating the clock (41:08 to 18:52), and it certainly increases your chance of winning. We could all get used to that.

— I love Jordan Reed just as much as the next guy, but he’s a strong wind gust away from injury and us fans should prepare accordingly. He left Sunday’s game with a concussion.

— The Eagles either suck completely or they’re going through a rough patch, but regardless of the opponent’s situation, the Redskins came through in a big spot to even their record at 2-2, which puts them in a tie for the division lead. Yowza.

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 4

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

In the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week.

* * *


Derek Carr ($5,300) @ CHI

That’s five touchdowns and nearly 54 fPts over the last two weeks for Derek Carr, and it’s beginning to look like the Raiders might have something. Meanwhile in Chicago, the Bears defense has given up eight passing touchdowns this season, while coming down with just one interception. Even if he doesn’t go nuts like in recent weeks, Carr provides a nice floor in cash games.

Tyrod Taylor ($5,800) v. NYG

The Giants have allowed more passing yards through three weeks than any other team in the league and Week 4 makes for another tough matchup against #Tygawd Taylor, who’s thrown six touchdowns and scored more than 50 fPts over his last two games. I know it’s hard to settle with the fact that Taylor may be one of your “safe” options with upside, but he’s shown us nothing to think otherwise.


Running Back

Joseph Randle ($5,500) @ NO

Returning as arguably the bargain of the week from a few days ago, Joseph Randle finds himself in another good matchup heading into New Orleans. The Saints are giving up 126 yards per game on the ground and Randle is coming off a ballooned 30-point, three-score performance against Atlanta last week. That said, as juicy as last week was, be on the lookout for recency bias amongst your competition and keep these numbers in mind: 28, 37, 20, 1, -1, 1, 4, 1, 0, 1, -1, -4, 2, -2. Those were the yards gained on each of Randle’s 14 carries against the Falcons last week. Kinda gross. He still makes the list, however, because he’s the lead back and we know the Cowboys need their ground game with Brandon Weeden running the offense.

Devonta Freeman ($5,200) v. HOU 

Scratch that about Joseph Randle being the bargain of the week and make room for Devonta Freeman, who gave us more than 45 fPts for just $4,600 as part of the bargain bin last week. Although this week’s matchup isn’t as ideal (the Texans have only allowed one rushing touchdown through three games), Freeman remains a strong play with Tevin Coleman out and the Falcons thin at the position.

Alfred Blue ($3,900) @ ATL 

This play probably doesn’t make the list if Arian Foster returns for Week 4, but given Alfred Blue’s 22.9-point performance last week, as well as the Falcons defense having given up six touchdowns through three games, maybe the Texans become a little more cautious with Foster’s return…? If so, hello value.

Lance Dunbar ($3,600) @ NO

They should probably list Lance Dunbar as a receiver at this point, but you’re still playing him at running back for the time being. With just two carries on the season, Dunbar makes his 15.6 FPPG by way of his 21 catches for 215 yards, and that attention doesn’t appear to be going away with Brandon Weeden under center. Surprisingly, the Saints haven’t been gashed by a running back as a pass-catching option this season, but they are allowing a league-worse 9.3 net yards gained per pass attempt, along with six touchdowns through the air.

Karlos Williams ($3,400) v. NYG 

Yes, it’s only been three weeks. Yes, his rushing totals (and scores even) can be argued as a matter of circumstance (ie. his 41-yard touchdown run last week with the Bills leading by more than three scores late in the game; LeSean McCoy’s health). But Karlos Williams is good and the coaches like him. He’s scored three touchdowns in as many games to start the year and Shady isn’t 100 percent right now. Keep an eye on McCoy’s health status heading into Week 4, but regardless of that info, Williams offers plenty of upside at this price.


Wide Receiver

Pierre Garcon ($5,300) v. PHI

Nothing flashy with this play, but Pierre Garcon has been a consistent receiving option in Washington. With catch totals of six, six, and five over the first three weeks, Garcon joins tight end Jordan Reed as a favorite target for Kirk Cousins.

Donte Moncrief ($5,000) v. JAX

We were so close to being #Noncriefed last week, but a touchdown saved us and the 13.2 fPts were worth the roster move. Here he is again — extremely talented, heavily targeted, and available for a can of green beans. The Jags are allowing 286 yards through the air per game and the Colts are throwers of the football.

James Jones ($5,300) @ SF 

He’s the system wide receiver, Aaron Rodgers trusts him, and he’s coming off a 30-point performance against the Chiefs last week on Monday night. With an attack as potent as Green Bay’s, it’s hard not to trust Jones, especially against an ugly San Fran squad.

Stevie Johnson ($4,400) v. CLE

After going for 20 and then 15 points in his first two games of the season, Stevie Johnson had his least productive outing of the season (so far) last week, bringing in three catches for 46 yards and no scores. For me, that’s an outlier. Johnson is money in his new role as the slot man in San Diego’s offense and Cleveland’s defense is susceptible.

Amari Cooper ($6,300) @ CHI

Another Raider?! Weird, I know. But Amari Cooper is the truth. 15 catches and more than 50 fPts over his last two games and he takes on a Bears defense this week that’s given up eight touchdowns through the air. Despite his salary not earning the label of ‘cheap’, Cooper’s volume should provide a nice floor.


Tight End

Jordan Reed ($4,500) v. PHI

He’s averaging six catches, 80 yards, and better than 16 FPPG and he’s easily the Redskins best pass-receiving playmaker right now. Jordan Reed, although often hampered by injury, is healthy right now and often times the first option for Kirk Cousins. He’s a speed mismatch against tight ends, a size mismatch against nickel corners, and he should remain a staple in the Redskins’ game plan.

Greg Olsen ($5,400) @ TB

We waited for the Greg Olsen breakout and it happened — 134 yards and two touchdowns against New Orleans last week. He’s the best target Cam Newton has in Carolina and he should remain an integral piece of that offense moving forward. He’s pricey relative to his position, but not in terms of potential output. At the very least, you know Olsen is a heavy piece of the game plan pie.

Charles Clay ($3,300) v. NYG

Not sure where the floor is with Charles Clay just yet, but his touchdowns in back-to-back weeks is a step in the right direction, as is Tygawd’s play as of late. The Giants don’t do enough to scare anyone off and the friendly price lends way to nice roster flexibility.



Broncos ($3,300) v. MIN

The Denver defense is averaging 18 FPPG, which is comparable to good wideout averages at this point. Sure, Adrian Peterson is back and at it again, but the Broncos are good to put up numbers.

Packers ($2,700) @ SF

How ’bout them Niners, eh? Gross. Packers bring awesome value here.


Redskins Film Breakdown: Kirk Cousins v. Giants

At this point we’re all very much aware of the kind of game Kirk Cousins dished out last Thursday night against the Giants and it was a really poor one. Not only did he invite the criticism back on himself for looking familiar to the backup he was last season, but the Redskins dropped an important division game on the road just when it felt like momentum may start to build for this Washington team.

To breakdown Cousins’ performance, I charted his throws (including turnovers, penalties, and two-point conversions) and divvied them up into three categories.

Good/Fine: Not only were these the good throws (because yes, there were some of those1), but also the throws that were executed based on play design (ie. screens) or play development (ie. checkdowns). These throws are positive and/or non-negative.

Meh/Questionable: These are the throws that occurred when Cousins maybe had better options elsewhere, where blitzers surely altered what he was able to do with the ball, and/or some throwaways. These throws weren’t always positive, but they also weren’t negative.

Bad/Awful: These were the obvious bad throws, which you’d put firmly on the quarterback. These are sure to include the two interceptions, despite your thoughts about Pierre Garcon’s route on that first turnover of the game, and it includes passes where Cousins just simply missed his target.


cousins chart


As you’d probably guess, most of Cousins’ best throws came in the second half when the Redskins were playing some form of catch-up, leading to a lot more throws in bunches, which then typically leads to rhythm. Not to mention, there was lots of short stuff mixed in there as well.

In terms of the questionable throws, there was one huge one for me on a 3rd-and-1 early in the second quarter where Cousins has Andre Roberts rolling across the field, wide-open, with a distant deep safety to beat.

andre roberts

The play ultimately ends with a third-down conversion and a chunk of 18 yards. However, with a pass on target that leads the receiver toward the near sideline, there’s a guarantee this play goes for more yards, and a possibility it leads to six points. Roberts hauls in the pass (which is the prayer sent and answered when he gets the ball his way) and I’d trust his wheels to beat that safety down field after the catch.

There was another pass falling under this classification which also had a chance at six points. There was 1:53 left in the first half, it was 3rd-and-9, and the ball sat on New York’s 19-yard line. Jordan Reeds runs an awesome corner route into the end zone, easily beating his man with plenty of room in front. Unfortunately a free blitzer is in Cousins’ face immediately, and the quarterback is forced to use only his arm strength to sling it up and toward Reed. The pass falls short and incomplete and the Redskins settle for a field goal. A frustrating play for sure, but not a throw that can be fairly classified as poor based on that free blitzer in Cousins’ face. The Giants were showing blitz on third down and the Redskins were showing empty backfield. Didn’t work.

Moving on to the bad throws, the numbers can appear misleading given how bad Cousins was in the game — you see a large number of good/fine throws, and then just seven bad throws. But the key as it pertains to those numbers is that four to five of those seven bad throws cost the Redskins something. They either flipped the field for the opponent, killed a drive, deflated the momentum balloon, missed points, etc., so despite just seven bad throws on the night, they carry a lot more weight than any of the other passes. They were negative plays for Washington and they counted as major contributors to the loss.

The first bad throw was a memorable one, and it came on just the Redskins’ second drive of the game. It’s 2nd-and-7 from their own 9-yard line and Washington trails 2-0.

first interception

As mentioned in the Postgame Notes and React piece, don’t be surprised to hear some people blame Pierre Garcon for this interception. Maybe it was a bad route, maybe it wasn’t crisp enough, maybe the receiver’s timing was off, but I don’t believe any of that excuses the fact that it’s also a bad throw. And not only is it, at the very least, a bad throw, but it’s also a predictable one given the size and speed of the jump by cornerback Prince Amukamara.

The next one comes early in the second quarter on 1st-and-10 from the Giants 32-yard line, with the Redskins down 12-0.

ryan grant miss

The play-action works well on this play, Cousins has a clean roll out to the right, and two potential targets are running with the quarterback toward the near sideline. Andre Roberts is the close target, but a looming defensive back wouldn’t make for many yards had Cousins fired a pass to him. The correct throw was to the deeper horizontal option in Ryan Grant. The outside receiver is running a vert toward the end zone and the respective corner follows, which helps open up the field and creates space for Cousins to throw a nice ball and for Grant to make a nice catch near the sideline and past the sticks for another first down. Simply put, Cousins misses. He leads Grant entirely too far to the sideline given how much room he had to operate, and even if Grant did somehow find a way to get to the ball, he’d have the difficult task of toe-tapping his way to a completion. This is a an easy throw on a well-designed play and it’d mean a fresh set of downs. How do things change with the Redskins having a 1st-and-10 from the 15-yard line? We’ll never know.

We get our second consecutive bad throw just two plays later, this time on 3rd-and-9 and it almost certainly would’ve led to points.

jordan reed underthrow

You can easily see how Jordan Reed has beat his man on the outside, the safety in the middle of the field is entirely too far away to make a play. Meanwhile, the pocket is clean, Cousins has nothing but time to throw and room to throw it, but he weak-arms it, the pass falls short, and it makes for an easy (almost lazy) swat for the once-torched safety. This is an easy pass for quarterbacks to make and it’s not a pass the Redskins can afford to miss. This catch and score could’ve separated the teams by just five points rather than the nine-point gap that came by way of a 44-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins to cap this drive. That’s four points left on the field and off the scoreboard, not to mention the momentum crushed in the process.

This next pass comes later in the second quarter on the Redskins’ first play of their fifth drive on 1st-and-10 from their own 20-yard line, down 15-3.

pierre garcon miss

The timing of this play is perfect. Although Jamison Crowder (highlighted in orange) appears to be the guy working his way to be most open in the above screen grab, it’s actually Pierre Garcon (highlighted in green) who has the best look. The deep safety leans towards Crowder because the rookie is in front of his man so much, and Garcon has plenty of steps on his guy as well. A well-placed ball and it’s at least a 20-yard chunk; take into account Garcon’s RAC ability and we’re likely talking about even more yards. Instead Cousins fires one behind Garcon which not only requires the receiver to contort his body and reach back for the ball, but it also makes things a whole lot easier on the corner who now has time to catch up and make a play on the ball thanks to a late, off-target pass. This drive would eventually end with a 37-yard field goal.

The Redskins had just one drive in the entire third quarter and it didn’t come until the 7:23 mark with Washington down 18-6. The drive started on their own 24-yard line, and with some solid connections between Cousins and Reed, the Redskins had made their way down to the Giants 34-yard line and set up for a 1st-and-10.

second int

Alfred Morris gives up inside pressure in pass pro while Cousins play-fakes to no running back at all, forcing Cousins to roll to his right (but that’s far from an excuse for the ensuing turnover). Cousins reestablishes his feet despite having no open targets and fires a hard pass toward backup tight end Derek Carrier (highlighted in green), which bounces into the air and then into the waiting hands of a Giants linebacker.

For starters, Cousins needs to keep rolling at this point and wait for things to open. If they don’t open up, he keeps it and runs out of bounds for a minimal gain (assuming he outruns that linebacker), or he tosses it out of bounds and regroups for 2nd-and-10. Forcing a poorly thrown ball into tight coverage for what would be a minimal gain isn’t worth the risk here. The play seemed shot from the very beginning when Cousins’ play-fake was to the invisible running back and blitz pressure had made its way to the quarterback within two seconds. Not only was this a bad throw, but poor decision making as well. The Redskins left points on the field (a near-guaranteed field goal) and they wouldn’t touch the ball again on offense until the 13:31 mark of the fourth quarter when they trailed 25-6.

* * * *

Prior to the game, there was a post about the few misses Cousins had during the Redskins’ win over the Rams. It wasn’t intended to be a harsh criticism of a very good game, but instead to point out that those misses couldn’t happen in the upcoming game against the Giants. It was too desperate a spot for New York and the Redskins weren’t in a position to rally on the road on short rest if they missed on stuff early on.

When Jay Gruden handed Cousins the keys before the start of the season, we knew (or at least you should’ve) there would be bumps along the road — games like this one against New York in which the quarterback just doesn’t play well. While they’re certainly unfortunate and can/will often times lead to losses, the Redskins’ 1-2 record doesn’t trump the season and write it off for dead. There’s a lot of football left and Cousins can’t look back on bad ones like these except for learning and progression moving forward.

Lunchtime Hot Takes: Abandoning the Run and Why the Redskins Imbalanced Play-Calling Against the Giants Actually Makes Sense

jay gruden

Listening to the airwaves following a Redskins game is always a treat. One week you beat a team who hasn’t had a winning record in over a decade and fans are predicting a shot at the division. Three days later you lose to a division rival in a primetime game on short rest and fans are ready to pull the quarterback and tank for a draft pick.

But what makes this particular Friday a special one is that not only did the Redskins lose to the Giants on Thursday night, but they stunk in familiar fashion against the Giants on Thursday night. No, the Redskins weren’t making waves just yet, but there were at least ripples in the water leading up to Thursday night. It was a chance for the Redskins to show they weren’t the same ol’ dastardly Redskins. That the roster was improved, that their running game was for real, that their quarterback had the juice, that their entire team culture and energy was changing for the better.

Ultimately we were all left with, well, something quite similar to the same ol’ Redskins.

In addition to the “Kirk Cousins will never amount to anything” suggestion, another popular take amongst Washington fans today seems to be the offensive play-calling and how ridiculously imbalanced in was against the Giants. That running just a measly 20 times and throwing a whopping 49 times by a team that has made a name for itself (albeit after just two weeks) by playing tough defense and running the football is craziness and inexcusable.

Not to crash the party here, but while the play-calling totals at the end of the game do appear a bit lopsided, it’s very much excusable. The Redskins never had momentum, they never controlled the game, and desperate times unfortunately call for desperate plays.

The Redskins’ woes started on their very first drive of the game. Starting from their own 19-yard line, their drive went pass, run, and then pass on 3rd-and-2, which was a nice wheel route to Chris Thompson that was ultimately called back due to Jordan Reed’s pick/pass interference call. Backed up and faced with 3rd-and-12, the Redskins passed again, failed to convert, and were forced to punt (which we all know turned into two points for the Giants). On that drive, the run-to-pass ratio (including penalties and/or turnovers and/or sacks1) was 1:3.

The Redskins second drive started from their own 6-yard line (thanks to a Terrance Plummer holding call on a fair-caught punt) and was just as bad as their first. They ran it on first down, then attempted to throw it on 2nd-and-7, which led to the Prince Amukamara interception and easy field flip for New York. Blame the predictable play call, blame the throw, blame the receiver, whatever. It was bad and it dug the hole even deeper for Washington. On that drive, the ratio was 1:1.

After the Giants convert on an easy touchdown, the Redskins start their third drive of the game from their own 20-yard line and become as predictable as you possibly can given Cousins’ latest blunder and his brief history against this New York team. They run on first down, run on second down, and then run on 3rd-and-1 without converting. The ratio was 3:0.

Now trailing by 12 with just 39 seconds to go in the first quarter, the Redskins begin their fourth drive from their own 20-yard line. They run on first down and pick up 10 yards, pass on the next first down, run on 2nd-and-5, and then pass on 3rd-and-1 to pick up another first down. They then run, run, pass, run, and pass deep down the left side on 3rd-and-4, which was the badly underthrown ball to Jordan Reed in the end zone. They settle for a 44-yard field goal. The ratio on the Redskins’ fourth drive was 5:3.

The Giants tack on a field goal and lead 15-3 with 7:32 left to go in the first half when the Redskins begin their fifth drive of the game from (you guessed it) their own 20-yard line. This drive was mostly derailed by a questionable holding call on Kory Licthensteiger, (which followed a three-yard loss on a run by Matt Jones the play before) and a drop by Andre Roberts on a 2nd-and-9 play. The drive overall went pass, run, pass, run, pass, run, pass (penalty), pass, pass, run, pass pass, and then a 37-yard field goal from Hopkins on 4th-and-9 with 1:48 left to go in the half. The ratio was 4:7.

And that’s it for the first half. After one half of football, the Redskins ran the ball 14 times and threw the ball 16 times, including penalties — one of which was the 33-yard wheel route to Chris Thompson, the other a 33-yarder to Jamison Crowder, both of which were passes. Take those two penalized pass plays away and we’re dead even: 14 run, 14 pass through one half of football.

Then the second half starts. The Giants receive the ball to start the third quarter and proceed to put together a 15-play drive lasting an eternity more than seven minutes before coming away with (thankfully) three points. But this is where the “balance” begins to go out the window.

The Redskins begin their sixth drive of the game at the 7:23 mark of the third quarter, trailing 18-6. This would ultimately be Washington’s ONLY drive of the entire third quarter and it went run, run, pass on 3rd-and-2 to convert, then pass on first down for an 18-yard completion to Reed, followed by a run for no gain, then another big completion (13 yards) to Reed again on second down to pick up the first. This is a solid and exciting drive for the Redskins at this point until Cousins rolls right on the following first down and forces an asinine throw to Derek Carrier that pops into the air and eventually into the hands of Giants linebacker Uani Unga. Not only was that at least three points left on the field and possibly more, but it was also a huge momentum killer when paired with New York’s everlasting drive to start the quarter. The ratio on that drive (again, including penalties and/or turnovers) was 3:4.

So here we are through three quarters and the Redskins have called 17 run plays and 20 pass plays and they trail 18-6. After Cousins’ second interception, the Giants take over and their eight-play, five-minute drives carries us over into the fourth quarter. By the time the Redskins get the ball again, they’re trailing 25-6 with 13:31 left to go in the game. Guess what they need to do now?

The Redskins had three offensive drives within the final 13 minutes of the game, in addition to a 100-yard kickoff return by Rashad Ross2. For those three offensive drives, the run-to-pass ratio was two runs to 35 passes. Because it had to be.

The end of the Redskins’ first drive of the fourth quarter (their eighth overall) was another killer, as Matt Jones fumbled into the end zone as he leaped across the goal line for a would-be score had his hands been stickier. Their next drive (their ninth) would begin with less than eight minutes to go in the game and still trailing by 19. Still needing to pass, they did just that — 14 times, scoring a touchdown, and converting on the two-point conversion3.

The Giants led by 11 with 3:29 to go in the game and decided to throw one up there to Rueben Randle on 3rd-and-10, which bounced around and went for a 41-yard score. That left the Redskins trailing 32-14 and presumably dead.

Following Ross’ kickoff return score (which counted as their tenth) and on their eleventh and final drive of the game, the Redskins start from their own 22-yard line, trailing 32-21 with less than two minutes to go in the game. Hey guess what? More passing.

It’s safe to assume you won’t find many people who believe the Redskins should call more than twice as many pass plays as they do run plays in a typical game. That’s not who this team is. But sometimes the game doesn’t go just the way you thought it would. Sometimes the game dictates what you need to do with the football and how you need to orchestrate your offense.

And hats off to the Giants. They came into this game desperate for a win and rolled out a simple game plan: stop the Redskins’ rushing attack (their strong suit) and make No. 12 beat us with his arm (their questionable suit). And it worked. Through three quarters, the Redskins actually were balanced, calling 17 run plays to 20 pass. But the ground game wasn’t working. 18 rushes for 57 yards through three quarters is what we’d commonly refer to as ‘inefficient’, not to mention trailing by 19 with 13 minutes left to go and playing catch-up rarely bodes well for an ideal or balanced play-calling situation.

This was a bad loss for the Redskins, so the frustration boiling over by way of live lunchtime rants is excusable. Just as excusable as the lopsided play totals at the end of a game in which the Redskins never established control.

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Giants I


In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 32-21 to the New York Giants. 

* * *

— Things got ugly in a hurry on Thursday night. After going three and out on their first offensive series (following a nice wheel route to Chris Thompson for a would-be conversion if not for the pick/interference called on Jordan Reed), Terrance Plummer is blown back in punt protection and nearly gives up a block. After a couple of offsetting penalties on said punt, the Redskins are told to punt it again, and this time Plummer really is blown back in punt protection and the Giants block the punt through the end zone. Special teams woes continue.

— And let’s mention Plummer one more time (the last time, maybe forever). He was called for a hold on a punt return in which Jamison Crowder called for a fair catch. Not the best night for the punt team, in particular the recently-promoted Terrance Plummer.

— On the Giants’ first third down of the game (3rd-and-3), I thought Will Compton (who was filling in for the injured Perry Riley) got a tug on his facemask and it went without a call. It wasn’t the most obvious penalty, but it did take his eyes off the target and he ended up missing the plug.

— Not sure of Keenan Robinson in coverage (except for that one pass in the second quarter when he let tight end Daniel Fells basically swim move him in order to blow by him in coverage and make a big catch), but he was all over the place inside the box. He shot over to the right-side flat on the Giants’ second 3rd-and-3 of their first drive and made an awesome tackle to force a punt. Later in the first quarter he pulls off a nice blitz on 3rd-and-8 and forces Eli Manning to shove the ball in the dirt and force a punt. He finished with 10 tackles on the night and he’s a ton of fun to watch.

— It also didn’t take long for Kirk Cousins to show something gross. On the Redskins’ second drive, he drops back close to his own end zone, attempts a play-action fake to the wrong side (which, believe it or not, doesn’t sell the defense too well) and fires an ugly pass toward a crossing Pierre Garcon. He threw without setting his feet, without any power, and Prince Amukamara read it the ENTIRE way. Interception. Giants score and it’s 9-0….none of which is really on the defense. I will say this, however, when it comes to the pass — Jay Gruden mentioned during the postgame that that particular throw was a timing route. Perhaps Garcon was suppose to be there and wasn’t? That’s not necessarily an excuse for Cousins; just a possibility.

— Because Cousins’ performance consisted of 49 throws, another post will follow breaking down his game. It’s too much to fit in here, so the good (and yes — there was some good) and the bad will be posted in the coming days.

— Following the pick on the previous drive, the Redskins come out and run the ball three straight times and punted. Granted, they did give themselves an attainable 3rd-and-1, but the three straight runs was so incredibly predictable given Cousins’ most recent blunder and his brief history playing against this New York team. Not a huge fan of that.

— Veteran DeAngelo Hall didn’t have a great night. After giving up a big gain to Rueben Randle, he left the game with a toe injury and didn’t return. No, it wasn’t his best game on the field Thursday night, but this secondary needs him. Hoping for a speedy return.

— The Redskins finished with seven penalties for 58 yards, which doesn’t seem all that bad, but it meant a bunch in this game. As mentioned in the past, this team just isn’t good enough to overcome shooting themselves in the foot, and penalties in this game seemed to come at the worst times. Disciplined football is required.

— The Redskins lost left guard Shawn Lauvao to a sprained ankle and Josh LeRibeus filled in. Surprisingly the pocket didn’t suffer as many would have expected, but a solid recovery for Lauvao is necessary. Overall though, the offensive line performed okay for the night.

— Awesome game for new kicker Dustin Hopkins. Not only was he 2-for-2 on field goals (his long a 44-yarder), but he was also 6-for-6 on kickoffs, meaning three were touchbacks, and the other three were out of the end zone. Then, in the final quarter with the Redskins in severe desperation mode, Hopkins actually gives the team two really, really, really good onside kicks, both of which were different styles [if you will], and both of which were recoverable. Washington couldn’t come down with them of course, but really nice job by Hopkins throughout the game.

— Hat tip to the Giants who came into this game knowing they needed a win and really not using rocket science to get it. On offense, get your best player (Odell Beckham Jr.) in position to win. And on defense, tee off on the running game and make Cousins beat you with his arm.

— And that’s likely why we saw such an imbalance with play calling, as the Redskins threw the ball 49 times and rushed it only 20.

Rashad Ross pulled off a sweet 100-yard kick return in the final quarter. Unfortunately it was too little too late, but his speed is legit. I’m ready to see him on the outside in offensive sets until DeSean Jackson comes back 100 percent.

— While on the topic of speed, rookie Jamison Crowder brings it. I look forward to seeing more and more of him in the offense as the season progresses. Dude can make plays.

— The Redskins defense as a whole wasn’t terrible. Were they frustrating at times? Absolutely — that zone play by the corners when you have aggressive guys like Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland on the outside will force you to pull your hair out. Take advantage of your players’ talents and press off the line! Still, they held the Giants to 23 points (because I’m not putting the first nine on them) and New York converted only 33 percent (4/12) of their third downs.

— And while on that topic, on the Giants’ opening drive of the second half, the Redskins do a nice job of holding them on 3rd-and-1 thanks to a heat-seeking Keenan Robinson crashing down on the line of scrimmage. In no man’s land, the Giants decide to go for it on 4th-and-1 with an obvious pass look. Beckham motions in a little tighter from the far right to stack with the other receiver on that same side. The key though was Breeland, who showed press on Beckham initially, and then backed up eight yards following the receiver’s motion move. On the surface, giving one of the league’s best receivers more room on 4th-and-1 seems like the dumbest idea on the planet. And maybe it was. But there’s also a chance that Breeland feared some sort of pick or cross between the two tight receivers, and maybe he was trusting his break on the ball…? Not sure, but it was an easy pitch and catch for the Giants’ conversion.

— With seven minutes left in the third quarter, the graphics alert us that this is the Redskins’ best starting field position of the night so far. They were on their own 24-yard line. (Note: that’s not good)

— Also, just before the end of the third quarter, the ever-talented Phil Simms reminds us that the Redskins need to stop the Giants from scoring anymore points. HEY THANKS PHIL WHAT IN THE HELL WOULD WE DO WITHOUT YOUR VALUABLE AND INTELLIGENT COMMENTARY YOU FUCKING QUACK.

— In the mood for another Phill Simms moment? Sure ya are. When the commentary was talking about the late Yogi Berra, Simms added “…he played his golf tournament to the end every time a few times.” Remember, Simms is paid for this kind of thing.

Jordan Reed once again turned in a nice game (6/96), and it would’ve been even better with improved quarterback play. He showed obvious signs of frustration all night, whether it was making a play and then seeing a flag on the field for what he could only assume was holding, or when Cousins missed him on legitimate scoring chances.

— I love Matt Jones. Like, seriously, I love the guy as a football player. But he fumbled again — his second in as many weeks — and this time it cost the Redskins a touchdown. I have no doubt that he can be the lead back in Washington, or that he provides the most upside of any running back on the roster, but you have to protect the ball. If we’re going to preach ball protection for the quarterback, we need to do the same for other positions. Again, this team isn’t good enough to be careless with the football and expect to recover.

— That said, I thought Matt Jones had some nice blitz pickups throughout the game, which is nice progress for him. But when you’re talking about a potential fumbling problem, your improved pass pro won’t matter much if coaches can’t trust you enough to keep you on the field.

— The outcome is frustrating for obvious reasons, but mainly because this was a show-me game on primetime television and a chance for a supposed new Redskins team to prove themselves as real, decent, legitimate, and not embarrassing. Instead lots of people will talk about these Redskins being the same ol’ Redskins. And that’s fair, for now.

The Passes Kirk Cousins Might Like to Have Back Against St. Louis

Last Sunday’s game against the Rams was a huge boost for the Redskins, and perhaps an even bigger boost for quarterback Kirk Cousins. After completing better than 85 percent of his passes and finishing with a quarterback rating of 110, Cousins proved he can take care of the ball against a respectable defense, as well as lead his team to victory.

Missing just four passes on the day doesn’t make for too much criticism, but as head coach Jay Gruden mentioned, even solid outings on the field can leave a quarterback regretful of some throws, often referring to them as “ones they’d like to have back”. Here’s a look at some of those throws from the Redskins’ 24-10 victory over St. Louis.

* * * *

The first one came in the first quarter on the Redskins’ first drive of the game. It’s 2nd-and-11 on the Washington 48-yard line.

garcon missThe play ultimately gains nine yards by way of a dump down to running back Alfred Morris (highlighted in green), but there was more yardage and an easy first down to be had with a streaking Pierre Garcon. Does he score? Meh, probably not. The high safety (highlighted in yellow just off the screen) may prevent a touchdown, but he’d be too late to stop Garcon from achieving at least the 35-yard line; maybe even the 30.

This next one came just after the throw above. Morris’ nine-yard catch made it 3rd-and-2 from the Washington 43. A huge factor in this play, however, was Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He’s a young stud and makes an awesome play against two Redskins blockers.

donald sack

You’ll notice rookie Jamison Crowder at the top right (highlighted in green) preparing to make his dig inside, but at this point Donald (highlighted in red) has already blown past left guard Shawn Lauvao and completed an incredible spin move to get around center Kory Lichtensteiger, giving him a clear path to Cousins.

It’s easy to look at this screen grab and beg for Cousins to throw it (now! now! throw it now!) and trust that Crowder gets out of his break cleanly and picks up a first down. But that’d also be underestimating the speed of Aaron Donald — especially on this play. Sure, this is one that Cousins may want to have back (maybe a slight shift left to buy a half-second more and then fire a pass to Crowder), but I don’t think anyone’s actually blaming the quarterback here. Just a great play by one of the best defensive lineman in the game.

This next one came on a 1st-and-10 in the first quarter from the St. Louis 34-yard line with the Redskins threatening the red zone. This drive ultimately ended in a 46-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins, but you can’t help but wonder what could’ve been on this throw.

grant deep throw

The ball is already out in this picture above, but the point of it is to show Ryan Grant (highlighted in green) beating his man, as well as the high safety (highlighted in red) moving to the left side of the field and away from the pass, which really opens up the deep left side of the field.

I’ve been critical of Cousins before when it comes to his deep ball. Sometimes those long passes seem to carry too much loft — they get too much air underneath of ’em and it can lead to weird timing, catch points, etc. From the looks of things, a perfect pass to Grant down the left likely leads to six points.

grant deep catch

Instead, we see the pass float a bit, get too much air under it, and eventually it becomes an underthrown ball. You can see just how well Grant has beaten his man in this shot above given the fact he had to slow down in order to make a catch, yet still has distance between himself and the cornerback. We also can see just how far away that high safety is from the play, even as Grant is making the catch.

I know Grant isn’t necessarily a burner, but I can’t help but think that a ball more so on a line than a rainbow, working better to hit Grant in stride rather than dropping it down to him, would lead to a Redskins touchdown. Again, nice 35-yard pick up. But there was more to be had.

And this last one came in the second quarter on 3rd-and-8 from the Redskins 21-yard line. This is arguably Cousins’ worst throw of the game, simply because it was a drop away from being an interception in a dangerous part of the field.

near pick

I won’t pretend to act like I know what’s suppose to happen on this play in terms of route running, where to look, where to go, etc. But when you watch the play on repeat, you see the following: Ryan Grant (highlighted in green) kind of rolls toward the middle of the field; Cousins appears to have his timing down pat, at least from the pocket (he’s throwing as Grant is breaking); the throw is well behind Grant; the defensive back has an easy interception and drops it.

Again — not sure if the route was right or the read was correct, but from a couch quarterbacking perspective, this is a bad throw from Cousins.

* * * *

As a guy who’s rooting for Cousins to succeed, perhaps I’m a bit more bias than others. But I can’t imagine even the meanest of the KC haters could have too much to complain about when it came to the quarterback’s performance last Sunday.

Tonight, the Redskins find themselves in a critical matchup against the New York Giants. On the road, in a primetime spot, against this particular division rival — most odds are against them. They’ll need another clean sheet from Cousins and a performance where yards and (possibly even) touchdowns aren’t left off the scoreboard.

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 3

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

In the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week.

* * *


Andy Dalton ($5,700) @ BAL

Going up against one of the more disappointing teams in the Baltimore Ravens this week, the firecracker can be had for a nice price given his five touchdowns and more than 40 fPts to start the season. Andy Dalton isn’t exactly a guy we like to trust, though. We know he’s capable of putting up big numbers and the Ravens are capable of letting it happen, but homeboy struggles against the division.

Tyrod Taylor ($5,800) @ MIA

We’re referring to him as “TyGawd” at this point, just so we’re all clear. His salary actually drops $400 after being listed at $6,200 against New England last week, which is a bonus given his dual-threat skill set providing us with a reasonably high ceiling. Tyrod Taylor may still feel a bit volatile at this point, but this number is hard to beat.


Running Back

Danny Woodhead ($4,400) @ MIN

The Vikings are only a week removed from being run all over by Carlos Hyde and the 49er’s, so last week’s shutdown of the Lions rushing attack (which isn’t really an attack at this point) doesn’t give us all the details we need. Meanwhile, the chemistry between Philip Rivers and Danny Woodhead is as real as it gets. The ten catches in two games are what really keep me coming back for more, but we’ve also seen Woodhead successfully run the ball (5.1 YPC last week) AND receive goal line work.

Latavius Murray ($5,800) @ CLE

There’s a floor to like with Latavius after two weeks, while the Browns have allowed an incredibly ugly (and league-leading) 320 rushing yards over that same span. Murray is far and away the Raiders’ best option, and he would appear to come with nice value regardless of game flow.

Joseph Randle ($5,100) v. ATL

There’s a couple angles to look at with Joseph Randle this week. On the one hand, with Tony Romo’s clavicle smashed to smithereens, the Cowboys will likely rely on their ground game because Brandon Weeden is Brandon Weeden and until further notice he’s their guy. At the same time, wouldn’t Weeden — in combination with an injured Dez Bryant — mean that opposing defenses could focus on stopping the run and pin their ears back on passing downs? Hey wait — here comes Matt Cassel! This play mostly comes down to Randle carrying the ball 34 times in two games and the Falcons giving up more fantasy points to opposing rushers through two weeks than any other defense in the NFL. Things are jumbled in Dallas, but this price point is attractive.

Jonathan Stewart ($4,900) v. NO

Although he’s been a disappointment so far to start the season, rostering Jonathan Stewart this weekend has its upside. For starters, the Saints defense isn’t very good, which gives a guy like Stewart who can both run and catch some solid potential. Secondly, the wheels on the bus have come almost completely off in New Orleans, with quarterback Drew Brees to miss games due to a shoulder injury. Whether the Panthers are clawing with the Saints til the final minutes like division rivals should, or Carolina controls the game and uses their running backs to close it out, Stewart feels like a decent play at less than five grand.

Isaiah Crowell ($4,500) v. OAK

This play might have just as much to do with the football team in Oakland as it does with Isaiah Crowell the running back. Generally speaking, the committee backfield approach in Cleveland doesn’t provide much reassurance when rostering either Crowell or Duke Johnson, but going up against Oakland this week makes the Browns’ lead back a more attractive option.

Devonta Freeman ($4,600) @ DAL

Rookie Tevin Coleman is down with an injury and the next man up is Devonta Freeman. Although he hasn’t impressed as a runner thus far, Freeman is nice pass-catching option out of the backfield, and perhaps he gains some confidence knowing he’ll receive a bulk of the carries. That said, the Cowboys have allowed the least amount of rushing yards and just one rushing touchdown through two weeks. Opportunity should be there (o/u is 45), but Freeman’s matchup seems less than ideal.


Wide Receiver

Terrance Williams ($4,600) v. ATL

This play is Weeden-dependent (which is outright terrifying) but Terrance Williams is the team’s best receiver following the loss of Dez Bryant and we’ve seen him post awesome totals over the past couple seasons. Not to mention, the line on this game (ATL -2) is beginning to smell just a little bit, so don’t be surprised if Dallas covers/wins simply because they have no business doing so.

Larry Fitzgerald ($5,800) v. SF

We might not see another performance out of Larry Fitzgerald like the one we witnessed last week for the entire rest of the season, but the old man is still a great option in this Arizona offense and going up against a weak San Fran secondary.

Donte Moncrief ($4,800) @ TEN

The Colts might actually suck, but Donte Moncrief does not and the team obviously throws the ball enough to produce enough volume for fantasy owners. Moncrief has scored just under 45 fPts through his first two games and he’s the Colts second-best target behind T.Y. Hilton.

Stevie Johnson ($4,300) @ MIN

Minnesota isn’t an ideal matchup, but Stevie Johnson is thriving in his new role as the Chargers’ leading slot receiver. Johnson’s consistency is indicative of the chemistry he has with Philip Rivers and he should remain a key piece of San Diego’s offense.

Ted Ginn Jr. ($3,300) v. NO 

Complete shot in the dark with this one. I’ve never been a fan of Ted Ginn the receiver (as opposed to Ted Ginn the returner), but New Orleans isn’t good, the Panthers aren’t boiling over with pass-catching options, and he’s seen 16 targets through the first two weeks of the season. Reliable he is not, but rewarding he could be (so long as you’re cool with taking huge chances).


Tight End

Kyle Rudolph ($3,300) v. SD

The Chargers have given up five touchdowns through the air in two weeks and Kyle Rudolph is arguably Minnesota’s best end zone and short-yardage target. He’s developed a relationship with Teddy Bridgewater and it’s one that could help our lineups this week.

Crockett Gillmore ($3,300) v. CIN

Until his salary exceeds $4,000 or Maxx Williams overtakes the position, Crockett Gillmore is at least a consideration each week.



Panthers ($3,100) v. NO

A little too spicy for my taste, but no Drew Brees means good things for the opposing defense.

Buccaneers ($2,500) @ HOU

Because you hate yourself as a fake footballer. Or because you’re willing to bet against a (possibly) gimpy Arian Foster and Ryan Mallet.

Seahawks ($3,400) v. CHI

You won’t catch me breaking the bank for defenses, but Seattle could give you 20 this week as they feast on the loins and odd-shaped cranium of one Jimmy Clausen.

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Rams

ron swanson

In the hours following a Redskins game, thoughts and ideas and assumptions run rampant through the mind of a Washington fan, forcing a scattered and cloudy backdrop between the ears. 

Here are my initial notes following the Redskins’ 24-10 win over the St. Louis Rams. 

* * *

— It seems to be a stamp that’s rising in popularity as of late, but the Redskins are beginning to establish an identity; to give themselves a face as a unit. A heavy dose of the ground game, good defense, and a quarterback who can manage the affair.

— Nice game by Kirk Cousins. He wasn’t asked to be a hero. He wasn’t asked to win the game. But he made some nice throws (and a bad one), he managed the game, and most importantly, he didn’t have any turnovers. He finished 23-of-27 for 203 yards and a touchdown.

— Cousins was boosted by a solid rushing attack led by rookie Matt Jones (19/123/2) and powered by an offensive line who has been a nice surprise to start the season. Alfred Morris chipped in with 18 rushes for 59 yards, but it was a rather inefficient day for Alf when you take away his 35-yard run.

— The fumble by Matt Jones in the third quarter was a tough blow. Not only did it ruin the Redskins’ clean sheet, but a play later Nick Foles fired deep to Kenny Britt and connected for a 40-yard touchdown to cut the game to just a touchdown.

— Speaking of which, on that Kenny Britt touchdown, although DeAngelo Hall was the corner on that side of the field, it looked like safety Trenton Robinson bit hard on a fake end-around and put himself out of position to give help when/where needed.

— But it wasn’t all bad with Robinson, who’s filling in for the injured Duke Ihenacho. There were at least three good, solid, open-field tackles (including at least one on third down) that Robinson made. He’s a guy who I was rooting for during the preseason because he’s good enough to be on an active roster. The coverage mistakes will hopefully be corrected as he gains more experience.

— Random thought here: we should probably come up with a good nickname for Matt Jones. He’s gonna need it. I believe Larry Michael referred to him as ‘Mighty Matt Jones’ at one point during the game, which feels way too lazy, so let’s take it upon ourselves to come up with something decent.

matt jones truck

— In addition to taking handoffs, I love Jones as a checkdown/receiving option out of the backfield. Not only is he a reliable pass catcher, but he’s an absolute truck with the ball in his hands, yet still has the athleticism and agility to juke would-be tacklers, helping to pick up a few extra yards, which often times can mean the difference between short distance and a first down. Above is a shot of him dragging one defender (at legs), trucking another defender (who’s sitting on his ass), and pushing forward for the first down. Crazy fun to watch.

jordan reed block

— It was another awesome day for Jordan Reed, who is quickly becoming Cousins’ favorite target. He’s a size mismatch for slot corners, and a speed/athletic mismatch for linebackers, which really makes him Johnny on the Spot (like on his big catch and run on a crucial third down on the Redskins’ final drive and score of the game). He also showed better as a blocker, on one play (shown above) driving his man and propelling Jones for a third down conversion. He’s a crucial piece of this team’s offense. Continue to pray to the football gods for good health.

— The Redskins were better on penalties this week than last, but still seven for 53 yards. We’ll call it a work in progress, I suppose, but it’s not something you want to spend weeks on correcting.

— How ’bout that new kicker? Dustin Hopkins showed well in his debut, nailing all three of his extra points (those aren’t gimmes anymore, ya’ll), as well as a 45-yard field goal in the first quarter. Hopkins’ kicks appear to swing outwards toward the right (causing those who are unfamiliar with his style to sweat just as soon as the ball leaves his boot), but then quickly reverse course and whip through the uprights. Hey, whatever works, man.

— Perhaps more importantly as it pertains to kicking — Hopkins boots the hell outta the ball on kickoffs, and better field position was the root of why Kai Forbath is gone and Hopkins is here. All in all, Hopkins came in, did his job, and finished with a good game.

— Another special teams note: nice job by Tress Way and the punt team of keeping the ball out of Tavon Austin’s hands. It wasn’t always pretty, but it worked and the Redskins weren’t gashed by any big returns.

— Is this Washington defense for real? It probably depends on what you consider “for real”. At the very least, they’re much improved from last season. They’ve held their opponents to just 20 points in the last two weeks (remember, seven of Miami’s points came off a punt return) and they’re tackling better, which is nice to see.

jason hatcher

— This was the second game in a row in which Jason Hatcher gave the opposing offensive line fits all game. When he’s healthy, his combination of power, size, and speed is a thing of beauty. On this third down play above, Hatch lines up inside on the left and completely blows by his blocker, taking him into the backfield, forcing Foles to scramble, and almost drawing a holding call. Punt.

— How’s this for stats against St. Louis? Here are the number of plays in succession on each of the Rams’ 12 offensive drives: 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 3, 6, 2, 3, 4, 8. That’s not too shabby. And on top of that, the Redskins dominated time of possession, 38 minutes to just 22 for St. Louis.

— That’s not to say we should crown Joe Barry and this defense just yet. The Dolphins offense looks like it may have been overrated coming into this season after barely getting by Washington and dropping one to Jacksonville, while the Rams never really seemed to threaten anyone offensively. Again, the Redskins defense is much improved, but they’ll have far more difficult matchups later on.

perry riley

— I like the changed/improved look of Perry Riley through two games this season. He’s still the physical tackler seasons past, but he looks quicker to the play this year. I think Chris Cooley mentioned something about the new defense not requiring Riley to think as much, which really appears to be working. Above you’ll see a big third down for the Rams in which Riley sniffs out the play immediately, rushes into the backfield and completely blows up the lead-blocking fullback. As a result, the ball carrier is forced to change direction and the defense swarms for the tackle, forcing a punt.

— It was nice having Bashaud Breeland back. You didn’t hear his name, which is a good thing relative to the position, and he, along with Chris Culliver (who was serving a one-game suspension this week) and DeAngelo Hall should make for a really nice group moving forward.

— Not only did the offensive line help propel the ground attack, but they also did a decent job protecting their quarterback, who only suffered two sacks at the hands of one of the league’s best defensive front lines.

garcon touchdown

— Remember the mention of good throws by Cousins? Here’s a nice touchdown to Garcon, perfect timing, back-shoulder type stuff. This is a quarterback and receiver being in sync.

Ryan Grant is doing a nice a job filling in for the injured DeSean Jackson. It’s clearly not an easy substitution for a guy like Jackson who can change a game on one play, but Grant is reliable and always appears calm and collected.

near int

— And here’s the not-so-good, near disastrous throw from Cousins. Miscommunication or not, this ball is behind a rolling Ryan Grant. Maybe it’s not a completion even if Cousins does hit him in stride (see: oncoming defender), but it would’ve made it a whole lot less stressful than hitting the defensive back in the hands and thanking the heavens he can’t catch.

— An incredible 8-of-16 on third down for Washington in this game. Awesome.

— There was a time or two in the game when the concern rushed over you that maybe the Redskins would revert back to being the same old Redskins, but for the most part they controlled this game from beginning to end. Sure, Nick Foles and the Rams were terrible, but it’s about taking care of your responsibilities on the field and closing a game. This was a huge win for Washington.

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 2

DFS Bargain Shopper Cover Photo

In the world of daily fantasy sports, finding the best bargains can lead you to the promise land of those jubilant $3.60 pots at the end of the pretend football rainbow.

These are my bargain bin dumpster dives for the upcoming NFL week.

* * *


Carson Palmer ($6,700) @ CHI

This will mark the second consecutive week of Classic Carson on the bargain list, and like last week, he draws another favorable matchup, this time against a Bears defense that allowed three passing touchdowns in Week 1. And for an added kicker, Michael Floyd should be healthier for more snaps this week, which would only seem to help the Cardinals’ receiving weapons.

Sam Bradford ($6,900) v. DAL

Volume, volume, and more volume; all of which leads to opportunity. Sam Bradford and the Eagles threw the ball 52 times last Monday night against the Falcons and we shouldn’t expect much change against the division-rival Cowboys on Sunday. I’d take Palmer over Bradford based on matchup, but at least you know there’s potential here.


Running Back

Carlos Hyde ($5,100) @ PIT

The 49ers showed us their intended use of their primary back, as Carlos Hyde rushed 26 times for 168 yards and two scores (two catches for 14 yards, too) last Monday night against the Vikings. The injury to Reggie Bush may also help to pump Hyde’s stock a bit, but beware of heavy ownership stake after a primetime performance like the one we saw in Week 1.

Chris Johnson ($3,800) @ CHI

It sounds like a sprained PCL for starter Andre Ellington, and the next man up would appear to be Chris Johnson. Expect other guys to get some run too, but it’s Johnson who should receive a majority of the carries, which makes for great value at this price. The Bears defense isn’t exactly a good one and the Cardinals can threaten both on the ground and through the air. Slight risk, but worth the roster flexibility it should provide.

Bishop Sankey ($4,500) @ CLE

There was once faith had in the Cleveland defense, but then Chris Ivory rushed for 90 yards and two scores last week and suddenly Bishop Sankey feels like a decent play. Sankey was no small fry himself in Week 1 either, rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown, while also chipping in with a receiving score against a brutal looking Tampa Bay team. There’s lots of running backs in Tennessee, but Sankey looks the best and Ken Whisenhunt is likely to stick with the hot guy.

Ameer Abdullah ($4,500) @ MIN

That preseason hype was apparently real. Ameer Abdullah is a gamebreaking talent and the Lions have to find ways to get him the ball, whether it be as a rusher or receiver. With his speed and explosiveness, Abdullah is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball and that would bode well for his fantasy stock against a Vikings defense that just let Carlos Hyde run all over them.

Tevin Coleman ($4,500) @ NYG

The Giants did a nice job of containing the Cowboys rushing game last week, but starting Tevin Coleman this week has just as much to do with the system Kyle Shanahan is running in Atlanta as it does with the running back’s matchup against New York.

Darren Sproles ($3,500) v. DAL

It feels like the predictability of Chip Kelly’s offense (particularly at running back) will haunt us all worse than that of Bill Belichick’s, but it’s no secret the love for Darren Sproles in Philly. He made the most of his five carries last Monday night against the Falcons, rushing for 50 yards, but also chipping in with seven catches for 76 yards, taking dump passes out of the backfield, as well as lining up in the slot. He’s a solid weapon in this offense; the only concern is game flow and how that correlates with the touches/snaps of the other backs, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews.

Danny Woodhead ($4,000) @ CIN

Watching Danny Woodhead get goal line work last week was probably more like a nightmare for Melvin Gordon owners, but not so much for those who threw him into their lineups as a cheap flex option. With this kind of work, Woodhead is a pretty valuable dude in PPR formats and his $4,000 price feels like a fine deal.


Wide Receiver

Terrance Williams ($4,200) @ PHI

With Dez Bryant out for at least four weeks, Terrance Williams should receive plenty of new attention in Dallas. Philly’s pass defense didn’t wow us last week against the Falcons (sup, Julio), and Williams has flashed his potential in the past. For this price, why not?

John Brown ($5,100) @ CHI

Even if Michael Floyd receives more attention with a higher snap count as he returns closer and closer to full strength, Smokey Brown remains a solid option in the Cardinals offense.

Pierre Garcon ($5,000) v. STL

No DeSean Jackson means more love for Pierre Garcon. The Redskins should have their hands full against a tough St. Louis defense, so Kirk Cousins will need to look to get the ball out quick, with Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed being the primary beneficiaries.

Kendall Wright ($5,000) @ CLE

Tampa Bay didn’t look good, but neither did Cleveland. If you want to call Marcus Mariota and the Titans a Week 1 fad, that’s fine. But that doesn’t stop the argument of Kendall Wright being an undervalued receiver for (what will likely be) all season.

Donte Moncrief ($4,600) v. NYJ

Keep a close eye on T.Y. Hilton’s status leading up to game time, but even if he’s in the lineup, Donte Moncrief is a legitimate part of the Colts high-powered offense. Sure, that offense wasn’t exactly win-effective last week, but there’s points to be had.

Cole Beasley ($3,300) @ PHI

Cole Beasley is probably a sneaky option with or without Dez Bryant in the lineup, but without him you’d have to think Tony Romo will look Beasley’s way even more so.

Stevie Johnson ($4,200) @ CIN

After working out so well last week, Stevie Johnson finds himself back on the bargain list. In that slot receiver role in San Diego, anything under $5,000 is at least worth a look, and Johnson proved he’s ready after posting a 6/82/1 line in a win over Detroit in Week 1.


Tight End

Jordan Reed ($3,700) v. STL

Without DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed is arguably the Redskins’ top playmaker on offense right now and he should remain a favorite target of Kirk Cousins. Play him now while he’s still healthy!!

Jordan Cameron ($4,000) @ JAX

We see a $200 increase from last week in Jordan Cameron’s salary, but he’s still a worthy bargain bin candidate. The Miami offense needs to pass and Cameron’s athleticism helps to make him a really nice target in the middle of the defense, as well as in the red zone.

Crockett Gillmore ($2,500) @ OAK

The Raiders weren’t great against tight ends last week, allowing Tyler Eifert to go for nine catches, 104 yards, and two touchdowns in a blowout loss. This week they take on a guy who isn’t nearly on the level of Eifert, but still capable of putting up decent points and for a good price. Crockett Gillmore is the Ravens’ primary tight end for right now and here’s to hoping Joe Flacco and Baltimore get that offense on track.



Titans ($3,000) @ CLE

If you’re into the “anything against Cleveland” method, the Titans aren’t a bad way to go after having their way with the Bucs last week.

Rams ($3,100) @ WAS

Not exactly a cheap find when it comes to defenses, but the Rams look damn good and the Redskins are operating with limited playmakers.

Ravens ($2,900) @ OAK

Matt McGloin might play. And even if he doesn’t, Baltimore is solid here.

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