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RG3 Needs to Stop Fueling the Doubters

Robert Griffin III 3

“He wants everybody to love Robert, and that’s not going to be the case at the quarterback position.”

That was Redskins head coach Jay Gruden earlier this offseason talking about his quarterback, Robert Griffin III. And with yet another one of Griffin’s social media posts making national headlines, the quote makes entirely too much sense.

Following the Redskins preseason game against the Cleveland Browns last Monday night, Griffin posted to his Twitter account, informing fans that he’ll continue to work on getting down at the end of runs and avoiding those big hits.

Griffin was referring to the game that happened just a few hours prior, where he’d scramble from the pocket looking to make a play, only to finish it with an awkward leg-bending slide, or simply hurling his body into a group of defenders like a pinball and hoping his head remained intact.

Over the next day or so, fans poured in, sending Griffin simple responses — some good, some bad, some praise, and lots of criticism (apparently).

That’s the way social media works. But that’s not necessarily the way Griffin would like his social media to work. The feedback sparked the quarterback’s emotions, leading him to address the reaction he received with (yeah) another tweet.

This isn’t anything new with Griffin, either. We’ve seen similar actions from the quarterback before. We used to say he was young and maturing as a professional athlete, but at 24 years old and entering his third NFL season, that excuse has almost completely fallen by the wayside. It’s now a question of whether Griffin has the skin thick enough to survive a highly-critical fan base — or what some may refer to as “doubters”.

Local radio shows field callers with questions like, “Why is this guy so insecure?”, “Why is he so worried about what a few couch quarterbacks have to say?” and “If this dude is so sensitive on social media, how’s he going to be a successful NFL quarterback?” All valid points.

I’m a Redskins fan, which means Griffin has my unwavering support. As is the case with any player on my hometown team — keep your nose clean off the field, work hard, and I’m as loyal as they come. I appreciate Griffin’s competitiveness, I admire his athleticism, and I firmly believe he has what it takes to be a really good NFL quarterback. But fanboy I am not. Despite his cannon for an arm, his track-star speed, and his franchise smile, I recognize the flaws.

Internalize

 

Michael Jordan was one of many athletes, both past and present, that had the unique ability to internalize and produce. Even as the greatest basketball player in the world, Jordan wasn’t foreign to criticism, negativity or hate. The difference with him, however, is that he received it, stored it, and then used it the following game, helping his team win while carving out a double-digit streak of triple-double performances.

That’s not to say Griffin is on the level of Jordan, of course. Or that he ever will be, for that matter. But for the sake of argument, here’s Jordan — undeniably one of the best to ever do it — still drawing rude responses from tons of basketball fans.

The glaring difference between the sports world of today and the sports world of when Jordan played — for all intents and purposes — is social media. Although we’d like to think Jordan wasn’t the type to take to Facebook and put his haters on alert that he was about to drop 69 points — perhaps he would have if the platform was available? Jordan certainly didn’t lack the confidence to trash talk, but would that really be his style — to talk his stuff away from the hardwood and behind a keyboard?

Again, the point here isn’t to compare Griffin and Jordan as players, or to argue who left what kind of mark on what game, or even to discuss the accessibility of today’s modern athlete. The point is to compare their professionalism. Jordan was the greatest — you either loved him, or loved to hate him. He didn’t feed in to the bullshit and he let his game do the talking.

Recency Bias

 

What if the Redskins hadn’t traded with the St. Louis Rams in 2012 in order to move up in the draft and land Robert Griffin III with the No. 2-overall pick? What if instead, the Redskins stayed put and somehow felt confident Griffin would fall into their lap at No. 6, all while not having to spend another couple of future first-round picks in the process?

There was an obvious market for the Heisman Trophy winner, so unlikely scenario, yes. Point is, the Redskins paid a lot to draft Griffin — a king’s ransom in most opinions.

The Redskins didn’t necessarily make the wrong move in setting their sights on a quarterback they fancy in a pass-driven league and using the ammo they had to go up and get him. But the cost to do so was public. Both Washington fans and Washington haters alike saw what the team paid to move up, in turn increasing the expectations of the almighty RG3.

And at first, he delivered. Griffin led an incredibly entertaining Redskins offense to their first playoff appearance in forever, earning Rookie of the Year honors along the way, and thus increasing the hype.

An ACL repair and one disappointing sophomore campaign later, and football fans are here to question whether Griffin is good enough.

Thing is, a majority of fans have very little patience for the way an injury effects a player’s performance, and even less regarding a player’s recovery. Fans don’t care that Griffin’s 2013 campaign was more about the marred relationship between he and his head coach, a bulky knee brace, or getting comfortable stepping into his throws despite the fear of a 300-pound lineman falling at his recently-reconstructed knee. By and large, that’s not how sports fans operate.

Recency bias is a real thing, and football fans have it. When Griffin struggled throughout 2013 with nearly every part of his game, fans didn’t think back to 2012 and further understand Griffin’s rush recovery from a brutal injury. They looked back at 2012 and assumed it was a fluke. And perhaps even more so, they remembered back to April 2012 when the Redskins traded the farm to move up and draft this guy who maybe isn’t all that good after all.

I’d be willing to bet those guys and gals make up a large part of the “doubters” crowd.

The Marketable Athlete

 

Adidas. Subway. Gatorade. Nissan. EA Sports. Castrol Motor Oil?

Even if you’re not a sports fan, catching a bit of television over the past few years means you’ve probably seen RG3. He has hefty endorsement deals with everyone from sandwich conglomerates, to automobile manufacturers, to engine oil producers. He’s out there.

Marketable athletes who crave the limelight and welcome the attention with open arms are doing so to 1.) increase their popularity and, as a result 2.) benefit financially. Griffin is no exception. But with an increased presence, more exposure, and added appearances, Griffin’s not only upping his recognition, but also expanding the crowd that dislikes him, hates him, and in some cases, despises him.

We’re all guilty of it, right? Sometimes people in the media annoy us. While some people love Charles Barkley and his commentary, other’s loathe the overweight bald guy with the goofy Southern drawl. As much as some people enjoyed Peyton Manning chanting, “Chop. That. Meat” in those brilliant Visa commercials, others found him to be the biggest goob on the planet and couldn’t stand the size of his forehead.

So yes, as Griffin’s popularity grows, so does his following; and a larger following then provides the chance for an even larger group to dislike you. It comes with the territory.

Remember that cliche saying involving having your cake and eating it too? Yeah, that applies here. Griffin can’t expect to put himself smack dab in the middle of the brightest lights and expect everyone to like him.

Creating Pressure

 

Every time Griffin takes to Facebook, every time he spawns a new hashtag, every time he’s featured in a bad ass ad that has him looking like a centaur in an Adidas shirt and chucking footballs, the pressure mounts for RG3 the superstar.

And that’s before the natural pressure.

The natural pressure is that of being a professional athlete. But not just any professional athlete — the professional athlete playing the most popular position in the nation’s most popular sport for the one of the world’s most popular sport franchises. Tough stuff.

Yet Griffin doesn’t stop. And maybe it has something to do with the mindless competitiveness that’s ingrained in him as not only an athlete, but also as a person. Perhaps he’s just as competitive in the field of endorsements and wanting to be popular as he is on the actual field of play.

Not a flaw in itself really, but a trait that can make things tough. Especially when moving at the rate of which Griffin’s career did — from dynamic Heisman Trophy winner to poster boy NFL Rookie of the Year.

Celebrity status is also a natural occurrence — a simple example being a guy like Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson who was drafted in the middle rounds, fought for the starting quarterback job, and wound up winning a Lombardi trophy. That sort of thing will make you popular whether you like it or not. Pressure certainly builds, but it’s because you set your bar by way of doing your job very, very well.

The difference in Griffin’s case, however, is that when you seek that celebrity status, you’re putting the pressure on yourself. You’re setting your bar based off words and (in this case) tweets. It’s not the natural sort of celebrity. You’re raising the expectations of yourself and people will try their hardest to hold you to it.

It’s obviously a lot easier for me to say considering I’m sitting behind a computer screen and very much not a professional athlete. But my word of wisdom in this case would be something along the lines of: playing quarterback in the NFL is hard enough by itself that you don’t need to invite the unnecessary weight and place it on your own shoulders.

Getting a Rise

 

Griffin may be incredibly fast, but he’ll never be able to outrun the trolls.

Internet trolls. They’re as real as you and I. I have no idea if they fit a certain description, but I’d assume they’re like the aliens from the Men in Black movies (I only saw the first one) with the ability to easily blend in with the crowd, ultimately infiltrating and walking among our sweet and ever-so-friendly population.

I also don’t know how they operate, or what their theory on life is, or how one grows up to be an internet troll. But I do know one thing — I know that they feed off response. I assumed Griffin would know this too.

The key, though, is that trolls don’t necessarily die if you don’t feed them. They still come around, they’ll still shoot you evil messages, call your wife ugly, criticize the way you do your job, send crude pictures, etc. But not feeding them helps you in more ways than one. And who knows — maybe after a while of not throwing out the bait, the trolls get bored, take the hint, and stop coming around.

Trolls hit up Griffin on social media because they know they’ll get a response rise out of him.

Again, it’s a mystery as to how anyone gets off on stuff like that, but people trolls do. Just gotta let ‘em be.

If Griffin really wants to silence the doubters, he needs to do so without saying anything. Otherwise, and until then, calling out the “doubters” with words as lame as their own won’t do anything but fuel the fire that apparently really, really pulls at him.

Like the head coach said, not everyone’s going to love Robert. But if he plays ball and plays it well, the other stuff he craves will naturally fall into place.

 

Fantasy Football: Wading Through a 12-Team Standard Draft

Kenny Stills

The fine folks at Gridiron Experts and myself recently finished the fantasy draft for our yearly staff league. And because I’m quite the nerd, I always find it interesting to read about draft results and the way specific fantasy owners tackled the process. I can only assume hope there are others out there just like me — in which case the following blabber jabber will be of interest.

To set the scene for the GX 2014 Staff League:

  • 12 teams
  • Standard scoring
  • Re-draft
  • 16 roster spots
  • Weekly starting lineups consisting of – (1) QB, (2) RB, (2) WR, (1) TE, (1) FLEX, (1) PK, (1) DEF

Also a quick note about yours truly — as much as I’d like to think of myself as a versatile fantasy drafter, I’m not willing to wear that badge. Not that I’m saying that as an excuse for my team makeup, but more so to the point that drafting for a non-PPR format for the first time in years reminds you just how different the process is for each game.

But enough with the mushy stuff. Here’s how I fared with the No. 9-overall pick through 16 rounds, with a brief word on each pick.

1.09 – Demaryius Thomas, WR

As one who always seems to draw the late pick in 12- and 14-team league drafts, I’m accustomed to snagging Dez Bryant somewhere in the 9-14 range — and he was in fact available. Some of it may have had to do with divying up my rooting interest (a selfish ploy, I’ll admit), but Demaryius Thomas is certainly no schlub. Not only is Peyton Manning the distributor of all distributors, but Thomas is coming off a 1,430-yard, 14-touchdown season and is likely in store for even more targets this season (142 in ’13) with Eric Decker having taken his talents to the Big Apple.

An ordinary pick and by the book, but exciting nonetheless.

2.04 – Le’Veon Bell, RB

It didn’t take long before feeling the pressure to snag a running back with my second-overall pick. Although Le’Veon Bell may be a little more attractive in PPR formats, those receiving yards still count. Is there slight concern with LeGarrette Blount getting the goal line carries? Eh, maybe. But not enough to scare me away at this point.

The only other position I would consider drafting in this spot is wide receiver. But I always, always, always take into account the cost of a player relative to his position. I weighed the potential drop-off of both running back and wide receiver between my pick here at 2.04 and the next time I’m on the clock (17 picks from now), ultimately preferring what’s to be available at wide receiver as opposed to running back.

UPDATE — 8/21/2014 — According to reports, Le’Veon Bell was stopped on Tuesday afternoon with 20 grams of green in his Chevy Camaro. To make matters worse, Bell was taken to the hospital to have his blood drawn. If tests reveal marijuana in Bell’s system, he could be charged for driving under the influence, at which point he could face the league’s substance abuse policy. The fun part? Backup running back LeGarrette Blount was riding shotgun. Hooray!

3.09 – Jordan Cameron, TE

This is a reach for Jordan Cameron, as his current ADP is somewhere around 5.12, but it was a reach I didn’t mind taking. He’s a top-5 producer at his position, and a guy we’d be talking about as an easy third-rounder if the quarterback situation in Cleveland were different.

Not that anyone requires convincing, but Cameron is also set to play amongst a very mediocre Browns pass-catching unit. With Josh Gordon’s suspension looming, we’re looking at Cameron as the No. 1 receiving and redzone option, with Hamstring Austin and Andrew Hawkins a good distance behind him.

4.04 – Joique Bell, RB

Landing Joique Bell in the fourth is arguably my favorite selection of my entire draft class. At the time, I had options in terms of receiver, but with running back as thin as it is and Bell serving as a large blip on the pre-draft radar, the Lions running back was the easy play.

There were other running backs too, of course. Frank Gore was hanging around, as was rookie Bishop Sankey, PPR-dude Shane Vereen, and Ben Tate — none of which gave me the warm and fuzzies like Bell does.

Fantasy Football Calculator says I drafted Bell about a round too soon based on his 5.06 ADP, but it didn’t feel like a reach at all. There was little chance I’d have my choice from guys like Sankey, Tate, and Ray Rice 17 picks later, and I couldn’t see myself passing on a guy who has a good chance at leading his team in carries this season.

5.09 – DeSean Jackson, WR

Turning my attention back to receiver, DeSean Jackson has the homerun ability that standard-scoring novices such as myself look for in their players. Will DJax duplicate his production from a season ago? Nah. But assuming Robert Griffin III gets the hang of things, Jackson will be a large part of the offense in Washington.

6.04 – Terrance Williams, WR

The trend is becoming noticeable at this point. When I have my sights set on a guy, yet I’m stuck with the early pick in every other round, I tend to reach for said guy because I don’t feel he’ll be there more than a dozen picks later. Terrance Williams falls into that category as well, as his current ADP in standard scoring formats puts him somewhere in the latter part of the seventh-round.

Another trend that begins here is my desire to nab large pass-catchers. DeSean Jackson being the exception, I’m going after guys who provide 1.) a large catch radius, 2.) the ability to generate mismatches, and 3.) redzone target opportunities. With the Cowboys expected to sling the pigskin, and Dez Bryant seeing more than his fair share of double-teams, the 6’2″ Williams fits the criteria.

Here’s to hoping Tony Romo’s spine remains intact.

7.09 – Jordan Reed, TE

He has the potential to be a top-5 player at his position, which, admittedly so, depends on two relatively shaky accords — his durability, and the Redskins’ quarterback play.

I say shaky because Reed has experienced his fair share of bumps since college, while the local media does more than enough to have everyone second guessing RG3 and his development after only two preseason games.

Despite just nine games last season as a rookie, Reed averaged better than six targets per game, hauling in 45 catches for nearly 500 yards and three scores. Now assume better health in 2014, as well as improved quarterback play and see what the production forecast lands you. Quite impressive.

Reed is one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL, he fits the bill of a large (6’2″) redzone target for his team, the FLEX position allows me to start both he and another tight end together, and I’m fully onboard for his breakout sophomore season.

8.04 – Mike Evans, WR

I thought about going Kelvin Benjamin for volume, then Eric Decker for touchdowns, only to have them both snagged in succession with the two picks before me.

I reached here. But as much as everyone talks about Benjamin being the favorite for top-rookie wideout in 2014 (and for good reason given that expected volume), I can’t help but feel like Mike Evans is being overlooked. He too is a large wideout (6’5″) with insane athleticism, an impressive catch radius, and undoubtedly talented enough to make his own run at Rookie of the Year. Not to mention, Evans is playing alongside a far more threatening receiver in Vincent Jackson with a veteran quarterback in Josh McCown who’s used to throwing footballs at large moving targets.

Who else did I like here in this range? I dunno — Fred Jackson maybe? But is it insane to think Evans is the No. 2 in Tampa Bay and finishes the year with at least 600 yards and a half dozen touchdowns? I don’t think so.

9.09 – Terrance West, RB

You could call this alumni bias and I’d totally take the rap for it, but who out there hasn’t been impressed with rookie Terrance West so far? Or better yet, hasn’t thought about whether or not he could be the lead back in Cleveland?

See? Exactly. Me too. So landing him here in the ninth-round felt great. I needed more backfield help anyway, and I’m an ordinary Ben Tate injury away from seeing West bumped into the starting role.

(Note: <3 Ben Tate)

10.04 – Riley Cooper, WR

Are you tall? Check.
Do you catch footballs? Check.
Are you capable of hauling in touchdowns? Check.
Do you like peanut butter? Check.

Riley Cooper passes the test for this team, he’s in a high-powered Philadelphia offense, and I think he flirts with a double-digit touchdown total in 2014.

…who doesn’t love peanut butter?

11.09 – Kenny Stills, WR

Okay, okay, okay. I know I said Joique Bell was my favorite draft pick of the class, but Kenny Stills isn’t far behind. And when you weigh the cost, well, Stills might have the edge.

As always, there’s plenty of pass-catchers in New Orleans. The good news, however, is that Drew Brees cranks out anywhere between 600 and a million passes a year. Stills put up nice numbers (32/641/5) as a rookie last season and was the Saints’ top deep threat (20.0 YPC). Take away Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, move in Stills and rookie Brandin Cooks, and I like the chances of increased production for Stills in 2014.

Names like Marques Colston, Jimmy the Great, and even Cooks are more prominent in New Orleans right now. But it’s the other, other receiver in Stills presenting the best fantasy value this season.

12.04 – Tyler Eifert, TE

/slowly stands up amongst group of middle-aged men wearing sports jerseys

“Hello. My name is Shae, and I’m a fantasy football tight end hoarder.”

*group in unison* “Hi, Shae.”

I love the FLEX position in starting lineups because I love the option of starting dual tight ends. I’m sure there’s something out there saying you shouldn’t rely on two tight ends and why it’s always best to use a running back or receiver in that spot. Or maybe there’s not. Either way, I thoroughly enjoy doing it.

Although Tyler Eifert is probably more attractive in dynasty league formats, I figured him a steal this late in the draft. I understand new Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s track record with tight ends isn’t exactly astonishing, but here’s to hoping he adapts when #blessed with someone as talented as Eifert.

Oh yeah — and another mammoth pass-catcher (6’6″) who should see plenty of redzone action thrown into the mix.

13.09 – Lance Dunbar, RB

I was thoroughly surprised to see Lance Dunbar last this long. I know we all expect the Cowboys to throw a lot, and we all know DeMarco Murray as the bell cow/lead back, but new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan doesn’t shy away from two-headed backfields. In fact, Jason La Canfora of NFL.com even tweeted that Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett saw Murray as the “leader of the committee”.

So yeah — I’ll take the other part of that so-called committee in the thirteenth-round. Expect Dunbar to see plenty of action relative to his dirt cheap cost.

14.04 – Ben Roethlisberger, QB

In addition to collecting tight ends, I also enjoy streaming quarterbacks. I waited until the bitter end to spend a draft pick on one, and had (what I believe to be) a decent selection between Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco (in that order based off personal ranking / preference).

Why Big Ben? Because I think he can be a productive QB1 in Todd Haley’s system, he’s in good shape at the ripe age of 32, and I’m a firm believer in the heavy no-huddle offense we saw the Steelers use so effectively to close out last season (check out this article by Jarrett Bell of USA Today).

15.09 - Justin Tucker, K

Only because the starting lineup requires it. And if I’m going to take a kicker, having Justin Tucker’s boot ain’t too shabby.

Also, it was Justin Tucker who buried a 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds left to play against the Detroit Lions in Week 15 last year that nudged my opponent past me for my dynasty league championship. And that was after he had put away a 29-, 24-, 32-, 49-, and 53-yarder in the 59 minutes prior.

Hell hath no fury like a fantasy owner scorned.

16.04 – Eagles DEF

The only position I stream more often than quarterbacks is defenses. From week-to-week, the team changes based on what the waiver wire has to offer, some Vegas lines (shout out to the very talented C.D. Carter), and your typical gut feel.

The Eagles open the season hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars (who I actually root for quite often) and should be heavy favorites in that game — a plus in the world of streaming.

If anyone is interested, my close second streamer in Week 1 is Chicago (who hosts Buffalo) followed by Kansas City (who hosts Tennessee), and wrapped up with the New York Jets (who host Oakland).

A Few Other Notes that Don’t Mean Much, If Anything At All

  • Average height of pass-catchers (WR + TE): 6’2″ (mission accomplished)
  • I graduated from Towson University. Terrance West is one of the best to ever play at Towson. Yes, that plays a role in trying to roster him in every one of my leagues this year.
  • When I say I like Joique Bell and Kenny Stills this season, I mean I really like Joique Bell and Kenny Stills this season. And you should too at their current bargain bin price. Buying low and selling high is the name of the game.
  • Another benefit to drafting Big Ben is that his bye week doesn’t come until Week 12. The downside with Big Ben, however, is that he’ll face some pretty tough defenses through the first three quarters of the season (CLE, BAL, CAR, TB, JAX, CLE, HOU, IND, BAL, NYJ, TEN).
  • Le’Veon Bell and his apparent love for the reefer could really screw me.
  • I’m crossing my fingers on Eifert. Not because I gave up a lot to draft him (hardly anything, really), but I feel like he can be a dominant tight end in this league given the targets. Hue Jackson may like to run the ball more than he passes it, but not every coordinator is some stubborn jerk face who’s stuck in his ways and doesn’t recognize great talent when he has it, thus refusing to install plays/looks/concepts that cater to said talent. I believe in you, Hue.
  • My team name is the “Jolly Jay Grudens”.

5 NFL Rookies Worth Stashing on Your Dynasty Team in 2014

Jarvis Landry

Even in fantasy football, the saying rings true — there is in fact always next year.

The process is a little different, however, depending on your league format. In your standard redraft, maybe you’re nowhere near sniffing the playoffs with a 2-7 record and you’re already hoping for a draft pick better than 12th next summer. We’ve all been there.

But how about dynasty leagues? There’s still always next season, but you’re in a much different seat. Does your team need a sudden jolt, or a complete rebuild? Do you need to skim over Fantasy Football Rankings a little closer next season, or put your league fee to better use?

Whether you’re king of the dyno castle, or a floundering manager focused primarily on finding the best Fantasy Football Team Names 2014, stashing guys for the future is never a bad idea.

Here’s a look at a handful of rookie names who may not give you much this season, but are well worth the patient hoarding for 2015 and forward.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami

You may be able to start with Jarvis Landry on your taxi squad, but I’m not sure how long you’ll be able to keep him there. For now, the Dolphins are working with Brandon Gibson as their starting slot receiver, but he’s far from a world-beater. Landry, on the other hand, is arguably the toughest receiver in Miami — even as a rookie — and all signs point to him contending for time (and catches) early on.

An injury at the combine resulting in a disappointing 40-yard dash dropped Landry’s stock a bit (late-second round), but he was a steal for quarterback Ryan Tannehill and this new offense under coordinator Bill Lazor — who served as the quarterback coach under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia last season, helping craft an offense that finished the season ranked second in yards, and fourth in scoring.

Landry was one of my top-rated receivers heading into the draft last season, so you won’t catch me doubting his ability or potential contribution right off the bat. The key for his production in 2014, though, will come from winning out the position in camp and solidifying himself as the No. 1 slot guy.

The anticipated development and progress of Tannehill wouldn’t hurt matters either.

Lazor’s offense should spread the ball around, but we still have to account for Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, tight end Charles Clay, and any sort of hands out of the backfield. It’s a pass-catching situation that could build up thick.

At worst, Landry doesn’t edge out Gibson for the starting spot and you hang onto him for next season. Best — Landry does land the starting gig and you have a strong rookie in PPR formats. The latter of which is very possible.

Robert Herron, WR, Tampa Bay

If you don’t know much about Robert Herron, you’re likely not in the minority. After playing his college ball at Wyoming, the 5’9″ receiver stuck around until the sixth round of the draft before the Bucs finally took a late stab.

None of that, however, should push you away from Herron’s current stock price.

According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Herron is dirt cheap with an ADP that doesn’t even register, as he doesn’t crack the top-16 wide receivers in dynasty rookie drafts. But in a legitimate battle for targets behind both Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, Herron comes with relatively decent upside given his current going rate.

Brandon Coleman, WR, New Orleans

Once upon time, Brandon Coleman wowed us as a 6’6″ sophomore at Rutgers.

A disappointing junior season and torn meniscus later, and Coleman wound up as an undrafted free agent in New Orleans currently fighting for a roster spot.

As Coleman continues to piece together a strong camp after struggling during spring OTAs, the Saints’ receiver position remains one of the more crowded spots on the roster. But when discussed in terms of stashing, there’s a lot to like about Coleman, including his insane size, and the fact that he landed with a high-powered offense led by a creative mind like Sean Payton

Names like Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Kenny Stills, and rookie Brandin Cooks likely make the final roster a tough challenge for Coleman this season. Let him take on a taxi squad spot in 2014 and check back on him heading into next year.

John Brown, WR, Arizona

I know, I know — with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, where are the Cardinals finding all these balls to go around?

Better question — how long before we really start acknowledging the buildup surrounding third-round pick, John Brown?

According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Brown barely makes a blip on the radar (3.09) as the last-ranked rookie wide receiver in dynasty drafts, but that’s sure to increase as we move closer to the regular season.

I haven’t seen a rookie come in and do what he’s done — and it’s early still — since Anquan Boldin. This guy came through the first day, and being from Pittsburg State, has uncanny instincts, unbelievable understanding of route concepts, leverage, being in the right spot at the right time. On top of great ball skills, he has unusual speed and explosiveness.

Cardinals GM Steve Keim

Again, barring injury, Brown will have his work cut out for him trying carve out catches behind Fitz and Floyd. But he’s arguably the next best receiver on the Cardinals roster at this point (Tedd Ginn?) and he comes with good upside.

Dri Archer, RB/WR, Pittsburgh

Two of the most common questions regarding Dri Archer heading into the draft had to do with 1.) his durability and 2.) where he fits in the NFL.

Because no one can predict injuries, we can skip over No. 1 and collectively recognize the 5’8″, 173-pound Archer as perhaps more of the fragile athlete.

As for No. 2 — that’s precisely what fantasy owners are interested in.

If we’re talking about Archer as a running back, then finding carries behind Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount won’t be easy. Not to mention, that whole durability concern will be magnified.

The Steelers depth chart doesn’t get much easier at wide receiver either, as Antonio Brown leads the crew with guys like Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore complementing.

Simply put, it’s hard to bank on specialty players like Archer — the guys that provide an offense with a homerun spark, but aren’t consistent enough from a production standpoint to warrant us much in terms of fantasy output. But if Archer shows out enough, offensive coordinator Todd Haley won’t have much of a choice but to get the ball into Archer’s hands by way of designed plays and formations.

Smoke or fire? It’s too early to tell. But Archer’s ADP (3.06) should continue to rise, and he’s a worth a taxi spot to find out.

Redskins Bolster Offense, Sign Free Agent DeSean Jackson

DeSean Signs

 


It’s okay. We can come out now. The DeSean Jackson circus is over.

Late Tuesday evening, the Redskins signed free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a four-year deal worth a reported $32 million that voids to a three-year deal worth $24 million. The 27-year-old speedster is guaranteed $16 million and carries a $4.25 million cap hit this season, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

What does Jackson bring to the Redskins?

  • You’re getting a playmaker. With elite speed and quickness, Jackson is a threat to score every time he touches the football. Want a fun stat? Of Jackson’s 39 career touchdowns, 27 of them have been for 30 yards or more, including four punt returns. Simply put, he makes things happen.
  • Pierre Garcon will benefit, as will other receiving threats in Washington. Jackson’s ability to blow past a secondary and force attention helps everyone on offense — from Garcon, to Robert Griffin III to Alfred Morris.
  • Jackson presents an awesome mismatch against single-high safety looks, and the Redskins can effectively parlay that with another successful season running the football. Opposing defenses will now have to worry about a homerun hitter on the outside when keying in on the Redskins rushing attack.
  • More speed. Although adding Andre Roberts was a nice move in free agency, the Redskins still needed more speed and elusiveness. Enter, Jackson.
  • Draft flexibility. While I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of drafting a receiver from a deep draft class, the Redskins can now move the position down the board a bit following the addition of Jackson.

While it is tough to ignore the red flags we hear about regarding Jackson’s attitude, work ethic and leadership, his talent is a great fit in Washington. Head coach Jay Gruden can get creative with plenty of explosive weapons on offense, and adding a talent like Jackson is further investment in surrounding Robert Griffin III with a threatening arsenal.

 

Redskins Sign Veteran Safety Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark

Helping to address a giant hole in their secondary, the Redskins agreed to terms with veteran free-agent safety Ryan Clark late Monday, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post.

Although the Redskins were never deemed out of contention for the 34-year-old’s services, the signing comes nearly three weeks after Clark visited Redskins Park on March 13.

What does Ryan Clark mean for the Redskins?

  • First and foremost, he’s a legitimate starter. Sure, he’s up there in age (he’ll turn 35 in October), but Clark is an established veteran with a proven track record and he’s a million miles ahead of sophomores Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas (who missed all of his rookie season last year with a Lisfranc injury).
  • When London Fletcher hung ‘em up after last season, we talked about the loss of an emotional leader both on the field and off the field. Who was going to step up and fill the void? Well, despite being the new guy, Clark is considered a strong presence in the locker room with good command on the field. Guys respect him.
  • Speaking of which, regardless of how much or how little hope you have in Rambo and Thomas as future contributors, having a guy like Clark at their position helps. Old scholar, young grasshoppers.
  • Signing Clark would seem to give the Redskins more flexibility come draft time. Although Clark isn’t the long-term answer, the Redskins can at least say they have durable starting safety for the time being. They wouldn’t have to get jumpy for a safety with their top pick (however, signing DeSean Jackson would change draft plans too).

As we wait to see what the financials look like for Clark’s new deal, this is clearly a good move by the Redskins. There was a gaping hole in the deep half and adding a savvy vet like Clark helps fill a good chunk.

 

DeSean Jackson Visits D.C. with Redskins Pierre Garcon, DeAngelo Hall and Rapper Wale

The feeling that wide receiver DeSean Jackson signs with the Redskins continues to grow. After arriving in town Monday, Jackson spent Monday night in D.C. with Pierre Garcon, DeAngelo Hall and rapper Wale.

Needless to say, everyone appears rather cozy.

Wale's Instagram

Wale’s Instagram

ABC 6 in Philadelphia is reporting that Jackson and the Redskins have agreed to terms, and that Jackson will take his physical on Tuesday.

A few quick thoughts on the possibility of DJax in Washington…

  • The deal/signing can’t cripple the franchise financially. A one-year prove-it would be the ideal scenario for Washington.
  • Other Redskins players clearly want Jackson on the team, and that feels like a good thing. Or good sign. Or something.
  • I expected Jackson to leave Washington without a deal and at least visit the Raiders in his home state of California.
  • Remember Tuesday is April Fools Day — tread Twitter cautiously.

 

Former Redskins Tight End Fred Davis Is a Rapper

Fred Davis Rap

Once upon a time, former second-round draft pick Fred Davis was a productive tight end for the Redskins when he wasn’t busy oversleeping, throwing drinks on self-proclaimed celebrity brokers and representing himself in court by way of terrible vocabulary.

After failing multiple drug tests, however, Davis (who remains a free agent) faces a pretty hefty suspension from the league and has apparently decided to take on a new career path.

My least favorite part is Davis’ unstylish rapper name, which appears to be, just, Fred Davis. Clearly he’s not familiar with the Wu-Tang Rapper Name Generator, because Babyfaced the Baptist would’ve been way better than just plain ol’ Fred Davis.

Anyway, here’s the rap video you probably shouldn’t watch.

 

Redskins Sign OG Shawn Lauvao to $17 Million Deal

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys

Continuing to upgrade their offense, the Redskins added former Browns guard Shawn Lauvao to help improve the interior offensive line.

According to multiple reports, the 26-year-old Lauvao signed a four-year deal worth $17 million.

After being drafted in the third round in 2010 out of Arizona State, the 6’3″, 315-pound Lauvao went on to play 53 games for the Browns at right guard.

Lauvao’s signing in Washington could play a role in the future of veteran guard Chris Chester, who not only plays on the right side, but is 31 years old and set to count more than $4 million against the cap in 2014.

What’s next for the offensive line? Well, upgrading right tackle would be nice. But perhaps more important would be moving left guard Kory Licthensteiger to his more natural center position to replace Will Montgomery and then finding someone to play left guard, whether it be through the draft or in free agency.

 

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