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Redskins Rookie Dinner Gets a Little Pricey

pot roast

It looks like the Redskins ventured to Mastro’s Steakhouse for a delectable dinner and then gave the rookies the privilege of picking up the tab, which was, um, a little pricey.

pot roast tweet

For the record, the $2,935.76 was the 17 percent gratuity added — presumably not a bad night for the wait staff.

In another tweet (which provided the lede photo), Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton gave thanks to rookie linebacker Preston Smith and included a photo of he and fellow defensive lineman Chris Baker — arguably the last two guys on Earth you’d like to take to an expensive steakhouse on your own dime, but such is the game with rookies in the NFL.

So now, after seeing a night out for dinner and drinks that totaled more than some people’s annual salary, let us all get back to our day jobs, shall we?

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Buccaneers


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’ 31-30 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

* * *

— The Redskins trailed 24-7 going into halftime before coming out in the third quarter and posting 14 points, eventually outscoring the Buccaneers 24-6 in the second half. And that — in addition to Kirk Cousins’ performance — will (and I guess should be) the most talked about aspect(s) of this game.

— Leading up to this game, Cousins was well under the microscope, as was head coach Jay Gruden and his team’s flat-like effort in the third quarter. Cousins, Gruden, and the effort all rebounded well in this game.

— Gruden mentioned during his postgame presser last week that this game against Tampa Bay was “Code Red” and none of us really knew what that meant (except maybe some of us got the jest of it). Needless to say, the Redskins are 1-0 in #CodeRed games.

— It’s interesting how much this team’s mantra has flipped and flopped since the first couple weeks of the season. As of right now, Washington can’t run the ball (just 19 carries for 50 yards in this game) and can’t stop the run (Tampa Bay rushed the ball 30 times for 190 yards).

— The best part of Cousins’ day — aside from the four touchdowns, 300+ yards, and only seven incompletions — was his zero interceptions. His fumble as the result of being blasted from the blind side wasn’t pretty1, and even if you chalk it up to Cousins holding the ball to long/not stepping up/etc., it was still better than one of those terrible decisions or poor throws we’ve seen in recent weeks.

— Another nice offensive wrinkle was the read-option play that Cousins FINALLY sweeped from the belly of the running back and kept for himself, which baited the defensive end beautifully and gave Washington an easy eight-yard touchdown.

— The Redskins are on a nice streak of disciplined football (er, two consecutive games). On Sunday, just four penalties for 20 yards.

— Oh, by the way, Cousins also provided us with arguably the best Vine you’ll get all season out of Redskins Park.

— Lots of questions with that postgame comment from Kirk, but it’s nice to see the fire. That’s fire, right? Belly fire?

— Another guy benefiting from a rebound game — Ryan Grant. Three catches on three targets, 53 yards, and a score. Nice to see.

— Jordan frickin’ Reed. Yeesh. Dude’s a beast (when healthy). He finished Sunday with 11 catches, 72 yards, and two scores, including the game-tying touchdown in the final minute of the game in which he exploited a one-on-one mismatch on the outside and froze his defender with a brilliant slant pattern. He’s the Redskins best/biggest/most talented threat on offense.

— Alfred Morris ran the ball six times for five yards…with a long of five yards. At this point, with how bad this team is at running the football, it doesn’t matter who lines up behind the quarterback. But watching Morris slip down the slope is hard to watch.

Ryan Kerrigan left the game with an injury, which was reported as a broken hand. Great.

— This is a direct quote from last week’s Postgame Notes and React, but it still applies: “More Ricky Jean-Francois, please.”

— In terms of the defense — and this had lots to do with their ineffectiveness at stopping the run — they had more than a frustrating handful of horrible angles and poor tackling form. That’s hopefully a point of emphasis over the next two weeks.

— Hats off to Gruden for his ballsy onside kick call in the third quarter, but perhaps even more credit goes to kicker Dustin Hopkins who laid down an incredible kick and executed the play to perfection. That was a massive play in the game and Hopkins was ice cold (in like a badass kind of ice cold). Hopkins has been awesome.

— It was a little surprising/disappointing the Redskins couldn’t keep their takeaway streak alive in this game against a rookie quarterback. The one turnover they did tally was the “fumble” by Charles Sims on the final play of the game (which was more so a botched lateral) and making Jameis Winston look like an MVP (21-of-29, 297 yards, two touchdowns) didn’t feel great.

— It wasn’t pretty, but the Redskins clawed it out. Not only did they enter this game in dire need of a win (the next game is an odds-stacked-against contest to say the least), but the team found themselves up shit’s creek at halftime and they remained resilient, they kept fighting, and they escaped. Heading into the bye week on this kind of performance beats the hell out of heading into the bye week following, say, the Jets game.

— With no Redskins game this coming Sunday, kick back and enjoy the day. You deserve it and your heart/brain/emotions could use the rest.

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 7

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.

* * *


Ryan Tannehill ($5,700) v. HOU

Are the Dolphins back? Does having a head coach who can most likely squat as much as your offensive linemen do wonders for your offense, and more particularly your quarterback? Not sure, exactly. But Ryan Tannehill is coming of an 18-point outing last week and this Sunday’s opponent is giving up the seventh-most FPPG to opposing passers. The line isn’t huge in this game, but it could be a close one.

Blake Bortles ($5,400) v. BUF

We’ve been blessed with rather courteous Bortles service over the past couple weeks (61 FPs) and that trend should continue this week against a Buffalo defense allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. We’ll assume the Jaguars will need to either pass to stay in the game or pass to catch up, both of which bode well for Blake Bortles in your lineups.


Running Back

Todd Gurley ($5,000) v. CLE

We can expect regression at some point, but for now Todd Gurley is getting all the meat, all the potatoes, and all the vegetables. I’m not exactly sure what that reference implies, but 49 carries for over 300 yards in his last two games is enough opportunity to spend the $5,000 here. The Rams are coming off their bye (which we can safely assume Gurley used to rest up) and the Browns are giving up more than 28 FPPG to opposing running backs this season.

Chris Thompson ($3,300) v. TB

Monitor the status of Matt Jones (toe), but even if the rookie Jones does play, Chris Thompson has become a nice piece to the Redskins offensive puzzle1 this season. Thompson is dealing with a back injury of his own, but he did finish the game last week, so there doesn’t appear to be much cause for concern. The Bucs aren’t necessarily terrible in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs, but Thompson is likely to make his money as a receiver out of the backfield — his 22 receptions over the last four games makes him one of the Redskins’ top targets.


Wide Receiver

John Brown ($5,500) v. BAL

The Ravens defense is the complete opposite of good right now, while the Cardinals seem to be a legit contender in the NFC. The line sits at 48 in this one with Arizona the touchdown favorite, meaning John Brown and his 21.5 FPPG average over his last three games makes him an extremely attractive play this week, especially at this price.

Jamison Crowder ($3,700) v. TB

The Redskins are working to get their rookie Jamison Crowder the ball, and that makes him a nice (and perhaps even reassuring) play in PPR formats. The Bucs are allowing more than 41 FPPG to opposing wideouts and Washington desperately needs this win in order to keep the monkey off their back as they head into their bye week.

Martavis Bryant ($4,700) @ KC

Beware of recency bias this week when it comes to Martavis Bryant and ownership shares, but the matchup certainly fits the bill. Landry Jones looks like the next man up in Pittsburgh, and he didn’t appear to have any shy feelings toward Bryant in last week’s game. The Chiefs give up the most fantasy points to opposing receivers (that’s right, even more than Baltimore) and Bryant would seem to be the monster with potential to rip ’em to shreds.

Allen Hurns ($5,300) v. BUF

Although the line on this game isn’t great (42), Allen Hurns still earns a shiny gold star this week as one of my favorite bargain targets. For starters, he’s coming off just a two-catch game last week, and even though a touchdown may have saved fantasy partners, his 11-point performance may help owners forget (even if just temporarily) how effective he can be2. Secondly, the Bills are 4.5-point favorites on the road, which means Vegas likes Buffalo by more than a touchdown, in turn leading us to believe that some slingin’ of the ol’ pigskin may play a part in the Jags’ game plan this week. And finally, the numbers are there — 41 targets, four touchdowns, gamebreak ability; Hurns can light it up and Buffalo is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.

Travis Benjamin ($5,400) @ STL

Like the Buffalo/Jacksonville game, the line in this one (42) doesn’t scream at you, but the fact that the Browns are dogs on the road could bode well for the Cleveland passing attack, which includes one Travis Benjamin. No one saw it coming, but Benjamin has been on fire to start the season, hauling in 31 catches, four touchdowns, and averaging just shy of 20 FPPG. The Rams aren’t exactly lay-downs against receivers (35 FPPG), but regardless of opponent, Benjamin seems to find a way (his 13.5 points in Week 3 against Oakland is his lowest output of the season).

Willie Snead ($4,300) @ IND

Speaking of early-season darlings, rookie Willie Snead is lighting it up in New Orleans, and his nearly 16 FPPG average over his last three outings is plenty to love at his low price point this week. This matchup marks the highest total (52.5) on the Vegas card and there should be plenty of passing among the dual between Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. Not only are Snead’s six targets per game attractive, but he also knows what to do after he catches it (his 2.55 yards per route run average is good for eighth in the NFL), and that’s a good thing against an Indy defense that allows more than 44 FPPG to opposing receivers.

Stefon Diggs ($4,200) @ DET


Sorry, that was lame as hell. But seriously, Stefon Diggs — dude’s good. 13 catches and 216 yards in his first two games in the NFL, averaging close to 19 FPPG, and quickly earning his role as Teddy Bridgewater’s most-trusted receiver. I know it’s a small sample size, but Diggs’ 3.32 yards per route run average is tops amongst all wideouts with at least 18 targets this season and the Lions defense — who allows more than 41 FPPG to opposing wideouts (eighth-worst in the NFL) — doesn’t threaten enough to move me off3.


Tight End

Antonio Gates ($5,000) v. OAK

He’s the third highest-priced tight end on the card this week, but he makes the bargain list for a few (simple) reasons. 1.) Antonio Gates is really, really good. 2.) 18 catches and just shy of 25 FPPG in his two games this season4. 3.) Oakland is bad against opposing tight ends; as in worst-in-the-league bad. 4.) Vegas has a line of 47 on this game, which makes it the third-highest line of the week. 5.) Ask yourself: can Gates score me 15 points this week? The answer is yes, in which case he’s a bargain at his position.

Jordan Cameron ($3,300) v. HOU

This may have just as much to do with interim head coach Dan Campbell’s lat muscles as it does with Jordan Cameron’s matchup against the Texans, but either way, Houston is allowing more than 15 FPPG to opposing tight ends and Cameron’s getting the targets. I don’t like the floor with him this week, but the ceiling is nice.

Ladarius Green ($2,900) v. OAK

Obviously his attention and ensuing production takes a hit with the return of Antonio Gates, but Ladarius Green didn’t lose his ability to be good at football. Despite Gates’ return, Green has posted double-digit outputs in each of the last two games and (as mentioned previously) Oakland is abysmal against tight ends this season.

Ben Watson ($3,300) @ IND

We know Ben Watson is capable of putting up big numbers (see: last week’s 31-point performance) and there should be plenty of passing in this game (52.5 marks the highest total in Vegas this week) to go around.

Travis Kelce ($4,900) v. PIT

You know who else, besides Oakland, is bad at limiting opposing tight ends to low fantasy totals? The Pittsburgh Steelers — like, fourth-worst in the league at just over 19 FPPG. And this week the Steelers will travel to Kansas City with hopes of stopping Travis Kelce, who’s averaging more than 14 points per contest. It’s frustrating not to see Kelce hit paydirt since Week 1, but that trend has a good chance of flipping this Sunday.



Redskins ($2,500) v. TB

This might look like a punt at the position, but the Redskins have actually been halfway decent their last three games, despite going just 1-2 and allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to carve them up just a week ago. The key to Washington’s 33 fantasy points over the three-game span has stemmed from their takeaways (EIGHT!) and their streak5 is likely to extend as they go against rookie Jameis Winston in a desperate game before heading into their Week 8 bye.

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Jets

kevin hart

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’ 34-20 loss to the New York Jets.  

* * *

— Ugh. Please note, I’m fragile.

— Thanks in large part to injuries, we knew the chips were stacked against the Redskins in this game. But almost as soon as the game started, it appeared as if maybe the task wasn’t as tall as we may have assumed it was in the first place. Unfortunately that didn’t stop the Redskins from doing their thing.

— Washington’s run game was stagnant. Ugly to the tune of 17 carries for 34 yards.

— Kirk Cousins wasn’t good either — his second poor performance in as many games. He finished with one touchdown and two interceptions on the day, both of which were extremely poor throws.

— The Redskins cut down on their penalties in this game — just three for 15 yards — but negatively countered by converting just five of 15 third downs.

— On a positive note, the defense forced three takeaways. One interception by Bashaud Breeland, a fumble forced by Breeland, and a fumble forced by rookie Kayshoen Jarrett.

— And not that it needs special note, but Bashaud Breeland is a baller. He has all the tools to become a special player in Washington.

— More Ricky Jean-Francois, please.

— Not a good day for the middle linebackers. Not sure if it was scheme or poor play, but the on-field performance was shite.

— The Jets ran for 221 yards and two scores on 41 carries. This comes after Devonta Freeman ripped the Redskins to shreds last week. Remember when this team was praised for their ability to stop the run? That lasted for about five quarters.

Dustin Hopkins has the looks of a stud. His 54-yarder in Sunday’s game would’ve been good from 60, and there’s no doubting this dude’s leg strength.

— Hey, special teams! A blocked punt for a touchdown was the coolest thing we’ve seen out of a Washington special teams unit in quite some time. Blocked by Jeron Johnson, recovered by Rashad Ross.

— The Redskins went into halftime leading the Jets 13-10. They proceeded to run two drives in the third quarter, both of which ended in an interception, and Washington trailed 27-13 by the end of the third. Is there an excuse for being outscored 24-7 in the second half? Of a game you’re very much a part of come halftime? On the road? And with your team needing every frickin’ win they can scratch and claw for? Nope, there sure isn’t. This team loves coming out of the locker room in the third quarter and doing their best impression of flat soda.

— With all the injuries heading into this game, a win didn’t feel likely. But what hurt the most on Sunday was that by the end of the first quarter, you could look to other Redskins fans in the room and say, “Oh shit, we have a shot to steal one here.” Then after teasing everyone in the first half, Washington comes out only to shit their pants in the remaining two quarters. That’s an emotional roller coaster that deals a blow below the belt.

— If the Redskins can head into their bye week with a 3-4 record, this ship can actually stay afloat with some love from the fans. But Tampa Bay is up next and nothing seems to come easy. If Washington can’t get it done against the Bucs, who knows how the snowball rolls after that. I’d suggest to keep your fingers crossed at this point, but I’d have no idea what we’re actually crossing them for.

Daily Fantasy 2015 Bargain Shopping: Value Plays for NFL Week 6

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.

* * *


Colin Kaepernick ($5,000) v. BAL

Whew. This doesn’t feel right. But Baltimore has struggled against quarterbacks through five games — allowing close to 24 FPPG — and Colin Kaepernick showed us last week against the Giants that 20+ outputs are at least possible.

Joe Flacco ($5,900) @ SF

That’s right — this game makes for a decent quarterback matchup (fake football wise only, of course). The Ravens and 49ers both find themselves among the bottom-five teams in the NFL when it comes to FPPG allowed to opposing quarterbacks, and that’ll make Joe Flacco a decent play at this number.

Jay Cutler ($5,300) @ DET

He probably still gives zero fucks about football, but Smokin’ Jay Cutler has been quite fine over the past two weeks, averaging just above 18 FPPG. The Lions, meanwhile, are in a free fall worthy of Orlovsky and they’re allowing more than 20 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks. This is the second consecutive week Mr. Cavallari has made the bargain bin and this will arguably be his easiest opponent so far this season.


Running Back

DeMarco Murray ($6,000) v. NYG

This is a leap toward the bandwagon following his 25-point outing last week, but if you have any hint of the Eagles getting back on track and the importance of said rebound going through the talent of DeMarco Murray, then this play makes a lot of sense. He’s fired up, Philly seems to have avoided the Chip Kelly coup (at least for now), and New York is allowing more than 28 FPPG to opposing running backs this season.

Duke Johnson ($4,500) v. DEN

As good as Wade Phillips and the Broncos have been on defense this year, they’re giving up nearly 30 FPPG to opposing running backs, including an average of 8.6 receptions per game to those running backs (placing them behind only the Falcons as worst in the league). Meanwhile, Duke Johnson is averaging seven catches and 57 yards per game over his last three and that’s why you’re liking him in this spot for under five grand.

Dion Lewis ($5,800) @ IND

He’s a little pricier this week than last, but Dion Lewis makes the bargain bin for a second-consecutive week, this time against Indianapolis on Sunday night in Vegas’ highest line (55) of the week. Bill Belichick never makes it easy on fantasy owners, but 20.5 FPPG without a single-game total less than 16 provides us enough consistency to maybe even gain that lick of reassurance.


Wide Receiver

Jamison Crowder ($3,600) @ NYJ

It’s not a great matchup on paper, but Jamison Crowder is very much a part of the Redskins offense moving forward. So much so that coaches are even relying on the rookie to provide the unit with some spark throughout the game thanks to Crowder’s reliable hands, gamebreaking speed, and YACability. He has 24 targets and 21 receptions for 197 yards over his last three games, and that probably won’t change much even when DeSean Jackson returns. This guy is legit, and legitimacy is worthy of seven percent of your cap.

Stefon Diggs ($3,500) v. KC

This is probably entirely too early, but what if the connection (albeit just four quarters old) between Teddy Bridgewater and rookie Stefon Diggs is for real? Coming off a 15-point performance last week, Diggs enters this one set to go against a Chiefs defense allowing a league-worst 54.6 points and more than two receiving touchdowns per game to opposing receivers. It’s a bit of a flier, but that’s okay at this price.


Tight End

Richard Rodgers ($3,100) v. SD

Unless you’re going Gronkish, the slate doesn’t look all that enticing when it comes to tight end. Either that, or perhaps Charles Clay and his 1.4 points last week shattered some of us for weeks to come…? Richard Rodgers has seen his targets increase over the last two weeks (14), hauling in 11 catches for 90 yards and a score. The offense is right, the line is right, and Rodgers presents some of the best value on the board.



Bears ($2,400) @ DET

It’s not so much that Chicago’s 6.5-point average over their last three games is wow-worthy, but more so that Detroit is such a mess right now. And hey, the Bears are getting better, right?

Postgame Notes and React: Redskins v. Falcons

kanye shrug

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’ 25-19 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons.  

* * *

— Lots of things played in the Redskins’ favor in this game, including a banged up Julio Jones, uncharacteristic doinks off the post by Falcons kicker Matt Bryant, an early injury to Leonard Hankerson (which is probably, maybe a thing), and an off-target Matt Ryan for most of the game.

— Actually, both quarterbacks were off in this game. Whether it was Matt Ryan or Kirk Cousins throwing ’em, passes seemed to fly by their intended receivers just out of reach, and mediocre quarterback play helped give us the snoozer of a scoreboard that we had for a vast majority of the game.

— Not a great day for Washington when it came to stopping the run. Devonta Freeman was an animal throughout the affair and he became the first rusher to go over 100 yards on the Redskins this season.

— While on the topic of defense, Washington played a pretty awesome game considering the injuries they’ve been forced to sustain. The zones in pass coverage seemed a little too soft at times, but Joe Barry came in with a plan and the Redskins executed it well enough to win the game.

Bashaud Breeland played very well, hauling in an interception and coming through with a really nice pass breakup in the end zone. It still feels like sky is the limit for that guy.

— The Redskins defense finished with three takeaways in the game too, which is really nice to see considering we’ve been waiting for interceptions for five weeks now. Trenton Robinson was the other interception (the first in the game), where a ball sailed over Julio Jones’ (who also appeared to clam up as a result of hearing footsteps) and into the hands of Robinson.

— The other takeaway was a fumble forced by Chris Baker, who’s off to a really good start to the season. It was a play in which Preston Smith and Jason Hatcher worked well to force Matt Ryan out of the pocket and Baker creamed him from his right, forcing the fumble. Will Compton was the guy there to dive on the loose ball. Keenan Robinson even joked after the play was over, smack talking with Compton saying he needed to get up and run with that thing.

— And that play reminds me of how much fun Jason Hatcher is to watch when he’s turned on. I know it’s not always consistent, but when that guy’s working, watch out.

— Following Matt Jones’ touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, the Redskins defense allowed the Falcons to march down the field to eventually nab the score. I hate to come after the defense in this game at all — and they certainly weren’t responsible for the loss — but playing that soft at that point in the game causes a ton of frustration. I understand sticking to a plan, but adjustments are things and they’re there to be made.

— Hat tip to Dan Quinn and the Falcons for coming in and stopping the run. They knew it was a strong suit for the Redskins and they weren’t about to allow Washington the luxury of a balanced offensive attack. The Redskins finished with just 50 yards on 23 carries (between Jones [11], Alfred Morris [8], and Chris Thompson [3]). That’s, uh, not good.1

— Kirk Cousins’ inaccuracy for a good portion of the game obviously didn’t help the situation either. He was going the right way with the ball, but he struggled to put the ball directly on a receiver — too high, too wide, sailed, behind, etc. Everything just seemed off. He needed to calm down earlier than he eventually did.

— That said, when it mattered most and the Redskins were trailing with under a minute to go in the game, Cousins was precise, accurate, and commanding, which eventually led to the field goal that tied the game and sent it into overtime.

— You will undoubtedly hear a ton of talk this week about the final play of the game. Was Cousins’ throw perfect? Maybe. Maybe not. But whether that ball was thrown too wide or not, if you’re receiver falls down on that route, the defensive back will get hands on the football. It was a timing route, Cousins fired, Grant fell, maybe there was a protection adjustment to be made, and the Falcons took it to the house. Lots of people will put that throw/turnover/loss solely on Cousins.

— And while on the topic of Ryan Grant, this game was the second in a row in which he struggled. He had a case of the drops last week against Philly, and he looked out of sync with his quarterback in this one.

— Jamison Crowder, on the other hand, has all the looks of a stud. Great hands, awesome quickness, YACability, game breaking potential. He led the team with eight catches for 87 yards and the coaches called on the rookie to spark this offensive unit. More Crowdah’ on the way, I’d presume.

— Just 4-for-12 on third down isn’t generally enough to get it done. The Redskins have been solid in this department in games leading up to this one, but it just wasn’t there today.

— The Redskins were, however, a little more disciplined in terms of penalties, logging just five for 51 yards. Progress, I suppose.

— The punt coverage team had a bonehead penalty on one play, but the Washington special teams wasn’t awful today. They didn’t shoot themselves in the foot or give up any insane returns. That’s a step in the right direction.

— Following Breeland’s interception with 5:30 left in the game, the Redskins needed to ground and pound, protect the football, and come away with points (seven points being the obvious goal). There will be lots of talk about how conservative Jay Gruden was on that drive, but I don’t particularly hate the Jamison Crowder screen on third down. I understand the argument of running a route to the end zone and tossing it out of the back if it isn’t there, but Crowder is the type of guy who can make a play in that spot. The problem was, in order for a screen to work, you need good blocking and Derek Carrier didn’t present anything of the sort on that play. Chris Thompson split wide in single coverage was a nice touch too given the Redskins’ tendencies, and this play really could’ve worked with better blocking. Instead, the Redskins settle for three points and take a four-point lead.

— One call I didn’t like by Gruden was after the Falcons marched all the way down the field. They’re threatening the entire time, they’re just outside of the end zone, Devonta Freeman is in man-to-man coverage on the outside against Will Compton. It was easy and plain to see. Gruden needs to call a timeout there. He MUST call a timeout there. That’s an utter mismatch that needs to be corrected.

— Freeman would score on that play (easily), but the NFL is weird and confusing and the zebras overturned the touchdown reception. A couple plays later — and with 27 seconds taken off the clock — the Falcons score anyway.

— That’s when Cousins leads his team down the field and into game-tying field goal territory. Great poise and accurate passing provided some reassurance that Cousins wasn’t rattled in the moment. He knew what he needed to do and did it.

— The Redskins had some things working in their favor in this one, whether it was a matter of luck or not, but the offense wasn’t good enough to back up a really nice effort from the defense. They let Atlanta hang around and never pulled away, and eventually the Falcons prevailed. Disappointing indeed, but far from the worst thing ever. Great effort by these guys against an undefeated team on the road.

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.

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