This has been a very frustrating year for Washington Redskins fans, but its been even more of a frustrating year for fantasy owners of Redskins players. Just when a guy starts doing well, he either gets injured or replaced by someone from the practice squad.
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town this Sunday, the Redskins' playoff chances are all but over. If you're a serious fantasy player though, then your playoff season is probably about to begin. This is a crucial week for you, and we've got some crucial picks that will help you along the way.
Josh Freeman poses an interesting choice. He's the 13th-ranked quarterback in Yahoo! public leagues, and yet he's only owned in 57 percent of leagues. Meanwhile, Matt Schaub, who sits just behind Freeman in fantasy points, is owned in 96 percent of leagues. The Redskins pass defense is ranked 29th in the NFL, but has not allowed a passing touchdown either of the past two weeks. Beware.
Donovan McNabb has averaged under 13 points each of the past two weeks and is a terrible option this week against Tampa Bay's seventh-rated pass defense. Bench him. Better yet, cut him, because he's not likely to have another productive fantasy game this season.
LeGarrette Blount of the Bucs has had just three great games this season, including last weeks 16.40 fantasy point performance against the Falcons last week. He's poised to have his fourth great game this Sunday. The Redskins have allowed 6 rushing touchdowns and 334 rushing yards the past two weeks. Blount will treat the Redskins like they're Boise State linebackers.
The only potentially good news for Redskins fans is that Ryan Torain is back and feeling good. He just went through his first full practice in weeks, and should get the majority of the work on Sunday. In his absence, the Redskins have struggled on the ground against two of the top 10 rushing defenses. Will Torain do better against the 26th ranked rushing defense? Probably. How much better? It's hard to say, but this is likely to be a low-scoring game where both teams try to control the clock. Expect lots of carries for Torain.
Tampa Bay starts two rookie wide receivers, and one is worth a look this week. Mike Williams has been one of the best pickups of the year. His only poor games have come against Baltimore, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. The Redskins' defense has little in common with those three teams. Williams leads all rookies in receptions, and could go for over 100 yards this week. Secondary option Arrelious Benn has yet to crack the top 50 wide receivers in fantasy points, and is only worth starting if you think he might have a Derek Hagan-type game.
Anthony Armstrong caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown last week, making him the only productive player on the Redskins roster against the Giants. Washington loves using him in long play action passing situations. As the team looks to establish the ground game early, Armstrong could also get involved with a few big catches. Santana Moss though? Two straight games with four fantasy points or less will find you on the bench.
I discovered an interesting fact while writing this: Kellen Winslow Jr. is still playing football in the NFL. Maybe I haven't heard much about him because his team is never on TV and he's only scored two touchdowns this year. Anyway, he's not a viable fantasy option, and Chris Cooley isn't much better, earning less than five fantasy points the past two weeks.
Tampa Bay evidently does not have a kicker. Or at least they don't have one in the top 20. This leads me to believe that for extra points and field goal situations, the Buccaneers hand the ball off to Mike Alstott. Anyway, last week I told you to start Graham Gano ahead of Lawrence Tynes, and Gano proceeded to score one point. Going forward, I think its best to use reverse psychology, and so I'm therefore recommending that you start Alstott this week.
Washington's defense used to be among the top 10 in fantasy scoring. Now, the only hope we have for them is that McNabb might be trying to teach them how to generate turnovers by throwing the ball to the opposing team. The Buccaneers are tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions, and are rumored to be drooling with anticipation after watching McNabb's performance against the Giants.