"Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics" What Can the Redskins Fantasy Projections Tell Us?

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 25: Terrence Austin #18 of the Washington Redskins congratulates Tim Hightower #39 after Hightower scored against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of a preaseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

In all honesty the answer to this question can be answered in one word, 'nothing', but that doesn't mean they aren't interesting to look at and give us some comparison point. Now this all started because during my fantasy draft last night on ESPN, I noticed that the 2011 projected stats for the Redskins weren't lining up. For instance Grossman and Beck are projected to throw for just under 2,900 yards and attempt roughly 2/3 of the projected passes. And the Redskins passing game, which is made up of our top three backs, top two tight ends and our top six receivers, are set to receive 4,400 yards. Not only is it weird that some unnamed quarterback is needed to throw for 1,500 yards, but that since Grossman/Beck are set for 450 attempts this quarterback would have maybe 175, and he'd need to put up Manning/Rodgers numbers to reach that goal.

The phantom quarterback isn't the only issue from the ESPN rankings, as they have Leonard Hankerson listed as the third most productive wide receiver, and Ryan Torain as the number two back. Not only is Torain the number two back, but he is apparently going to average about 0.6 yards more per carry than Hightower. Despite the fact that Hightower had a better year last season, a better track record and of course was very impressive this preseason. ESPN also has the Redskins top three backs combining for 440 carries, which is quite a jump from the 306 running back (and that includes every running back, from Torain to Larry Johnson) carries last season. While it is safe to assume that the Redskins won't finish 31st in overall carries, it is a stretch to assume they will be a borderline top 10 team (when you include all carries) in rushing. 

Now overall I think these projections were a bit of a joke, since they were so easy to cut holes through, but there are some interesting things to look at. Here are some of my projections, with an explanation of how I came to the numbers. 

QB:

Rex Grossman: 330-575 (Comp./Attempts) 3,860 yards, 26 TD's and 19 Interceptions for a 79.18 QB rating

How did I come up with those numbers?: The Redskins had 605 pass attempts last year, which was the 4th highest in the league. While I think they will still throw the ball around a good bit, they will probably look to drop that number and have a more balanced attack.

As for the number of completions, I gave him a 57.3 completion percentage, which is one point lower than McNabb's last year (though a point and a half higher than his from a year ago).

As for yards, Grossman's career yards per attempt is 6.4, but he averaged 6.6 last season in this offense. I think we'll see a slight uptick so I went with 6.7 (actual to get whole yardage, 6.71).

Touchdowns were harder to predict as the Redskins as a team had just a 3.5% rate last year (meaning 3.5% of all pass attempts were for scores), but that number was significantly weighted down by McNabb's 3.0% (which ranked 28th in the league) compared to Grossman's 5.3%. Now Grossman's percentage is probably unsustainable, as maintaining a 5%+ rating is highly impressive. Also since he is going to have a low completion percentage rating, it hurts the chances of having a higher TD%. I was semi-aggressive with the 4.5% rating, in part because I think the Redskins weapons are far improved this year, which should help in those situations.

I might have gone a bit light on the Int% at 3.3. Grossman for his career is at 3.6%, but was just at 3.0% last year. I figured to split the difference would be a pretty fair indicator, especially since he's likely to be under quite a bit of pressure. 

RB:

Tim Hightower: 250 (attempts) 1,125 (yards), 4.5 (yards per carry), 11 TD's

How did I come up with these numbers?: I think it is pretty clear that barring injury that Tim Hightower is the Redskins primary back. He is their top guy in every category and in fact that could end up keeping his carries down some this year. As since he is such a good receiver, pass blocker, and is probably the Redskins best short yardage back, he'll see the majority of 3rd down and other passing situations plays, as well as short yardage plays. This will mean that he might need to be subbed out on more traditional running downs more than you'd like to see. Although it didn't work out for the Skins last year, Mike Shanahan traditionally will give a primary back 250-330 carries (depending on the health, depth, and other factors). I'm guessing Hightower will be more on the low side given the versatility, the quality depth and less opportunities in this offense (the Redskins won't have as efficient of an offense as say the Bronco's hey days). I think Hightower's running style is pretty effective for the zone blocking scheme, and I can see him getting a solid 4.5 ypc (which translates to 1,125 yards). Given the fact that he has both some speed and some short yardage power, double digit touchdowns are quite possible. 

Roy Helu: 135 (att.), 594 (yards), 4.4 (ypc), 4 TD's

Part of the reason that Hightower's numbers could be a little down is the presence of rookie Roy Helu. Helu has shown a lot of promise, and his excellent speed gives the Redskins a good change of pace type of back. My guess is Mike Shanahan will be aggressive with Helu and give him a pretty big chunk of carries. Helu's average could be less than Hightower given his feast or famine running style, but it should still be pretty good. He'll probably have quite a few 20+ yard runs and give the Redskins another dimension on offense.

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