In our newest weekly segment, we will make Fantasy recommendations on the upcoming Redskins games. This week, the Buccaneers come to town and bring their 0-3 record and brand new quarterback in tow. At 1-2, the Redskins aren't exactly lighting the world on fire either.
Jason Campbell, QB WAS - While the Redskins have yet to establish their offensive identity, Jason Campbell has very quietly become a decent starting fantasy quarterback. He is averaging about 265 yards per game and has a 92.6 QB rating. For the third week in a row, he gets a team that is strugg-a-ling. The Bucs are 31st in the league in total yards per game allowed and are giving up just slightly less than JC's per game average through the air. I expect Coach Zorn to continue to search for a rhythm in the passing game--despite the Buccaneers being second to last against the run. I hope I'm wrong, but with Portis ailing, I think Zorn leans on JC to move the ball.
Chris Cooley, TE WAS - Screens and short dump-offs to Cooley in the middle of the field will be the long handoffs that take the place of our running game. Campbell has been helping Cooley build another Pro Bowl resume so far this season--Chris is 4th in yards and receptions among all tight ends in the league. Only Owen Daniels (Texans) and Antonio Gates (Chargers) have a higher 1st down percentage (minimum of 15 receptions.)
Santana Moss, WR WAS - Moss has been a streaky fantasy player over the years, a fact that would lead me to bench him after his 178 yard performance. But Campbell has been targeting Moss more and he is currently the 14th most targeted wide receiver in the NFL (great stat). I would be ecstatic if they learned a lesson last week and spend most of his targeted plays in the middle of the field where has room to operate. One thing we know--he gets open, and he can get yards in huge chunks. Against a weak defense, he should be good for a few big plays.
Kellen Winslow, TE TB - The best friend of a young, inexperienced quarterback is a solid running game. In the absence of one of those, next on the list is a stud tight end. Despite his ability to blow up T.O.-style at any moment, you can't deny Winslow's talents. Josh Johnson will most likely be looking to get rid of the ball quickly and Winslow should get his catches underneath and on short routes to the sidelines. Looking at that offense, I just can't see starting anyone else wearing a Bucs jersey.
Washington Redskins, DEF - The Buccaneers managed just 86 total yards of offense last week against the Giants. The QB change tends to spark a little something when it is made, but Greg Blache has been around long enough to know what to do against a guy making his first NFL start (more on that below.) I will refrain from wondering aloud how this defense let the Lions march all over them last week and instead will say that this is a matchup that favors the Skins and unless you have a much better option, starting this defense is likely to benefit all fantasy owners.
Clinton Portis, RB WAS - What!!!??? For a lot of owners, they need CP to play like the elite runner we all believe he is. But he has yet to really bust out yet and I know I wasn't the only one who saw him limping around on the field against Detroit. I think he is already banged up enough to start losing regular carries to Ladell Betts and influence the way Zorn calls plays. I hope I am wrong on this too, but with the lack of any real attempt to establish the run on somebody, and the perceived health issues going into only Week 4, I would look at other options on your fantasy bench. By the way, I fully expect Portis to play on Sunday. I just think until the Redskins dedicate themselves to some semblance of a running game, his value is diminished in fantasy.
Josh Johnson, QB TB - Well, the Redskins did their best to get Stafford on the road to Canton last week, but I don't see that happening this week. Will he make a few plays that cause Redskins fans to curse and scream? Oh yeah. The Skins will make him look better than he is at times, but good defensive coordinators rarely get outclassed by quarterbacks making their first start. It's like there is a secret book somewhere that only defensive coordinators have access to and outlines the steps necessary to make a quarterback in his first start feel the heat. (There is only one page in this book, and it only has one word on it: BLITZ.)
Cadillac Williams, RB TB - Derrick Ward is technically the starter but both he and Williams are battling knee problems. If you are looking for a running back from Tampa Bay in the league rankings, you will have to scroll down pretty far before you get to Cadillac. He is getting about 38 yards per game--which is better than Ward. You figure the Redskins will make Josh Johnson beat them with his arm and will load up to keep the Bucs' running game from taking off.
For more fantasy articles and analysis, check in over at SBNation.com, where yours truly runs a fantasy mailbag and a weekly Start/Sit column covering the whole league.