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A Probabilistic 2020 Washington Football Team Season Projection

Predicting the Unpredictable Part 2

NFL: SEP 15 Cowboys at Redskins Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the first instalment of this two-part miniseries, I used probability data derived from 20 to 30 years of NFL player statistics combined with a random number generator to create a 2020 roster projection for the Redskins which includes the types of unexpected developments we see every preseason. Since then, the team’s old name has been retired. Since the new name has not been decided, I will persist with the old one in this article.

The big storylines of my simulated preseason included the breakout performance of versatile offensive playmaker, Isaiah Wright, to earn a roster spot at WR, and the emergence of two unlikely developmental players to challenge fourth-round draft pick Saahdiq Charles for the starting left tackle position left vacant by a season-ending injury to Cornelius Lucas. The surprise sophomore step of left guard Ross Pierschbacher contributed a remarkable transformation of the left side of the offensive line from a potential disaster area to something at least resembling a starting NFL lineup.

In a nearly miraculous coincidence, returning players Derrius Guice, Bryce Love and Reuben Foster all came back from serious injuries to either claim outright or enter the competition for starting positions.

There were also some unexpected shocks in the form of serious injuries to starting nose tackle Daron Payne and key backup corner Aaron Colvin, in addition to Lucas, as well as a less serious injury to RB Adrian Peterson.

In the real world, there have also been two players lost to unexpected season-ending injuries since the first article. Kelvin Harmon tore his ACL and Emmanuel Hall tore his achilles. Harmon plays a minor role in this simulation, while Hall is a non-factor. Rather than re-do the whole thing I’ll just assume that, in the alternate reality of this simulation, Harmon stays healthy.

The process that I used to assemble the opening day roster in the first article also generated projections of additions to the starting lineup and injuries throughout the regular season. In this article, I take the exercise a step further and play out the regular season.


Probabilistic Season Projection Method

For any readers who didn’t catch the first article, I projected the opening day roster, and additions throughout the season, by using starting probability data generated for a previous article to simulate a competition for starting roster spots amongst the rookies and developmental players. I then used NFL injury statistics published by Football Outsiders to simulate injuries throughout the season.

Since the roster additions and injury attrition have already been determined, all that remains is to simulate the win-loss record. I decided to keep it fairly simple.

To predict the outcome of each game on the Redskins schedule, I used season win-loss predictions by each team’s ESPN beat writer, compiled in this article , to estimate how good the Redskins and each opponent will be. (Except Cleveland, who I think are over-rated, so I adjusted their beat writer’s prediction down from 9-7 to 7-9.) Then, for each weekly matchup, I compared the two teams’ projected season win totals to calculate the Redskins’ probability of winning, which I’ll call p(win). John Keim predicts the Redskins to be a 6-10 team, one win ahead of where I would have them.

To calculate the Redskins’ probability of beating each opponent, I used a formula which weights the two team’s predicted win totals to determine which is the more likely winner: p(win) = Rwin/(Rwin + Owin), where Rwin is the Redskins’ predicted win total (6) and Owin is their opponents’. This gives a REDSKINS win probability ( p(win) ) between 0 and 1, which is closer to 0 if the Redskins’ predicted win total is lower than their opponents, and closer to 1 if it is higher. For example, when the predicted 6-10 Redskins face the predicted 10-6 Philadelphia team in the season opener, p(win) = 6/(6+10) = 0.375. When they face the predicted 6-10 Panthers in week 16, p(win) = 6/12 = 0.5. In effect, they have a less than 50% chance of beating teams with more than six predicted wins, a greater than 50% of beating a team with less than six predicted wins, and 50% chance against a six win opponent.

This is a fairly simplistic method to predict a season outcome. I am basically just injecting some unpredictability into the predictions of John Keim and his fellow beat reporters. In fact, the full simulation I ran was somewhat more complicated, and included adjustments to Redskins’ win probability each game to account for roster additions and subtractions and the psychological dynamics of winning and losing streaks. However, despite allowing adjustments equivalent to a two-game bump in the season W-L record, these adjustments did not change a single game outcome, so I have left them out of the story.

To determine the outcome of each game, I “rolled the dice” using the random number generator in Excel. This generates a random decimal between 0 and 1. If the dice roll value was less than or equal to that week’s p(win), Redskins won the game. If it was higher, they lost.

Last of all, I also used the dice roll outcome for each game to predict the point spread. The method I used is a bit complicated to explain, but conceptually it’s very simple. The basic idea is that if the dice roll value was close to p(win), then it was a close game, so the point spread was low. As the dice roll value got further away from p(win), it became more of a blowout, and the point spread got larger. The model I used to do this was based on the distribution of point spreads from the Redskins’ 2019 season, to keep things as realistic as possible. I stopped short of predicting the actual scores because that would have been too complicated.


2020 Redskins Season Projection

Now let’s let the players suit up and take to the field. For each weekly matchup, I will summarize the weekly injuries and season-to-date roster additions, and show the calculated roster and momentum adjustments, p(win) and game outcomes. Continuing the theme from the first article, I have made up a narrative to make sense of the simulation outcomes. I won’t go too crazy with that, though and just provide enough to make sense of the simulation results, which weren’t always self-explanatory.

Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Week 1, home Philadelphia

Roster Changes (in week 1 these are just injury replacement starters):

LT - Geron Christian starts in place of Cornelius Lucas

RB - Derrius Guice starts for injured Adrian Petersen

NT - Tim Settle starts in place of Daron Payne

Key Players Out: Daron Payne

New Starters: Derrius Guice

p(win) = 0.375

dice roll = 0.351

Outcome: Redskins win by 5 pts

Game Recap: The Ron Rivera era gets off to a flying start with a five point upset of Philadelphia at FedEx. The offense looks much better than last season. Dwayne Haskins is looking more comfortable, in part because of help from the addition new offensive playmaker Isaiah Wright, a healthy Derrius Guice, spelling Adrian Peterson, and occasional flashes from rookies Gandy-Golden and Gibson. Morgan Moses allows a few pressures and commits a drive killing false start in the third quarter. On the next defensive series, Montez Sweat lands awkwardly on his left foot and is helped off the field with an ankle injury. Chase Young steps in and gets a few pressures, but also misses an assignment on a running play. Isaiah Wright hauls in the game winner late in the fourth quarter.

Week 2, at Arizona

Roster Changes:

RB - Adrian Peterson returns as starter, splitting time with Guice

DE - Chase Young starts for injured Montez Sweat

New Starters: Chase Young

Key Players Out: Daron Payne, Montez Sweat

p(win) = 0.40

dice roll = 0.79

Outcome: Redskins lose by 7

Game Recap: The Redskins came to Arizona with a little buzz from beating Philadelphia in the season opener, but are brought down to earth by a resurgent Cardinals team led by second-year QB Kyler Murray. In his first NFL start, Chase Young generates plenty of pressure but also has his share of mistakes, including letting Murray escape the pocket for a long run on third down. Shaun Dion Hamilton also shows impressive instincts to break up a few running plays near the line of scrimmage while subbing in for John Bostic at ILB.

Isaiah Wright impresses, making plays out of the backfield, in the slot, and out wide. He and Terry McLaurin did their best to provide outlets to Dwayne Haskins, who spent the afternoon running from Chandler Jones, who had a field day against Geron Christian.

Just after the half, NT Tim Settle takes a helmet to the knee from Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake. He leaves the field on golf cart in obvious pain. Caleb Brantley comes off the bench to rotate in with Jonathan Allen in his place.

Week 3, at Cleveland

Roster Changes:

WR slot - Isaiah Wright takes the majority of snaps in the slot, but moves around

KR - Steven Sims resumes primary return duties, backup slot WR

DE - Montez Sweat returns at RDE, Chase Young shares time with Kerrigan at LDE

DT - Matt Ioannidis, Jon Allen start, Settle to IR (dislocated patella), Brantley rotates in

New Starters: Isaiah Wright

Key Players Out: Daron Payne, Tim Settle

p(win) = 0.46

dice roll = 0.49

Outcome: 5 point loss

Game Recap: The Redskins new 4-3 defense faced its biggest test so far, against the Browns’ rushing attack led by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Shaun Dion Hamilton, relieving Jon Bostic, made some great plays to help plug some of the gaps in the increasingly porous DL, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Chase Young continued to make his presence felt, and the pressure that he, Kerrigan and Sweat put on Baker Mayfield helped keep the game close.

On offense, Derrius Guice was looking more comfortable, breaking tackles on his way to a few long gains. Bryce Love also looked good on limited snaps. The revitalized running game provided welcome relief to Haskins who, once again, felt the pressure on passing downs, this time from both sides of the offensive line. Morgan Moses, facing Myles Garrett, got called for false start and holding penalties.

During the week, Mark Tyler publishes an article entitled “The Case for Starting Chase Young.” The poll shows 86% support. Fans’ grumbling about the O-Line play grows to a dull roar.

Week 4, home Baltimore

Roster Changes:

RB - Derrius Guice starts

DE - Chase Young replaces Kerrigan as starter

ILB - Shaun Dion Hamilton starts

New Starters: Young, SDH, Guice, Wright

Key Players Out: Payne, Settle

p(win) = 0.33

dice roll = 0.92

Outcome: 8 point loss

Game Recap: Boosted by the growing infusion of young talent, the Redskins put in an impressive performance to keep this one to within two scores. In his first start, Chase Young records a sack and a few pressures and is generally a disruptive presence. Guice has a good afternoon and is spelled by Bryce Love, who also looks good. The improving running game continues to take pressure off Haskins, but he still takes a pair of sacks and a few hits from the Ravens pass rush.

Right before the half, J.D. McKissic takes a nasty hit from Ravens SS Chuck Clark and stays down. He is driven off the field on the cart.

Week 5, home LA Rams

Roster Changes:

RB - Bryce Love replaces J.D. McKissic (ACL/MCL tear, out for season) as RB2

LT - Saahdiq Charles replaces Geron Christian at LT

NT - Tim Settle returns

New Starters: Charles, Love, Young, SDH, Guice, Wright

Key Players Out: Payne

p(win) = 0.43

dice roll = 0.18

Outcome: Redksins win by 13

Game Recap: The loss of McKissic prompts some reworking of the RB lineup. Bryce Love is listed as second on the depth chart. He gets more snaps this week, sharing time with Guice. Scott Turner spreads third down/receiving back duties between Antonio Gibson and Isaiah Wright, who each take snaps lined up in the backfield, in the slot and out wide, as well as Thad Moss lined up as H-back. Second-string TE Caleb Wilson makes a few key grabs in two TE sets.

LT Geron Christian is finally benched, giving Saahdiq Charles his first opportunity to start, and gives Haskins more breathing on the left side than he’s seen this season. Moses continues to allow pressures on the right side and Wes Schweitzer gets badly abused by Aaron Donald, allowing a few more and a sack.

With Chase Young and Montez Sweat applying pressure from the edges, and Ioannidis/Allen up the middle, Jared Goff was unable to find a passing rhythm all afternoon. The Rams’ rushing attack didn’t find much room either. The result is an impressive home win at FedEx.

New York Giants v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Week 6, at NYG

Roster Changes: None

New Starters: Charles, Love, Young, SDH, Guice, Wright

Key Players Out: Payne

p(win) = 0.50

dice roll = 0.05

Outcome: Redskins win by 22

Game Recap: The team is really starting to click on offense. With improved pass blocking on the left side, Haskins is looking more comfortable distributing the ball to multiple targets. And the revamped rushing attack takes a lot of pressure off him. TE Caleb Wilson had another strong performance, seeing time in 2-TE sets. In limited action he still looks better than the underwhelming starter Logan Thomas.

The defensive front seven was just too much for New York to handle, resulting in the team’s first lopsided win under Rivera. Morgan Moses gives up a few pressures in the early going. Just before half time he jumps offsides, killing a drive just inside Giants’ territory. Ron Rivera is visibly upset and benches him in favour of backup Timon Parris, who manages not to embarrass himself.

Derrius Guice gets up slowly after a helmet to helmet hit in the third quarter and heads to medical tent. He leaves the game and it is reported that he is being evaluated for a concussion. In the fourth quarter, CB Fabian Moreau tangles receiver Sterling Shepherd during a play and leaves the field holding his hand. He does not return. Kendall Fuller takes his place on the outside and Jimmy Moreland finishes the game in the slot.

Week 7, home Dallas

Roster Changes:

RB - Bryce Love replaces Guice (concussion), Adrian Peterson at RB2

RT - Timon Parris replaces Morgan Moses

TE - Caleb Wilson replaces Logan Thomas

CB - Kendall Fuller replaces injured Fabian Moreau (broken finger) at outside corner

CB slot - Jimmy Moreland starts in place of Fuller

New Starters: Parris, Wilson, Moreland, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright

Key Players Out: Payne, Guice, Moreau

p(win) = 0.375

dice roll = 0.444

Outcome: 3 point loss

Game Recap: Despite injuries to two key starters, Dallas week starts on a high with the team coming off a blowout win over New York and riding a two-game winning streak. The Redskins are brought down to earth again in a close home loss to Dallas. The rushing attack is effectively neutralized by Dallas due to poor run blocking against the Dallas defensive front.

In the second quarter, Terry McLaurin is brought down hard trying to get yards after the catch and leaves the game with a hamstring injury. Wright takes his place and Antonio Gandy-Golden puts in an impressive performance taking snaps in the slot. In the third quarter, Ronald Darby lands hard on a twisted ankle and has to be helped off the field. Greg Stroman comes off the bench to take his spot.

Week 8 - bye

Week 9, home NYG

Roster Changes:

RB - Derrius Guice returns at RB1, splitting time with RB2 Love

LG - Ross Pierschbacher replaces Wes Schweitzer

WR - Isaiah Wright replaces injured Terry McLaurin (hamstring partial tear)

WR2 - Antonio Gandy Golden replaces Kelvin Harmon

WR slot - Steve Sims starts in place of Wright

CB1 - Kendall Fuller replaces injured Ronald Darby (grade 2 ankle sprain)

CB2 - Greg Stroman starts

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: McLaurin, Darby, Payne, Moreau

p(win) = 0.50

dice roll = 0.04

Outcome: 27 point win

Game Recap: Coming off the bye, a strong offensive performance, powered by the Guice/Love combo, improved blocking and contributions from multiple new offensive weapons lifts the Redskins to their second blowout of the Giants this season. Wright, Gandy-Golden, Steven Sims and Antonio Gibson are able to make up for McLaurin’s absence. On defense, the nearly unblockable pass-rushing attack and interior-gap penetration is able to partially mask an increasingly porous secondary. Jimmy Moreland lands awkwardly covering a pass and comes up clutching his shoulder. He heads to the medical tent and leaves the game.

Week 10, at Detroit

Roster Changes:

CB slot - Danny Johnson replaces Jimmy Moreland (rotator cuff)

New Starters: Johnson, Pierschbacher, AGG, Parris, Wilson, Charles, SDH, Love, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: Moreland, McLaurin, Darby, Payne, Moreau

p(win) = 0.43

dice roll = 0.31

Outcome: 4 point win

Game Recap: The injuries piling up at CB are taking a toll. The makeshift secondary gets torched multiple times for long gains and a couple of TDs. But it would have been worse if Matt Stafford hadn’t been under constant pressure. The defense’s struggles are not enough to hold back a surging offense, still riding high from last week, and the Redskins hold on to win a close one in Detroit.

Week 11, home Cincinnati

Roster Changes: None

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: McLaurin, Darby, Payne, Moreau

p(win) = 0.54

dice roll = 0.69

Outcome: 6 point loss

Game Recap: Joe Burrow and his trio of wideouts A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins have their way with the Redskins’ depleted secondary. The reinvigorated offense puts up enough points to keep them in it, but it’s not enough. The Redskins take a rough home loss.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Week 12, at Dallas

Roster Changes:

CB2 - Fabian Moreau (finger) comes back, relieves Greg Stroman

CB slot - Greg Stroman replaces Danny Johnson

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: McLaurin, Darby, Payne, Moreland

p(win) = 0.375

dice roll = 0.93

Outcome: 19 point loss

Game Recap: Moreau returns at outside corner and Greg Stroman switches to the slot where he is abused all afternoon by Michael Gallup and occasionally CeeDee Lamb. The rushing attack doesn’t fare much better, and the young offensive line has a rough afternoon, giving up a lot of a pressure and a pair of sacks. A forgettable road loss in Texas stadium.

Week 13, at Pittsburgh

Roster Changes: None

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: McLaurin, Darby, Payne, Moreland

p(win) = 0.40

dice roll = 0.06

Outcome: Redskins win by 28

Game Recap: Perhaps the loss to Dallas shook them out of the complacency that set in against Cincinnati. Whatever it was, this looks like a different team to last week. The Redskins exploit Steelers O-Line weak link Stefan Wisniewski to clog running lanes and disrupt the pocket from the middle. Rothlisberger has nowhere to go with Young and Sweat closing in on the edges. On the offensive side, rookie Saahdiq Charles turns heads by keeping TJ Watt off Haskins for most of the game. The offense finds its groove again, resulting in a surprise blowout road win over the Steelers. No significant injuries for the fourth week in a row.

Week 14, at SF

Roster Changes: None

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: McLaurin, Darby, Payne

p(win) = 0.35

dice roll = 0.99

Outcome: 20 point loss

Game Recap: The Redskins head to Santa Clara on a high after the blowout road win in Pittsburgh. Trent Williams and the NFC Champs burst the bubble. The 49ers O-line does a much better job than Pittsburgh at keeping the pocket clean and creating running lanes. TE George Kittle and pass catching FB Kyle Juszczyk create mismatches against stand in slot CB Greg Stroman and the Redskins’ young linebackers to great effect.

On offense, Haskins faces his biggest challenge of the season with Nick Bosa reminding fans that Saahdiq Charles is a rookie. At least there are no more injuries.

Week 15, home Seattle

Roster Changes:

WR1 - Terry McLaurin returns

WR slot - Isaiah Wright moves back to the slot, replacing Steven Sims

NT - Daron Payne returns, replaces Tim Settle

CB1 - Ronald Darby returns

CB slot - Kendall Fuller replaces Stroman

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: none

p(win) = 0.35

dice roll = 0.23

Outcome: 9 point win

Game Recap: The return from injury of key starters Terry McLaurin, Daron Payne and Ronald Darby provides the boost the team needed after a rough loss to San Francisco. With Payne and Darby back in the starting lineup, Del Rio’s defense is able to keep Russell Wilson under pressure and in check. On offense, the Redskins’ receivers are able to exploit weaknesses in Seattle’s secondary. The Redskins look a lot better than the 6-10 product that took the field in September.

Washington Redskins v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Week 16, home Carolina

Roster Changes: None

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: none

p(win) = 0.5

dice roll = 0.11

Outcome: 14 point win

Game Recap: For the first time all season the Redskins are favored to win a game, and they don’t disappoint.

Week 17, at Philadelphia

Roster Changes: None

New Starters: AGG, Pierschbacher, Parris, Wilson, Charles, Love, SDH, Young, Wright, Guice

Key Players Out: none

p(win) = 0.375

dice roll = 0.901

Outcome: 7 point loss

Game Recap: The Redskins end the season with a close loss at Philadelphia and just miss out on the last NFC wildcard slot. Rookie QB Jalen Hurts, puts in another remarkable dual-threat performance to seal the win, as he has since Carson Wentz went on IR in week 10. But the Redskins end the season better than expected and the Ron Rivera era is off to a great start.


Week 17 Extended Starting Roster

QB Dwayne Haskins

RB1 Derrius Guice

RB/flex Bryce Love

LT Saahdiq Charles

LG Ross Pierschbacher

C Chase Roullier

RG Brandon Scherff

RT Timon Parris

WR1 Terry McLaurin

WR2 Antonio Gandy-Golden

WRslot Isaiah Wright

TE Caleb Wilson

DE Chase Young

NT Daron Payne

DT Matt Ioannidis/Jonathan Allen,

DE Montez Sweat

WLB Reuben Foster

MLB Shaun Dion-Hamilton

SLB Cole Holcomb

CB1 Ronald Darby

CB2 Fabian Moreau

CBslot Kendall Fuller

FS Sean Davis

SS Landon Collins

KR Steven Sims

PR Isaiah Wright

P/K/LS Tress Way, Dustin Hopkins, Nick Sundberg


Discussion

The aim of this exercise was to create a roster and season projection which included the element of unpredictability which characterizes actual NFL seasons and is missing from the usual preseason projections. To do that, I used probability data derived from real NFL statistics to simulate the competition for starting spots amongst the rookies and developmental players on the roster and to simulate the occurrence of injuries throughout the season. I then took a similar approach, using the ESPN beat writers’ season predictions, to project a probabilistic W-L record.

While projecting the W-L record was not really the focus here, the results were largely consistent with John Keim’s more usual season record prediction. That isn’t very surprising, since the probabilities I used for the simulation were based on his predictions and those of his colleagues. But there were a few “any given Sunday” moments, which serve to remind us that the favored team doesn’t always win. These include upset wins over the Rams, Detroit, and Seattle, and an unexpected loss to Cincinnati. Keim’s prediction also includes upset wins against Philadelphia (week 1) Seattle, and Pittsburgh, which the simulation replicated, purely by coincidence. A lucky dice roll even turned the upset over Pittsburgh into an unexpected blowout. The end result was an 8-8 season finish, better than most analysts would predict, but probably about middle of the range of predictions being thrown around Hogs Haven.

The main focus of this exercise was the evolution of the starting roster. Here, the outcomes generated by the probabilistic simulation included some results that everyone would expect, some improbable seeming surprises, and a couple of outright howlers and conflicts.

In the first category, the least surprising result of all was Chase Young earning a starting position early in his rookie season. The only thing that might raise an eyebrow is that he didn’t start day one, but he is competing against Ryan Kerrigan, with limited offseason preparation. After Young, Derrius Guice, Saahdiq Charles, Antonio Gandy Golden and Shaun Dion Hamilton earning starting spots would not be surprising individually, but all of them doing so in the season might be pushing the envelope a little.

One of the more pleasant surprises to come out of the simulation was UDFA Isaiah Wright’s breakout season. While he beat the odds to earn a starting spot, UDFAs upstaging their drafted classmates happens with some regularity. A few recent examples are Phillip Lindsay, Adam Thielen, Austin Ekeler, and the Redskins’ own Steven Sims and Quinton Dunbar.

This was not a particularly sophisticated simulation, and its limitations are reflected in the fairly large number of improbable results. These include: Ross Pierschbacher’s coming out of nowhere to overtake classmate Wes Martin; Geron Christian, Timon Parris and Caleb Wilson earning starts; Reuben Foster overcoming injury and off the field issues; and both injured RBs Derrius Guice and Bryce Love coming back healthy and playing full seasons.

Perhaps I am being a bit unfair to Geron Christian who played in 16 games with two starts in 2019. But Parris and Pierschbacher only saw the field in a limited numbers of games on special teams last season, so their earning starting spots would be minor miracles. Similarly, Caleb Wilson spent most of his rookie season on the Cardinals practice squad. Although he was signed to the Redskins active roster in late 2019, he has yet to play a regular season snap, so we don’t know much about him. All three of these players earning starting spots in the same season is pushing the limits of reason. If I repeat this exercise next season, I will try to make it more realistic by handicapping the second and third-year developmental players based on playing time the previous season.

Another limitation of the simulation method is that I gave every player competing for an open roster spot a chance, regardless of what other players he was competing against. This resulted in major conflicts at RB1 and OT. According to the dice rolls, lead back candidates Derrius Guice and Bryce Love earned 13 and 12 starts, respectively, which created a problem, since there are only 16 RB1 starts per year. My workaround was to propose a time-sharing arrangement at RB, which is not uncommon, but in doing so, Love got robbed of some starts he “earned.”

Similarly, Charles, Christian and Parris rolled 12, 12 and 10 starts, respectively, which adds up to more than the 32 OT starts in a season. I exercised a little creative license here, because I couldn’t resist seeing Moses benched midseason after committing one too many false starts. Geron Christian starting the season for an injured Cornelius Lucas and getting replaced by Saahdiq Charles at week five just feels like something that could actually happen. Resolving the conflicts at OT and RB were the only major adjustments I made to the simulation results. If I were to do this again, I would need to consider building in competition rules to avoid conflicts.

There were not a lot of big surprises with what players did not earn starting spots. Third-round pick Antonio Gibson and UDFA Thad Moss have their supporters, and not without reason, but realistically both players are somewhat longshots to earn starting positions as rookies. It would be surprising if both players failed to make the final 53, but projecting depth players was not the focus here.

The simulated pattern of injuries was reminiscent of something Redskins fans are all too familiar with. The injuries to starting players were not evenly distributed across position groups. Starting with Fabian Moreau’s injury in week seven, there was a run of injuries in the secondary. By Week 10, the only original starting CB remaining was Kendall Fuller, and the team was down to its third-string slot CB, and probably signing street free agents that fans had never heard of. Similar injury clusters depleted the OL in 2017 and 2018 and the secondary last season.

The flip side of that is another of the more improbable simulation results. Not a single starting OL missed a game to injury. This doesn’t happen very often and it would be a welcome relief if it did this season.

Last of all, one very prominent player didn’t really feature much in this simulation. If there is football this year, the 2020 season will be pivotal for Dwayne Haskins. While he might have been the owner’s pick, he is playing for a new, more powerful head coach, and has yet to prove that he is a franchise QB. The apparent neglect of Haskins in the simulation was merely a consequence of the method I used. But based on the team result, it would appear he had a good enough season that the team won’t be drafting a QB in 2021.

Poll

How many games will Washington win this season?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    fewer than 3
    (19 votes)
  • 33%
    3-5
    (235 votes)
  • 52%
    6-8
    (372 votes)
  • 7%
    9 or more
    (54 votes)
  • 1%
    1 or more playoff games
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    They won’t play any games
    (17 votes)
709 votes total Vote Now

Poll

What would surprise you the most?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Saahdiq Charles starting at LT by midseason
    (26 votes)
  • 67%
    Derrius Guice staying healthy all season
    (372 votes)
  • 4%
    Someone other than Logan Thomas or Thad Moss starting at TE
    (27 votes)
  • 15%
    Geron Christian earning starting time
    (83 votes)
  • 7%
    Any unheralded players earning roster spots with no preseason games
    (44 votes)
552 votes total Vote Now