Just a few days ago we released the first PPR Fantasy Football rankings of the 2012 NFL season. During the process, one of the more difficult players to rank was future Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. We are calling him a future Redskin, cause while he’t not officially with the team yet, its a forgone conclusion that the team will draft him in nine days at the 2012 NFL Draft.
Beyond that, the truth is the Redskins are a perfect fit for RG3. Head Coach Mike Shanahan runs a west coast system, relying heavily on the quarterback’s mobility, likes calling plays that move the pocket, such as play-action bootlegs with run, pass options, fitting the strengths of Griffin perfectly.
The Redskin running game, an underrated aspect of this offense, should be pretty solid this season behind second-year runners Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Helu came on strong at the end of last season, racking up 791 total yards, including 509 rushing and 282 receiving yards, plus 37 receptions over the last eight games.
Helu was quite impressive down the stretch, but when given the chance, undrafted rookie Royster was equally if not more impressive. He started the last two games against Philadelphia and Minnesota, rushing 39 times for 245 yards, good for a 6.1 average yards per carry.
Historically, teams led by Shanahan have run the ball well and if the Helu-Royster combo continues to develop this offseason, the Redskins will have a nice stable of backs to complement Griffin at quarterback. Given the fact that Defenses must respect RG3’s ability to run, his presence should open up holes for the running game and eventually lead to an effective play action passing attack.
While, many have focused on Griffin’s amazing athleticism and sub 4.4 speed, unheard of from a quarterback, it’s sometimes forgotten how well he throws the football and actually is a very capable passer. Given that he played in spread offense at Baylor, his high completion is diminished slightly, yet he still completed an impressive 67% of his passes. Even more impressive, was the 72.4 completion percentage he had last season, while averaging 10.7 yards per attempt, tops in the FBS. His career YPA (Yards Per Attempt) is 8.9, ranking ninth all-time in FBS annals.
Those numbers indicate that Griffin completed a high percentage of passes, while constantly stretching the field. It appears Shanahan has realized this deep ball potential and has tried to surround his new quarterback with some solid deep threats.
For starters, the Redskins will return Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney, in addition to signing free agents Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, of the Colts and 49ers, respectively. Oh and don’t forget about tight end Fred Davis, who even after getting suspended late last season, broke out with 59 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns.
Garcon, Morgan and Moss all have career yards per catch averages of over 13 yards and Gaffney is right there at 12.9, while Davis comes in at 13.5, so this group has the potential to be explosive, Griffin’s specialty.
The biggest issue facing Griffin is likely to be his recognition of NFL defenses. The sophistication of defenses in the pro game is so much different than in college, so it will take some time to adjust. However, expect Griffin to be productive, especially as a fantasy quarterback right away.
Last season, Washington had Rex Grossman and John Beck playing quarterback, which tells you why Shanahan was so desperate to get a franchise quarterback. Yet, Grossman and Beck, two journeymen, combined to throw for over 4,000 yards, good enough for the Redskins to finish 14th in the NFL in passing offense.
If those two former bench warmers can throw for 4,000 yards, RG3 should be able to throw for at least 3,500 yards. He will go through an adjustment period as every rookie quarterback does, but his receivers are talented, can stretch the field and get yards after the catch. An efficient running game also will aid Griffin’s development and while he’s learning to be an NFL quarterback, he can always improvise with his feet.
All things considered, the Redskins offense could be quite potent this season, depending mostly on how quickly Griffin develops and despite the lack of a true no.1 receiver (no Garcon does not count) the talent is there for him to succeed. What RG3 really gives the Redskins is a chance to win and eventually win BIG! Something Washington hasn’t had in a long, long time.
Fantasy PPR Analysis: Griffin should be also be very intriguing to Fantasy Football owners. It’s foolish to assume he can match what Cam Newton did last season, yet it’s not out of the realm of possibility. His arm is not quite as strong as Newton’s and he is not near as powerful, so the chances of him being used as a goal line back the way Newton was last year, is slim to none. However, he will still score some rushing touchdowns and he will throw plenty too.
At this time, I believe Griffin can make a run at 30 total touchdowns and 4,000 total yards, numbers that should make him a top ten fantasy quarterback by the end of the season, currently he sits at no.12 in the Fantasy PPR Preseason QB Rankings (shown here: http://fantasyppr.com/2012/04/12/fantasy-ppr-rankings-quarterbacks/.)