Fantasy football strategy session: RGIII's value, Cowboys' trouble
Robert Griffin's running, willingness to use multiple targets worth investment
Raiders, Darren McFadden facing soft schedule of run defenses in coming weeks
Cowboys' top offensive options have yet to produce as expected this season
There's always temptation to sell high on a player, especially when that player is outperforming expectations coming into the season. All the logic in the world says he'll eventually regress to the mean and that you should get out while the getting is still good. There are plenty of instances when that's true, but selling high isn't always a good move. And I'm here to tell you why you should resist any temptation to trade the most fun player in fantasy football this year: Robert Griffin III.
I lived in Washington, D.C. the last two-and-a-half years before moving back to my native Chicago just before the start of this football season. I have a lot of friends who are Redskins fans, and they were sipping the RGIII Kool-Aid about two seconds after they heard the team had pulled off a franchise-altering trade with the Rams before the draft. But no matter how optimistic, they couldn't have imagined Griffin being this good this soon.
In addition to making the Redskins nationally relevant and putting them on the fringes of the competitive NFC playoff race, RGIII is the No. 1 fantasy quarterback through seven weeks. It's easy to get wrapped up in his rushing numbers (we'll get to those in a second), but he has been just as impressive through the air. He has completed 70.4 percent of his passes for 1,601 yards and seven touchdowns. He has only thrown three interceptions, and continues to make plays throwing the ball late in games, most recently hitting Santana Moss to give the Redskins a brief lead over the Giants with less than two minutes remaining in Week 7. (The Giants eventually won on a Victor Cruz touchdown bomb.)
Of course, the running stats are eye-popping. RGIII has carried the ball 64 times for 468 yards and six scores. His rushing stats alone would make him the 11th-ranked fantasy running back, ahead of LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush, Willis McGahee, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden. He's the fantasy MVP to this point, and easily the return on investment champion.
With all that said, some might be thinking the fun can't last forever. After all, Cam Newton gave a seemingly once-in-a-generation rookie season for a quarterback last year. Can Griffin really surpass that this year? Even with Pierre Garcon's status up in the air and Fred Davis out for the year? I believe he can.
Let's shake of the worry about those injuries right away. Griffin has essentially been without Garcon all year, so there's no adjustment necessary there. The loss of Davis hurts, but Griffin immediately found new tight end Logan Paulsen last week, and there's no reason to believe the Davis loss will slow Griffin for long.
As to his ground game, RGIII doesn't get his rushing yards primarily by scrambling, a la Michael Vick. The Redskins have devised an intricate package of designed runs for Griffin. He has successfully brought the read-option to the NFL, turning the league into his own, private Big 12. When he does scramble, he does so after going through his reads, not because he's jumpy in the pocket.
Finally, are you really going to trade the most fun player to own in fantasy football? I didn't think so.
Anyway, that's what I think. Here's what I think about what other people think this week.
Over at Yahoo!, the always entertaining Scott Pianowski breaks down the rushing strength of schedule, both for the rest of the season and the fantasy playoffs. What he finds is that the Raiders face the softest collection of run defenses for the remainder of the year. The slate is front-loaded, with games against the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Ravens and Saints in their next four games. What does that tell me? The Darren McFadden boom is finally upon us, and it starts this week in Kansas City. The bad news about McFadden's swoon is that much of it was related to his line, and the unit isn't likely to improve any time soon. The good news is that the oft-injured back has been healthy all year. If you've held onto McFadden to this point, your patience is about to be rewarded. It may already be Friday, when trade opportunities slow down as the weekend sets in, but check McFadden's value in your league. This might be your last chance to get him at a discount.
Mario Puig at RotoWire (subscription required) lays out five things to know in Week 8, the first of which being that the Cowboys' offense will never get it going as an elite unit this year. As someone who has been tantalized by all the talent in Dallas the last few seasons, it pains me to agree. An offense that features Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten should thrive in the NFL's current environment, but that just hasn't been the case this year. A lot of it has to do with the lackluster game plans designed week in, week out by Jason Garrett. He seems to be outcoached every single week, and we're talking about a guy who plays in a division with Andy Reid, who had an offensive line coach running his defense until last week.
They have issues on the offensive line, making it hard to get any consistency throwing or running the ball. In a related story, they've been shut down by two elite defenses this year (the Bears and Seahawks), while putting up 24, 16 and 19 against the average defenses of the Giants, Buccaneers and Panthers, respectively. Their only good offensive game this year came against the Ravens in a contest in which the Ravens lost Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis, and were still without Terrell Suggs. Bryant doesn't catch the ball with enough consistency to be a threat, and Murray, who is injured again, hasn't gotten a thing going this year. Other than Austin, I'm selling everyone on this offense.
I agree with a lot of the calls Matthew Berry makes in his weekly Love/Hate column for Week 8 at ESPN. But talking about the places we agree is boring. One player I think he's off on is Brandon Lloyd. He says he thinks Lloyd will get it going eventually, just not this week. I believe this is the week Lloyd owners have been waiting for all year. The Patriots have a way of getting you with the guy you least expect when you least expect it. Berry points out that Lloyd is tied with Kenny Britt for most targets on passes of 30 yards or longer without a catch. While that's undoubtedly a bad stat, the silver lining is that Tom Brady continues to look to Lloyd for the deep ball. Eventually, they have to hit on one. They will this week, en route to big days for both Lloyd and Brady in London.
Chat with me on Twitter, @MBeller.