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Injuries are terrible. Injuries that happen in the first week of the preseason on a play that was called back because of a penalty are just the worst. That’s exactly the type of news we got on Friday when we found out Derrius Guice was lost for the year with a torn ACL. 

Guice is an extremely talented back who will hopefully make a full and speedy recovery but now we have to turn our attention to the rest of the backs in Washington, and they have a bunch of them to consider: 

  • Rob Kelley was actually listed atop Washington’s depth chart before the injury and received the first two carries on Thursday night. He’s slimmed down and the team has spoken well of him this offseason.
  • Chris Thompson was an efficiency monster last year, but he’s recovering from a broken leg and recently speculated he may not be full strength until the middle of the year. He’ll be used as a passing downs back and sparingly in the run game.
  • Samaje Perine led the team in rushing in 2017, but he did so solely because of volume. He wasn’t efficient as a runner and he’s currently behind Kelley in the pecking order. 
  • There’s also Byron Marshall and Kapri Bibbs, who seem more like candidates to fill Thompson’s role than become a full-time back. 

That’s where Washington stands immediately after the injury. It doesn’t mean they won’t make an acquisition, but we can’t project anything but these guys at this time. For now I see it mostly as a muddled mess, and a committee. Kelley is the leader, but that could certainly change over the next month.

The one other effect of this injury is I expect Washington to run the ball less efficiently now, which probably means more pass attempts for Alex Smith. Smith has never been a high-volume passer, but that didn’t stop him from putting up top-5 numbers last year. He becomes an even better sleeper candidate.

*Rankings expressed below are in terms of expected Fantasy points. This is a part of our actual Fantasy Football rankings but not a direct correlation to my rankings. Things like injury risk, upside, etc. factor into rankings but they’re not being talked about here. This is simply an expectation as the team is currently constructed.

Breaking down the touches

Jay Gruden has run a pass-happy attack for the last three years in Washington, and that could be a big boon for Smith’s Fantasy value. Smith has never thrown more than 508 passes in a season. Washington has thrown at least 540 each of the past three seasons. That’s the number I’m using, simply because Smith will turn one or two designed passes per game into rush attempts. 

Gruden has also heavily emphasized the tight ends in the offense, which Smith should be very comfortable with. But just like Gruden’s offense hasn’t favored any one receiver, they’ve also spread it around among tight ends. A big part of that is Reed’s inability to stay healthy but Vernon Davis has done enough the past two years that he will be involved regardless of who is healthy.

Redskins touches
Rob Kelley 42% 172 3% 17 10 5
Chris Thompson 20% 82 12% 66 50 4
Samaje Perine 28% 115 5% 28 22 3
Jamison Crowder 0% 0 21% 116 80 5
Paul Richardson 0% 0 18% 99 55 5
Josh Doctson 0% 0 18% 99 50 6
Jordan Reed 0% 0 12% 66 50 5
Vernon Davis 0% 0 11% 61 41 2

Of note: 

  • I’ve been tempted to move Reed even higher in the projections, but it’s just impossible to expect a full season from him. Like Tyler Eifert, he’s one of the tight ends who should be drafted well above his projection.
  • I’m not projecting anything close to a bell-cow back for Washington, but if you want to bet on that happening I’d choose Kelley.
  • Richardson and Doctson both still have big upside on a week-to-week basis. But it’s going to be hard to trust either as a starter. This team was built for best ball leagues.

The Leftovers

When Reed is out of the lineup, Davis becomes pretty close to a must-start tight end. In fact, he was actually better than Davis on a per target and per reception basis in 2017. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this was a true timeshare, which would make both of them streamers at best.

Marshall is one sneaky guy to keep an eye on. He caught a touchdown in the team’s preseason opener and could have a significant role if Thompson goes down again.

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