Santana Moss Is The Redskin Of Your Fantasy Dreams

Washington Redskins Santana Moss (89) catches a pass and runs for 29 yards against the Dallas Cowboys during the second quarter at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on December 27, 2009. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn Photo via Newscom

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Wide receiver Santana Moss is the top pick among Washington Redskins players in fantasy football drafts according to a breakdown published by NFL.com.

The NFL is running its fantasy drafts and the Skins are facing a skeptical set of potential owners. Moss was selected in the eighth round of most drafts as the 72nd pick on average. Andre Johnson (HOU), Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) and Randy Moss (NE) were the top three fantasy receivers and all selected in the second round of most fantasy drafts.

If you draft the Redskins leading receiver, it makes sense to draft his quarterback. Fantasy owners made Donovan McNabb a late 10th round pick, about the 100th player drafted. Aaron Rogers (GB), Drew Brees (NO) and Peyton Manning (IND) were the top quarterbacks. All were drafted in the fantasy first round.

It’s a truism to grab a top tier running back early for your fantasy football team. Fantasy owners snapped up Chris Johnson (TEN), Adrian Peterson (MIN), Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC), Ray Rice (BAL), Frank Gore (SF) and Michael Turner (ATL) in the first round of their drafts. Washington’s Clinton Portis was a 10th rounder, on average the 104th player drafted.

Owners drafted TE Chris Cooley in the 13th round, on average the 121st player picked. Tight ends tend to be drafted late because of a lesser chance to score fantasy points. Fantasy owners picked the position in the fourth round in the drafts monitored by the NFL. Dallas Clark (IND) and Antonio Gates (SD) were the top tight ends selected. Cooley and his Redskins cohort Fred Davis could be sleepers. The Redskins have issues at wide receiver that I don’t think they will solve this year. That should make Washington’s capable tight ends attractive alternatives for Donovan McNabb.

Fantasy owners add defenses and kickers in the last round; defenses because it’s virtually impossible to predict their scoring potential and kickers because one is pretty much the same as another.

The Redskins 2009 defense would smother you without killing you. They suppressed opponents offensive yards and forced them into lower scores, but drive killing turnovers were rare. Fantasy scoring by the Redskins D was rare. Whether it’s Washington’s move to the 3-4, or Albert Haynesworth’s shenanigans, fantasy owners are non-believers in our defense. They made the Redskins the 148th pick on average in the 15th round. The New York Jets, Washington’s opponent in the third preseason game, was the top fantasy defense, selected in the sixth round, the 57th pick on average.

K Graham Gano brings up the rear as a 16th round pick, just another generic guy in a position fantasy owners consider a commodity.

The Skins are sleeper picks

Fantasy owners tend to be followers, more often influenced by prior years performance and by fantasy touts. So it’s no surprise that they look askance at the Washington’s 4-12 season last year. Everybody’s mystified by the wholesale changes on the team and the effect on scoring potential. They may be discounting Washington’s players too heavily. Owners are selecting the Eagles Kevin Kolb ahead of McNabb. A healthy Santana Moss should perform about as well as Steve Smith (NYG, fifth round, 41st pick on average).

Until the new-look Redskins answer a few questions and jell as a team, none should be drafted in the top three rounds of your fantasy draft. Yet, disdain for the  team means you can fill holes with quality players from Washington’s roster. There’s a good chance they’ll be there if you need them.

Point After: I’m a retired fantasy baller, taking up the hobby for the 1990 football season and giving it up about five years ago. All of that time was with the same group of fellas in what we called Grom’s Fantasy League. Most of those years, I played as Tony’s Ponies (cute, eh?).

Competing against the same owners year-after-year made the season more fun, but more competitive and increasingly difficult. In 1990, fantasy football was a paper and pencil affair. The Internet and fantasy touts made it near-impossible to be the only owner to find an overlooked star who could win you the Fantasy Bowl.

Terry Allen was one such player. No one in my 12 team league would touch him in 1995 after two reconstructive knee surgeries. I admired him as a Viking rusher and took him late in the draft, in part because he signed with my hometown Redskins. Whenever Allen had a big game, the smart guys on fantasy forums cautioned “trade him NOW. He’s got two bad knees.

Ten touchdowns later and that guy with the bad knees had Tony’s Ponies in the Fantasy Bowl. I don’t recall if I actually won (who knew records would be so important?), but I finished in the money that year. Allen is still one of my favorite fantasy players.

Internet fantasy cheatsheets  were just coming into vogue in 2002. Not everyone had them. The players in my league, including me, overlooked Broncos rookie running back Clinton Portis on draft night. Three games into the season, I noticed Portis’ yards per carry (5.5) and added him to my roster. My fellow owners had lives. I had football.

Portis was a revelation as an edge rusher in Mike Shanahan’s offense. He rushed for over 1500 yards and 15 touchdowns as a rookie. I was disappointed when Joe Gibbs converted him to a power back in 2004, even with the 47 touchdowns he’s scored for Washington (not counting his three touchdown passes). Whether Portis can recapture his Broncos mojo with Shanahan in Washington remains to be seen, but will be fun to watch. Ironically, Shanahan may be the biggest impediment to Portis’ fantasy performance. Shanny converted to running-back-by-committee (RBBC) in his old age. Larry Johnson’s and Willie Parker’s presence in Washington roster says Shanahan’s going RBBC on Portis.

The take-away lesson? Championships are won by fantasy teams with strength in the middle of the roster. It’s easy to draft your first rounder. Late round picks involve luck as much as skill. The trick is to hit on a well-chosen middle rounder, like Terry Allen, or to discover a fantasy free agent with potential, like Clinton Portis, before the other owners do. Building a fantasy roster isn’t much different than building real ones.

Draft advice

1. Don’t draft stars from your favorite team because they are on your favorite team. The corollary is don’t avoid player on teams you hate because you hate their team. Like real life, fantasy GMs need to be ruthlessly dispassionate and pick players with the best potential to score. This was the single hardest lesson for me to learn. Whatever your views of Redskins and Cowboys, if you had to choose between Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb, pick Romo for his greater fantasy potential. It’s OK. You get used to rooting against the Cowboys while hoping Romo has a big day.

2. Draft running backs early. Not every running back mind you. After the top nine or ten backs, talent levels out. Any of the remaining NFL starters will do as well as any other starter in a performance scoring league. Beware of RBBC teams.

With the rise of spread formations in pro football, I wonder how much longer this rule will apply. However, more receivers on the field don’t mean more better receivers. Good wide-outs who are reliable scorers are hard to find, a fact well known to Redskins fans. Running backs first is still good draft policy, but trends may be shifting.

3. Diversify your team across the league. Sure, the Minnesota Vikings may be the most talented offense in the NFC, but you’ll only get into trouble if you stock your roster with Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and the Viking defense. You will have trouble with the starting roster for the Vikings’ bye week and these guys could drag you down if Minnesota has a bad year. They might win you a Fantasy Bowl, but the risks aren’t worth it when you can select comparable scorers from other teams.

4. You don’t need a premier quarterback to win a fantasy bowl. Most scoring systems assign half the point value for a touchdown pass as for a touchdown run or reception. Running backs and wide receivers get you more fantasy points than quarterbacks. So, take care to get quality rushers and wide-outs first. Quarterbacks who will score 30 TD passes are the exceptions. So are running quarterbacks. Fantasy football loves running quarterbacks. If you can get Peyton Manning or Tom Brady early, do it. If Michael Vick emerges as Eagles starter, grab him. Otherwise, wait until a later round.

5. Pick kickers by their team and pick teams that are very high scoring or very low scoring. Kickers for high scoring teams have lots of point-after conversions. Kickers for low scoring teams have lots of field goal opportunities. After that, all kickers are pretty even.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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