2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Don't get excited about anyone in Derrius Guice's absence
With Derrius Guice out for the season, will anyone step up in Washington's backfield? Dave Richard isn't getting excited.
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On a penalized play that got wiped off the stat sheets in a meaningless preseason game, rookie Derrius Guice looked like everything the Redskins needed at running back. He popped through a large hole, accelerated past a defender, spun out of a tackle and then stiff-armed another defender for an extra 15-plus yards.
But he didn't get up. Guice's left leg laid limp on the ground. The initial thought was a sprained MCL, suggesting he'd miss a few weeks. An MRI showed much worse —.
The injury ends Guice's season before it started ... and puts the Redskins run game right back where it ended.
Washington has a lot of imperfect running backs, and only Guice was a potential three-down player. We're probably going to see them use a tandem moving forward where one guy handles first downs, shorter second and third downs, and short-yardage/goal-line work, while another back works longer second and third downs and the two-minute drill. Basically they'll have a running downs back and a passing downs back.
Rob Kelley, who started Washington's preseason game at the Patriots, figures to get the first crack at the running downs role vacated by Guice. He's slimmed down, but was mostly unimpressive in limited snaps Thursday. Last year he averaged 3.1 yards per run.
Behind him is Samaje Perine, a second-year back who slogged along in 2017 when given carries (3.4 rushing average). He kicked off his preseason debut with a bang, slithering his way 14 yards on his first carry and then rumbling for another 15 yards on a play called back by a holding penalty. Perine collected 14 yards over his next five official handoffs.
Remember, Washington liked these guys so much that they went out and drafted Guice back in April.
The passing down situation is a lot easier to figure out. Chris Thompson is Washington's best remaining playmaker at running back, but between his broken leg last year and his admission earlier in training camp that he doesn't feel 100 percent makes him a very risky option as anything more than a role player. He could see maybe five carries and five catches per week.
Byron Marshall is Thompson's backup. He worked passing downs with Guice on Washington's second drive at Foxboro and scored on a broken play. He had five total yards on his remaining three touches including a five-yard run on the final play of the game.
If it sounds like the Redskins have a backfield that should be avoided in Fantasy, you're right!
It doesn't figure to get prettier. Free-agent running back Alfred Morris could rekindle the flame with his old team. Other available running backs like Adrian Peterson and maybe even DeMarco Murray are fun to think about but don't quite move the proverbial needle. Plus, given what we saw from them last year, are they necessarily upgrades over what Washington already has?
A trade could also be in play, though Washington wouldn't want to give up much. The Patriots, Saints, Broncos and Raiders seem to have a surplus of running backs, as do the Eagles but they're not dealing with their division rivals. One pie-in-the-sky deal between the Redskins and Bengals for Giovani Bernard, whom Redskins coach Jay Gruden helped draft to Cincinnati, would give Washington's offense a jolt, but it would also cost at least a third-round pick.
Skipping over the in-house running back corps, for now, seems wise. Aside from Thompson, who could be interesting in PPR formats, there isn't a sleeper we can confidently trust. Kelley and Perine are late, double-digit round considerations on Draft Day — Thompson will get picked ahead of both, but even he's not worth much more than an early Round 10 pick in non-PPR.
It would stand to reason that if the Redskins' run game is in the muck, their passing game will have a lot more on their collective plate. Alex Smith has never thrown more than 508 passes in a season — that'll change after 2018. Without a sustainable run game, expect more targets to go around to all his receivers. Knowing Smith's history and the Redskins' spread-it-around doctrine, it should be a positive for Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and, if he can stay healthy for a quarter or twenty, Jordan Reed.
Those are the Redskins to look for late on Draft Day. They'll benefit the most from Guice's absence.
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