Scoutlook: Redskins' Wide Receivers

The Redskins have one of the better WR tandems in the NFL between Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Fantasy Football Expert Mark Morales-Smith dissects the potential of each receiver after both enjoyed career-best seasons in 2013.

The Washington Redskins have a plethora of weapons for Robert Griffin III to throw to. Their receiving corps is headlined by point-per-reception monster Pierre Garcon and boom-or-bust free-agent acquisition DeSean Jackson. While the assumption is the presence of two topflight wideouts will diminish the production of both, the truth is the stars complement each other perfectly. Garcon is a high-volume, move-the-chains receiver, and Jackson is most effective when blowing the top off a defense. If utilized properly, the duo could head one of the most explosive aerial assaults in the NFL.

Garcon is coming off the most productive season of his six-year career by far. He emerged as RG3’s go-to guy. The former sixth-round pick was targeted 184 times last season and totaled 113 receptions, 1,346 yards and five touchdowns. The Mount Union alum thrives off of underneath throws; he ranked first among all WRs with 795 short-pass receiving yards. When the pressure is on RG3, Garcon is his outlet.

The arrival of Jackson should only help Garcon’s value by drawing away defensive attention. Garcon’s current ADP (32.81) has him as the No. 12 WR off the board. While he has the potential to catch more than 100 passes again, a few extra red-zone targets could go a long way to increasing his fantasy value. Garcon could realistically finish the season as fantasy’s No. 8 WR. Considering Jay Cutler’s tunnel vision toward Brandon Marshall, Keenan Allen’s potential sophomore slump, and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb splitting targets, Garcon could easily surpass them. He is worth a mid-second-round pick in 12-team PPR leagues.

D-Jax will be the deep threat in Washington. He may be the best in the league at what he does, and the Redskins definitely need his special set of skills Last season, the Redskins totaled only 1,575 vertical yards, sixth-fewest in the NFL. The former Eagle finished the year fifth among wide receivers with 905 vertical yards. His eight vertical TDs led all WRs. Jackson’s only real competition for deep targets are Andre Roberts, who will most likely be an afterthought much like he was in Arizona last season, and 35-year-old Santana Moss, whose best days are far behind him.

Jackson is being greatly undervalued this season. Coming off a season with 82 receptions, 1,332 yards, and nine touchdowns, his ADP (51.17) has him being drafted as the No. 23 WR. It’s fair to expect a drop in targets after leaving Chip Kelly’s high-tempo offense, but it should be easier for Jackson to get open since defenses will be obligated to respect Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed. With such dominant players catching passes underneath, it’s a safe bet that we will see Jackson running free downfield quite often this year. Jackson will emerge as a sure-fire WR2 in all formats this season.

From L to R: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Robert Griffin III

Reed and Roberts are the pass-catchers most likely to take targets away from Garcon and Jackson. Reed, who caught 45 passes and three TDs in just nine games last season, could have an impact on Garcon’s underneath and red-zone targets. He is an excellent tight end, and RG3 really loves to get the ball to him when he’s healthy. Roberts, on the other hand, should have minimal negative effect on Garcon or Jackson. Defenses will have to respect him, but Roberts cannot match the athleticism and size of Garcon, and perhaps nobody in the league can match what Jackson does stretching the field. As the No. 3 WR in Arizona last season, Roberts had his worst statistical output since his 2010 rookie campaign, catching just 43 passes for 471 yards and two TDs. The attention that Roberts will draw away from Garcon and Jackson will have to compensate for the lack of targets he receives. The former Cardinals receiver only has fantasy value if Jackson or Garcon is injured.

First-year head coach Jay Gruden should have no problem finding enough passes to go around. Gruden is an offensive guru and loves to air the ball out early and often. With Gruden as his offensive coordinator last season, Andy Dalton threw the ball 586 times, eighth-most in the league. Dalton’s pass attempts increased each season under Gruden, who is responsible for the development of superstar WR A.J. Green and the emergence of Marvin Jones as a formidable No. 2 WR. No disrespect to Jones, but he does not have near the talent of either Jackson or Garcon.

Under head coach Mike Shanahan last season, Griffin and backup QB Kirk Cousins combined to throw 611 passes. While that is a pretty high number, the Redskins threw mostly out of necessity, not design. Shanahan is a zone-blocking, run-first coach who does not possess the creativity or dedication to the passing game that coach Gruden does. In 2012, the Redskins’ rookie duo threw only 441 passes, and the team went 10-6. When Shanahan is successful, he’s running the ball. When Gruden is successful, he’s airing it out. This bodes very well for Garcon, Jackson, and all of Washington’s receivers.

Jackson and Garcon will become one of the NFL’s elite duos and maybe the best one-two punch out wide in the league. The way they complement each other so perfectly should make it very easy for Gruden to integrate both of them into his pass-heavy offense. Their skills and athleticism are matched by very few in football, and both WRs are being undervalued this year. You can reach a slight bit for either of them and still receive the value needed to compete for a championship. Even pairing them together is not out of the realm of possibilities when structuring a championship roster. It is very possible Garcon can be had at a WR2 price, which is fantastic value. The former Colts WR could finish the season among the Top 10 at his position. While if Jackson falls to you as a WR3, he could be the steal of your draft. His big-play potential in the fifth-round is difficult to match.

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