If you were a Kirk Cousin’s owner last season chances are he helped you in your playoffs and perhaps even in your championship. Ecstatic owners ready for a career season from the young quarterback expected him to pick up where he left off, but instead watched in horror as the Steelers made a mockery of the Redskins offense and even picked off the young quarterback twice. Most people at this point are pushing the panic button, but fear not. Two lost games by the Redskins does not a fantasy season make. Cousins fantasy production should rebound from this sluggish, scary start and in spectacular fashion.
Cousins didn’t start off last year on fire even though his accuracy and TD to INT ratio was astounding throwing for 4,166 yards, which was a team record, and 29 touchdowns and rushing for 5 more with only 11 interceptions. His 74.7% completion record (at home) was in fact an NFL record beating out that of fellow gunslinger Drew Brees. Of course, we can’t forget that Cousins only passed for multiple touchdowns 5 times last season and only twice in the first 13 games, not including his rushing touchdowns of course. Whether this statistic frightens or calms people at this point really depends on if you’re a believer or not, but try not be alarmed. After all, that was with Desean Jackson injured and a total non-factor until week 9, the offensive line young and in flux, and they were also leaning heavily on the run game in the red zone. With a receiving corps flush with talent, size, and speed this year with the likes of Desean Jackson, Josh Doctson, Pierre Garcon, and Jameson Crowder, as well as the tight end duo of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Look for the Redskins to use some 12 personnel packages (2 TE, 2 WR, 1 RB) to help find mismatches, kick-start the run game, and set up the play action.
There are always the naysayers in situations like this who think that last year’s performance was a mere flash in the pan. I’m here to tell you that it wasn’t. One with such great accuracy and poise rarely falls off of the talent wagon in the span of a single offseason. The Steelers defense took complete advantage of the fact that the Redskins running game has become severely weakened with the loss of Alfred Morris and the injury to Keith Marshall. When the Redskins were prepared for the blitzing and the aggressive nature of the Steelers D, they saw mostly zone coverages and the Steelers dropping back into coverage as opposed to pinning back their ears and putting pressure on the quarterback.
In my opinion, people were way too high on Matt Jones coming into this season. The Redskins work hard to be a balanced offense (passing the ball 550 times and running it 450 times last year), but they simply don’t have a running game that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing defenses anymore, thus making their passing attack that much easier to stop. Sure, Jones is getting the lions share of the touches and the opportunity is there, but he is better suited in a committee approach as opposed to a workhorse role. Without the threat of the run opposing defenses are able to stay in nickel, dime, and certain zone coverages thus making the quarterbacks job more difficult. Chris Thompson and Robert Kelly have shown some flashes in the preseason and I expect to see more of them going forward in a concerted effort to get this running game off of the ground and take some pressure off of their passing attack.
The beginning of the season has the uncanny ability to scare many people away from a talented player especially with one that comes with such a small sample size. Where most people are “Selling” this is a great time to “Buy Low” on a quarterback who has shown great promise and put up some amazing numbers in the last three games of the fantasy season. When his team needed him to elevate his game Cousins did exactly that and I look for him to do it again in the days to come. Cousins, with his variety of weapons, should rebound and in spectacular fashion.
Thanks for reading and good luck!