The Juggernaut Index is our annual ranking of NFL teams for fantasy purposes. Repeat: FOR FANTASY PURPOSES. This is not an NFL power ranking. We're not predicting wins and losses here. In fact, we don't care about such things. Instead, we're reviewing each team's projected fantasy contributions — that's it.
If Washington's primary offseason goal was to assemble a dominant 2005 fantasy roster, then the franchise has succeeded spectacularly. Five years ago, this collection of names would have absolutely steamrolled your league:
QB – Donovan McNabb(notes), 22.3 fantasy PPG in '05
RB – Larry Johnson(notes), 21.0 PPG
RB – Clinton Portis(notes), 15.0 PPG
WR – Santana Moss(notes), 12.6 PPG
WR – Joey Galloway(notes), 11.8 PPG
TE – Chris Cooley(notes), 7.5 PPG
FL – Willie Parker(notes), 11.5 PPG
That's unbelievable. Washington has six guys who finished in the top-10 at their position in per-game fantasy scoring that season. Not sure how the Redskins failed to sign Rudi Johnson(notes), Torry Holt(notes) and Daunte Culpepper(notes), but whatever. Minor quibble. The original point stands: The 2010 version of the Washington Redskins would be a badass 2005 fantasy football team.
Naturally, they hired Mike Shanahan as their head coach. He hasn't been to the playoffs since '05, when he guided the Broncos to 13 wins and a division title.
It's almost as if Washington owner Daniel Snyder suffered a crushing loss in his Yahoo! Plus League championship that year, and he's become singularly obsessed with building a real-life roster that could have won. If true, this would explain the Shaun Alexander(notes) experiment in '08.
In any case, we shouldn't need to tell you that five seasons is an eternity in the NFL, a league where the average career lasts three and a half years. Throwback jerseys are sometimes cool; throwback rosters are not. If the Redskins are going to win games with their current talent, they have a small window in which to do it — like maybe eight or nine weeks.
There's no reason Shanahan's offensive scheme can't be successful in 2010, of course. McNabb seems like a terrific fit for a bootleg/rollout system that moves the pocket and requires a quarterback to throw on the run — and he will need to run, because the offensive line is a patchwork group. That unit was awful last year, and left tackle Chris Samuels(notes), a six-time Pro-Bowler, has since retired. Oklahoma rookie Trent Williams(notes) is expected to replace Samuels, but not all the pre-draft scouting reports on him were glowing. (Check the National Football Post's blurb, via Rivals). He just needs to fit the zone-blocking scheme, however. The addition of two-time Pro Bowl tackle Jammal Brown(notes) will undoubtedly help.
McNabb is coming off another very good year in Philadelphia (3553-22-10), but his old team nonetheless decided that it was time for the Kevin Kolb(notes) Era to begin. At this stage in McNabb's career (he's 33), your main worry is health, not performance. He's averaged only 12.6 games played per season over the past five years. When he's been on the field, he's typically delivered 235 yards and 1.5 TDs while limiting the negative plays. He's occasionally brilliant and nearly always useful. McNabb has been a fantasy asset, no question. And then he gets hurt in Week 11, and you're forced to roll with Kerry Collins(notes).
The Redskins' receiving corps is not a particularly exciting group, though it's worth noting that McNabb had big statistical seasons throwing to the likes of James Thrash(notes) and Todd Pinkston(notes). He can certainly tread water with borderline fantasy starters such as Moss and Cooley. (Galloway, at age 38, cannot be taken seriously). Third-year wideout Devin Thomas(notes) is the one Redskins skill player I've been routinely selecting in early drafts (always in the final rounds). He flashed serious ability last year — notably in the loss to New Orleans (7-100-2) — but tweaks and sprains always seem to interrupt his development. Malcolm Kelly(notes), another member of the 2008 draft class, sounds like he expects a few targets this season, too. Like Thomas, Kelly is a big receiver (6-foot-4) who looks like a playmaker, but has yet to inflict any real damage on NFL opponents.
Fred Davis(notes) would rank as a top-12 fantasy tight end if Cooley wasn't still in the team picture. Davis led Washington in receiving TDs last season (6), filling in admirably when Cooley was lost for the year with an ankle injury. The 'Skins aren't loaded with high-end wideouts, so there's a decent chance we'll see Cooley and Davis deployed in a few two-TE formations.
Despite the age at the skill spots, Washington would have placed much higher in this year's Juggernaut Index if the running back situation wasn't so … well, so ridiculous. Portis is the presumptive starter, but with Shanahan at the controls, there may never be a clear hierarchy. All we know for certain is that three high-mileage backs who disappointed us in 2009 — Portis, LJ and Parker — will battle for carries in 2010. That trio combined to score exactly one rushing touchdown last year. (One!) Former sleeper Ryan Torain(notes) appears to be buried on the depth chart, but, again, there's no predicting this coaching staff. While in Denver, Shanahan transformed Peyton Hillis(notes), Selvin Young(notes), Mike Anderson(notes), Olandis Gary and Tatum Bell(notes) into red-hot, must-own fantasy commodities at various times.
Washington's defense was solid last year in terms of yards-allowed (319.7 per game), but they finished dead-last in total takeaways (17). Under coordinator Jim Haslett, the Redskins are expected to employ a 3-4 front (which, as you might have heard, does not please Albert Haynesworth(notes). Odd fact: Haynesworth has reportedly shed 32 pounds during the offseason. Doesn't sound like a man who's preparing to play nose tackle). The best IDP options on the roster appear to be linebackers London Fletcher(notes) (142 tackles in '09), Brian Orakpo(notes) (11.0 sacks, 50 tackles), Andre Carter(notes) (11.0 sacks, 62 tackles) and Rocky McIntosh(notes) (94 tackles), as well as DB LaRon Landry(notes) (90 tackles).
And with that, young Hogs, we invite your thoughtful comments…
Photo via Getty Images
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