Coach Mike Shanahan has indeed decided to bench Robert Griffin III for the remainder of the season. On Wednesday, Shanahan informed Kirk Cousins that he will make the final three starts, while RG3 will be a healthy scratch. Rex Grossman will serve as Cousins’ backup. Shanahan said the discussions to bench RG3 began last week before the Chiefs game. He pointed to the fact that the Redskins’ season is over, the high number of hits RG3 has taken, and his standing as the team’s quarterback of the future as reasons why last year’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year should be “preserved.” Shanahan also said owner Dan Snyder and GM Bruce Allen were 100 percent on board with the decision.
“At the end of the day we felt that the best thing to do for Robert was to not play him, give Kirk an opportunity to play, so [Griffin] could go into an offseason healthy,” Shanahan said. “We have to do … what is in the best interests of Robert. What is the best thing going forward for him — to have those next three games, the experience of going through those reps, or having him healthy in the offseason?”
It’s debatable whether or not Shanahan is making the right call. He gave a convincing argument in favor of the move at Wednesday’s presser, but it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to sit a player down who is young, needs the reps, and seems to be in good health. Shanahan dismissed the notion that he benched RG3 in an attempt to provoke Snyder into firing him. (Earlier in the week, there was talk that this was part of the reason Shanahan was considering benching RG3.) Griffin clearly doesn’t agree with Shanahan’s decision to sit him down, saying that he “expressed my desire to play.” He later added that “coach’s decision is what we go with.”
Fantasy-wise Griffin can safely be dropped across the board in re-draft leagues. Cousins has a finger-licking good matchup in his first start this week against the Falcons. But his supporting cast has mailed it in. Couple that with Cousins being an average passer, he’s nothing more than a mid-to-low QB2 and is really only an option in two-quarterback leagues. Griffin’s dynasty value obviously remains high. With the ability to get in a full offseason, he’ll be back on the QB1 map for 2014 and will likely be a value pick.
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News Nugget #2
Jay Cutler (ankle) was cleared to practice at full speed Wednesday. He got in a limited session, as the Bears conducted a simple walkthrough following Monday night’s win over the Cowboys. Coach Marc Trestman informed the media that the team planned to put Cutler through a vigorous workout following the walkthrough, one that included Cutler firing passes to his receivers and performing movements in the pocket. Trestman said he would decide on a Week 15 starter Wednesday afternoon and inform the public Thursday. All indications are that Cutler will get the start against the Browns in Cleveland barring setbacks. For what it’s worth, Trestman said he’s optimistic Cutler will make the start.
It’s hard to believe the Bears are turning back to Cutler after Josh McCown filled in admirably during his absence. But Trestman and McCown himself have always said that Cutler is the Bears’ guy once he’s healthy. McCown went 3-2 in five starts and dazzled with an 11:1 TD:INT ratio. He earned himself some money as an impending free agent. The Browns are an underrated defense, but Cutler will be on the QB1 radar – and McCown would be too in the event that he gets the start. The statuses of Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett won’t change. The two receivers are locked-in WR1 plays, Forte is a high-end RB1, and Bennett is on the TE1/2 edge.
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News Nugget #3
Wes Welker (concussion) has officially been ruled out for Thursday night’s game against the Chargers. Welker suffered his second concussion in the span of a month last week and was extremely doubtful to be cleared in time on the short week. Jacob Tamme will fill in as the Broncos’ slot man. He wouldn’t be a horrible plug-and-play option at tight end for desperate Rob Gronkowski owners.
Delanie Walker (concussion) returned to a full practice Wednesday after he was inactive for Week 14. Walker is back just in time for his dream matchup with the Cardinals’ league-worst tight end defense. He was averaging 6.3 catches for 66.3 yards and scored two touchdowns from Weeks 10-12. Fire Walker up as a legitimate TE1 streamer this week.
Eddie Lacy (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that Lacy will go through the rehab process Wednesday and Thursday. He’ll try and practice Friday, but that’s not a given at this point. Owners need to handcuff Lacy with James Starks. Starks would draw the start against the Cowboys and have RB2 appeal in a favorable matchup.
Reggie Bush (calf) played zero snaps last week in Philadelphia after aggravating the injury in pregame warm-ups. The Lions are calling him day-to-day. Bush said Wednesday that he expects to play Monday night against the Ravens. Detroit will hold its first formal practice of the week Thursday. For now, it’s safe to pencil Bush into fantasy lineups as an RB1 on his home turf.
Willis McGahee suffered a concussion during the final minutes of last week’s loss to the Patriots. He was awfully woozy while exiting the field Sunday and didn’t practice Wednesday. McGahee’s status for Week 15 against a painfully bad Bears run defense is in serious doubt. Chris Ogbonnaya would draw the start in his absence and be a worthy RB2/flex option. The Bears have allowed a 100-yard rusher in six straight games.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) was limited Wednesday. He took part in individual drills and even took snaps with the first-team offense. Rodgers will try and push himself harder Thursday. … Matt Cassel will get the start for the Vikings against the Eagles this week. … Brandon Jacobs (injured reserve) had his knee scoped Wednesday. … Marshawn Lynch (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday. We’ve seen him miss numerous practices before playing on Sundays. We’re not concerned at the moment. … Lamar Miller (concussion) practiced in full Wednesday and should be fine to split the load with Daniel Thomas this week against the Patriots. … Darren McFadden (ankle) remained sidelined at practice. Rashad Jennings is practicing in full and is expected to handle his normal workload after missing Week 14. … Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring) hopes to play Sunday but didn’t sound very confident. Jordan Todman would get the start in his place and have some RB2/flex appeal. … Toby Gerhart (hamstring) won’t try and practice until Friday. If he and Adrian Peterson (foot) can’t go, Matt Asiata is next up on the depth chart.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
Percy Harvin’s hip is continuing to act up on him, and coach Pete Carroll said his receiver remains week-to-week. … Doug Baldwin (neck) did not practice Wednesday. Keep an eye on him. Baldwin would have WR3 upside in Week 15 against the Giants. … Michael Crabtree (ankle), DeAndre Hopkins (ankle), and Denarius Moore (shoulder) were all limited on Wednesday. … Randall Cobb (leg, short-term I.R,) has been cleared to resume running. … LaVon Brazill (leg) sat out Wednesday. … Michael Floyd (ankle) did not practice. … Garrett Graham (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. He’ll be a TE1 against the Colts if he plays. … John Carlson was concussed last Sunday and missed practice Wednesday. Rhett Ellison and Chase Ford would handle tight end duties in his absence. … Jordan Reed remains sidelined with his concussion. … Greg Olsen (foot) missed practice but is expected to be fine for Sunday.