- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2011

In reality, the Redskins are bad. In fantasy, they’re worse. You would think it impossible in the NFL’s Golden Age of Offense for a team to be mostly devoid of players worth populating a fantasy roster. But the Redskins are that team.

Injuries have played a role — to an extent. Washington lost its top runner and receiver — Tim Hightower and Santana Moss — to a torn ACL and broken hand, respectively. Hightower is gone for the season, and Moss won’t return for a few more weeks. But even before the injuries, neither was of any help to fantasy owners.

Moss, who was the Redskins’ only dependable fantasy option the past few seasons, had just 25 catches for 301 yards and 1 TD before getting hurt at Carolina in Week 7. Hightower was hurt in that game, too. He had 88 yards when he was knocked out, but just 65 in the previous two games. His initial promise had faded amid Mike Shanahan’s latest running back carousel long before the reality of his season-ending injury.

Looking ahead, there’s no sign anyone on the offense will step up.

John Beck is two starts into his Redskins career after replacing a typically ineffective Rex Grossman. He threw a touchdown and ran for another against Carolina, but he was sacked 10 times in a shutout loss this past weekend to Buffalo. He’s less likely to make mistakes, but also less likely to make big plays. He has thrown 2 TDs in his career. If he’s on your roster, your roster’s too big by about 14 bench positions.

And don’t get too excited about Ryan Torain, who is the “starter” in Hightower’s absence. In the past two games, he’s gained 9 yards on 10 carries.

Receivers? If I could name the starters, I’d warn you to stay away from them.

The only potentially viable option is tight end Fred Davis, who already had taken over as No. 1 at the position before Chris Cooley was put on injured reserve with hand and knee injuries. Davis is having a very good year under the radar (36 catches for 517 yards and 2 TDs), but now he’s hurt, too (sprained ankle), and anyone who watched the Redskins against the Bills last week knows that yards and touchdowns will be at a premium the rest of the season.

The reality is that expecting any Redskin to be a factor on an offense struggling to find an identity is pure fantasy at this point.

The Redskins’ ineptitude saved me from a midseason awards column. But to brighten up this space a bit, I’ll give you my two cents on who I believe is in contention for fantasy MVP at quarterback, running back and receiver heading into the second half of the season.

QB: The sexy pick is Panthers rookie Cam Newton, who has thrown and run for at least 1 TD in six of eight games. But he’s not as valuable as the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, who hasn’t thrown for less than 297 yards in any game. Rodgers has thrown 20 TDs and run for 2 more, which means he’s averaging slightlymore than 3 TDs per game (Newton is averaging slightly more than 2).

RB: The Eagles’ LeSean McCoy and the Bills’ Fred Jackson get a lot of consideration as dual threats having career years. McCoy is tied for the league lead with 10 TDs (8 rushing, 2 receiving), and Jackson already has five 100-yard games and 1,074 total yards (second only to the Bears’ Matt Forte) to go with 6 rushing TDs. But like Rodgers, the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson is more than living up to the hype. He leads the league with 798 yards rushing and 9 TDs, and if last week is any indication, he’s going to become more of a receiving threat with rookie Christian Ponder at quarterback. Peterson caught 5 passes for 76 yards and a 19-yard score in a win over the Panthers.

WR: No debate here. While he’s cooled off from his 32-TD pace in the first month (2 TDs in each of the first four games), the Lions’ Calvin Johnson leads all non-QBs with 11 TDs in eight games. In the past four games, while his TD total has declined, his average yards per game has increased from 80 to 121.