If you were busy having a life in some way last night around 9 p.m. ET when word that Robert Griffin III won’t play today began to trickle out (personally, I was watching Braveheart while being festive with a hearty glass of rum and egg nog), you’re probably waking up to horrific news right about now.
Pick that chin up, friend. Yes, the highest-scoring fantasy player is out, which is crushing. But you knew Griffin missing a week was a strong possibility the moment his grade 1 LCL sprain occured last Sunday. We all may have been guilty of getting a little too giddy when he was able to practice in a limited capacity throughout the week, and there were pleasant, cheery words about his play coming from the likes of Kyle and Mike Shanahan. But when Jay Glazer reported Friday afternoon that Griffin hadn’t taken even a single practice rep with the first-team offense yet, the possibility of Sunday pain became very real. This isn’t over yet either, as injury expert Jene Bramel notes that Griffin should be “closer to playing” next week, but he’ll still go through a week of limited practice time and cautious preparation (*shivers*) .
And so semi-final week without Griffin will begin in a matter of hours, as he won’t even be active, leaving Rex Grossman to be Kirk Cousins’ backup. Hopefully if you weren’t confident in your QB2 you made a waiver claim on one of our five recommendations earlier in the week, or hell, the guy on the opposite sideline today is still a fine desperation play. But the fantasy impact of Griffin’s absence extends beyond the quarterback, in my view hitting two other major areas and players:
Pierre Garcon: Garcon has become RG3′s overwhelmingly favorite target. Of Griffin’s 47 pass attempts over his last two games, 20 of them were directed at Garcon. That in turn led to 13 of Griffin’s 28 completions over the same stretch landing in Garcon’s hands. Cousins looked more than capable late in the Redskins’ win last week, but the sample size he’s given us is simply miniscule. That makes trusting Garcon during the second most important fantasy week of the season when his connection with Griffin is absent very difficult. He’s gone from potentially being a low-end WR2 with Griffin, to a flex play at best.
Alfred Morris: You’re still starting Morris. Let’s get that out of the way now, because benching a running back who’s rushed for 366 yards over Washington’s last three games is a move which would be far less than intelligent. However, with Cousins under center the Redskins’ trademark read-option offense is gone, and while Morris will surely be leaned on heavily today to support a rookie quarterback in his first career start, the loss of a unique offense that forces defenders into split-second decisions on nearly every play could be devastating. But maybe it won’t, as Kyle Shanahan told NFL Network that the read-option is actually only used on about nine times per game. Either way, prepare yourself for some tougher running for Morris as he possibly faces eight men in the box more often.