NFC East: WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Is Alfred Morris the same player without RGIII?
Last season, Alfred Morris was the #12 RB in standard scoring leagues. This was actually an improvement upon his 2013 campaign, where he was the 14th best RB. In 2012, he finished as the 5th best RB. Over a three year span, that is about as consistent as it gets from a young RB. While Morris has been largely productive over his three year career, many have brought up concerns that he is not the same player when Robert Griffin III is not playing. The easiest way to determine the validity in that statement is to check Morris’s numbers when RGIII starts, and when he doesn’t.
These numbers suggest there is a pretty clear disparity in Morris’s production when RGIII is in the lineup vs. when he isn’t. Morris put up almost 4 points more per game in standard scoring leagues when RGIII started last year. I’m guessing the gap was even wider in PPR or bonus scoring leagues. The most obvious explanation here is that the threat of Griffin pulling it down and running in a read-option system leads to bigger holes for Morris, and when Griffin is out, that threat disappears. Morris is clearly a talented RB, but this is a case where a player’s value is heavily reliant on a particular system and scheme. Over a full season, 4 points per game is a pretty big deal. It’s the difference between Morris being a low end RB1, and a low end RB2. Now, 8 points per game from a RB isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s pretty average for a fantasy starter. Average players that are taken high in drafts do not result in fantasy championships, and that’s why we play fantasy football. Morris is going as an early third rounder in mock drafts this far, and he will need a healthy RGIII for at least half the season to validate that high of a pick.
Bottom Line: Morris is still valuable without RGIII, but as nothing more than a low end RB2. With RGIII, Morris is a low end RB1. Therefore, we can expect Morris to produce as a high end RB2 as RGIII is likely to miss at least 4 games over a full season.