Jordan Reed ranks high on fantasy list, Kirk Cousins lands near the middle

When it comes to ESPN’s initial fantasy football rankings, voters believe in some players on the Washington Redskins, but there's some skepticism in others.

The list, released Friday, shows confidence in some Redskins (notably tight end Jordan Reed), doubt in others (running back Matt Jones) and a mixed sense with some (quarterback Kirk Cousins). The receivers could be hurt for a simple reason: Who will get most of the targets and how does Josh Doctson’s arrival impact them? It makes the Redskins stronger, but from a fantasy perspective it leads to questions.

For the record, the work that goes into this is extraordinary -- it’s an intense two days of presentations, with experts ranging from various beat reporters to analysts such as Louis Riddick and Jeff Saturday providing their insight and opinions on certain players. It doesn’t make it foolproof, but it’s not a list thrown together lightly. (I’m not a voter.)

Regardless, here’s how the Redskins look from a fantasy perspective with each player's ranking among his position groups in parenthesis:

QB Kirk Cousins (14): Cousins finished last season with the eighth most fantasy points so perhaps this ranking is reflects doubts that he can duplicate his 2015 numbers. What Cousins showed in the final nine games last season was that, with healthy skill players, he knew how to make it work. Although the schedule looks tougher on paper, it’s way too early to know how those teams will truly fare this season. And Cousins plays six games against the NFC East -- as of now, those defenses would all project to the bottom half of the league. Last year, Cousins was 27th entering the season.

RB Matt Jones (25): Jones showed some flashes as a rookie, but we still don’t know if he can handle a full load over 16 weeks. In six of his 13 games last year he averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry and his yards-after-contact average of 1.44 ranked 45th. In his last 10 games his longest run was 20 yards. But Jones admitted he learned a lot last season. He has ability and will get opportunities. The Redskins should be more of a passing team this season, which might limit Jones’ touches, but it could result in good holes out of a spread attack. Voters are right to keep him low at this point.

WR DeSean Jackson (33): He dropped 14 spots from where he was entering last season. Playing only nine games didn’t help so from a fantasy perspective you’d have to wonder where he’s headed. But it was clear that, when healthy, Jackson made a tremendous difference in the offense and remains a big-play target. Cousins had a 124.2 passer rating when targeting him and averaged 11.48 yards per attempt. Jackson’s speed remains paramount to the Redskins’ offense.

WR Josh Doctson (56): Washington really likes Doctson and would not have selected any other receiver in the first round. He’s potentially a strong red zone target. But until we see him in a game, it’s hard to know what he’ll do.

WR Pierre Garcon (60): Garcon caught 72 passes with six touchdowns last year and the coaches remain high on him. I’ve never received any indication otherwise. But the question is: Who will be most affected by the arrival of Doctson and the continued emergence of Reed? My guess is that uncertainty led to Garcon dropping 16 spots from where he was last year.

WR Jamison Crowder (87): He had a strong rookie season with 59 catches but with Crowder it’s all about thinking someone’s targets will decrease. He’s their main slot receiver, but the Redskins can use packages with Jackson in the slot, too, alongside Doctson and Garcon.

TE Jordan Reed (2): He’s right where he should be. Reed finished second among tight ends in fantasy scoring last season. There’s no doubt he’s the guy who powers the engine on this offense. Yes, he’ll see more attention but it’s not as if he was only guarded one-on-one last year -- far from the case. Cousins had a 130.1 passer rating while targeting him. In the last eight games, with a healthy Jackson on the outside, Cousins had a 147.5 rating while throwing to Reed. The only question for Reed remains to be durability.

K Dustin Hopkins (26): I’m surprised that he’s so low. That must reflect doubt about him repeating what was an excellent first season in Washington. He made 25 of 28 field goals and 39 of 40 extra points. He ranked 14th among kickers in scoring last year and if the Redskins’ offense plays as they hope, then Hopkins should be right around where he was in 2015.