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With RGIII benched, is Kirk Cousins worth starting?

Normally, I'd have led this off by saying the Redskins season is spiraling out of control. However, that ship set sail a long time ago. The descent into complete chaos continues to reach record depths.

Kirk Cousinswill replaceRobert Griffin III as the starting quarterback this Sunday when the Redskins visit the Atlanta Falcons. Rex Grossman has been named the backup. RGIII isn't simply getting benched, he will be inactive. Effectively, he's off the Redskins QB depth chart altogether.

The Redskins haven't announced if this move will extend through the rest of the season, but ... come on. Why would Washington, who has been out of the playoff race for a while, decide to bench him for Week 15 and then bring him back for either of the two final meaningless games on the schedule? It isn't official, but feel free to assume we've seen the last of RGIII until 2014.

RGIII has been a notable fantasy disappointment this year. He threw for 300 or more yards in each of the first three games this season, then hasn't done it since. He's thrown for a total of two touchdowns and two interceptions in his three most recent starts.

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We don't have a great deal of data to use when analyzing Kirk Cousins' fantasy prospects. He got mop-up time in a pair of blowout losses this season, which doesn't really count for much since he was playing with a completely demoralized team and got zero first-team reps during the preceding week. It was the same deal for Cousins last year, with one notable exception. He got a mid-December start in Cleveland after RGIII was ruled out a few days before the game. The outcome? 26 for 37, 329 yards, two TDs and one pick. You'd take that if someone offered it to you right now as a spot start, wouldn't you? Yeah, so would I.

So, it's safe to say Cousins has the ability to perform when he's given sufficient time to prepare. But the Redskins were in a playoff chase last year, so I have major concerns that his teammates will be as responsive this time around. I understand the Redskins get a crack at an awful Falcons defense this week, but with playoffs going on in almost every fantasy league out there, risking your season on Cousins would only be advisable in the most extreme circumstances.

If you had the misfortune of now only owning, but starting RGIII this year, some better replacement options than Cousins may include Ryan Tannehill (still owned in only 10% of fantasy leagues) who gets a shot at a poor Patriots defense this week, Alex Smith (65% owned) visiting Oakland and Josh McCown (16% owned), who will take his show on the road and visit the reeling Browns. Before taking the plunge on McCown, you may want to pay close attention to the weather in Cleveland this weekend (snow is expected) and also obviously make sure Jay Cutler isn't given the green light to return to action this week.

John Juhasz is a fantasy editor at Follow him on Twitter: @JohnJuhasz

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