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Overcoming the Shanahanigans
Philadelphia, PA ( - During his last five seasons in Denver and first in Washington, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan earned a fickle reputation when it came to running backs.

He appeared to put that reputation to rest last season when he discovered Alfred Morris in the sixth round and gave him 335 carries.

But the Shanahanigans, er, shenanigans, are back.

During the last four games, backup Roy Helu and fullback Darrell Young have each had a three-touchdown game, and QB Robert Griffin III threw touchdowns of one, eight and 11 yards last Thursday against Minnesota.

Morris still has been the workhorse, getting 87 carries in that span, but he's scored just two touchdowns.

There's really no explanation for not using Morris near the goal line -- he's 5-foot-10, 218 pounds, has averaged 4.9 yards per carry for his career and scored 13 rushing touchdowns as a rookie -- other than trying to throw the opponent off.

That's exactly why fantasy owners should be buying Morris as a top-five running back for the final six (or seven, depending on the league) games of the season.

Fantasy owners should realize that Shanahan doesn't usually stick with any strategy for more than a few weeks.

His next trick to "out-smart" opponents near the goal line will be the one he went with often last season: handing the ball to Morris.

Washington has been getting in the red zone a ton; it has averaged 12.3 red- zone plays per game over the last four weeks. With Morris galloping for 5.2 yards per carry and Griffin III working in perfect sync with receiver Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed, there should be plenty more red-zone opportunities down the stretch for Washington.

And with the way Morris is running the ball -- at least 4.8 yards per carry and one 20-yard gain in seven of the last eight games -- he's perfectly capable of breaking off a couple of long touchdowns from outside the red zone anyway.

The 24-year-old running back will find a way to finish the season with 1,500 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

That is, as long as Shanahan doesn't suddenly get the urge to call up Tatum Bell, Selvin Young, Mike Bell or any of the other backs he fell in love with for a few weeks when he coached the Broncos.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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