Fantasy Implications: NFC East Divisional Breakdown – by Matty Daniels

nyg

New York Giants

Quarterback – Eli Manning

People like to talk bad about Eli and say he is a quarterback who benefits mostly from great defenses. Although true, he probably has the greatest offense he has ever had in his entire career. He has weapons all throughout his skill positions; quality and depth at wide receiver, a great young tight end, one of the greatest running backs to come out of the draft in recent years, and an improved offensive line compared to last year. The Giants also picked up Pat Shurmur to be their next head coach. In 2017 he was the Vikings Offensive Coordinator and made Case Keenum, a QB who was largely thought to be a back-up, into a quality NFL starter and a $20 million a year man in Denver. If Pat can install his offense successfully in New York, this team could win the division. Many analysts talk about the high upside of the skill positions, however, they do not give equal credit to Eli – despite his production being linked to theirs. I predict Eli will be a top 10 fantasy quarterback in 2018, with top 5 upside. Go get you some Eli.

Running Back – Saquon Barkley

He was a human highlight reel in college and was drafted second overall in this year’s NFL draft. Barkley is a complete back as he can catch and pass protect effectively, which will lead to him being present on the field for every down. Without playing an NFL snap, Barkley is already considered a top 10 pick in your fantasy draft. There is not a lot more to say other than his talent is immense, and his opportunity is abundant.

Saquon
Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo

Wide Receiver – Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard

You do not need to be convinced to draft OBJ; he is widely considered one of the top wide receivers in the game and is expected to sign a massive contract before the season starts. Sterling Shepard by default will be facing single coverage defenses, as opposing defenses will be worried about OBJ and Barkley. Shepard will use his quickness to get open on shallow routes and should have several receptions per game throughout the year. I expect him to be a quality low-end WR2 in PPR leagues. Opposing defenses will have to pick their poison when facing the Giants. I expect these receivers to be highly potent in 2018.

Tight Ends – Evan Engram

Engram will be facing a similar situation to Shepard, as opposing defenses will be forced to use single coverage with him so they will have to allocate bodies in order to stop OBJ and Barkley. Engram is coming off a spectacular rookie season; 64 receptions, 722 yards, and 6 TDs. He will continue to be a red zone target for this team and will use his quickness to get separation from linebackers forced to cover him.

DAL

Dallas Cowboys

Quarterback – Dak Prescott

As a Cowboy fan, this is a touchy subject. I hope for Dak to take a step forward in his development, but this team will not change in 2018. While Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan are in control of this offense, your 3-year-old child will be able to predict what play they are about to run. It is widely reported that opposing defenders are telling the Dallas WRs what route they are about to run. However, since we are talking about fantasy, Dak will be relevant and get you points with his legs as he continues to be a rushing threat. The offensive line is good enough to open holes for Ezekiel Elliott, which will result in defenses biting on play action passes. My prediction for Dak is a top 12 fantasy finish, due to his rushing ability.

Running Back – Ezekiel Elliott

He is a top 4 fantasy RB. If he stays healthy all year long, he should finish within the top 3 at the position, thanks to an increased role in the passing game. In the off-season, the Cowboys added much-needed depth to their offensive line and this will undoubtedly help Zeke, despite facing stacked boxes. I am personally drafting Zeke 3rd overall, behind Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley.

Wide Receiver – Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns

The success of the Dallas Cowboys relies solely on their passing game. If these receivers are able to get separation and run successful play-action passes, the run game will be successful. The reports coming out of training camp are that Michael Gallup has earned himself a role in the starting lineup. I believe Gallup and Hurns will be the WR1a/WR1b on this offense. Personally, I would not want to have any of these wide receivers on my team though. There are better wide receiver opportunities in the NFL, and this is just not one of them. I think a realistic expectation would be an even distribution among all receivers on the roster, which makes me feel very uncomfortable relying on any of these guys all season long.

Gallup
Photo Credit: John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

Tight End – None

In camp I have seen reports of several tight ends making plays. Rico Gathers has bulked up and is successful in the red zone. Blake Jarwin was targeted heavily by Dak between the 20’s, and there was a sprinkle of big plays from Geoff Swaim. Until there is a clear-cut starter identified, I’m not sure there is just one guy that will replace Jason Witten. I’d guess the main role of the TE position in 2018 will be to block, which would explain why Rico Gathers gained so much weight during the off-season.

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Washington Redskins

QB – None

I do not foresee Alex Smith cracking the top half of the QB ranks in 2018. Smith had a career year in almost every passing category in 2017, and he is heading to a situation that is a lot less explosive than the Kansas City Chiefs. Quite frankly, he will never see those numbers again. The Redskins focused their attention on improving their defense and the running game. Smith is the perfect fit for what they are trying to accomplish here, as they just need a game manager to be successful. Smith will be a decent week to week streamer, but again, there are plenty of options I would rather have than Smith.

RB – Chris Thompson

Through the first 8 weeks of last year, Chris Thompson was the RB8 on the year in PPR leagues. That was even while sharing the backfield with Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine. Now he gets the “Check-Down King” in Alex Smith. Since 2013, Alex Smith has ranked 20th or lower in Yards per Completion (YPC) except for 2017 when he finished with the 9th highest YPC. Chris Thompson is the fantasy back to own on this team in PPR leagues. For standard leagues, it will be too much of a Running Back By Committee (RBBC). According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Thompson is currently drafted around the 8.01 pick, which is a huge bargain for the value he will produce.

WR – Jamison CrowderPaul Richardson

Crowder is the perfect WR for Alex Smith. He runs great routes and will be a solid option for him to dump passes down to. He is a great target in PPR leagues and will likely be the WR1 on this team for fantasy. Paul Richardson will be a big boom-bust guy and will likely have 3-4 huge games due to a long TD catch. Josh Doctson has an opportunity to grow with a new QB and start fresh.

crowder.jpg
Photo Credit: John McDonnell/The Washington Post

Originally, I was thinking that comparing Doctson to Dwayne Bowe would be an insult. However, while Smith was Bowe’s QB he averaged 58 receptions, 713 yards, and 3 TDs. I will be keeping an eye on their connection throughout the preseason. However, with all being said and done, the only guy I would really target in drafts is Jamison Crowder at the moment but if the Doctson to Smith connection looks promising in the offseason, I’d take a shot on Doctson within the last three rounds.

TE – Jordan Reed

Oh, Jordan Reed! If only he could just stay healthy, he would be contending with Gronk for the TE1 ranking. Owners of Reed are all too familiar with this situation and are more than likely looking elsewhere, or they are handcuffing him with Vernon Davis. My strategy is to draft guys that are reliable, as they do not effectively take two spots on your roster the way a start and handcuff do. My advice is draft at your own risk.

PHI

Philadelphia Eagles

QB – Carson Wentz

Wentz was having a spectacular season before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. By all reports that I have seen, it looks like he might be ready for Week 1. However, I would expect the Eagles to not rush him back to start, as long as Nick Foles is healthy in his absence. Foles’ incredible playoff run last year should provide this team plenty of confidence in his ability to lead the team to victories in Wentz’s absence.

RB – Jay Ajayi

With LeGarrette Blount heading to the Detroit Lions, this looks like Ajayi’s backfield to lose. I’m not convinced Corey Clement will take any significant snaps from Ajayi as long as he stays healthy. The only game that Clement was used significantly in was the Super Bowl, and in every game leading up to that point he was practically cemented to the sideline. Also, one full offseason with the team should give Ajayi the confidence and understanding of his role in this offense. Ajayi is the only RB I would want from this backfield.

WR – Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson AgholorMike Wallace

In 2017, Nelson Agholor enjoyed a breakout season under the new coaching regime. I would not expect any dip in his stats from last year, as he will have the same role and will benefit from a better deep threat in Mike Wallace. Wallace will provide your team with a couple of week-winning performances with 60+ yard bombs. Finally, Alshon Jeffrey will continue to develop his rapport with Wentz, and I predict he will improve his catch rate from last year (47.5%). I’d want Jeffrey on my team the more than his counterparts because he is attainable at a good draft price for a WR1 on a pretty potent offense.

TE – Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz had a great year in 2017 and was the favorite target of Wentz. Ertz is a top 5 TE in fantasy and will continue to be the primary red zone target for Wentz when he returns.

Ertz
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

I do not think anyone doubts Ertz is the man in Philly. For the dynasty owners, I’d hold Dallas Goedert for the long haul. Ertz is signed through 2021 and he does not have a financial out on his contract until after the 2019 season. Honestly, this is a good thing for Goedert as he was an extremely raw TE coming out of the draft. Learning from Ertz will only make him better when his time comes. If you missed out on Goedert during your rookie draft, I would definitely send an offer mid-season, as he will likely not be providing any points to the owners’ team.

by Matty Daniels – @MattyD285

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