Training camps are in full swing in different parts of the country. With that in mind, this is a prime opportunity to look at some of the biggest fantasy football questions heading into the season. Eight divisions, 32 teams, 32 questions. Every team has something intriguing to think about heading into training camp and also fantasy draft season. Let’s dive into them and continue with the NFC East.
One Big Fantasy Question – NFC East Edition
Philadelphia Eagles – Can Carson Wentz Finish As A Top-Five Quarterback This Year?
Wentz was handed the reigns of the Eagles offense in his rookie season after they traded the “starter” Sam Bradford to Minnesota. Wentz played well and showed promise as to why he was worthy of a number two overall selection. He followed that up with a sensational, MVP-caliber, season that unfortunately got derailed by a late-season knee injury. He ended up having a torn ACL and was a spectator on the Eagles’ historic Super Bowl run. Wentz was still hurt coming into the 2018 campaign and was able to rely on the reigning Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles, to play while he healed in the early part of the season. When he did come back, Wentz looked timid at times and was a shadow of himself from the 2017 season.
Now we enter 2019 and Foles has signed with the Jaguars to be their starting quarterback. This is Wentz’s show again and the hope is that he can have the same success that he did in his rookie and sophomore seasons. One thing that made Philadelphia’s offense so successful in 2017, was the run game. After finishing sixth in rushing attempts and third in rushing yards, the Eagles then followed it up by finishing 20th in rushing attempts and 28th in rushing yards the following season. For Wentz to have any kind of success, the offense needs to be more balanced.
That is one reason why they acquired Jordan Howard from the Bears to be their bell cow in the backfield. They also have Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood returning, along with a new addition from the draft in Miles Sanders. With all this talent in the running back corps, you should worry very little that the running game should come back to life in 2019.
Flipping to the passing game, the Eagles went and brought back DeSean Jackson to add to their receiving roster. They still have Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor and they went and drafted JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the second round of the draft. Let’s also not forget they have arguably the best tight end in the game in Zach Ertz, to add into this passing offense. Now even though the Eagles threw the ball more than ran it, Wentz enjoyed his most accurate season to date, posting a completion percentage of 69.6%. This means he is taking more time to throw the right pass and adapt to what the defense shows him.
So looking at the state of his offense, Wentz should be in the driver’s seat to claim a spot in the top-five when it comes to fantasy quarterbacks. With the league shifting to more of a passing league, there are lots of contenders every year.
If the running game gets established with Howard leading the charge, this should take some pressure off Wentz and the passing offense. This can lead to the passing offense being more dangerous because of the level of unpredictability coming from the offense.
With Jackson coming into the offense again as a deep threat, this offense just adds another element to an already lethal attack. So Wentz will have every opportunity to make the top-five as a fantasy quarterback, the question is whether he will seize it? Yes, he will.
Projected Draft Round:
Carson Wentz – 7th, Jordan Howard – 7th, Miles Sanders – 11th, Corey Clement – 14, Alshon Jeffery – 5th, DeSean Jackson – 9th, Nelson Agholor – 13th, JJ Arcega-Whiteside – Undrafted, Zach Ertz – 2nd
Dallas Cowboys – Can Amari Cooper Replicate His Success From Last Season?
Going back to his days at Alabama, the thing that made Cooper dangerous was being able to operate in an offense that had a legitimate running game. In his down year in Oakland, the running game was not consistent enough to make it a threat. This allowed the defense to add coverage to Cooper and relegated him to pedestrian numbers. Cooper had good times in Oakland, but that was tied to the running game. Latavius Murray was a 1,000-yard rusher in Cooper’s rookie year and the running game as a whole rushed for 1,922 yards in his second year.
Now being in Dallas, Cooper gets to play with the likes of Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott has come into the league and has averaged 1,349 rushing yards per season in his first three seasons, which includes a shortened year where he was suspended for six games. This is a guy who can do damage on the ground when he has the ball in his hands. This means that Cooper has no worries about being the focal point of the Dallas offense. He is the true number one receiver in a questionable receiving crew and he can live with that. Cooper helped Dallas, especially Dak Prescott, finish the season last year with a 7-2 record and a first-round victory in the playoffs. Being with the team from the first day of camp will allow Cooper to further gel with Prescott and really become the main option in the passing game.
So can Cooper replicate his success? If history has taught us anything, it’s that Cooper excels when he has a stable, productive, rushing attack to play off of. If Elliott does not fit that description, then describe a better running back. Cooper has really blossomed into a true threat on the outside and a key factor to the Cowboys making the playoffs again in 2019. Expect Cooper to put up solid numbers again this season, barring serious injury. Mark it down, Cooper will have his best season as a pro in 2019.
***All this barring Elliott ends his holdout and is suited up for week 1.
Projected Draft Round:
Amari Cooper – 2nd, Dak Prescott – 10th, Ezekiel Elliott – 1st
Washington Redskins – Is Adrian Peterson Going To Be Fantasy Relevant This Season?
Peterson had a bit of a zombie year last season – came back from the fantasy grave. He ended up finishing 16th among running backs and was a dependable option in the offense. The return of Derrius Guice to the lineup changes things for the Redskins backfield.
Guice was drafted in 2018 and he was looking to take the starting job in the Redskins backfield. He ended up tearing his ACL in his first preseason game and this led Washington to sign Peterson to the team. Guice is a gifted runner and if he stays healthy, will be the lead guy in the backfield. The question becomes how much do they want to risk by having Guice be a three-down back. He injured himself early in the season so he has been doing nothing but rehabbing. His age will also make a difference as he can bounce back from a difficult injury like that and be almost the same runner.
Peterson will remain relevant in this offense, but his lead dog status is now over. Before, he could be the main guy with the likes of Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, and Robert Kelley fighting for the scraps. In this case, Peterson will be able to get more touches than the rest of the Redskin running backs, but Guice is the number one now.
Thompson can earn some touches in the passing game, and Peterson may be sprinkled in as well. Guice is strictly a running back and will be utilized very little in the passing offense. Peterson will earn his paycheck by spelling Guice and coming in on passing downs. So while he may not be worth a starting role in your lineup, he may be a good bench player and a handcuff in case Guice goes down at all.
Projected Draft Round:
Derrius Guice – 6th, Adrian Peterson – 12th, Chris Thompson – Undrafted, Samaje Perine – Undrafted, Robert Kelley – Undrafted
New York Giants – Who Is Worth Drafting Besides Saquon Barkley?
Maybe this question is a little extreme. The main point is that is there anyone worth a starting roster spot in your lineup besides Barkley? We all know with the trade of Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns, Barkley has now become the face of the franchise. He will be the main funnel that this offense goes through. The Giants did go out and sign Golden Tate in the offseason. While Tate is a very talented receiver, he is no OBJ, and he is currently suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season.
Besides Tate, the wide receiver room has grown and added a bunch of new faces. Corey Coleman (who tore his ACL just two days into camp), Cody Latimer, and Bennie Fowler III will be trying to fill the void left by Beckham Jr. and that is no small feat. The one thing that can be said is that there is more talent in this receiver room than in previous seasons. Sterling Shepard also returns to this offense and so does tight end, Evan Engram. So this passing offense can be good, but that will depend on consistency from the quarterback position.
Eli Manning is good, but his hot seat could not have gotten any hotter with the drafting of Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in this most recent draft. Jones is the future and the front office thinks he can learn more from sitting at least one year to learn the system. While that is a great idea, the play of Manning may dictate a quicker switch compared to whatever their plan is. Manning needs to be able to move this offense down the field and really get Barkley the ball anyway that he can. This will let him keep his job longer than if he plays poorly and constantly gets the team in a situation where they have the throw their way out.
So Barkley is arguably the number one overall pick in fantasy drafts, but after that, the case for any other Giant being in your starting roster is pretty thin. It really rests on the hands of Manning to make the passing offense relevant. Shepard and Tate hold value as far as receivers are concerned, but neither would be starters when there are better options on other teams.
Engram had a bit of a down year last season, but he could become more relevant this year with the loss of OBJ. All those targets have to go somewhere and they will be going in Engram’s direction. Couple that with a questionable tight end group in fantasy, Engram could be worth a starting tight end spot and Tate/Shepard may be inserted as a WR3 based on street cred. Draft smart and you won’t have to make a decision to draft a Giants player besides Barkley but if you have to, Engram and Tate would the two to target.
***Golden Tate’s suspension appeal is still currently pending.
Projected Draft Round:
Saquon Barkley – 1st, Evan Engram – 5th, Golden Tate – 7th, Sterling Shepard – 8th, Eli Manning – Undrafted, Cody Latimer – Undrafted, Bennie Fowler III – Undrafted, Corey Coleman – Undrafted