With the 2020 NFL season fast approaching, so is the fantasy football draft season.
To help get you ready, Sportsnet’s Andy McNamara will break down a division position by position every Friday until the start of the campaign.
Next up: the NFC East.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
The fantasy quarterback leader in the NFC East is Prescott – and sorry folks, it’s not even close.
Finishing second in fantasy points only behind Lamar Jackson, the Cowboys pivot slung it for almost 5,000 yards along with 30 touchdowns through the air and three more on the ground in 2019. Add dynamic rookie receiver CeeDee Lamb to the mix along with the plethora of weapons already on staff, and Prescott definitely has the most loaded offence in the division.
The 26-year-old’s 2020 average draft position (ADP) currently sits around the late fourth round. That’s not a bad spot to grab a QB poised for another top-five finish.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
A QB9 last season, Wentz is once again going to need to lean on his tight ends and running backs after being saddled with an underwhelming receiving unit. Wentz played in 16 games for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2019. If he can stay healthy again, I see a similar stat line of 4,000-plus yards, single-digit turnovers and high-20s for TDs.
Snagging the North Dakota State alum at his current 11th-round ADP is a great strategy to load up on other talents while still securing a back-end starter at QB.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Entering his sophomore season as the undisputed starter, Jones is an intriguing fantasy prospect. Putting up four 300-yard passing outings with an 18-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio from Oct. 27 onward last season was an encouraging sign of growth from the then-rookie.
Personally, I would balance a Jones draft choice with a solid backup like a Derek Carr or Ryan Tannehill, just in case.
Dwayne Haskins, Washington
Haskins possesses all the physical tools to grow into a productive NFL starter. Do I want the former Buckeye as my fantasy quarterback? Oh my, no! A new offence to learn and an unexciting arsenal at his disposal eliminates Haskins from any sort of conversation.
What a stacked division for running backs. It’s a pick’em for me when it comes down to Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley for the second-best fantasy rusher behind Christian McCaffrey.
Elliott doubled his touchdown production on the ground year-over-year from six to 12 in 2019 and remained a viable passing option with 54 catches. In any format, Elliott needs to be drafted between second and fifth overall.
New York Giants
The crown jewel of New York’s attack runs through Barkley. Even after hurrying back from an ankle injury, the star back still snuck over the 1,000-yard rushing mark and contributed 54 catches in 13 games.
Whether your league is standard or PPR, Barkley is a no-brainer top-three draft selection.
With Jordan Howard off to Miami, Miles Sanders enters his second season as a bona fide RB1. Boston Scott and Corey Clement are just spot relievers in the Eagles backfield.
As Sanders was eased into NFL life in 2019, his excellent 4.6-yards per carry and 50 receptions really stood out. Those numbers suggest that an increased workload could catapult him up into being one of the 12-best fantasy running backs.
Don’t overlook Sanders in your fantasy draft’s second wave of rushers with so many committees around the league.
The seemingly never-ending knee injuries of Derrius Guice makes him a cross-your-fingers fringe-flex player at best. There’s a ton of upside but with only five games played over two seasons, how much can you trust him? What about Adrian Peterson at 35 in his change-of-pace role?
Rookie Antonio Gibson grabbed attention when new head coach Ron Rivera described him as a Christian McCaffrey-type of “weapon.” That’s heavy praise for a 66th-overall pick who had just 33 carries and 66 total targets in college. The six-foot-two, 221-pound tweener’s ceiling is tantalizing. I’d peg Gibson as a nice addition to a PPR keeper/dynasty league or a late-round flyer in re-draft.
A group consisting of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie Lamb are clearly the best wide receiver class of the NFC East.
In half-PPR, Cooper slid in at No. 9 in 2019, while Gallup was sixth from Weeks 9 through 17. Tossing Lamb into the mix might negatively impact the fantasy value of Gallup the most – there’s only so much ball to go around when you throw Elliott into the mix as well.
Cooper, Lamb and Gallup would be my order of ranking for these Dallas stars.
New York Giants
If I was to sum up the Giants receiving core in a single word it would be “meh.” Nearing 32, Golden Tate is a fringe-flex option in PPR, while Sterling Shepard has never sniffed 1,000 yards and has durability concerns.
Then there’s Darius Slayton. Of the threem, he intrigues the most entering his second season and coming off an eight-touchdown, 48-reception season. Slayton is a borderline WR3 on my board with a higher ceiling, and someone to look for in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
Wideout is the real disappointing spot on this Eagles team. They failed to significantly upgrade on their aging, increasingly frail veterans in DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey.
Choosing a glorified slot receiver in Jalen Reagor 21st overall in April did little to add any fantasy relevance. Stashing Reagor as a future replacement for Jackson in dynasty leagues makes some sense, but I’m not comfortable relying on any of these guys as starters on my 2020 roster.
It’s really easy when deciding on which Washington receiver to focus on. Terry McLaurin is the answer, and no other wideout on this team should be considered.
Imagine what poor Terry could’ve turned out in his inaugural campaign with competent quarterback play? In 14 outings, he amassed 919 yards, seven touchdowns and averaged 15.8 yards per catch.
That landed the former Ohio State stud at 22nd in standard formats and 25th in PPR. If McLaurin can make a full 16 appearances in 2020, he’ll no doubt be in line once again for a ton of targets and solidify himself as a reliable WR2 on any fantasy roster.
Philadelphia possesses the strongest tight end room in the division by far.
Zach Ertz has been a top-five fantasy tight end the past three years and should once again be in that first wave who get drafted at the position.
Surprisingly, Dallas Goedert also possesses fantasy starting capabilities as he finished 10th in half-PPR.
If you decide to wait on selecting a tight end, then Goedert makes a solid late-round scoop.
New York Giants
Entering his fourth NFL campaign, this is the year for Evan Engram to explode as a legitimate TE1. If he can make it through 16 games for the first time in his career, of course.
Hitting the field on only eight occasions in 2019, Engram made an impact when available. The Ole Miss alum racked up the fourth-most fantasy points amongst all tight ends through
the first half of the season.
The Giants’ average wide receiver unit should give Engram ample opportunities to live up to his first-round draft pick potential.
In March, the Cowboys delivered a three-year contract extension to Blake Jarwin, who they are hoping can emerge from the shadow of Jason Witten and become a rising star. There are three other tight ends on the roster, but if you follow the money it leads back to Jarwin getting the shot to succeed.
My question is if there’s enough ball to go around to make the six-foot-five, 260-pounder fantasy relevant with lots of hungry mouths to feed in Cooper, Elliott, Lamb and Gallup. We also don’t know if new head coach Mike McCarthy’s “revamped” and “modernized” offence heavily features the tight end or not.
Jarwin’s a better grab-and-stash for dynasty/keeper situations than someone to count on in 2020.
It’s barely worth writing about Washington’s tight end group, which has zero fantasy value whatsoever with Jeremy Sprinkle and Logan Thomas leading the depth chart. Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss’s son, Thaddeus, was also brought on as an undrafted free agent. His last name is interesting, but not much else as an undersized, injury-prone rookie.