Offseason Moves and Draft Needs: NFC East
In this eight-part series, I go through each division and breakdown offseason moves for each team as well as draft needs. This will focus on the NFC East and how the offseason will impact fantasy football in 2020.
The Eagles transformed this offseason from a bad secondary to a good one. They added Darius Slay and Nickell Robey-Coleman to their secondary as well as resigning Jalen Mills. This is fantasy relevant because they went from two massive needs in the NFL Draft to a glaring need for a wide receiver, owning the 21st overall pick, and a ton of receiver talent likely sitting there at that pick. Currently, the Eagles are -143 on DraftKings to take a receiver with their first-round pick, with a cornerback as the next best odds at +400.
They are a trade-up candidate to grab Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, or Henry Ruggs if they slip a little, but as things sit right now, they are likely to be looking at the next tier of receivers. Currently, the favorite for the pick per sportsbooks is WR Justin Jefferson out of LSU. Jefferson had two concerns at the end of the season: his speed and whether he can be an outside receiver. He blazed a 4.43 at the combine so the speed concerns are gone, but the outside receiver question remains. I think he will be fine outside and is one of the best receivers in the draft—he is my WR3 overall. Last year at LSU, he caught 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, including setting a playoff record with four touchdowns against Oklahoma.
After the Eagles take Jefferson they may not be done. Jeffery is dust at this point of his career, DeSean Jackson can’t be trusted, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is well on his way to being a bust. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles double-dip in the third round and walk away with two new starters. I have almost no interest in acquiring any current Eagle receiver.
Two Eagles I am high on are Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. With Jordan Howard gone, Sanders will step in and be the unquestioned lead back. Sanders dominated snap share in the second half of the season and was seventh among all backs with 5.8 yards per touch. His current ADP is pick 21 and he has the ceiling of a first-round pick. His running mate, Boston Scott, could be one of the best value picks on the board with an ADP of 156.
- Additions - HC Ron Rivera, OG Wes Schweitzer, RB J.D. McKissic, OT Cornelius Lucas, TE Logan Thomas, RB Peyton Barber, WR Cody Latimer, TE Richard Rodgers
- Losses - Chris Thompson
- Draft Needs - Edge, OT, WR, TE, IOL
Last season, the Redskins traded a future two in order to acquire Montez Sweat. This season they have one top-64 pick and it comes at number two overall. Like Joe Burrow before him, Chase Young is signed, sealed, and delivered—he’s yours, Washington. This leaves very little draft capital to take away Terry McLaurin from his WR1 role or replace Dwayne Haskins after his abysmal rookie year. One thing that could change that equation is a trade of Trent Williams, but reports, for now, are that he could be had for a third-round pick.
Haskins has very little value in almost any format, including Superflex. In a bottom-of-the-league offense, with few weapons to prop him up, he can be ignored in fantasy until he proves otherwise. Speaking of being ignored, the Redskins stable of running backs is more crowded than a NYC subway car. Currently, Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Bryce Love, J.D. McKissic, and Peyton Barber are on the roster and they all have a shot to earn playing time. Snaps and opportunity are king for running backs and none of these guys will play enough to be a fantasy contributor. Combine that with the favorite for the least wins in football and the Redskins backfield can safely be ignored.
You will notice that I listed quite a few additions for this Redskins team, but don’t mistake quantity for quality. Most are career backups and none are fantasy-relevant players. The guy the Redskins went hard after was Amari Cooper, but they swung and missed. That tells me they recognize the need to add receiver talent for Haskins to have a shot to succeed. McLaurin finished as PFF’s second highest-graded rookie receiver since 2010 and is set to see as much volume as he can handle.
His current running mate is Steven Sims who closed the year seeing 36 targets in his last 44 games. Sims is barely getting drafted right now and is a worthy late rate flier. I expect the Redskins to take a receiver 66th overall and may combine 108 and 66 to grab a falling receiver in this loaded class in a trade-up. While that would likely end Sims's fantasy relevance, whoever the rookie receiver is would step into a big-volume role right away. Whoever your favorite mid-round receiver is, this is where you want to seem him land for the easiest path to early playing time. Personally I want Michael Pittman out of USC to be McLaurin’s running mate.
- Additions - WR Amari Cooper (Re-signed), Dak Prescott (Franchised)
- Losses - WR Randall Cobb, C Travis Fredrick, TE Jason Witten
- Draft Needs - CB, Edge, S, iOL, TE, WR
The Cowboys offseason has been built around keeping their star offensive players Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott while losing former all-pro center Travis Fredrick, Randall Cobb and his 15.1 yards per reception to the Texans, and moving on from the oldest tight end in football, Jason Witten. The draft for the Cowboys should be focused around adding defensive pieces after losing star corner Byron Jones. The one rumor that is concerning for every player on the Cowboys other than Prescott is that the Cowboys are high on both Lamb and Jeudy and if either slips to 17, Dallas could pull the trigger. Not only would this be the worst possible landing spot for either, but they would cut into the volume of both Cooper and Michael Gallup—with too many mouths to feed, no one would be able to hit their ceiling without an injury. This scenario is unlikely but possible.
Prescott continues to be one of fantasy’s best quarterbacks every single season and 2020 should be no different. He finished 2019 second in passing yards, and total pass distance, while finishing fourth in passing touchdowns. One thing that has held Dak’s value so strong over the years is his rushing upside. In 2019 he ran 3.1 times per game, significantly less than in 2018 when he was averaging 4.7 carries per game. He rushed for a career-low three touchdowns last season. I think this is more of a blip on the radar than a new trend and Dak can continue to be relied on as a top-six fantasy QB, despite only one overall QB1 game in his career, the last game of 2019.
The Cowboys are loaded at the skill position. Ezekiel Elliott has $38 million more on his contract than the next closest running back (LeVeon Bell). You can be sure of one thing, they will continue to get him the football as he led all backs with 68 red zone touched and was second in Player Pofilers weighted opportunity metric. Backup Tony Pollard is one of the league's best handcuffs, who has league-winning upside if Zeke were to get hurt.
At wide receiver, Amari Cooper signed a $100 million dollar contract and will remain Dak’s top target. Cooper will need to work on his consistency with six top-20 WR performances, but five games finishing outside of the top 50 WRs. Gallup is one of the league's best under-the-radar receivers, seeing a jump in target share from 11.8% to 21.7% from his rookie to sophomore season. He finished 2019 with 1,107 yards and six touchdowns while finishing top 15 in yards per reception, yards per target, and yards per pass route run. He is a screaming value at ADP 80 in FFPC leagues right now. Blake Jarwin gets a huge boost in fantasy value, going from a part-time player to a full-time starter with the departure of Jason Witten. Last season, Jarwin ran over 50% of his routes in the slot but played less than 40% of the snaps and was sixth among all tight ends in yards per target with 8.9. He has looked like an explosive athlete on the field and shown excellent chemistry with Dak. With a full-time role now locked in he is one of my favorite sleeper tight ends of 2020.
New York Giants
- Additions - HC Joe Judge, TE Levine Toilolo, OT Cameron Fleming
- Losses - QB Eli Manning
- Draft Needs - OT, LB, Edge, S, WR
The Giants have been one of the worst teams at keeping a secret when it comes to their draft intentions. The last two years it was known that Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones were the picks and for the last 11 days, all reports are that Isaiah Simmons, the linebacker out of Clemson, will be the pick at number four overall. This leaves the second round to address their need at linebacker and should leave all of the Giants' fantasy-relevant players unaffected by the draft.
Daniel Jones had an up-and-down rookie year, but his ups something. He had four games where he finished as a top-three quarterback, but five games where he didn’t finish in the top 20. He showed off his athleticism, finishing seventh among quarterbacks with 279 rushing yards and finished behind only Lamar Jackson (6.85) in rushing yards per attempt, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Jones failed to play a single game in 2019 with all of his weapons on the field at the same time due to both suspension and injury. If they could stay on the field at the same time, Jones offers serious upside at quarterback, even if the price is steep at ADP 92 on FFPC.
The Giants moved on from Pat Shurmer and hired former Patriots special teams coach Joe Judge. Judge doesn’t have a coordinating background to look at to try and determine what this might mean for the Giants skill position, but one guy it could be huge for is Saquon Barkley. Shurmer was such a vanilla play-caller, rarely using Barkley, one of the league's best athletes, properly in space. He was almost never split in the slot, rarely used on angle and option routes, and his average depth of target (aDOT) was a joke at 0.8. I am hopeful that Judge brings over some of the Patriots usage of running backs who, from Kevin Faulk to James White, have used backs to create advantageous situations in the passing game. Last season, James White's aDOT was three times higher than Barkley's. If Barkley is used right in the passing game, he could have a Christian McCaffrey type season.
The Giants' receiving room is a bit of a mess. Sterling Shepard suffered two concussions last season and missed six games which is a disturbing trend. When he was on the field, he did see 23.4% of the targets and had three top-15 games. The fantasy community is concerned about his health and it has driven him down to a bargain bin price at ADP 155. Golden Tate relies on volume and if the Giants receivers stay healthy, he is unlikely to get enough to be relevant on a weekly basis, heading into his age 32 season. Tate is my least favorite Giant. Last year's rookie surprise Darius Slayton showed off his 4.39 speed by averaging 15.4 yards per reception and dominating air yards for the Giants. Look for him to continue to build and become the Giants WR1 of the future. The only thing stopping Evan Engram from being a top-five tight end every season is his health. When he is healthy, he dominates, once he gets on the injury report he ghosts. That uncertainty leaves him more as a DFS target for me than someone I want to pay a premium for in drafts.