Last week this website started posting its fantasy football team reports with player projections, rankings and commentary, one division a week, beginning with the NFC East. Starting this week it is my job to critique the opinions in those team reports, and the cheatsheets, to make sure the rankings and projections guys – Dave and Mike – are covering every angle and, ultimately, appropriately ranking the players. Even if I can’t change their minds in every case, it gives an alternative perspective on some of the players.
The NFC East is usually very competitive from top to bottom. Even if each the teams do not post very good overall won-loss records, they tend to be very competitive relative to one another. Rarely is there a clear cut powerhouse team in the division, so the saying, “every game matters,” truly applies to the NFC East.
Team Report (June 9)
For all of the national attention they receive, the Dallas Cowboys have been nothing but average the past few years, ending each of the last three seasons with an 8-8 record. Head Coach Jason Garrett is most definitely on the hot seat this time around as most fans were expecting him to be let go after the 2013 season. Jerry Jones instead brought in a new Offensive Coordinator, Scott Linehan, who served in the same capacity with the Detroit Lions for the past five years. Linehan supports a wide open aerial attack offense. Who wouldn’t with the league’s #1 wide receiver Calvin Johnson? This system should work wonders in Dallas as they have excellent skill position players DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten. The only wild card is quarterback Tony Romo.
Tony Romo had back surgery in December 2013, but he says he will be ready for training camp. If Romo can stay healthy he has the potential for a big year. Romo had an average year in 2013 throwing for 3,828 yards and 31 TD, only 10 INT, on 535 pass attempts ranking him 12th at QB (standard scoring, 4 points per pass TD) with a game missed. The 2012 season Romo ranked 7th with a 4,903-28-19 stat line on 648 pass attempts, so he is no stranger to a heavy workload.
Romo has a cannon for an arm, so he will be able to air it out when Linehan dials up the long plays. The frustrating thing about Romo is his week-to-week inconsistency, highlighted by a huge game against the Denver Broncos Week 5 last season, followed up by an absolute dud against the Washington Redskins. With another year to mature and with Linehan’s tutelage, I’m confident Romo can shake those inconsistencies.
This websites’ current rankings place Romo 13th behind Tom Brady (7th), Andy Dalton (11th) and Philip Rivers (12th). Romo has the most skilled weapons on his team compared to all these guys plus the addition of Linehan to help pad his stat line. Romo has proven to be able to perform as a Top 10 QB in the past, and with the new system in Dallas, he should fall comfortably inside the Top 10 once again.
New York Giants
Team Report (June 10)
The New York Giants selected Odell Beckham Jr. with their high first round selection in this year’s NFL Draft. If that wasn’t a statement to the other wide receivers on the Giants, then I do not know what is. Victor Cruz is the obvious number one option in New York. The player set to play opposite Cruz is still up in the air.
I would put my money on Beckham taking that spot over fellow teammates Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan. Beckham has impeccable speed, posting a sub 4.4-40 yard dash time. Randle and Jernigan had their chance to shine last year (and neither were rookies), and failed to do so.
Beckham is currently slotted as the 50th wide receiver per our rankings, placing him behind guys like Robert Woods (42nd), Justin Hunter (44th) and Doug Baldwin (49th). I can easily see Beckham posting better numbers than all three of those players, especially since the Giants’ running game is a big question mark. I expect Beckham to be near the top of the list of contenders for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Team Report (June 11)
When it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles, fantasy owners think they’ve struck gold, considering the amount of plays they run. Last year, there were plenty of doubts that Chip Kelly’s offense could thrive in the NFL. What we got was an unheralded Nick Foles becoming a Top 10 quarterback, LeSean McCoy jumping back into the Top 3 running back discussion, a career year from DeSean Jackson, and long-haired Florida alum Riley Cooper producing more stats than his prior three seasons combined.
There are a few changes to the 2014 version of the Eagles. Primarily, injury prone Jeremy Maclin becomes the number one wide receiver due to the departure of Jackson. Does that mean we should automatically slot him in as a Top 20 WR? Hold the phone, I don’t think so.
Nick Foles and Riley Cooper have an existing chemistry that Foles never had a chance to develop with Maclin. The Eagles added Darren Sproles, who is primarily a pass-catching back. He’s going to get a lot of attention from Foles. Last but not least, the Eagles added WR Jordan Matthews in the NFL Draft, and early reports out of minicamp are extremely positive about Matthews. This rookie wide receiver can be productive right out of the gate.
I’m not saying Maclin has a bad year or doesn’t stay healthy, but it will be a chore for Maclin to get enough looks to land in the Top 20. This website currently has him ranked 19th at WR. Given the risk of re-injury, he shouldn’t be ranked in the Top 20.
Team Report (June 12)
Washington Redskins made one of the best offseason pickups of any team signing WR DeSean Jackson. Consider it a gift from their division rivals, the Eagles, who unceremoniously released DJax after a career year.
For the Redskins, Jackson gives Pierre Garcon a good counterpart and the team a big down field threat to stretch the defense, which seemed to be one important weapon missing for Robert Griffin III. Opposing defenses can’t stack as many in the box to prevent Alfred Morris, or Griffin, from breaking off some big runs.
All parties will benefit from the addition of Jackson: Griffin will be a Top 10 quarterback, Morris should be a Top 15 running back, and Jordan Reed, if healthy, should find himself amongsts the Top 10 for tight ends in the league.
Okay, so maybe not all parties will benefit. I feel that with all of these mouths to feed in the offense, Pierre Garcon – Griffin’s only reliable receiver and who led the league in targets last season – will take a hit. This website currently has Garcon ranked 14th. He is an established receiver, but when the season is all said and done, he isn’t a big touchdown guy and won’t have the targets to help land him in the Top 15 at his position.