So far my Fantasy Football 2013-2014 Forecast has covered every division in the AFC. With half of the NFL accounted for it’s time to go over the NFC, and I’ll start off with the NFC East. In case you haven’t read my past installments, I’m going to order the teams in each division that I predict will yield the most to least fantasy production among its players. The NFC East in particular may be one of the best fantasy divisions in the league.
There are two things that you can always expect from the Cowboys. 1) They will always end their season in hilarious fashion (sorry Cowboys fans). 2) Tony Romo will put up solid Fantasy Football numbers. Yes his INT numbers are concerning, but his yard totals are great and at least 25 TDs in 5 of the last 6 (2010 he only played 6 games) seasons puts him in the higher tier of fantasy QBs. I expect his chemistry with Dez Bryant to go into this season and his favorite target Jason Witten is still around, so a 4,700 yard 30 TD season isn’t out of the question. If DeMarco Murray can stay on the field the whole season then Romo definitely won’t throw for almost 5,000 yards like he did last season, but the relief of a star RB may calm him down in the pocket more, reducing his INT count.
Speaking of Murray, it’s hard to put full faith in him. In two seasons he’s missed 9 games, and you can’t be confident in him lasting a whole season, but the guy has a lot of talent and you can’t pass that up. I’d draft him in the late 4th, early 5th round and hope he can make it at least 13 games in the season. He hasn’t scored a lot of TD’s yet (6 in two years), but more time on the field should yield more opportunities to score and since there is no RB tandem on this team Murray should get most if not all of the goal line carries.
Dez Bryant finally turned into the player we were all waiting for, and because of that I have him ranked 4th among WRs this season. 1,382 yards and 12 TDs isn’t a fluke to me, especially since he finished the prior season with 928 yards and 9 TDs. I attribute his stats to growth and the Cowboys’ passing offense, not luck. Will those yards go down a bit with Murray returning to the run game? Probably, but Dez Bryant is still a must own WR and should be gone by the 2nd round. Jason Witten is a guy you can trust to have at least 100 targets a season (he has every season since 2007) and at least 900 yards is a lock as well. Will his use go down with the rise of Dez? I doubt it. He and Romo have one of the best connections in the league and the only thing that will lower his usage is missing games, which he hasn’t done since 2003. Simply put, Witten is one of the most reliable players in the league, and he’s one of the few top tier TE’s available.
You know who didn’t have a bad season, but people seem to forget he exists? Miles Austin. 943 yards and 6 TDs for Mr. Austin isn’t bad especially since the latter half of the season he dealt with injury issues. Dez’ rise does lower Austin’s prominence, but he is still a very talented player and although there are injury concerns, he’ll be a nice pickup for anyone who gets him in the later rounds. The Cowboys DST is a toss-up to me. They won’t be horrible, but I highly doubt they’ll be great. Dan Bailey has been very reliable over the past few years, and I have him as one of my top-10 kickers. As you can see, the Cowboys have a lot to offer, and I believe they’re overall one of the top fantasy teams to draft from.
RG3 is going to be dynamic this season. I won’t blame you for doubting him right now due to rehab and his exclusion from preseason games, and you may even want to sit him Week 1 as a precaution, but he will be a top-10 QB by the end of the season. Along with RG3, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon are going to make this team the best offense in the NFC East. Garcon? Really? Yes. Sure he only caught 4 TD’s, but he was battling an injured foot for most of the 10 games he played. He, like RG3, may not be completely healthy Week 1, but he’s the #1 WR on this team and is a major deep threat. If he was able to manage 947 yards and 6 TDs two years ago with Curtis Painter, you don’t think he could end the season with 1,100 yards and 8 TDs with RG3? Matter of fact if you project last year’s stats over 16 games, he would’ve finished the season with 70 catches for 1,266 yards and 6 TDs…not bad at all.
Now the actual #2 WR is a toss-up between Leonard Hankerson and Josh Morgan, with Santana Moss probably becoming a 3rd option. Moss just doesn’t have the step anymore and although he had 8 TDs last year and I think it was due more to other injuries on the team and not really an indicator on his true value in this offense. The person that I really think is the second receiving option on this team in Fred Davis. He isn’t experiencing injury issues through training camp so far and I think if he’s truly healthy he’ll be a pivotal part of this team. At 6’4” you can’t ignore his presence and he should be a solid red zone option, especially since RG3 probably won’t be running too many options into the end zone himself (be smart Shanahan).
The Redskins defense wasn’t very good last year so I wouldn’t bother drafting them; you can definitely do way better with a DST choice in your drafts this year. No, I’m not analyzing Morris. 1,613 yards and 13 TDs don’t need analysis. He’s a top-10 RB. Don’t be stupid.
New York Giants
Who can you trust on this team other than Victor Cruz? Eli Manning was abysmal in Weeks 6 – 10 and did nothing for teams who relied on him in their Week 15-16 Championship matchups. It was a very up and down year for the younger Manning and I couldn’t trust him as my starting QB going into the next fantasy season. It’s entirely possible that Eli can bounce back to a year similar to what he had last year, but I doubt that, and here’s why.
Teams are keying in on Victor Cruz, as he’s clearly a top WR in this league. Due to this, his stats last year dropped a bit. Yes his TD total raised by one, but his receiving yards dropped from 1,536 to 1,092. I think he finished with around the same amount as the latter this year as well, and 10 TDs isn’t out of the question so in the grand scheme of things he’s still a quality WR. What turns me off about Eli’s production is what we can expect from other WR’s on the roster.
Hakeem Nicks has had injury issues for the past 2 seasons, and if he was healthy he’s no doubt #1 WR caliber, but that isn’t the case. He still isn’t completely healthy, and although he is tough enough to play through injury that doesn’t mean he’ll be wildly productive. Last season he ended 13 games with 692 yards and 3 TDs. Now he does get at least 100 targets each year, which is great, but if he isn’t healthy it doesn’t really matter. Last year was a very off year compared to his career averages so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but be wary of drafting him in early rounds. That 1,000 yard 9 TD season is there, but don’t be surprised if it ends like 850 yards and 5 TDs.
Brandon Myers is the sleeper on this roster. David Wilson could be, but everyone expects him to start and get a majority of the carries. Andre Brown excelled in limited play last year, but Wilson is the guy the Giants are putting their faith in, and as long as he doesn’t fumble the ball he should stay within Tom Coughlin’s good graces. Myers is the sleeper here because we aren’t sure how he fits in the offensive scheme. Martellus Bennett played a solid role until he started dealing with injuries, so will Myers fill that void? Last year he had 105 targets in a horrible Raiders offense, and seeing how the Giants functioned last year, they could really use a reliable 3rd option especially with Nicks’ nagging injury problems. Draft Myers as a 2nd TE and play the wait and see approach about whether he’ll truly have a breakout year.
The most concerning team in the NFC East is the Philadelphia Eagles. How many games will Michael Vick be able to play? Will DeSean Jackson thrive as the #1 WR or will the defensive pressure be too much? Will LeSean McCoy go back to elite status? If you’ve read my RB rankings, then you already know that I think Chip Kelly’s system will bring McCoy back to greatness, but what about the rest of the roster? This uncertainty is what puts the Eagles at the bottom of this division for me.
Vick hasn’t played a full season since joining the Eagles and due to their paltry offensive line I don’t think trend stops this year. I don’t think those elite rushing numbers return because Chip Kelly is a smart coach and know that not only does he need to look out for his QB’s health, but he also recognizes the star he has in McCoy and needs to utilize that to the fullest. Aside from DeSean Jackson, I’d have to say the best receiving option is this offense is either Jason Avant or Brent Celek. Neither player has been extremely effective throughout Vick’s years as field general, and I can’t confidently tell anyone to draft either, even as a sleeper option. In short, other than McCoy I don’t think this offense excels too much. Of course I could be wrong, but looking at the roster I don’t see any standouts.
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