2022 NFC East Fantasy Preview
To kick things off let's talk about the big winners of the offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia was expected to draft yet another WR in the first round of the NFL Draft but shocked the world by trading their draft pick for Jalen Hurts’ best friend, AJ Brown. They were also able to add in Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean to the other side of the ball. While these defensive studs won’t have much impact on the fantasy side, they should make the Eagles a much more formidable squad.
On the offensive side of the ball AJ Brown should fit in this offense like a glove and instantly is the top WR in the NFC East. Brown is coming off of his worst season as a pro, statistically speaking, with 63 receptions, 869 yards and 5 TDs. He still finished as WR 32. Expect a strong rebound from Brown as he should be healed from the chest injury that bothered him last year. AJ Brown was a WR1 in all formats in 2020, and should be a fringe WR 1 in this offense.
On the opposite side of the field, defenses will still have to deal with second year stud DeVonta Smith. Smith had a strong rookie season with 64 catches, 916 yards and 5 TDs, and should only improve on these numbers with AJ Brown’s ability to draw coverage away from him. I expect Smith to make the largest jump of all year 2 WRs. His floor should be a WR3/Flex play and he could sneak up into the low end WR2 range.
Rounding out this core is Dallas Goedert at Tight End. I think Goedert takes the biggest fantasy hit of this offense with the addition of Brown clearly relegating him to third in the pecking order. Goedert has finished at either TE11 or TE 21 in all 4 of his seasons. I think that Goedert falls outside of the top tiers of fantasy and is more of a low end starter.
The biggest benefactor of bringing in AJ Brown should be QB Jalen Hurts. Hurts threw for a whopping 16 TDs against 9 interceptions and 3144 yards. Despite the pedestrian passing numbers Hurts finished as QB9 on the season due largely to his 784 rushing yards and 10 rushing TDs. Hurts is locked in as a top 5 fantasy QB with upside to be QB1 overall. I do realize I didn’t talk about Miles Sanders or this running game, but Jalen Hurts is clearly the Eagles running game.
Up next we will discuss the New York Giants. The Giants organization has more question marks than a suit worn by Matthew Lesko but have been showing some fight lately. With a new head coach, Brian Daboll, and new GM, Joe Schoen, the Giants look to rebuild yet again. They will have to do so with a cupboard that is relatively bare.
Their best building block will be Saquon Barkley. Saquon burst onto the scene in his rookie year and finished as RB1 on the season. Since then the wheels have fallen off despite him being able to limp to a RB10 final ranking in his second season. If healthy, Saquon still has RB1 upside, but the injuries continue to pile up and the Giants lack playmakers at other positions, allowing teams to hone in on Saquon. Right now Saquon is going as a top 15 RB, which is entirely too rich for my blood. He could bounce back, but his best days are likely behind him.
As far as the Giants WRs room, things look pretty bleak. I don’t have a single WR from this offense in my top 50 WRs this season. They still have Kenny Golladay but he finished as WR 79 last season in 14 games. Sterling Shepard has been the Giants most consistent WR and has been outside of the top 40 for the last three seasons and is almost a lock to miss a handful of games each year. Behind the veterans is youngster Kadarius Toney who was disappointing in his rookie season. If Toney could play the Cowboys every week he’d be a top 5 WR, unfortunately he has failed to reach 80 yards in any other game outside of his week 5 explosion last season. Rookie Wan’Dale Robinson is very similar to Toney and projects as a gadget player in the NFL. I don’t believe he will have much impact in his first year.
Daniel Jones is back for another year at QB but has yet to finish higher than QB 24 in any of his three previous seasons. Expect more of the same for Danny Dimes as the parts around him haven’t really improved. The Giants did add Evan Neal to the offensive line and he should be a great building block for the future, but likely won’t help to elevate any of these players this season.
As for the Commanders it’s another year and another QB. This time they bring in Carson Wentz, who should be the best QB they’ve had since Alex Smith. While Wentz probably will never be that top 5 fantasy QB that he was way back in 2017, he should provide some high QB2 value in this Commander’s offense, which has more weapons than he is accustomed to. This Washington squad is not short on weapons.
Let’s start with Antonio Gibson. In each of the last 2 seasons Antonio Gibson has provided low end RB1 numbers finishing at 13 and 12 in PPR ranks each of the last two seasons. While he’s not Jonathan Taylor, he did have 1300 all purpose yards last season and 10 TDs. Gibson should be picked in the first two rounds in most drafts and his biggest concern is the depth behind him. JD McKissic has already shown he will get a piece of the pie. Brian Robinson will certainly have a chance to steal some reps. Despite his numbers the past few seasons I’m nervous about grabbing Gibson at his ADP.
Terry McLaurin is back again to lead this WR group, fresh off of a 3/71 extension. McLaurin has produced three straight top 30 finishes, which may not seem like much, but he’s done it despite the QB carousel that he’s had to endure. With Wentz in tow, we should see Terry vault into the back end of the WR1 range. Washington also drafted rookie WR Jahan Dotson with their first round pick. The Penn State product has been impressive at camp and has demonstrated a great set of hands. Dotson is a nice dart throw later in redrafts as someone who could produce in year one. These Commanders should be much improved over the last few seasons on the offensive side of the ball.
Lastly we will discuss the defending divisional champion Dallas Cowboys. Dallas had a disastrous offseason by many standards losing at least five productive starters. Dallas will have a tough time repeating as divisional champs but should perform much better in fantasy. It all starts with Quarterback Dak Prescott who will be entering his seventh season in the league and has returned QB 1 value in all but two of them. One of those seasons he missed 11 games and was off to a historic start. I expect his passing numbers to dip a little with the loss of Cooper, but also wouldn’t be surprised to see his rushing numbers tick up slightly now that he’s a further year removed from his injury.
While Dak has been a steady QB1 his main running mate Ezekiel Elliott has been even better. Entering year 7 Zeke has returned RB1 value every year except the year he served his suspension. That year he finished as RB 13. Zeke is currently going in the third and fourth round and creates an incredible floor value for RBs in that range. He will be joined by the emerging Tony Pollard who had a bit of a breakout last season with over 1000 all purpose yards. He should continue to receive volume in the offense and warrants a selection later in drafts.
CeeDee Lamb moves into the top receiving spot for this team. Lamb broke 1000 yards and was WR 13 in non PPR formats last season. The bulk of the extra targets should go to him and he has WR1 overall type of upside this season. Dalton Schultz is back as well after a breakout campaign. He will be in the mix as a top 5 TE. Dallas also brought in rookie Jalen Tolbert in the third round. He should be an instant starter in this offense and has a lot of upside. James Washington and Michael Gallup round out the receiving core but will both start the year on IR.