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Training Camp Preview: NFC East

Thu Jul 25 11:08am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Manning hopes to keep job


This is the fifth preview in a series of training camp previews. We will continue to release the previews throughout the week. The previews give you a quick look at each team, going over position battles and injuries to watch in camp. The season is right around the corner.

Eagles

The Eagles didn’t have quite the season as expected last year but finished strong to make it to the playoffs. The team will look to start quicker this year and make another Super Bowl run. The big thing to watch this camp will be starting quarterback Carson Wentz. He needs to stay healthy and regain his past form if this team hopes to make another deep playoff run. The season might hinge on Wentz playing at an MVP-level once again. 

Position battle: The running back spot has been a bit of a rotating door in recent seasons for the Eagles and it could be more of the same this year. It sure looked like Jordan Howard was going to be the man to start after being traded to the Eagles, but Philadelphia used a second-round pick on Miles Sanders, clouding the situation. These guys should compete for the right to start in Philadelphia and the job seems up for grabs. Both are good candidates. 

Injury watch: Carson Wentz has failed to play a full season each of the last two years. He was limited to 11 games last year and had to watch Nick Foles start for the team in the playoffs. Wentz has a ton of talent but health has been the issue with him in recent years. He is healthy heading into camp, but you will want to watch his health to make sure nothing comes up in camp. A healthy Wentz can be a difference maker for fantasy teams. 

Giants

The Giants were a bit of a mess last year and are looking in rebuild mode this year. The most important situation to watch in training camp is the battle between Eli Manning and rookie Daniel Jones to start. This should make for a fascinating camp, seeing longtime starter Manning try to hold onto to his job.  

Position battle: For the first time in many years, the Giants have some real competition for Eli Manning. He is expected to start this year but the team used their first pick in the draft to grab Daniel Jones. He is the future at the position and could push Manning for the right to start out of the gate. Manning has been erratic in recent years, so he is not going to get the benefit of the doubt if Jones looks ready to play. 

Injury watch: Tight end Evan Engram missed five games last year because of injury and has failed to play a full season each of the last two years. Injury has slowed him to start his career. He has a chance to play a big role in this offense this year but can’t do that if he is on the sidelines. Engram has already been slowed by a hamstring injury in offseason workouts, which is a concern. He should be ready to go for camp but keeping an eye on his health is a good idea for any fantasy owner thinking about taking him this year. 

Cowboys

The Cowboys won the division last year and will look to repeat this year. The pieces are in place for this team to have a strong year, but health and the emergence of some young players on both sides of the ball will help determine the fate of the Cowboys. Dallas needs their key players to stay healthy and be on the field (i.e. Ezekiel Elliott ends his holdout). The Cowboys always have an interesting camp, so this should be a good one to keep an eye on for fantasy owners and NFL fans.

Position battle: This shouldn’t be much of a battle but Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin will challenge each other for the No. 3 receiver job. Cobb was signed to take that role but his recent play is a bit of a concern. His production has dipped in recent years, which could open the door for Austin. It is likely that Austin is used sporadically like he was last season, but he has experience as a slot receiver so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he challenges Cobb for the No. 3 receiver job. It is something to watch. 

Injury watch: He isn't hurt but Ezekiel Elliott could holdout in search of a new contract. This is a situation to watch, especially after seeing the Le’Veon Bell saga last year. You never know how this is going to play out. The Cowboys seem like they will need to pay up, though, because the team is much better with Elliott in the mix. It is a drastically different team with Elliott starting and carrying the offense. He has a lot of leverage, so this shouldn’t be a lengthy holdout but you never know. 

Redskins

The Redskins have a lot of battles going on in camp, including quarterback, running back and receiver. There is a lot up in the air for this team right now, which should make for an intriguing camp. Washington has a lot to decide at several key positions. This might not be ideal if you are a Redskins fan, though. But for fantasy purposes, you will need to watch all these battles closely and adjust your rankings accordingly when decisions are made. 

Position battle: The big battle this training camp will be for the starting running back spot. Adrian Peterson was a big surprise in a starting role last year, showing he still had something left in the tank. He got a chance to start because of injury and took advantage. Derrius Guice was the reason Peterson started. Guice tore his ACL before the season and missed the entire year. He is back healthy, though, and ready to regain his starting role. He will challenge Peterson for the chance to start and probably has the leg up as long as he is healthy. 

Injury watch: As mentioned, Derrius Guice is returning from a torn ACL. This is a major injury to return but things are going well for him with that injury. He seems to be near full strength. However, he did injury his hamstring in offseason workouts and has missed some time because of that. He could be slowed some to start camp. His failure to stay on the field is a concern going forward. He will need to get healthy in a hurry if hopes to start for the Redskins this year. 

Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Antonio Brown Sep 21 9:03pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Brown has had communication 'with a few teams that are interested,' according to agent Drew Rosenhaus Saturday, Sept. 21. Rosenhaus adds those teams 'want information regarding his legal situation and the NFL investigation.' A deal isn't likely to happen until the league's investigation is resolved, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

From TheHuddle

Sep 21 7:53pm ET

New England Patriots S Nate Ebner (groin) was added to the injury report Saturday, Sept. 21, and is considered questionable for Sunday.

From TheHuddle

Patrick Peterson Sep 21 7:03pm ET

Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson won't be traded, according to general manager Steve Keim Friday, Sept. 20. 'We're not trading Pat and that's something we've been very consistent with, from (team President) Michael (Bidwill) to myself to coach (Kliff Kingsbury),' Keim said. 'When you look at the kind of player Pat is, and I think arguably the best corner in the National Football League, all you have to do is say, 'Does this make your team better or worse?' And I think to lose someone like Pat Peterson would make us worse.' Peterson remains under contract with the Cardinals through the end of next season when he'll carry a $13.2 million cap hit.

From TheHuddle

Jordan Reed Sep 21 6:13pm ET

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) could be 'weeks' away from a return to the field, according to a source Saturday, Sept. 21. Reed hasn't played yet this season and has already been ruled out for Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears.

Fantasy Spin: Reed is free to drop in all formats with fantasy managers best off streaming the position based on weekly matchups.

From TheHuddle

Da'Shawn Hand Sep 21 4:33pm ET

Detroit Lions DE Da'Shawn Hand (elbow) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. Hand had been considered questionable.

From TheHuddle

Marvin Hall Sep 21 4:23pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Marvin Hall was added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 21. WR Chris Lacy was released from the active roster and DE Jonathan Wynn was signed to the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

Quinton Dunbar Sep 21 4:23pm ET

Washington Redskins DL Jonathan Allen (knee), CB Fabian Moreau (ankle), OT Morgan Moses (knee), S Montae Nicholson (foot) and WR Robert Davis (knee) were all full participants in practice Saturday, Sept. 21. CB Quinton Dunbar (knee), QB Colt McCoy (fibula) and LB Cassanova McKinzy (hip) didn't participate. Allen and Dunbar are considered questionable for Monday against the Chicago Bears. McCoy and McKinzy have been ruled out.

From TheHuddle

Ezekiel Ansah Sep 21 4:13pm ET

Seattle Seahawks DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) will make his season debut Sunday, Sept. 22, against the New Orleans Saints. 'Ziggy's ready to play,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Sept. 20. 'Ready to play football. We're excited to see that. It has been a really good process to get him to this where he's in good shape too. He's worked hard and long, so he's in better shape than sometimes when a guy is just coming back. We'll be able to get him a bunch of plays here in this game, and we're looking forward to his participation with us.'

From TheHuddle

Jordan Reed Sep 21 4:03pm ET

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. He'll miss Washington's game against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.

Fantasy Spin: Backup Vernon Davis has seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown through two games in place of Reed this season. Fantasy managers should be moving on from Reed at this point with Davis just one of the viable replacements available on the waiver wire.

From TheHuddle

Adam Thielen Sep 21 3:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has seen his production capped by Kirk Cousins' rough start, though he secured 5-of-8 targets for 75 yards in Week 2. He has a golden opportunity to break out in Week 3's tilt as the Vikings will face the Raiders and their tissue-soft secondary at home. Thielen lines up everywhere, but he should see Daryl Worley (4.64 40-yard dash) the most in coverage on Sunday. Advantage - Adam Thielen. The Vikings are big favorites (-8.5), which will likely lead to featuring Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack. However, Thielen should still be started as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 as his 26% target share leads the team and he should be able to torch the Raiders even on limited opportunities. He's also a sneaky tournament play in daily formats as he could go under-owned and has a high ceiling.

From RotoBaller

Stefon Diggs Sep 21 3:10pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is coming off a Week 2 performance where he caught just 1-of-7 targets, but the catch resulted in a 49-yard touchdown that saved his fantasy day. He had another touchdown called back in the contest. Diggs has been a victim of Cousins' erratic play and low passing volume, but his Week 3 matchup against the Oakland Raiders is enticing. He'll square off against Gareon Conley and the rest of the Oakland defensive backfield, a group that has gotten absolutely ripped by receivers this season. They've allowed a combined 104.9 PPR points to wide receivers through Week 2 (vs. DEN, vs. KC). Start Diggs as a mid-range WR2 in this beatable matchup. His high target share in this offense gives him a decent floor and a high ceiling, which also puts him in play for daily tournaments as a reduced-ownership play.

From RotoBaller

Trey Burton Sep 21 3:03pm ET

Chicago Bears DT Bilal Nichols (hand) did not participate in practice Saturday, Sept. 21 and has been ruled out for the team's Week 3 game Monday, Sept. 23. OG Kyle Long (hip) also did not practice Saturday and is listed as questionable. TE Trey Burton (groin), S Eddie Jackson (shoulder) and PK Eddy Pineiro (knee) were limited as are listed as questionable. DT Eddie Goldman (oblique) fully participated in practice and was removed from the Week 3 injury report.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Brown Sep 21 2:53pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) attracted interest from the Seattle Seahawks after his release from the Oakland Raiders, but that no longer appears to be the case after he was released Friday, Sept. 20, by the New England Patriots. 'We're pretty well set (at wide receiver) right now,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said when asked about Brown at a Friday news conference. 'We kind of know where we're going with that.'

Fantasy Spin: With the issues surrounding Brown morphing from bizarre to decidedly more serious, don't expect to see him in the league for the rest of the season.

From TheHuddle

Dalvin Cook Sep 21 2:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is leading the league in rushing through two weeks, carrying 41 times for 265 yards (6.5 YPC) and three touchdowns. His 20.5 attempts/game only trails Marlon Mack, and his three runs of 20 or more yards also lead the NFL. Minnesota has run the highest percentage of run plays in the NFL and that is unlikely to change this week as they are 8.5-point favorites at home. The Oakland Raiders have only allowed 98 rushing yards (vs. DEN) and 31 rushing yards (vs. KC) through Week 2, but they haven't faced a running back like Dalvin Cook and the likelihood of seeing 20+ touches yet again pushes him way up the rankings. Consider "Chef" Dalvin a top-tier RB1 in this delicious matchup at home.

From RotoBaller

Demarcus Robinson Sep 21 2:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had a huge game versus the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. He caught all six of his targets for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Robinson was one of the most popular pickups throughout the week, but fantasy owners should get ready for disappointment. Robinson will once again be involved in the offense, but Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman will see targets as well. It was rare that Robinson caught all of his targets, and one of them being a 44 yard touchdown due to blown coverage. The Baltimore Ravens secondary isn't much better, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect the same result twice. Robinson is someone to be looked at as a shaky WR2 or a reliable WR3 for Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Sep 21 2:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce came to play in the Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Kelce caught seven of his nine targets for 107 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs offense doesn't seem to ever slow down and that should be the case again in Week 3. The Baltimore Ravens Defense is coming off a game where they gave up 349 passing yards to rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. Earl Thomas should be able to slow down Kelce somewhat, but fantasy owners should expect a TE1 type of performance from him once again.

From RotoBaller

Mecole Hardman Sep 21 2:00pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman was able to make some noise for the team in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. Hardman caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in that contest. Tyreek Hill (shoulder) remains sidelined, so Hardman will continue to have decent fantasy value. Demarcus Robinson outplayed Hardman last week, but who knows if that will happen again. The Baltimore Ravens secondary is shaky, so the Chiefs should have no issues on offense. Hardman has WR2 upside, but at worst he's a solid WR3 for Week 3 against Baltimore.

From RotoBaller

Sammy Watkins Sep 21 1:50pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins saw a team-high 13 targets in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. However, Watkins hauled in just six of those balls for 49 yards and didn't find the end zone. It was a disappointing game for fantasy owners as Watkins was expected to be much better with Tyreek Hill (shoulder) sidelined. Watkins will get a chance to rebound here against a Baltimore Ravens Defense in Week 3. The same defense that just got carved up by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray last week for 349 passing yards. Fantasy owners can hope that Watkins will fulfill his WR1 potential in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Cordarrelle Patterson Sep 21 1:43pm ET

Chicago Bears WR Cordarrelle Patterson has a fan in Bears head coach Matt Nagy, who is trying to find the best way to utilize Patterson's speed and play-making ability on offense. 'Now what he's morphed into as a player throughout his (NFL) career, it's pretty unique,' Nagy said. 'As a play-caller it allowed you to be flexible with what you can do. You saw (against the Broncos) we were able to get him on the edge. He's a big dude that's flying around there with a lot of speed.'

Fantasy Spin: Courtesy of a big 46-yard run in Week 2, Patterson only has 51 yards on four touches, including a 3-yard reception, this season, meaning he's most likely to play the role of fantasy vulture -- as he did a season ago in New England -- stealing valuable touches and points from the rest of the Bears' already fringe fantasy cast.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Sep 21 1:40pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy should be looking at a heavier workload for Sunday's Week 3 contest versus the Baltimore Ravens. Lead back Damien Williams (knee) has already been ruled out for this one. McCoy has been battling an ankle issue, so the Chiefs will be cautious about that. Darwin Thompson is going to see some snaps as well, so McCoy isn't overloaded. McCoy is a low-end RB2 for Week 3, but he could have more upside. It all depends on how McCoy's ankle is feeling on Sunday.

From RotoBaller