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
Devonta Freeman Jul 13 9:23am ET

Free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) was informed that his agent, Kristin Campbell, has terminated their relationship Sunday, July 12.

Fantasy Spin: Freeman still looks to be holding out for more money than his market value is dictating at the moment. He might have to wait for an injury to sign, but he'll be a potential RB3 in fantasy when he does.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Jul 12 10:23pm ET

Updating previous reports, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and the team are reportedly 'not close' to agreeing to a contract extension as of Sunday, July 12, according to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News via a source. The two sides have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement or Prescott will be forced to play the 2020 season under the $31.4 million franchise tag he signed recently.

From TheHuddle

Richard Sherman Jul 12 10:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman has allowed a completion rate of 47 percent to receivers in his coverage since 2010 - the best mark in the NFL over that span per Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Ezekiel Elliott Jul 12 7:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was recently ranked as the 11th best at his position by an anonymous NFL offensive coach. The coach would go on to state that the 24-year-old "doesn't look as strong anymore. Feels like he's about 60 to 70 percent of what he was." Elliott was quick to dismiss these comments, but some fantasy managers may pay attention to these remarks, especially if they are drafting after the selections of Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. The fifth-year back did have one of the most productive years as a professional in 2019, finishing with 1,357 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns off of 301 attempts. He also added 54 catches for 420 yards and two additional scores. While those numbers don't indicate a downward trend, the former Buckeye will be without the guidance of former head coach Jason Garrett in 2020, who is now the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

From RotoBaller

Jamar Taylor Jul 12 4:03pm ET

San Francisco 49ers CB Jamar Taylor has a chance to make the final roster because he has experience at outside cornerback as well as slot cornerback and plays on special teams, in the opinion of NinersWire's Kyle Madson.

From TheHuddle

Jadeveon Clowney Jul 12 1:43pm ET

Free-agent DEs Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks), Everson Griffen (Vikings) and DE Markus Golden (Giants) likely will not receive interest from the New York Jets because the team wants to move their unspent salary cap space to next season, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.

From TheHuddle

Christian McCaffrey Jul 12 1:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has plenty of hype entering the 2020 campaign and should continue to be the No. 1 fantasy selection in the majority of fantasy drafts heading into September. However, according to a poll conducted by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, more than 50 percent of league executives view Saquon Barkley as the top back in the league. As claimed by one anonymous AFC executive, McCaffrey is "not as sturdy as Saquon. Not the same speed-and-power combo." While this declaration may not hinder fantasy managers from taking McCaffrey first overall in drafts, it could give many something to think about.

From RotoBaller

Sony Michel Jul 12 12:33pm ET

New England Patriots RB Sony Michel (foot) is no longer wearing a walking boot on his surgically repaired foot.

Fantasy Spin: Michel will be ready for training camp and should receive most of the carries this season but will have to share snaps with several other backs. He should be considered at least a No. 3 running back in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Terrelle Pryor Jul 12 12:23pm ET

Free-agent WR Terrelle Pryor (Jaguars) said he is looking to play in 2020 and has talked with five teams this offseason. He said he would like to play for the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.

From TheHuddle

A.J. Green Jul 12 11:33am ET

It remains unknown if Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green will sign his franchise tag or agree to a long-term deal before the NFL deadline for contract extensions Wednesday, July 15, at 4 p.m. ET, according to multiple sources.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Jul 12 11:03am ET

The Dallas Cowboys remain optimistic that QB Dak Prescott will accept their best contract extension offer before the NFL deadline Wednesday, July 15, at 4 p.m. ET. However, multiple league sources believe that no long-term deal will be completed by the deadline because he has already signed his franchise tag tender.

From TheHuddle

Chris Conley Jul 12 10:23am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Laviska Shenault Jr. will compete with veteran WR Chris Conley during training camp to be the team's No. 2 receiver behind WR DJ Chark.

Fantasy Spin: Shenault is fully recovered from core muscle surgery and is expected to play an integral role in the Jacksonville offense this season. He has a great deal of upside and is worthy of consideration as a WR5 option in this year's fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Jadeveon Clowney Jul 11 7:23pm ET

Free-agent DE Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) could show interest in the Philadelphia Eagles because he wants to join a winning team, according to 710 ESPN's John Clayton.

From TheHuddle

Rodney Gunter Jul 11 6:13pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars DE Rodney Gunter and DE Dawuane Smoot could receive some snaps at defensive tackle this upcoming season.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Brown Jul 11 3:43pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) reached a settlement with the New England Patriots regarding the compensation grievance Brown filed against the team.

From TheHuddle

Hunter Henry Jul 11 3:20pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry isn't expecting a long-term contract extension before the deadline of Wednesday, July 15, so he expects to play the 2020 season under the $10.6 million franchise tag. The 25-year-old doesn't seem to be too worried about it, though, and he's focused on the 2020 season. He views this year as a prove-it deal because he hasn't played a full season in his four-year career due to injuries. Henry spent May and June working out with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and recently had throwing sessions with Tyrod Taylor. Henry had career highs with 55 catches and 652 receiving yards in 2019. Among tight ends, Henry has the best passer rating when targeted at 132.3 since 2016. He's surely a top-10 fantasy tight end, but injuries and a downgrade at QB limit his overall ceiling.

From RotoBaller

DeSean Jackson Jul 11 2:30pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Friday that they fined wide receiver DeSean Jackson "for conduct detrimental to the team," which included controversial posts on Instagram and sharing an image of a quote falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler earlier this week. Jackson has since offered multiple apologies, but he "must also commit to supporting his words with actions" in order to remain with the team. The 33-year-old missed all but three games in 2019 because of an injury and is now desperately trying to repair his image before the season. If healthy, D-Jax should be the team's primary deep threat, but as usual, he'll be a boom-or-bust WR3 for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Le'Veon Bell Jul 11 2:30pm ET

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell had a "great talk" with disgruntled All-Pro safety Jamal Adams on Thursday and came away with the impression that Adams wants to stay in New York if he gets a new contract. Bell doesn't oppose Adams' hard-line stance in negotiations. Adams formally requested a trade last month and has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He's making $3.6 million in 2020 and $9.9 million in 2021 under the fifth-year team option. Adams is believed to be looking to become the highest-paid safety in the league, and the Jets continue to say they want to make him a "Jet for life," but they aren't putting a timetable on it. Bell doesn't want Adams to be traded and doesn't think he will. Adams hasn't had a ton of interceptions, but his ability to play the run and rush the passer makes him unique and the top overall IDP defensive back.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Jul 11 2:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee had a 33-percent target rate when the Rams were trailing in 2019. That matched San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle for the highest percentage in the league, according to Pro Football Focus data.

Fantasy Spin: Higbee closed out 2019 with a stellar five-game run and has placed himself squarely in TE1 territory for 2020. He's a tight end to target if you miss out on the top five.

From TheHuddle

Davante Adams Jul 11 1:43pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams is the only wide receiver with 4,000 receiving yards and 40 touchdown receptions since 2016.

Fantasy Spin: Injuries limited Adams to a career-low 12 games in 2019, ending a run of three straight top-12 fantasy wideout finishes. With any kind of better health fortune, expect a WR1 bounce-back season for Adams.

From TheHuddle