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
Joe Webb Aug 17 11:50pm ET

Houston Texans quarterback Joe Webb once again saw a heavy workload in a preseason game, entering for Houston's second offensive series and playing into the fourth quarter in Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. Webb was 14-for-25 passing the ball for 186 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. While the veteran won't see regular season action under center unless something goes very wrong, he's going to remain a top option for preseason DFS players for Houston's final two preseason games.

From RotoBaller

David Fales Aug 17 11:50pm ET

Detroit Lions quarterback David Fales went 12/19 for 226 yards and a touchdown in the Lions second preseason game against the Texans. With Tom Savage out on concussion protocol, Fales is competing with Josh Johnson to be Stafford's backup come regular season in a few weeks. This performance will certainly help Fales' case. Fales remains worthless in all fantasy formats as long as Stafford remains healthy.

From RotoBaller

Darwin Thompson Aug 17 11:50pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson has been one of the bright spots for the Chiefs out of camp this season. Thompson rushed for 30 yards on four attempts in Saturday's 17-7 loss to the Steelers. He was useful in the pass game last preseason contest, but received zero targets in the pass game on Saturday. However, Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde are above him on the depth chart for running backs. Thompson could have some value in fantasy leagues, but probably only deep league value right now.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Hockenson Aug 17 11:50pm ET

Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson had one catch for 22 yards during the Lions second preseason matchup against the Texans. Hockenson has already proven himself as an excellent pass-catcher and although it's nothing special, this weeks performance was yet another example of how much potential the rookie tight end has. The 22 yard catch was a designed play that had Hockenson fake a block and then release; it was executed perfectly. Hockenson is a solid TE2 option in deeper leagues and a rookie who should gain some serious attention in dynasty leagues.

From RotoBaller

Mason Rudolph Aug 17 11:50pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 10 of 15 passes for 77 yards in Saturday's preseason win over the Chiefs. Rudolph drew the start under center and got the majority of the first half to himself. The Oklahoma State product is a former third-round pick who seems to be the favorite to backup Ben Roethlisberger. While he doesn't hold much value in real life, he has solid dynasty value for fantasy purposes. If he is able to secure the backup job, he will spend the year learning under one of the most accomplished signal callers of the last decade.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Tannehill Aug 17 11:40pm ET

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill put together another solid outing in Week 2 of the preseason, completing 7-of-11 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. While Tannehill continues to play well, he was still operating as the clear backup quarterback to Marcus Mariota. Although Tannehill is not on the radar for redraft leagues in 2019, he remains a decent stash in superflex dynasty leagues, especially for Mariota owners.

From RotoBaller

Deshaun Watson Aug 17 11:40pm ET

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson played one series in Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions, going 5-for-7 for 60 yards and a touchdown. Both incompletions came on accurate passes in the red zone. Houston was playing fast on that first series and running some no-huddle offense, which could be an indication that the team wants to pick up their pace in 2019. If they do, Watson's ceiling inches higher, though he remains limited by the team's questionable offensive line. Still, he should be drafted as a top-five quarterback.

From RotoBaller

Joshua Dobbs Aug 17 11:40pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs finished 6-of-11 fo 95 yards with an interception, while also tucking and running once for five yards in Saturday's 17-7 preseason win over Kansas City. The 24-year-old started the second half after Mason Rudolph got the entire first half of the game, while Dobbs saw the majority of the first half in the first preseason game. The Steelers are giving both signal callers an ample opportunity to earn the spot of Ben Roethlisberger's backup. Dobbs served in the role last season, but after Pittsburgh drafted Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 draft, many knew that Rudolph will likely be the heir apparent. Dobbs holds no real fantasy value unless he earns the backup job and/or if Roethlisberger sustains a long-term injury.

From RotoBaller

Jeremy McNichols Aug 17 11:40pm ET

Tennessee Titans running back Jeremy McNichols put together another solid performance in Week 2 of the preseason against the New England Patriots. McNichols only delivered 13 yards on the ground, but added 24 yards receiving, including a 15-yard touchdown. McNichols also had a 33-yard rushing touchdown called back on a questionable holding penalty. He continues to make his case to be kept as a fourth running back, but his lack of contribution on special teams make it an uphill battle.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Mariota Aug 17 11:30pm ET

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looked sharp in limited action against the New England Patriots on Saturday, completing 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown strike to tight end Delanie Walker. Mariota capped off a solid week of camp with a convincing performance, leaving no room for speculation about a quarterback competition in Tennessee. Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky went as far as to say "There is no circumstance under which a healthy Marcus Mariota is not the Week One starter in Cleveland. Period." While Mariota's job is not in question, his ability to be a consistent fantasy option at a position filled with options is. Mariota is nothing more than a low-end QB2 option going into his fifth season.

From RotoBaller

Dontrelle Inman Aug 17 11:00pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Dontrelle Inman caught only one pass but it was a crucial 17-yard reception in the fourth quarter of the Patriots 22-17 comeback preseason win. The veteran had seen only one target before he made the catch but Inman came through in the clutch. Inman has bounced around the league the past few seasons and certainly will be a 'bubble' player as he fights for a spot in the final two preseason games.

From RotoBaller

Brandon Bolden Aug 17 11:00pm ET

New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden scored a 1-yard touchdown in the Patriots preseason victory over the Titans. Bolden registered only two yards on four carries but was able to convert in the red zone. Bolden is far down the running back depth chart on the Patriots but every year, it seems, he plays snaps during the regular season. Bolden will be not be fantasy viable unless multiple injuries hit the New England backfield.

From RotoBaller

Damien Harris Aug 17 10:50pm ET

New England Patriots running back Damien Harris carried the ball 14 times for 80 yards and added 23 receiving yards in the Patriots 22-17 preseason win over the Titans. Harris has been a non-factor in the early portions of training camp but has been dealing with a wrist injury. Harris made some solid, tough runs and looked like the talented prospect the Patriots selected out of Alabama. Harris has pass-catching ability and could find himself in the mix of the running back carousel in New England if he can maintain consistency moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Jakobi Meyers Aug 17 10:50pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers caught six passes for 82 yards in the Patriots 22-17 preseason win over the Titans. Meyers provided the only consistent offense in the passing game, joining teammate Damien Harris as the only players to post multiple receptions. Meyers made two key 10-yard receptions in the fourth quarter during a game-winning drive. The return of Josh Gordon makes things more complicated for players like Meyers but the 22-year-old is showing what he can do on the field.

From RotoBaller

Lance Kendricks Aug 17 10:50pm ET

New England Patriots tight end Lance Kendricks caught his first pass as a Patriot, a 28-yard reception in the team's preseason win over the Titans. One catch normally is not significant but Kendricks is expected to play a role early on this season with starter Benjamin Watson suspended the first four games. The Patriots have enjoyed production from the tight end position for almost a decade now and Kendricks could benefit playing in New England's offensive system. This is a very small step, but a step nonetheless for Kendricks.

From RotoBaller

Jarrett Stidham Aug 17 10:40pm ET

New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed 14-of-19 passes for 193 yards, including a game-winning touchdown, in the Patriots 22-17 preseason win over the Titans. Stidham hit wide receiver Damoun Patterson down the left sideline for 23 yards to put the Patriots ahead for the first time in the game. It was an efficient performance for the fourth-round rookie, who is looking at starting the season as the third-string quarterback. It is impossible to say whether Stidham is the "future" at quarterback for the Patriots but should see plenty of snaps in the final two preseason games.

From RotoBaller

Nick Brossette Aug 17 10:40pm ET

New England Patriots running back Nick Brossette totaled only 37 yards from scrimmage but scored a touchdown in his second straight preseason game against the Titans. Brossette's numbers have not been impressive but has executed in the red zone thus far in the preseason. Brossette will have to show more productivity than stuffing in one-yard touchdowns to be considered a serious factor when the regular season rolls around.

From RotoBaller

Demetrius Harris Aug 17 8:30pm ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Demetrius Harris was unable to corral either of his two targets in a 21-18 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Harris, who came over to Cleveland as a free-agent after spending five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, is expected to serve as the team's second tight end after David Njoku. Of course, Njoku is dealing with a knee injury, which will give Harris more run with the first team during preseason practices. The Browns should run more 12 personnel this season, which would get Harris on the field alongside Njoku in certain situations. Harris doesn't need to be drafted but he is worth monitoring just in case the Browns show that he is a significant part of their plans, especially in the red zone.

From RotoBaller

Rashard Higgins Aug 17 8:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins turned in a solid game in a 21-18 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Higgins caught all four of his targets for 34 yards in the win. The veteran receiver has been productive during the preseason as he further cements himself as the team's No. 3 wide receiver. While he won't see a high volume of targets behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Higgins is likely to have a few big games this season on what should be an exciting Browns offense. Keep him in mind as a potential flex option in deeper fantasy leagues this season.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Aug 17 8:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt saw two touches in a 21-18 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Hunt carried the ball twice for six yards and was unable to haul in his lone target in the win. The game action marked Hunt's preseason debut after he was not involved in the preseason opener last week. Hunt will begin serving an eight-game suspension once the regular season begins but he has some value as a flex option in PPR leagues when he does come back. Of course, using a draft pick on him will require a fantasy owner to keep him on the roster for over half of the fantasy regular season. That only seems like a viable plan in leagues with large roster settings.

From RotoBaller