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
John Ross Aug 12 12:20pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III has left camp to be with his son after both his son and his son's mother tested positive for COVID-19. Ross missed Tuesday's practice and has no timetable for a return. The speedy wideout is clearly prioritizing his family over football, rightfully so, at this point of the preseason. Ross will be placed on the Reserve/COVID list while he is away from the team.

From RotoBaller

Tavon Austin Aug 12 12:20pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers are bringing free-agent wide receiver Tavon Austin in for a workout. The team is hoping to sign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver if the workout goes well. San Francisco is looking to bolster their pass-catching corps after speedy wideout Travis Benjamin opted out of the 2020 season last week. Austin caught 13 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown in 14 games with the Cowboys last season.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Gibson Aug 12 12:10pm ET

Washington running back Antonio Gibson has been doing all he can to learn an NFL playbook amid the coronavirus pandemic, which includes sitting in on wide receiver meetings in the early part of camp. Gibson played receiver in college, but also had 33 carries and is expected to primarily be a running back in the NFL, especially with the team releasing Derrius Guice following his arrest. Last season at Memphis, Gibson scored eight receiving touchdowns and added four on the ground so the "Swiss Army Knife" player will be a matchup nightmare for defenses. It will take Gibson time to learn everything about the RB position, but he is electric with the ball in his hands so expect Washington to get creative finding ways to get him involved. Gibson is a high-upside sleeper to target late in fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Aug 12 11:40am ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will look to take a step forward in his second NFL season, and will be doing so with a new offensive coordinator in former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. In his first public comments since being hired in January, Garrett raved about the sophomore-signal caller's work ethic and the work Jones put in to learn the offense without the two being able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jones showed huge upside last season with five-300 yard passing games and three games with four-plus touchdowns. His main issue was turnovers as he threw 12 picks and fumbled a league-leading 18 times. Garrett had great success with Dak Prescott, so expect him to help Jones improve in year two making him a good QB to target if waiting on the position in drafts.

From RotoBaller

Kenjon Barner Aug 12 11:03am ET

Free-agent RB Kenjon Barner (Falcons) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday, Aug. 12.

From TheHuddle

Nick Chubb Aug 12 11:00am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb told reporters during a Zoom session on Tuesday that he is "ready to share work with (Kareem) Hunt and play alongside him in the same backfield." Chubb and Hunt played eight games together in 2019 after Hunt served an eight-game suspension to begin the season. Chubb told reporters, "Last year, it was just half a season (with Hunt), and this year, he's here and ready. I look forward to it." While Hunt's presence in the backfield will affect Chubb in the passing game, the Browns figure to skew run-heavy under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. That, along with a revamped offensive line, should lead to more than enough fantasy production for both Chubb and Hunt in 2020. Draft Chubb as a low-end RB1 in all formats this season.

From RotoBaller

Vic Beasley Aug 12 10:53am ET

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley (undisclosed) failed his physical and was placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

From TheHuddle

T Y Hilton Aug 12 9:33am ET

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 12, and was activated from the active/Non-Football Injury list.

Fantasy Spin: Hilton has been plagued by soft-tissue injuries, and this hamstring injury adds more trepidation. He's a WR3 that you need a backup plan for, but he has upside there as well.

From TheHuddle

Matthew Stafford Aug 12 12:30am ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been cleared to play football after a COVID-19 test resulted in a false positive. Stafford commented, "I want to play football. I want to be out there", in addressing a situation he referred to as "scary". The veteran quarterback was on his way to one of the best seasons of his professional career last year, passing for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in only eight games. But a fractured back ended his season Stafford and his fantasy value will be weighed down by the specter of that injury heading into fantasy drafts.

From RotoBaller

Equanimeous St. Brown Aug 11 11:23pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown (ankle) will be ready for the first practice Saturday, Aug. 15, according to general manager Brian Gutekunst.

From TheHuddle

Evan Engram Aug 11 11:13pm ET

New York Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) said he is ready for training camp thanks to 'a very strong and aggressive rehab' this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Engram has delivered TE1 production when on the field, but he has played just 19 games over the past two seasons because of various injuries. He could be a Top 5 player at his position, but you need to have a quality backup plan in place.

From TheHuddle

Boston Scott Aug 11 11:03pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles RB Boston Scott is 'positioned to be the No. 2 running back' in 2020, according to Zach Berman of The Athletic, and Berman said he expects Scott to have a Darren Sproles-like role in the backfield.

Fantasy Spin: Scott flashed his upside late last season, piling up 151 rushing yards, 199 receiving yards and scoring four times over the final four games. Miles Sanders is the lead back in Philadelphia, but his owners may want to grab Scott as a handcuff.

From TheHuddle

Malik Turner Aug 11 11:00pm ET

For the second day in a row, the Green Bay Packers have added a wide receiver. This time, it's former Seahawks wideout Malik Turner, who had 15 catches for 245 yards last season. Turner's much more likely to play a role on this team than the other addition, Travis Fulgham, but he still faces an uphill battle to be a fantasy-relevant part of this roster in 2020. Still, Green Bay is fairly shallow at receiver, so Turner could end up as the team's No. 3 wide receiver by the time the regular season rolls around.

From RotoBaller

Jimmy Garoppolo Aug 11 9:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer wearing a knee brace in practice this year.

Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo had previously said his knee is back to 100 percent following his 2018 injury, and shedding the brace is further confirmation. A more mobile Garoppolo could lead to a few more big plays, but he should probably still be viewed as more of a high-end QB2 than a every-week fantasy starter.

From TheHuddle

Mike Daniels Aug 11 8:03pm ET

Updating a previous story, free-agent DT Mike Daniels (Lions) agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth up to $2.7 million with the Cincinnati Bengals Tuesday, Aug. 11, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Aug 11 7:23pm ET

Updating a previous story, free-agent CB Ross Cockrell (Panthers) will remain a free agent after failing to come to terms on a contract with the New York Giants.

From TheHuddle

Aug 11 6:33pm ET

Free-agent DT Darius Kilgo (Lions) signed with the New England Patriots Tuesday, Aug. 11. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

From TheHuddle

P.J. Hall Aug 11 6:13pm ET

Free-agent DT P.J. Hall (Raiders) visited the Houston Texans Tuesday, Aug. 11.

From TheHuddle

Xavien Howard Aug 11 4:23pm ET

Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 11.

From TheHuddle

Vic Beasley Aug 11 4:13pm ET

Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley (undisclosed) was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Tuesday, Aug. 11. LB Reggie Gilbert was waived.

From TheHuddle