With the Summer Sleeper series at its conclusion and the preseason underway, it’s time to review what we’ve learned since the beginning of camp and take a closer look at position battles, emerging players or roster surprises. With that in mind, we’re going to fire up the DLF RV and go division-by-division with some news and notes. While we won’t mention every single player (we have our player news feed for important news), we’ll take some time to run down some important dynasty information for each team.
Let’s start with the NFC East.
There’s no competition here as Dak Prescott has as firm a grip on a starting job as anyone in the league. However, this is a critical season for him as he’ll be asked to a lot without the services of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. The battle for the backup job is mildly interesting as Cooper Rush and Mike White will look to be the primary clipboard holder. It would take a magical preseason for either to be roster worthy in most dynasty leagues, however.
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Dynasty owners are clearly looking for an elite RB1 season from Ezekiel Elliott and he’ll have every chance to bring it to them. The rest of the depth chart consists of players like Rod Smith, Darius Jackson and the bruising Bo Scarbrough from Alabama, who will be fun to watch in the preseason as he tries to make the 53-man roster.
Now it gets interesting in Dallas. Targets are there for the taking and they need to be distributed amongst Allen Hurns. Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin, and Deonte Thompson, just to name a few. Unfortunately, late round rookie draft flyer Cedrick Wilson has been lost for the season with a shoulder injury. It sounds like the Cowboys are serious about using Beasley more than just in the slot and that could add up to a fruitful fantasy campaign for the veteran. Keep your eye on Lance Lenoir who has been turning heads early at camp. The Cowboys will need to have Gallup and at least one other player step up to make this group even borderline serviceable.
Many dynasty owners assumed Rico Gathers was the player to own here but Blake Jarwin is clearly standing out in camp and looks to have a leg up on Gathers, Geoff Swain and rookie Dalton Schultz as they all vie to replace the retired Jason Witten. Jarwin should be rostered in all formats at this point.
The Eagles are the envy of many NFL teams as they currently boast a Super Bowl MVP as their backup. With Nick Foles back for another season and Carson Wentz recovering quickly from his season-ending injury, the defending champs are all set. By all accounts, Wentz has looked good and should be ready to go for week one, barring any setbacks. There is no quarterback battle here as Wentz is clearly the present and the future for the Eagles – they just happen to have a backup most teams would like to have as a potential starter.
The battle for roster spots at running back is a very intriguing one for the Eagles as they currently have a depth chart consisting of Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Matt Jones, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey. At this point, it’s believed Pumphrey is beating out Smallwood, Adams and Jones for a spot behind Ajayi, Clement and Sproles. Adams is the sleeper here but he needs to get himself healthy and stand out in short order as its expected the Eagles will only keep four running backs. He seems to be a semi-popular post-rookie draft pickup but he’s losing steam in a hurry as this depth chart is loaded.
With the addition of Mike Wallace to an already stacked group that consists of Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, among others, it’s going to be tough for many players to carve out meaningful roles. However, don’t sleep on Mack Hollins, who continues to be impressive. While Hollins is no lock for production this season, he remains one of my favorite “stash” players in deeper dynasty leagues.
There’s no doubt Zach Ertz is the alpha dog in this group and a clear TE1. Still, rookie Dallas Goedert has consistently flashed in camp and looks like he could buck the trend of rookie tight ends failing to produce, despite clearly playing second fiddle to Ertz. It turns out David Akers may have actually had reason to be so excited when he yelled out that draft pick this year. Goedert slipped in most early rookie drafts and has been taken behind many other tight ends like Mike Gesicki and Hayden Hurst in a lot of drafts – that could prove to be a mistake as he’s looked the part early and often in camp. His short term value could be capped but his long-term future is looking very, very bright. To me, Goedert is looking like a rookie draft bargain for those who are willing to be patient.
The Kirk Cousins era is over and the Alex Smith era is about to begin. Other than Smith, there isn’t much to get excited about in terms of Redskins quarterbacks (and even Smith isn’t overly exciting, though he does make for a good QB2) with Colt McCoy and Kevin Hogan behind him.
Washington has struggled to find a traditional running back to hang their hat on since the days of Clinton Portis but they’ve likely found their man in Derrius Guice, who is entrenched as the second overall pick behind Saquon Barkley in just about every rookie draft. Chris Thompson still retains sneaky value and represents a nice buy opportunity as he should retain passing down duties in the backfield and that was more than enough to make him very valuable in dynasty leagues last season. The players who have clearly lost value in this backfield are Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley, who look very much like roster cloggers or handcuffs at this point.
The Redskins have tweaked their depth chart at receiver that now hosts the likes of Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson, Brian Quick, Maurice Harris and Robert Davis. We have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the top three on that depth chart as Doctson, Crowder and Richardson are locks for the primary receivers. Everything else coming out of camp points to Harris and Davis being the next best of the group and I still have Davis as a deep, deep sleeper.
It’s really pretty simple. Jordan Reed is a TE1 when he’s healthy and Vernon Davis is a viable fill-in if and when he’s not. Personally, I have Reed on every one of my “do not draft or own” lists and while his ADP has finally gone down (#128 at the moment), I’d still steer clear as I don’t trust him to stay healthy. Davis is a sneaky “throw in” in trades if you believe Reed won’t make it through the season. In fairness, Reed is saying he’s about 85 percent now and trending in a good direction.
New York Giants
The Giants are going all in with Eli Manning for at least one more season and have surrounded him with talented players who should help promote a late season resurgence. The backup job will be decided in the preseason as Davis Webb and Kyle Lauletta compete with each other. Deep dynasty owners are paying at least a little bit of attention there.
The Giants added a guy…can’t remember his name because we haven’t mentioned him much…uhh, ummm….oh yeah, Saquon Barkley is supposed to be good. All kidding aside, this is Barkley’s backfield and it’s hard to find much hope for aging Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman or anyone else on the roster. Expect Barkley to get all he can handle in year one.
The contract situation of Odell Beckham needs to get settled sooner, rather than later. At least it looks like the sides are talking. The Giants expect a big third-year leap from Sterling Shepard this season as well. Roger Lewis and Cody Latimer are the next most popular pickups in dynasty leagues. However, I’m really excited about what I’m hearing about Kalif Raymond, who is a wide receiver and kick returner who they seem to really love. He’s a player to watch, mostly because I want to write an article entitled, “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Evan Engram is a stud.