NFC East fantasy football preview: Player outlooks, top targets, sleepers

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Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts waits to participate in a drill during the NFL football team's training camp, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The NFC East has some of the best talent in the NFL, and it’s resulted in plenty of successful fantasy football seasons. 2023 looks to be more of the same with most of the top talent returning to the division, which includes the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles Washington Commanders.

We broke down the fantasy-relevant players on all four teams and concluded that analysis with four breakout candidates along with four sleepers.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles became one of the NFL’s elite offenses in 2022, and that shouldn’t change thanks to Jalen Hurts guiding the ship. Hurts is an elite dual-threat quarterback, and he’ll once again be an important part of the running game that will feature newcomers D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny. Swift appears to have the steadier role, but Penny should get more work on early downs in what’s shaping up to be a tough backfield to predict for fantasy with Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott also involved. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith formed an elite wide receiver duo last season and should do more of the same in 2023 with low-volume targets Olamide Zaccheaus and Quez Watkins their main competition. Tight end Dallas Goedert will play an important role as the primary receiving tight end and is well worth a pick in the middle rounds since only Brown and Smith see more targets than him.

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott is coming off a disappointing season, but he should bounce back in 2023 with improved weapons and the aggressive Mike McCarthy calling the plays. Tony Pollard appears to have the backfield to himself with Ezekiel Elliott out the door, and while Pollard should thrive in a lead role, backup Malik Davis and rookie Deuce Vaughn could be more involved than some are thinking since Pollard’s never carried a huge workload before. CeeDee Lamb is a budding star and should be one of the first five wide receivers drafted, and he’ll have help as far as defenses not being able to focus all their attention on him thanks to the addition of veteran Brandin Cooks as a strong No. 2 option and a healthy Michael Gallup serving as a solid No. 3. The tight end position is somewhat of a mystery with Dalton Schultz no longer in the fold, but Jake Ferguson could be worth a look some weeks as the primary receiving tight end, and rookie Luke Schoonmaker is another name to monitor.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones received a huge contract extension thanks to a career-best season, and he should remain fantasy-relevant thanks to his rushing ability. Saquon Barkley will return motivated on a one-year deal and should once again be a top-five running back option with only veteran Matt Breida and rookie Eric Gray behind him on the depth chart. The wide receiver position is still a mystery, but Isaiah Hodgins appears to have established himself as a starter in three-wide sets after last season’s mini breakout, with newcomer Parris Campbell and rookie Jalin Hyatt the more exciting options as opposed to returning veterans Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard. Darren Waller takes over as the primary receiving threat at tight end and could be in line for a resurgence as the Giants’ most reliable weapon and has little competition for snaps since second-year tight end Daniel Bellinger didn’t show much as a rookie.

Washington Commanders: Eric Bieniemy comes over from the Chiefs to help inject new life into an offense that’s currently the worst in this loaded division, but young quarterback Sam Howell has the potential to lead a turnaround assuming he can beat out veteran Jacoby Brissett for the starting job. Bieniemy’s offense will likely feature more running plays than the Chiefs, which is welcome news to the duo of Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson, who should both be fantasy-relevant most weeks with Robinson leading the way on early downs and Gibson receiving the majority of the passing down work. Terry McLaurin will be the No. 1 receiver once again and is one of the more consistent fantasy options in the middle rounds, but second-year wideout Jahan Dotson could be in line for a breakout after passing up Curtis Samuel in the second half of last season as the clear No. 2 option in the passing game. Logan Thomas returns as the starting tight end, but he likely won’t see enough targets to be fantasy relevant.

TOP DRAFT DAY TARGETS

Saquon Barkley, Giants RB: Barkley’s contract situation is resolved, and he’ll be motivated once again to prove his worth as an elite running back and should be drafted in the first round as one of the top running backs in fantasy football.

DeVonta Smith, Eagles WR: Smith’s second-year breakout was quiet since was outscored by teammate A.J. Brown, but the bottom line was that Smith’s production was more consistent, especially in the second half to where we’ll bank on him being close to as productive as Brown.

Jahan Dotson, Commanders WR: Dotson was mainly a red zone weapon in 2022, but he came on strong down the stretch and should be targeted more heavily this season.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys QB: A Prescott resurgence appears to be on the horizon with a fresh playbook and added weapons, and he goes late enough in drafts to where the risk is very low even if he falls flat again.

DEEP SLEEPERS

Rashaad Penny, Eagles RB: Fellow newcomer D’Andre Swift is being drafted much higher, but the bottom line is that Penny will see more work on early downs and could end up the better fantasy option since he should see more valuable goal-line looks.

Parris Campbell, Giants WR: The Giants receiving corps is tough to predict, but Campbell could end up being the guy that Daniel Jones counts on since he’s a very talented slot option when healthy.

Malik Davis, Cowboys RB: Tony Pollard’s being drafted high enough to where no one is talking about Davis, but Pollard has never handled a significant workload before, so Davis could see more touches than expected and would be fantasy relevant if Pollard were to get injured.

Sam Howell, Commanders QB: Howell isn’t worth targeting in single quarterback leagues, but he’s a sneaky option in superflex formats since he’s got a solid cast of weapons and can run if needed as shown during his time at North Carolina.

OTHER FANTASY FOOTBALL DIVISIONAL PREVIEWS

AFC North

AFC East

AFC South

 

AFC West

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