NFC East Season Preview
By: Luke Fontaine
Good Free Men Staff Writer:
The Dallas Cowboys first player to watch out for is Dak Prescott. We saw an unbelievable start to Dak's career during his rookie season, where he not only started all 16 games and went yard for 23 TDs, 4 INTs and 3,667 yards. Last season was not the same having 1 fewer TD, 9 more INTs and 300 fewer yards.
A lot of the speculation says this has to do with Ezekiel Elliott's absence. However, a majority of the league has lost the fear they once had of Dak during his huge rookie season. If Elliott, is in fact that missing link, expect a big year from Dak, regardless of losing his top targets.
The 2nd player to watch is Michael Gallup. After losing, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten in the offseason, the Cowboys need someone to fill those shoes.
Now many look to the potential of Allen Hurns, who put up a 1,000 yard season in 2015. But his potential in Jacksonville, sputtered from there, unable to see him step up as the WR1
Can Allen Hurns, make a comeback? Absolutely. But I'm going to pay more attention to the recently drafted rookie Michael Gallup. He's been a camp standout and clearly Dak's favorite receiver. Expect a big year from the rookie, with a high floor for stats since there's so few mouths to feed.
Ask me a month ago who to watch and it would have been a no-brainer to say RB Derrius Guice. The Redskins have had a stunted running game for the last few seasons.
Insert, their newest addition. Future Hall of Fame running back, Adrian Peterson. Yes, he is old and not someone you want your team to rely on, he also does bring his ego and attitude issues. But that doesn't mean the man can't still get the job done.
Last year, Adrian Peterson was well on pace to break 1,000 yards rushing for the 8th time in his career, had he play the full season. If he can revive the dead running game in Washington, Alex Smith has full-power to make the Redskins tough competition in the NFC East.
The other Redskin to watch is last years first rounder Jonathan Allen. He only played 5 games before injurying his foot and ending up on the injured-reserve.
However, he has big potential to kickstart the re-build of the Redskins defense. Their secondary is set with Swearinger and Norman, but if Allen can lead the frontlines, the defense becomes a lot more well-rounded and the Redskins can become strong sleepers this season.
The Eagles are a pass heavy offense, under Coach Doug Pederson. Pederson, was birthed from the Andy Reid coaching tree, which largely means, everyone on the offense, becomes a receiver. This includes running backs, but with a stronger emphasis on tight ends.
This is the reason why Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz are within the Top 3 tight ends in the league. Also the reason, why the Bears paid big money to make Eagles back-up Trey Burton, their TE1 as they begin their Andy Reid influenced offense.
The Eagles lost both back-up TE's this offseason in Brent Celek and Trey Burton, who both had a big role on the Eagles. With no-one to replace them, the Eagles drafted TE Dallas Goedert in the 2nd round. A pass-catching tight end who had over 3,000 receiving yards in college.
Although playing a secondary role, expect Goedert to have a strong rookie year, with at least +500 yards passing and 5 TD's that are up for the taking. If Ertz goes down, Goedert should be owned on every fantasy team you have.
The second player to watch is WR Mike Wallace who the Eagles brought on over from Baltimore this offseason.
Wallace will be competing for the WR2 spot with Nelson Agholor, behind Alshon Jeffery. Agholor and Wallace had similar 2017 campaigns, both ending with about 750 yards each.
But one WR will move ahead of the other this season and I'm predicting this will be Mike Wallace. Wallace was pinned under the declining play of QB Joe Flacco and is now moving onto an MVP caliber QB.
Most of all, Wallace is available. He rarely misses a game, he's not flashy when he plays, but he's consistent. So when Jefferey has the inevitable hamstring pull, expect Wallace to be available and his veteran presence will allow him to coast into some impressive stats, this season.
New York Giants
I don't think there's any rookie outside of the RB's that the league is more hyped to see play than #2 pick Saquon Barkley.
Usually, running backs are a dime-a-dozen and can be found in any round.
So taking Barkley at the #2 pick overall, means there's exceptional talent and that he should be in Pro Bowl form within his first few games.
Saquon brings that same vibe that Beckham has. Bit of a diva and likes the attention. Whether it's wearing his Giants t-shirt, days before the draft was to take place. Or whether it's posing naked for ESPN, Saquon brings that Deion Sanders type of cockiness.
I think this is bad news for the NFC East, because the chances of Saquon becoming a Beckham clone are high. Most people already have him set as the next Ezekiel Elliott, drafting him in fantasy as a Top 10 pick.
Two players with that type of skill and that type of confidence can be infectious to a locker room, that often looks up to the less energetic Eli Manning.
Saquon is going to balance out this offense well, Jonathan Stewart may nab-up some goal-line TD's here and there. But at the end of the day, the entire back-field belongs to Saquon.
The last player to watch is Linebacker Alec Ogletree. Even though Ogletree had a down year, I think in this Giants 3-4 defense you're going to see him thrive.
The man plays like a 30-year old veteran, as he lead the LA Rams defense last season. But at only 26, he acts very mature for his age, which is why the Giants made it a priority to get him.
Ogletree is going to be the glue on the Giants defense for years to come. He will be directing traffic like he has in the past, I'm sure his numbers will rise beyond last years very quickly.