Fantasy players to watch in training camp, 2018: NFC East
(As training camps draw near, Dan Schneier will spend the next few weeks highlighting some key players to monitor in each division. Whether it’s a rookie, a sleeper, a veteran, or something else, the series will identify the most important names fantasy owners need to keep an eye on in training camp for 2018. Track the whole series here.)
Nothing in the NFC East went as planned during the 2017 season, with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants totaling just half the games won from the previous season and with the Eagles going from worst to first. The NFC East faced a similar fate in fantasy football, with players like Dak Prescott failing to make the jump, the entire Giants offense failing to make good on their respective ADPs, Ezekiel Elliott missing games with a suspension, Carson Wentz emerging as a fantasy force, and Chris Thompson proving to be one of the most valuable fantasy assets on a per-game basis.
In 2018, the division faces major change with half the teams and more of the same with the others. The Eagles and Cowboys project very similarly from a fantasy outlook as they did prior to the Week 17 game — that is if you hold the opinion of Dez Bryant taking a step back and Michael Gallup potentially serving as the same or an upgrade for Prescott. The Redskins look nothing like they once did, adding Alex Smith, Derrius Guice, and Paul Richardson to the mix, and potentially getting back a healthy Jordan Reed. The Giants will not only look different because they have a dual-threat workhorse running back for the first time since Tiki Barber but also because they will be running an entirely different offensive scheme than they have the past four seasons.
We started this series Tuesday with the AFC East, and today we’ll preview the NFC East. The goal is to provide you with players to add to your targets list now for season-long leagues, but also with players to target or avoid in best-ball drafts that are currently underway on DRAFT and MFL.
Gallup lasted all the way until the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft at No. 81 overall despite ranking as the No. 49 overall player on PFF’s big board and being described by college analysts as possibly the best combination of athleticism and production in the receiver draft class. The Cowboys released Dez Bryant and added injury-plagued free agent wide receiver Allen Hurns in his place. Gallup’s competition at the boundary wide receiver position includes just Terrance Williams (who is battling a legal issue), Deonte Thompson, fellow rookie Cedrick Wilson, and Hurns.
The narrative: Gallup can take over as Prescott’s No. 1 in place of Bryant
The Cowboys offensive line only got stronger with the addition of Connor Williams and Elliott will not be facing a 2018 suspension (at least not yet). In other words, the Cowboys offense should move the ball and put up fantasy numbers, but with the losses of Jason Witten and Bryant, Gallup has an excellent opportunity to quickly emerge as Prescott’s No. 1 option both in the red zone and overall. Gallup has already been compared by the Cowboys wide receivers coach to Bryant due to his physical nature of play. If Gallup does earn Prescott’s trust early, he will be a steal — Bryant racked up 14 touchdowns in just 29 game appearances (not all fully healthy) with the quarterback now entering year three.