Fantasy football is just around the corner. Be sure to check back frequently for up-to-date fantasy football rankings. Keep those rankings in mind as we take a look at each division’s players on the rise, on the decline and ones to watch for all 32 teams. Here’s a look at the NFC East.
Allen Hurns, WR—I don’t think he’ll light the fantasy world on fire, but if you can grab a No. 1 receiver in the ninth round, it could pay off. There are some mock drafts where he’s going as late as the 11th round. Taking Hurns there would be a tremendous value. He had an outstanding second year in the league in 2015—catching 64 passes for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns—so he has the ability. He’s missed 11 games in the last two years, however.
Dak Prescott, QB—It’s hard to make a case for Prescott when he’s lost a big percentage of last year’s targets. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are no longer options for the third-year quarterback. He has the newly acquired Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin and rookie Michael Gallup. It’s a corps that doesn’t excite you. On the bright side, he’ll be available for free in drafts as he’s currently the 20th signal caller getting drafted.
One to watch
Rico Gathers, TE—The former basketball player had a great preseason last year, but a concussion derailed any shot at a breakout. With the job now open, Gathers likely has one more chance to make an impact. Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin are also in the mix to replace Witten, but neither has the natural ability as Gathers in my opinion.
Eli Manning, QB—Manning had a season to forget last year, but things should be looking up for the 37 year old. He gets Odell Beckham Jr. back and will have help in the backfield with rookie Saquon Barkley taking some pressure off. Barkley’s also a solid receiver out of the backfield. Add to that, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, and you have a lot of weapons for Manning. He’s being drafted in the 13th round so you can fill out your team before adding the veteran.
Jonathan Stewart, RB—Raise your hand if you knew Stewart is a Giant now. Ok, you probably knew he signed a two-year deal with his new team after the Panthers released him. But it probably wouldn’t have mattered if you didn’t since he’s likely to serve solely as backup to Barkley.
One to watch
Sterling Shepard, WR—Outside of missing five games last season, Shepard has been a solid fantasy contributor. He caught 59 passes for 731 yards and two touchdowns after reaching the end zone eight times in his rookie year. If the Giants can get things clicking offensively, Shepard can find himself as a solid flex play.
Jamison Crowder, WR—The presence of Josh Doctson and the addition of Paul Richardson aren’t making me think Crowder takes a step back. He caught 66 passes for 789 yards and three touchdowns last year and is hooking up well with new QB Alex Smith, according to reports. Fantasy owners have gotten the memo, as Crowder is being taken late in the seventh round. A nice spot to find a No. 1 receiver.
Jordan Reed, TE—Despite a long history of injuries, Reed is still getting drafted as high as the sixth round. That’s too expensive for someone that has yet to play a complete season in five years. Frankly, he’s on my do-not-draft list, given how you can’t trust his health. He’s only played more than 12 games once in his career.
One to watch
Chris Thompson, RB—This is a very interesting player to watch. He was ridiculously efficient in an injury-shortened season last year. He rushed 64 times for 294 yards and two scores. Thompson made his biggest impact catching the ball out of the backfield, hauling in 39 receptions for 510 yards and four more scores. He gained 7.1 yards on average per reception in 2016, but that shot up to 13.1 yards in 10 games last season. Derrius Guice will be the main man on the ground, but Thompson could still be relevant if he carves out a role on passing downs.
Jay Ajayi, RB—Ajayi was having a rough year last season before he was moved to Philadelphia from Miami. With the Dolphins he averaged just 3.4 yards per carry through seven games. With the Eagles, Ajayi rushed for a whopping 5.8 yards per rush in his final seven games of the season. He’ll be running behind one of the best lines in the league and should hold off Corey Clement for most touches out of the backfield. Ajayi is currently being taken in the fourth round of drafts, which isn’t too expensive for a running back of the Super Bowl champions.
Alshon Jeffery, WR—Jeffery played 16 games for the third time in his six-year career last season. He had a productive fantasy year, but he was very touchdown dependent. He caught just 57 passes for 789 yards. Jeffery’s nine touchdowns made his season. His low reception amount wasn’t from a lack of trying, however. Jeffery was targeted 120 times last year which means he caught less than half the passes that came his way.
One to watch
Nelson Agholor, WR—Since I’m wary of Jeffery, I think Agholor could end up having a better year than last season. He put it all together last year, catching 62 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns. I could definitely see him leap-frogging Jeffery as the top wideout for the Eagles since he nearly was last season.