Today we’ll continue our 2019 Players to Watch series, turning our attention to the NFC East! Home to the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and New York Giants, the NFC East is full of rich history and storied rivalries. In today’s post, we’ll focus on one player from each NFC East team. Each of these players is in a position to make major waves this offseason, keep an eye on them and stay ahead of your fantasy competitors. Let’s get started:
Dallas Cowboys: Blake Jarwin, TE
If you’ve heard of Blake Jarwin, you were probably watching SportsCenter the day after Jarwin exploded onto the scene with 7 catches for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns in week 17 against the Giants. Jarwin ended the season as the Cowboys’ primary tight end after the team lost Geoff Swaim to injury. Swaim is set to hit free agency, and if he does not return to the team, Blake Jarwin would be the obvious next man up. The Cowboys have lacked a viable threat in the middle of the field since Jason Witten’s retirement. Blake Jarwin provides Dak Prescott with a big target to feed between the sticks as well as in the red zone, but he will have to establish himself as a reliable blocker to solidify a hold on lead tight end duties. If Blake Jarwin continues to build on a strong finish to the season, Dallas may be dissuaded from adding any new faces to the tight end room, effectively making Blake Jarwin an immediate fantasy asset.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB
When Jay Ajayi was traded from the Miami Dolphins, there were reports that the Dolphins were nervous about Ajayi’s health. Specifically, Miami was worried that old knee injuries would soon catch up to the young running back. Fast forward to the 2019 offseason, Ajayi is a free agent who was unable to play his contract year with the Eagles after suffering a torn ACL in week 5 of last season. Jay Ajayi still has a chance to regain form and re-establish himself as one of the better running backs in the league. However, teams (including the Eagles) will most likely view him as someone best used in a backfield committee, splitting touches with one or more of his contemporaries. If the Eagles opt not to bring the veteran back, it could open things up for Corey Clement and Josh Adams. However, it’s more likely that the Eagles would pursue a replacement in the form of a free agent signing. It’s worth paying attention to Ajayi’s rehab, as his presence, or lack thereof, will ultimately shape the Eagles’ 2019 running back corps.
Washington Redskins: Colt McCoy, QB
The Washington Redskins might have the worst luck among NFL franchises. The roster was ravaged by injury last season. Colt McCoy became the second Redskins quarterback to land on injured reserve with a broken leg, joining Alex Smith in week 13. Alex Smith would be the logical starter, but given the severity of his injury, it’s not likely that Smith suits up next season, if at all. This leaves the Redskins with Colt McCoy as the next man up, however, though McCoy’s own injury is less severe than Smith’s, he will still need time to rehab before he is ready to lead an NFL franchise. It’s very likely that Washington would try to bolster the quarterback room by adding fresh legs to the group via the NFL draft. Colt McCoy was playing well before his injury, so if Washington were to add a rookie QB, the starting job would likely be McCoy’s to lose. Quarterback is undoubtedly the most important position in football. If the Redskins do not find a viable long term starter, it’s unlikely that any of their other skill players will be able to achieve fantasy relevance. Washington’s entire offensive plan for 2019 will likely be predicated on their quarterback situation. Before you roll the dice on drafting a Redskin, make sure the man under center is 100%.
New York Giants: Eli Manning, QB
Eli Manning isn’t done. It’s obvious given the lack of effort the Giants have exhibited in finding Manning’s heir apparent. Eli was sacked 47 times in 2018, and at times he looked punch drunk. But even still, in 2018 Manning completed 66% of his pass attempts for 4,299 yards. Any QB should thrive given the potent weapons the Giants possess at every skill position. Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley, and Evan Engram represent arguably the best WR/RB/TE combo in the league. If the Giants address some obvious needs on the offensive line, Eli should be able to stay on his feet, and avoid being sacked at the astronomically high rate we saw in 2018. All signs point to one more productive year for Eli Manning as an NFL starter. Manning is still a top 20 fantasy quarterback, but I don’t think it’s fair to expect his career to reach into his 40’s. 2019 is likely to be Eli Manning last, expect the Giants to start exploring younger options, but don’t expect anyone to step in this year and take the reigns.
That does it for our 2019 Players to Watch: NFC East! Stay tuned for the next installment, it will be coming quick as I will try to wrap up this series before the NFL Combine. Make sure you don’t miss anything and follow us on facebook!