by Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)
NY Giants 5-11
Draft selections: 1st Round traded last season for Amari Cooper WR (via LA Raiders), Trysten Hill DT (2.26), Connor McGovern G (3.26), Tony Pollard RB (4.26), Michael Jackson Sr CB (5.20), Joe Jackson DE (5.27), Donovan Wilson S (6.41). Mike Weber RB (7.4), Jalen Jelks DE (7.27)
Morris RB, Jason Witten TE (came out of retirement), George Iloka S, Randall
Offseason key departures: Allen Hurns WR, Scott Linehan Offensive Co-ordinator, Geoff Swain HB, Cole Beasley WR
Super Bowl odds: 20-1
The Cowboys rose to the top of a murky NFC East bloodbath with a second-half surge, winning seven of their last eight regular season games by just 35 points in total. This was the Zeke Elliot show most of the season as he led the league in rushing. If Zeke can tear himself away from the fajitas and Margaritas in Mexico then he stands a decent chance to repeat this feat. If Zeke is still holding out in September then the Cowboys will lean on rookie Tony Pollard. Dallas’s greatest strength is the offensive line, stacked with Pro Bowlers and led by All Pro Tackle Tyron Smith. The biggest in-season trade last year saw Amari Cooper move to Dallas, and he immediately made an impression, leading the team in receiving yards five times in the second half of the season. With a full off-season in Texas under his belt Cooper is primed to have his best output ever as a pro. Elsewhere Jason Witten has un-retired and will continue his journey to Canton with another season at tight-end. His return will stunt the growth of Blake Jarwin who looked a potential breakout candidate. The Cowboys defense is jam-packed with studs and if the core group can stay healthy this is going to be the first time the Cowboys can legitimately return to the Super Bowl since the days of Aikman, Irvin and Emmitt Smith.
Look out for: The unfolding situation regarding Zeke holding out. This is nothing to worry about now, but if this is still the case in two weeks then start praying to the fantasy gods. If the Cowboys start 3-1 they have the tools to go to the Big Dance. Rookie running back Tony Pollard, a fourth round pick, will be well worth monitoring in the pre-season. A dark-horse tip for fantasy success is Randall Cobb, who can suck up all the slot catches. Demarcus Lawrence is an unadulterated beast and will be pushing for an All Pro season.
Draft selections: Andre Dillard OT (1.22), Miles Sanders RB (2.21), JJ Arcega-Whiteside WR (2.25), Shareef Miller DE (4.36), Clayton Thorson QB (5.29),
Offseason key additions: Desean Jackson WR (returning back), Eli Harold DE, Jonathan Cyprien S, Zach Brown LB, Jordan Howard RB, Malik Jackson DT, Andrew Sendejo S,
Offseason key departures: Golden Tate III WR, Nick Foles QB, Jordan Hicks LB, Jay Ajayi RB.
Super Bowl odds: 14-1
Analysis: The talisman is gone, Nick Foles earned himself a monster monster FA deal in the sunnier climate of Jacksonville, leaving Carson Wentz atop the depth chart with no real challenge (backup Nate Sudfeld broke a bone in his hand in pre-season week 1). The Eagles went for a future replacement for stud T Jason Peters in round one, but the biggest impact rookie will be second-rounder Miles Sanders who will fight tooth and nail with FA signing Jordan Howard for starting snaps. The Eagles have quietly added to their defense with some solid but not headline grabbing signings. Malik Jackson will compliment All-World DT Fletcher Cox, and Zach Brown is a tackle magnet who the Redskins will sorely miss. Zach Ertz is arguably the best TE in the league as long as you are not a Chiefs or 49ers fan. Ertz will not match his 2018 output as Dallas Goedert will be looking to establish a bigger target share. The Eagles weakness is the secondary that will be a mixed bag in 2019, after suffering more injuries than a Saturday night at Holby City Hospital. Philly used 15 defensive backs last season and whilst Malcolm Jenkins and Ronald Darby return they are not a top 10 pairing.
Look out for: Desean Jackson will be tearing down the flanks and will be odds on to lead the NFL in yards per catch as well as being a YAC (yards after catch) madman. Providing the chemistry with Carson Wentz melds together early this could be enough to win a few games alone. The way that Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders work together will be key, and expect both on the field at the same time in certain situations. The season will rest on Wentz staying upright, and that is where the offensive line will determine their destiny. Lookout for a swansong from pocket rocket Darren Sproles, who has the biggest heart in the league.
New York Giants:
Draft selections: Daniel Jones QB (1.6), Dexter Lawrence DT (1.17), Deandre Baker CB (1.30), Oshane Ximines DE (3.31), Julian Love CB (4.6), Ryan Connelly LB (5.5), Darius Slayton WR (5.29), Corey Ballentine CB (6.7), George Asafo-Adjei OT (7.18) Chris Slayton DL (7.31).
Offseason key additions: Golden Tate WR, Markus Golden LB, Jabrill Peppers S, Kevin Zeitler G, Antione Bethea S, Cody Latimer WR, Olsen Pierre DT, Rod Smith RB.
Offseason key departures: Odell Beckham Jr WR, Landon Collins S, Connor Barwin LB.
Super Bowl odds: 100-1
Analysis: Is it finally here? Is the Eli Manning era finally over when the Giants controversially selected Duke’s Daniel Jones at 6th overall in the 2019 NFL draft. Jones looked efficient in his pre-season debut against the Jets, but this is not real football. We all know RB Saquon Barkley will be over-worked like an Egyptian donkey but he simply cannot take defensive snaps and is powerless for half of every game. The Giants must have a curse over their pass catchers as Golden Tate is suspended four games (pending an appeal), Corey Coleman is lost for the season with injury and Sterling Shephard has a broken thumb. And some other no-name guy left to go and work in a dog pound. The best option Manning has is to find TE Evan Engram early and often (after all he is on my Full 10 yards staff fantasy roster). The Giants went heavy on defense in the draft with a DT and CB in round one. Both will likely move into early starting roles. This is not a dominant defense by any means, arguably one of the weakest in the NFL, with no big names and two new safeties in the form of Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea. If you play the Giants go deep and do it often.
Look out for: The betting line is not going to be about wins in the Big Apple, it’s going to focus on the week that Daniel Jones gets the starting gig. The Giants and Redskins will compete for overall ineptitude in the entire NFC conference, so apart from Barclay I can’t see much to get excited over. After all who drafted Wayne Gallman, Rhett Ellison, Russell Shepherd or Bennie Fowler onto their fantasy rosters – nobody !
Draft selections: Dwayne Haskins QB (1.15), Montez Sweat EDGE (1.26), Terry McLaurin WR (4.10), Bryce Love RB (4.10), Wes Martin G (4.29), Ross Pierschbacher (5.15), Cole Holcomb LB (5.35), Kelvin Harmon WR (6.34). Jimmy Moreland (7.13), Jordan Brailford EDGE (7.39)
Offseason key additions: Landon Collins S, Case Keenum QB, Jon Bostic ILB, Dominic Rogers-Cromartie CB, Ereck Flowers OT, Donald Penn OT.
Offseason key departures: Zach Brown LB, Preston Smith OLB, Jamison Crowder WR, Ty Nsekhe OT, Ha-Ha Clinton Dix S, Maurice Harris WR, Mason Foster LB.
Super Bowl odds: 100-1
Analysis: Remarkably just after the half-way point of the 2018 season the Redskins were 6-3, leading the NFC East, watching two grizzled veterans (Alex Smith QB and Adrian Peterson RB) having outstanding seasons, and then one missed assignment and one hit later and the whole season went to hell in a handcart. Once Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg break the season went on a downward spiral that would have even been too much for Jamie and his magic torch (look him up on YouTube). Two new quarterbacks, Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins, will battle it out for starts during the season, but the bigger problem is who will be catching the ball. The Redskins probably have the weakest set of wide outs in the entire NFL, and will be hoping rookies Terry McLaurin or Kelvin Harmon can step up. The offensive line is currently without All Pro Trent Williams who wants to leave, and the running game is questionable with projected starter second-year back Derrius Guice yet to take a regular season handoff. Jordan Reed at tight end simply can’t stay on the field, but at least the supporting cast of Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle offer some hope. The mega-bucks signing of safety Landon Collins from the Giants will be under the spotlight. Collins grew up loving former Redskins superstar Sean Taylor, if he can be a quarter as good as #21 then this is a winning move. The Redskins traded back up to the end of the first round to grab Montez Sweat a DE/OLB hybrid, who will learn a lot about how to survive in the NFL from Ryan Kerrigan.
Look out for: This season should hold no expectations for Redskins fans as the likes of Dwayne Haskins, Derrius Guice, Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon will be playing their first games in the pros. Late round fantasy tip is Trey Quinn WR, one of my slot machines. CB Josh Norman is now Josh Normal at corner, and S Landon Collins is new and will need to make a big impression in his first month to garnish fan respect. The defensive line is the Redskins only real strength, with high profile draft picks Jonathan Allen and Darron Payne looking for end of season award recognition. Look out for the lesser known DT Matt Ioannidis, he is emerging as a star and has 10 sack potential.
2019 Season Prediction
With the offensive line intact, and the cornerback duo of Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, along with Demarcus Lawrence wreaking havoc and Leighton Vander Esch tackling everything in sight I simply cannot look beyond the Cowboys, who I can realistically see representing the NFC in the Super Bowl this season. This only happens if Zeke Elliot is back, and if Dak Prescott keeps his focus. The Cowboys got off to an awful start last season and they cannot afford to do the same this time. The Eagles will be a quality team again, but Carson Wentz simply cannot stay fit for 16 games. Philly’s running game will be a nightmare for fantasy owners and the pocket rocket Darren Sproles will want to go out on a high. The Giants will wrestle between giving Eli a respectful farewell tour or giving Daniel Jones regular season game reps. I suspect Jones will be starting by Week 10 at the latest. The Redskins will simply be a hot mess. This is one of those years that you simply have to take on the chin if you are a Washington supporter. With no proven wide receivers, a brittle tight end and an offensive line whose best player (Trent Williams) may be gone before the end of pre-season don’t expect a 6-3 start like 2018.
Dallas 12-4* (* = with Zeke from Week 1)
Philadelphia 11-5 (Wild Card)
New York 4-12