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State of the Team by Fantasy Position - NFC East
David Dorey
July 17, 2007

This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2007.

Dallas Cowboys
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 21 49 1 513 307 60% 3610 11.8 18 21 15 22
2005 36 48 2 499 300 60% 3639 12.1 23 17 13 10
2006 42 130 2 506 310 61% 4067 13.1 26 21 7 5


Quarterback
- The Cowboys switched to Tony Romo mid-stream last year and the early results were stellar - but Romo faded a bit down the stretch and eventually lost the ability to field a simple field goal snap. No changes here in personnel but the new coaching regime will have some impact. Tony Sparrano called the plays last year and remains as the Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach. Jason Garrett takes over as the Offensive Coordinator but as an ex-quarterback, he should not be a negative.


RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 418 1635 3.9 13 102 64 63% 461 1 16 22 12
2005 479 1801 3.8 10 90 67 74% 426 1 10 13 20
2006 427 1795 4.2 19 53 34 64% 359 2 12 19 4


Running Backs
- The Cowboys offense has trended away from throwing to the running backs with the improvement of tight end Jason Witten and the later addition of Terrell Owens. While the running game of 2007 was roughly the same yardage as 2005, there was a definite increase in yards per carry but that mainly happened because of Marion Barber who ran for 654 yards on 136 carries (4.8 YPC) while Julius Jones remained healthy but only had a 4.0 YPC on his 267 carries (1084 yards). Just as significant as that many of those carries by Barber were short-yardage or goal line and that actually brought his average down. Where the running backs really shined was scoring touchdowns when they ended 4th best in the NFL thanks to Barber crossing the goal line 14 times. Jones only managed a paltry four rushing scores.

Not likely anyone new to this mix but the roles of Jones and Barber could be redefined with the new coaching regime. Garrett has no body of work to refer to for what he will do with the duo of runners but it will be very hard to ignore Barber's 15 touchdowns last year. Since Bill Parcells is gone, so is any vested interest in keeping the backfield the same. Jones is in the final year of his contract but that too means nothing more than he has motivation. Training camp will be closely watched to see what will transpire in the backfield but short of obvious signs, some mixture of the two makes the most realistic expectation.


TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 129 91 71% 998 11 8 3 8        
2005 101 71 70% 796 11.2 7 8 8        
2006 120 78 65% 880 11.3 1 7 30        


Tight Ends
- You can thank Terrell Owens for ruining the fantasy value of Jason Witten. Overall, his catches and yardage was in line with previous seasons but his use near the goal line has all but disappeared with Owens there and Barber available for the short score. No reason to expect any change in this. While Wade Phillips comes from San Diego where Antonio Gates plays, Phillips was just the defensive coordinator. Dallas had drafted Anthony Fasano last year but mainly to serve as a blocker. Fasano only had 14 catches last season.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 263 150 57% 2097 14 10 24 27        
2005 297 162 55% 2417 14.9 15 12 10        
2006 335 196 59% 2818 14.4 23 8 3        


Wide Receivers
- Terry Glenn fell back from a red hot 2005 but he still managed 1047 yards and six touchdowns but Terrell Owens' 13 scores made a huge difference here. Owens gained 1180 yards and the Cowboys threw to the wideouts more with Owens as a wideout. Solid year that placed the Cowboys as Top 3 in wide out scores last year and still Top 10 in wide out yardage. The best that can happen here is to maintain what happened in 2006. Owens has a healthy hand again and despite being in his second season with the team has not been a media draw. Maybe he's getting older and maybe we all just got tired of it, but Owens has been no issue this offseason. The Cowboys have a very aging set of receivers but there's no youngster in the background looking to step up. Jerry Jones has already said he is done with grooming young wide receivers and just wants to buy them already experienced.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The only change here to the offense is the offense itself. All the same personnel return but the coaching staff and scheme will be different. That makes training camp important to learn the new playbook and reduce any learning curve. The only notable player based issue here is if Barber will supplant Jones as the starting tailback. But barring an outright statement and obvious signs, the Cowboys will enter 2007 still mixing the two and decreasing what either (mostly Barber) could do as a full-time back.

Camp starts July 24th; Preseason Games: 1-IND, 2-DEN, 3-@HOU, 4-@MIN



New York Giants
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 19 65 1 474 269 57% 3097 11.5 12 13 25 31
2005 32 77 1 558 294 53% 3762 12.8 24 17 11 6
2006 26 23 0 522 301 58% 3244 10.8 24 18 20 10


Quarterback
- After three seasons, Eli Manning still has yet to take the final step up to join his brother as an elite quarterback and while he started out 2006 with 13 scores in the first six games, he faded badly down the stretch. The Giants have a new offensive coordinator in the promoted Kevin Gilbride and that may help but Manning has to be that star player they thought they were getting in 2004. The departure of Tiki Barber removes a big chunk of the offense and now this makes Manning as the point man in the offense who will determine how well the Giants play. With Barber out, it's reasonable to expect Manning to throw more than in previous years and he appears to have a slightly better cast of receivers but it's all on him this year. Training camp will serve to set the stage for what will be a make or break year for Eli.

 

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 398 1794 4.5 17 101 69 68% 700 2 11 7 3
2005 430 2082 4.8 16 97 69 71% 641 2 4 3 7
2006 426 2121 5 14 108 77 71% 668 0 3 5 9


Running Backs
- Training camp is important this year since Barber has left the reins to the burly Brandon Jacobs and potentially Reuben Droughns as well. Jacobs has been a force near the goal line in both of his seasons but he's never had more than 96 carries in a season. He'll have three times that if he proves to be worthy of full-time status. The Giants wisely insured themselves by bringing on Reuben Droughns in a trade with the Browns that only cost Time Carter. Droughns may not be anything more than an average runner, but that will prove to be money well spent if Jacobs disappoints or gets injured. It remains to be seen if Droughns will have a role in a committee backfield or not. Historically, Tom Coughlin has shied away from them other than using Jacobs as a short-yardage bull to save wear and tear on Barber but Jacobs will certainly retain that role since he outweighs Droughns by 40 pounds or so and has outscored him 16 to 6 in rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons. With one of the softer rushing schedules in the NFL this year, training camp is important if only to see if Jacobs has the look of a true full-time back or if Droughns will be sharing in the bounty.

 

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 121 71 59% 727 10.2 8 11 9        
2005 138 74 54% 985 13.3 7 5 7        
2006 129 78 60% 704 9 7 13 8        


Tight Ends
- One of the most consistent tight ends in the NFL, Jeremy Shockey may miss a game or two each year but he plays like a top three tight end when he is in there. The Giants let Vishante Shiancoe go to the Vikings, so Shockey has no experienced back-up this year.

 

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 244 129 53% 1670 12.9 2 29 32        
2005 318 151 47% 2136 14.1 15 20 12        
2006 279 146 52% 1872 12.8 17 22 8        


Wide Receivers
- Two years with the Giants and Burress has far exceeded either season in Pittsburgh. While his yardage fell to only 988 from 1214 in 2005, he had a career high ten touchdowns to tie for 3rd best in the NFL last year. He never scored more than once but he never went more than one game without a touchdown in 2006. If Manning will throw more this year, it will have to be with Burress as the biggest target. Amani Toomer only played eight games last year thanks to a partially torn ACL but even in the games that he played he was less effective than ever. His 360 yards were his least since 1998 and the 11.3 yards per catch was an all-time low, even worse than the 11.4 last year. He's really fallen off in production and that comes at a time when Manning needs as much help as he can get. What is notable about the wideouts this year is that Steve Smith from USC was selected with the Giants 2.19 pick and he already looked very good in minicamp. Coming from USC, he's already very familiar with pro style offenses and big games. Of all the wideouts, Smith is the one to very keenly watch because he could make in roads to starting this year. Toomer is not getting any younger (33) and certainly no better coming off an ACL injury. Sinorice Moss followed his big brother's footsteps when he spent almost his entire rookie year injured but even if healthy this year the most he'll do is to replace the departed Tim Carter as wideout depth. Steve Smith is the interesting watch here.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - Manning needs to have a solid training camp if only to get some confidence going for what is a most important season. Training camp will help answer the question if Jacobs gets to be a 300+ carry back or if Droughns will be mixed in enough to water down Jacob's numbers. Steve Smith should also be closely followed to determine what his role may be this year. The Giants have a kinder schedule this year but the rushing game no longer has Barber and Toomer is in a nosedive. Time for other players to take their place and that starts in August.

Camp starts July 27th; Preseason Games: 1-CAR, 2-@BAL, 3-NYJ, 4-@NE

 

Philadelphia Eagles
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 53 222 3 546 336 62% 4208 12.5 32 11 6 4
2005 60 174 4 620 337 54% 3903 11.6 21 20 8 13
2006 56 301 3 541 322 60% 4298 13.3 31 8 4 2


Quarterback - Even though Donovan McNabb started out 2006 without Terrell Owens, his statistics were better than they were when Owens was there. McNabb was far and away the most productive quarterback. Through week seven, he had scored 19 touchdowns and never less than two per week., He had already had five games with 290 or more passing yards. As it worked out, he did enjoy a rather light schedule for the first half of the season but regardless, he was fantasy gold. After a couple of surprisingly pedestrian games against the Jaguars and Redskins, McNabb once again went down injured with a torn ACL. That made three straight seasons where McNabb could not play all 16 games. Training camp needs to show that he has recovered well from his most recent injury but the Eagles decided to prepare for the next problem by drafting Kevin Kolb who should see significant playing time in the preseason. Even if McNabb is injured again this year, there's no guarantee that HC Andy Reid turns to Kolb over A.J. Feeley, but at least training camp can show which player is most likely to be the back-up this year. And if you own McNabb, you need to know who his back-up is.

 

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 316 1405 4.4 7 148 112 76% 1054 6 25 9 27
2005 301 1238 4.1 7 160 101 63% 859 4 29 19 26
2006 354 1658 4.7 9 170 121 71% 1058 6 16 6 21


Running Backs
- After McNabb left for the season, Brian Westbrook stepped up to fill the void and turned in a career best season with 1217 rushing yards - about 400 more than he had ever done before. His role as the premier pass-catching back did not suffer either with 77 receptions for 699 yards. Westbrook turned in an astounding 12 games over 100 total yards and this after early season rumors had him nursing a bad knee that might end his season. But the Eagles know that Westbrook is not best served with 20+ carries a game because it is just begging for an eventual injury. To address that need, they drafted Penn State's Tony Hunt with their 3.27 selection. Hunt should prove to be a perfect complement to the smaller and speedy Westbrook. Hunt was knocked for lack of speed but at 6-0 and 230 pounds, he's a great choice for short-yarage and goal line carries and can fill in for Westbrook should he be injured. No longer content with bringing in aging veterans, the Eagles acquired a back that should have at least some fantasy value this year. Training camp will indicate how well Hunt can integrate into the NFL and he should get decent playing time in preseason games if only to save wear and tear on Westbrook. Hunt is already a prudent back-up for Westbrook owners but if he plays well in the preseason, he might be worth stealing in drafts as well.

 

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 104 68 65% 689 10.1 9 13 5        
2005 127 75 59% 794 10.6 5 9 14        
2006 102 64 63% 825 12.9 7 9 6        


Tight Ends
- The Eagles are happy with L.J. Smith but McNabb only had one truly good game with him last year when Smith posted 111 yards on seven catches against the Giants in week two. Otherwise, Smith was just another pass catching tight end and dropped much farther after McNabb left because the need to block was greater. Nothing to observe here in August really since Smith has become too consistent around 600 to 700 yards and maybe four scores per year.

 

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 295 155 53% 2460 15.9 17 15 9        
2005 323 161 50% 2250 14 12 17 19        
2006 271 137 51% 2421 17.7 18 14 7        


Wide Receivers
- As impressive as McNabb was throwing last year, any Eagle's wideout deserves fantasy attention and Reggie Brown returns for his third season. Brown wants to have a breakout year and already had 836 yards and eight scores in 2006 - most of that coming with McNabb. In those first seven weeks, Brown already had five scores and two games over 100 yards. He only had three more scores in the nine games without McNabb and never turned in more than 79 yards for the rest of the year. Brown is a definite watch for signs that he is taking the final step up. He has the opportunity and the quarterback - long as everyone stays healthy.

Kevin Curtis replaces Donte Stallworth and while this will be Curtis' first time as a full season starter, what better place to be? In 2005, Curtis replaced an injured Isaac Bruce for a good chunk of the year and had a career high six scores and three games over 90 yards. He should be a good fit and one that will stay healthier than Stallworth could. Training camp will be important for Curtis to learn the offense and hit the ground running in week one.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The three things that need to happen in August is for Tony Hunt to show that he is capable of being a back-up for Westbrook and a short-yardage/goal line back. That will help the Eagles and give Hunt potentially surprising fantasy value this year. Also those wideouts need attention. Brown is poised for a break-out season and Kevin Curtis has a chance to be another surprise so long as he can play as well as Stallworth did last year and remain healthy - unlike Stallworth and McNabb both. This is largely the same offense and stars again this year, but with nice additions of Hunt and Curtis.

Camp starts July 27th; Preseason Games: 1-@BAL, 2-CAR, 3-@PIT, 4-NYJ

 

Washington Redskins
QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2004 29 81 0 509 287 56% 2859 10 17 17 29 25
2005 49 114 0 479 277 58% 3329 12 24 11 22 8
2006 36 146 0 468 272 58% 3086 11.3 18 10 23 21


Quarterback
- After watching from the sidelines for a year, Jason Campbell stepped in for the last seven games of 2006 and posted nice numbers - 1297 passing yards, ten touchdowns and just six interceptions. That would equate to 3000 yards and 23 touchdowns over a 16 game season and Campbell scored at least once in every game. 2007 will be his first full season as the starter and he's already impressed. Taking that first year off paid dividends since he's already well down the learning curve. His yardage was never great since he topped out at 220 yards and fell below 200 four times but the rushing game in Washington has been carrying the load anyway. More reps in camp is all Campbell needs, there are no new receivers that need to get chemistry.

 

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2004 435 1686 3.9 6 86 56 65% 357 2 14 25 30
2005 470 2057 4.4 15 78 54 69% 389 8 5 7 8
2006 427 1875 4.4 13 115 90 78% 736 2 9 7 13


Running Backs
- This should be one of the more interesting camps in the league if only because LaDell Betts turned in an excellent season replacing Clinton Portis last year. Portis only played through week ten but he was injured much of the season, starting out with a shoulder sprain, breaking a bone in his hand and tearing his labrum. Over his nine games, Portis only managed to gain 523 yards on 152 carries but LaDell Betts caught on fire once he was the clear starter and starting in week twelve he ripped off five straight games over 100 rushing yards. Portis only had one last year. Betts gained 1154 yards on 245 carries with a 4.7 yard per carry average. Betts even had 455 yards on 53 catches. He may have only scored five times, but his yardage was a huge benefit to fantasy playoff teams last year. The Skins signed Betts to a $11 million five-year contract extension as a reward. That's not like starter money but it definitely ranks as "we want to keep you around" money.

Portis had been considered a durability problem when he came to the Skins but he only missed one game in his first two seasons and gained at least 1300 rushing yards both seasons. Portis won't be overworked at all in training camp after his many injuries of 2006 but Betts should get ample playing time in preseason games and in camp. The question now is if Betts becomes a far larger part of the rushing attack as a means to keep Portis healthy and realistically - Betts ran as well in 2006 as Portis ever had as a Redskin. But - the Skins are into the second season of styling a Chiefs-like offense (the good old one, not the bad new one) and that should pay major dividends to Portis for as much as he plays. As tempting as it seems to believe that Betts will be a big player in Washington this year, Portis remains the starter and the roles are not expected to change. It was just a really good year for Betts that put some nice coin in his pocket for the next five years as insurance for the Skins.

 

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 93 53 57% 465 8.8 10 24 4        
2005 146 92 63% 945 10.3 8 6 6        
2006 101 61 60% 756 12.4 7 11 7        


Tight Ends
- The beauty of Chris Cooley is that you can be sure he will get almost everything that goes to a tight end in Washington. Last year that meant 756 yards and seven scores - a step down from 2005. But he was also favored by Jason Campbell last year in the final seven games when they connected for three scores and three games over 70 yards. And Campbell used Cooley more as the season concluded. Cooley remains a valuable receiver in the Skins scheme and Campbell won't change that. Nothing needed here in August.

 

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD        
2004 329 179 54% 2052 11.5 6 25 30        
2005 246 132 54% 2012 15.2 9 24 25        
2006 248 123 50% 1682 13.7 10 29 23        


Wide Receivers
- The Redskins wideouts have never been that good outside of Santana Moss and even he took a major step backwards last year with only three good games over 100 yards and an embarrassing seven games under 40 yards. But Moss scored in only four different games last year and three of them came in the seven game span when Campbell finished the season - that's encouraging. The Skins are not going to be a big passing yardage team but whatever there is goes to Moss. For the last two years, no other wideout has turned in more than around 350 yards in a season besides Moss. The Skins opted for status quo with the wide receivers and there's nothing different here to consider. The only question really is how much will Campbell connect with Santana Moss.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - The Redskins are perhaps the least changed team coming into 2007 in fantasy terms. There are no new personnel to integrate into the system and after installing a new offense last year, this should be the season where the dividends are realized. The only really notable to come out of training camp will be how good Campbell looks in his brief preseason play. This is a run first team and Portis - or Betts if needed - will lead the way.

Camp starts July 27th; Preseason Games: 1-@TEN, 2-PIT, 3-BAL, 4-@JAX

Related Articles

State of the AFC East
State of the AFC North
State of the AFC South
State of the AFC West
State of the NFC East
State of the NFC North
State of the NFC South
State of the NFC West
a d v e r t i s e m e n t