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Fantasy Football Burning Questions for 2020: NFC East

The King’s new series on hot fantasy football topics for the 2020 season focuses on separate divisions in each edition. We will examine some of the biggest burning questions per team as you plan for your upcoming drafts.

In this installment, we tackle some significant fantasy issues in the NFC East. There is an interesting WR battle in Dallas, an erratic but alluring QB in New York (New Jersey if you wanna be real), and tempting RB picks in Philadelphia and Washington.

You have the questions, the King provides the answers.

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Dallas Cowboys: Should you draft Michael Gallup or CeeDee Lamb?

The Cowboys have done an admirable job of finally building up the WR crew for Dak Prescott. Amari Cooper has settled in as the WR1, and Gallup has certainly shown some promise. Now Lamb comes in as a rookie, and he could have the most eventual upside of the three. He was arguably the best wide receiver in the 2020 rookie class and could challenge for a starting job in his first NFL season.

What is somewhat overlooked is that Gallup reached 1,000 receiving yards in 14 games last season. In his last five games, he had three outings (and five overall) of 98 yards or more and three games with five or more catches. He averaged 16.8 yards per catch, which ranked seventh in the NFL. So it’s apparent that Gallup has upside and a solid rapport with Prescott. Yet you have to wonder after catching just 66 balls last year, is he consistently effective enough to be a true No. 2 WR for Dallas?

Lamb may turn out to be a more complete NFL WR, and there seems to be one unspoken indicator that he may overtake Gallup on the depth chart at some point: If the Cowboys really viewed Gallup as an ideal second wideout, they would have not taken Lamb with a first-round pick. Lamb also projects to be a more complete WR than Gallup. He is advertised as a very good route runner who has outstanding yardage-after-the-catch ability and can make tough catches when needed. He has height, good hands, separates from defenders and can make plays on all types of throws. It may just be a matter of time before he vaults past Gallup on the depth chart.

Most rookie WRs cannot be expected to become fantasy WR2s. But if Lamb proves to be a quick study, he will push Gallup to a No. 3 role in Dallas, which would be a luxury for the Cowboys, but that scenario can seriously harm his fantasy appeal.

As soon as Lamb takes the field, the sands of the fantasy hourglass will start trickling away on Gallup's value. Lamb’s promise is so tantalizing that some analysts have suggested he could eventually become Prescott’s No. 1 WR. Gallup has an ADP of 81 overall, while Lamb is at 103. My indication here is that Gallup is being overdrafted and he will be reduced to a fantasy reserve over time. Lamb’s arrow will point up as soon as he plays in his first pro game and he has fantasy WR3 potential as a rookie. Pass on Gallup in your drafts and do not hesitate to go aggressively after Lamb, possibly in the range where Gallup is being taken.


New York Giants: Can Daniel Jones be a fantasy starter?

Jones has an ADP of 123, and is the 13th QB off the board, so savvy fantasy players are viewing him just outside the QB1 window. You can obviously wait on Jones if you want an upside play as a backup QB in a standard league with just one starter at the position. If you are feeling extra gutsy, you can land him as your projected starter if you are the type that waits later than most in your drafts to nab your first QB.

Jones will be immediately pushed into starting slots in two QB and Superflex formats. Overall, Jones averaged 17.4 points per game in 2019, which ranked 16th among players at his position. He threw for 24 TD passes in 13 games, which is certainly respectable, but his 12 interceptions and 11 fumbles lost, which led the league, were obvious concerns. He did rush for 279 yards, which was a small bonus. Jones flashed considerable potential at times, with a 336-yard, four total TD game in Week 3, a 322-yard, four passing TD outing in Week 8, and another four-TD passing game with 308 yards in Week 10. Jones then exploded for 352 yards and five TD passes in Week 16. He also had three-turnover games in Weeks 6, 7, 9 and 13. He failed to throw for 225 yards six times.

Jones also never had his supporting cast available regularly. Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley never played one game together as a complete crew. Jones was also sacked 38 times in 2019. The Giants offensive tackles allowed 97 combined pressures, the most in the NFL by a tackle tandem, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF did cite the Giants line as the fifth most improved unit heading into 2020, though, primarily because of the addition of rookie tackle Andrew Thomas.

If his complements stay healthy and the blocking improves, Jones has obvious upside, especially in friendly matchups. He has the ability to bust out in any given week. But as you can see, cutting down on turnovers is the number one goal, and he has to develop more consistency. Jones should become a fantasy QB1 at some point in the future, but he is still a work in progress. Until we see steadier play and fewer mistakes, though, he will be a high-end QB2 streamer. Draft him as such and make sure to view him in a balanced manner, weighing in the negatives with the promise. Don’t overrate Jones until he proves he deserves real QB1 treatment. I will have him as QB15 in my revised rankings.


Philadelphia Eagles: Should you draft Miles Sanders in the first round?

Sanders has an ADP of 19, yet we often see some players rocket up on draft boards in the preseason while there is no real news on them. In the case of Sanders, I have seen him start to slip into the back end of the first round of some drafts. The reasoning seems to be a combination of opportunity and perceived upside.

Sanders appears to be the certain No. 1 RB for the Eagles, who did not draft a true challenger for significant touches or sign anyone of note in the offseason. Yes, there were rumors that the Eagles were linked to Devonta Freeman, yet nothing came of it. Only change-of-pace, complementary type Boston Scott is in the picture to share some work with Sanders this season.

From Weeks 11 through 16 last season, Sanders saw 71 percent or more of the snaps in all but one game. Yes, Jordan Howard was unavailable, but the Eagles saw Sanders operate as their primary RB down the stretch when they pushed for a division title, and they apparently were satisfied enough to make sure he continues to play an expanded role heading into 2020.

Week 11 12 13 14 15 16
64 64 62 50 55 59
85% 84% 87% 56% 71% 82%

Miles Sanders' snap counts and percentages late in the 2019 regular season via footballguys.com.

Sanders totaled 105 yards from scrimmage in Week 13, 175 yards with two TDs in Week 15, and 156 yards with a TD in Week 16. So the versatility and upside was evident. Sanders averaged 4.6 yards per carry as a rookie and 10.2 yards per catch. He is a pretty cutback runner who also flashed some electrifying abilities as a pass-catcher at times. He also had two games of 125-plus yards from scrimmage earlier in the season.

Sanders was tentative at times as an inside runner, though, and he finished with only three rushing TDs. He averaged 2.8 yards per carry in the red zone and 1.8 YPC inside the 10-yard line. Sanders has yet to prove he can consistently win and drive the pile in short space. That factor could hamper overall expectations a bit. Hopefully, more opportunities can lead to more comfort for him in such scenarios.

The Eagles appear ready to shed their previous committee approach under Doug Pederson, and Sanders’ promise as both a runner and receiver point to him being worthy of back-end fantasy RB1 consideration. Being able to prove he can handle the bulk of the workload should not be an issue. TD production could be a minor concern, yet he could compensate with some receiving scores.

I won’t recommend taking Sanders in the Top 11 when I would certainly take these superstars ahead of him: McCaffery, Barkley, Elliott, Kamara, Thomas, Henry, Mixon, Adams, Hill, Julio Jones, and Dalvin Cook. Throw in Lamar Jackson for me personally, and maybe Kenyan Drake in the mix just ahead of Sanders. That pushes Sanders out of my first round, but not by much. I see him as an early second-rounder. Taking him at the end of the first round is not crazy, it’s just not my preference. If you are dead set on an RB in the final picks of the first round, Sanders can be your target.


Washington: Can Derrius Guice finally reach his potential?

Full disclosure: I root for Derrius Guice every time he takes the field. All the multiple injuries he has suffered just seem unfair, and it would be so encouraging to see him overcome them. Just last year, Guice landed on injured reserve twice. When he did play, he certainly generated some excitement. In Week 11, he caught a 45-yard TD pass. He rushed for 129 yards and two TDs on only 10 carries in Week 13.

Guice should get the chance to be the top RB on the Washington depth chart, and a recent social media post in which he squatted 585 pounds and was seen running and cutting is a positive sign.  The upside is apparent, yet so is the risk. New head coach Ron Rivera has indicated he will employ a committee approach at RB, with Guice, Adrian Peterson and Bryce Love all receiving consideration. Peyton Barber was acquired for further depth. Gadget type Antonio Gibson should also figure in at times.

Washington has to make sure Guice is not overworked, and may have to use him judiciously. Many fantasy leaguers overlook Peterson, yet he has rushed for over 1,900 yards the past two seasons and Barber is a decent stopgap type. Love has some promise too, if he is healthy enough. Guice may not get enough touches this season to be anything more than a flex play.

He is at an ADP of 70 overall, as the 31st RB off the board. That seems to be a fair range, as a RB4 with some spark if he can finally steer clear of major injuries. That is a big “if”, though, and some players are certainly more susceptible to injury than others. If you are going to draft Guice, do so with the mindset that you are taking him for the ceiling. You must have dependable RBs projected for a respectable workload ahead of him on your fantasy depth chart. He may never reach his potential because he may be used carefully when available. The likely committee RB approach dampens the outlook.

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