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NFC East: Strength of Schedule Analysis & Players to Target or Avoid

We've previously published an article series analyzing and grading all the NFL defenses, division by division. Now we're going to look at the strength of schedules of each NFL team, division by division, to help you identify players with the best matchups vs. the league's weakest defenses.

Today we provide NFC East strength of schedule analysis. For each team, we will identify players that we like and don't like. You will see four categories: players to target, players to avoid, players to buy and players to sell. Let's get to it.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to read more about fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) analysis, broken down by division and team, to prepare for your drafts and dominate your leagues. 


NFC East - Strength of Schedule Breakdown

NFC East Opponents in 2015: NFC East, NFC South, AFC East


Dallas Cowboys - Players to Target & Avoid

The Cowboys offense must be in heaven with what they will see with their first six games. The Cowboys open with the Giants, and when they play each other, they usually make it a shootout. The last time these two teams scored a total of less than 28 points was in 2008. In week 2 the Cowboys get another divisional test at Philadelphia, which promises to be a high scoring affair. Weeks 3 and 4 are when you should be playing every single Dallas Cowboy you own. The Saints and Falcons are terrible on defense, so don’t do a double take if the Cowboys players put up whopping numbers. Dez Bryant, fresh off his new contract, will be having a lot of fun in those weeks and so will Tony Romo and Co. Bryant must be hoping he gets to go against Bradley Fletcher again when New England comes to Big D in week 5. He's looking to score heavily against Fletcher, after embarrassing him last season on national television. The Cowboys only face one great defense in the first half of the season, week 8 against Seattle.

The Cowboys have a very difficult fantasy football postseason against three tough defenses. Green Bay always plays tough at home and it will be frigid in December, and the Jets are expected to be a top-notch defense. To make matters worse, the Cowboys travel to freezing cold Buffalo in week 16 to take on a Ryan defense, which is championship week in the fantasy football world. Good luck producing high numbers against those top-tier defenses.

Players to Reach For

Joseph Randle could produce amazing numbers behind the Cowboys superb offensive line.

Players to Avoid

Darren McFadden is projected to have a 73% chance of getting injured this season. The Cowboys will also limit his touches to keep him healthy. I also don’t like Terrance Williams. Dallas News writer Tim Cowlishaw mentioned that Cole Beasley will be getting more catches in the slot which could hinder Williams’ production.

Players to Look to Buy Low

It will be tough to buy low on any Cowboys early on in the season. If Jason Witten becomes available for cheap, then jump on it. Witten is a very reliable tight end.

Players to Look to Sell High

After the first six weeks Bryant has a great chance as being the number one wide receiver in fantasy. Expect the Cowboys to have a really strong offense against the terrible defenses they face.


New York Giants - Players to Target & Avoid

The Giants open up with the Cowboys, a game where you’ll want to own every Giant. Manning has had some huge games in Dallas and I wouldn’t be surprised if he has another one to start the season. The Giants then get Atlanta and Washington, two of the worst ranked passing defense unit per DVOA last season.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz are looking at a great first three fantasy weeks. Shane Vereen may also get off to a fast start in those first three weeks so look to move him early on, as his value could jump to huge heights. Eli Manning will be targeting his big tight end, Larry Donnell, early on with the plethora of red zone opportunities the Giants should get.

In week 14 the Giants play in Miami, a defense on the rise that could put up a strong force against them. In week 15 the Giants are home against Carolina, which, again is another defense on the rise. The Giants play the Vikings in week 16 in Minnesota during the brutal cold time of December, and is also another defense on the rise. Basically, the Giants playoffs schedule are a swinging pendulum, three defenses looking better than last year but giving us no way of knowing whether they're going to get better or stay the same. 

Players to Reach For

Odell Beckham Jr. will have a monster year with his rookie season behind him.

Players to Avoid

Rueben Randle may have to battle for targets with Cruz, OBJ, and Donnell. 

Players to Look to Buy Low

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like any Giants player will be sitting in the buy low category. The entire offense starts off with an easy schedule across the board.

Players to Look to Sell High

A weak early schedule will make many Giants players look a lot better than they are. A second option like Cruz could be a big sell high if his numbers go through the roof.


Philadelphia Eagles - Players to Target & Avoid

I already wrote at length about the Eagles offense this season with Sam Bradford and even included glimpses of each player’s projection on offense. This could be a truly dominant offense and they begin their season with the putrid Falcons defense. Look for them to roll in that one and put up some monster numbers. Week 2 has the Eagles playing the Cowboys, and week 3 has them traveling to New York to play the Jets. The Jets will be a tough test for any offense this season.

Once the fantasy playoffs kick in, the Eagles might have some problems with Buffalo in week 14. They travel to warm Arizona in the wintery time of week 15, and return home to face Washington the week after. The Cardinals are a stingy defense, but I believe they will regress without Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator. The Eagles week 16 game is against Washington, a high scoring bonanza for any Eagles player. The Redskins defense might be one of the most undermanned units in the NFL.

Players to Reach For

Jordan Matthews could be in for a big year in this great offense.

Players to Avoid

The running back situation will get very annoying for fantasy owners. Not knowing how the carries will be divided between DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews will drive you crazy.

Players to Look to Buy Low

The NFC East in general is just not looking like a division with a lot of easy players to buy for cheap. The luckiest situation is DeMarco Murray struggling as they enter week 3 and almost definitely having a poor game against one of the best run defenses in the league, dropping his value a lot like Eddie Lacy's did last year.

Players to Look to Sell High

On the other hand if Murray or Matthews get off to hot start, you should explore trading them. As described above, it could be a running back carousel.


Washington Redskins - Players to Target & Avoid

Washington opens with Miami and St. Louis at home. That's the only hard start this entire division has and the Rams shut out Washington, 24-0 last season. The Redskins then see the Giants in week 3, on a Thursday night. Washington will have 3 days of rest and will have to travel, so look for a low scoring game from Washington. The Giants will be able to take advantage of Washington easily.

Washington takes on the Bears in week 14 who ranked 28th in defensive DVOA last season. That could be a nice game for Washington’s offense, but then in week 15 they get the Bills defense. In week 16, Washington travels to Philly, a poor but improving defense with this offseason seasons moves. Schedule-wise, this is a decently easy set of playoff opponents but the Redskins team might make it hard for themselves.

Players to Reach For

There isn't a player on this offense worth making those kinds of moves for. 

Players to Avoid

Griffin has a 61% chance of getting injured this season. He's already shown his fragility through the preseason, and every other season of his career. It's safe to just let the dream go.

Players to Look to Buy Low

Alfred Morris could have a nice quiet season.

Players to Look to Sell High

Cornerback on Wide Receiver matchups during the first two weeks might end up in DeSean Jackson's favor, and maybe that streak can continue into the Giants. But it's always been DeSean's fantasy M.O. to try be sold high.


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