Win. Your. League.

Receive 3 Free Downloads More Details

Preseason Watch List: NFC East

A detailed look at the key questions facing each team in the preseason

DALLAS COWBOYS

The Cowboys looked dead in the water after Tony Romo and Kellen Moore got hurt in the preseason, but rookie Dak Prescott did his best Russell Wilson impersonation and delivered a Pro Bowl performance while leading the Cowboys to a Top 5 offensive ranking and an NFC East title. Prescott didn't do it alone; he benefitted from fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott's powerful running not to mention the league's best offensive line. With all the key pieces returning, the Cowboys goal in camp is keeping everyone healthy and building off last year's success. Defensively the Cowboys shocked the world by fielding the league's stingiest rushing defense last season but were exploited in the passing game. A new look secondary will emphasize youth and will require excellent coaching from Rod Marinelli and his staff. 

Camp Details:

  • When: 7/19 (Rookies) / 7/22 (Veterans)
  • Where: Marriott Residence Inn (Oxnard, CA)
  • Open to Public: Limited (See Website)

Preseason Game Schedule:

  • Aug 3 -- (HOF Game) Arizona 8:00 pm EDT
  • Aug 12 -- @Los Angeles Rams 9:00 pm
  • Aug 19 -- Indianapolis 7:00 pm
  • Aug 26 -- Oakland 8:00 pm
  • Aug 31 -- @Houston 8:00 pm

What We're Watching:

  • What can Dak Prescott do for an encore? -- Prescott completed 68% of his passes, threw 23 touchdowns against four interceptions, and had a 104.9 passer rating, as a rookie. Cowboys fans are understandably excited about what Prescott can do with an entire offseason as the unquestioned team leader.
  • Clarity on Ezekiel Elliott's legal situation -- Rumors continue to swirl about Ezekiel Elliott possibly facing league discipline in relation to his off-the-field issues including a domestic violence accusation from a former girlfriend. There's no point in speculating, but a suspension would vault Darren McFadden or Albert Morris to short-term fantasy relevance. 
  • Is Dez Bryant healthy? -- Bryant is legitimately on par with Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. when healthy, but the 29-year old hasn't been healthy since 2014. Does Bryant have a 90-catch, 1,300-yard season left in him? 
  • Getting the new starters on the offensive line established -- The Cowboys offensive line has been the envy of the league for years but lost Ron Leary (free agency) and Doug Free (retirement) in the offseason. Dallas was prepared for Free's departure and will slide La'el Collins into the starting lineup. Chaz Green will be given the first shot at replacing Leary, but he'll have to earn the role with a strong preseason. 
  • Rebuilding the secondary -- For a unit that gave up 4,167 passing yards (26th) and forced just nine interceptions (27th), the rest of the league thought highly of Dallas' personnel. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox all found free agent riches elsewhere, so Dallas is essentially starting over in the defensive backfield. Dallas used four draft picks on the secondary including three cornerbacks, and signed veteran Nolan Carroll to stabilize the position. 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Ben McAdoo's first season as head coach was an up-and-down affair, but ultimately it ended with 11 wins and a playoff berth. The heart of the team is a young, attacking defense that finished 2nd in points allowed a season ago and is poised to dominate again. Offensively, McAdoo and Eli Manning had tension as McAdoo felt Manning failed to execute his system optimally. Manning enjoyed a career year just two seasons ago (with McAdoo calling plays), so all is not lost. The Giants brought in some additional weapons for Manning, but continue to have major questions on the offensive line. 

Camp Details:

  • When: 7/27 (Rookies and Veterans)
  • Where: Quest Diagnostics Training Center (East Rutherford, NJ)
  • Open to Public: Yes (See Website)

Preseason Game Schedule:

  • Aug 11 -- Pittsburgh 7:00 pm EDT
  • Aug 21 -- @Cleveland 8:00 pm
  • Aug 26 -- N.Y. Jets 7:00 pm
  • Aug 31 -- @New England 7:30 pm

What We're Watching:

  • Getting Manning and McAdoo back on the same page -- McAdoo blamed Manning for the team's offensive inconsistencies last season, remarking in a press conference that "27 turnovers isn't acceptable." Regardless of the veracity of that analysis, it's bad form for a head coach to publicly question his franchise quarterback. Expect Manning and McAdoo to bury the hatchet, if they haven't already, but any signs of continued strife in the preseason will have us rethinking our Giants projections.
  • Is Paul Perkins ready to shoulder the load? -- The Giants running game has been abysmal under McAdoo's watch and the committee approach hasn't worked. Fantasy owners are excited because the team is going to give Paul Perkins every opportunity to become a feature back. Perkins needs a strong preseason, but his upside is undeniable. 
  • Is the offensive line capable of better play? -- The offensive line is largely to blame for Manning's turnovers and the rushing game's struggles. Unfortunately, the team did very little in the offseason to improve the roster. Four of five starters return, in Ereck Flowers (LT), Justin Pugh (LG), Weston Richburg (C), and John Jerry (RG). The only question is whether free agent D.J. Fluker can displace Bobby Hart at right tackle, or perhaps win the guard job over Jerry.  
  • Integrating Brandon Marshall into the receiving corps -- Odell Beckham is on the short list for best players in the game, and his target share is secure. What's less clear is what the Giants have planned for 2nd year Sterling Shepard now that Brandon Marshall has joined the team. Marshall has eight 1,000-yard seasons and six 100+ reception seasons in his stellar career. Is Marshall comfortable playing the third wheel, or have the Giants opted to slow Shepard's progression to contend for a Super Bowl in 2017?
  • How quickly will Evan Engram earn major snaps? -- The rookie tight end class is the best in a generation and Evan Engram may be the most NFL-ready of the bunch. Engram is a natural H-back and a mismatch for most linebackers. It's hard to imagine Engram making a difference this year with the trio of wide receivers gobbling up targets, but Engram is talented enough to force opportunities. 

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

The Eagles were maddeningly inconsistent last season, which was to be expected given a first-time head coach combined with a rookie starting quarterback. Philadelphia started off 3-0, but went into a 2-9 tailspin to fall out of playoff contention, and then finished with wins over division rivals New York and Dallas. Carson Wentz got invaluable experience but struggled at times, particularly when Lane Johnson was serving a 10-game suspension. Defensively the team was middle of the road. The Eagles ranked 12th in points allowed, 14th in forced fumbles, 9th in interceptions and 16th in sacks. The preseason will be all about instantiating the system Doug Pederson and his assistants built last season. Few teams have a wider range of potential outcomes. 

Camp Details:

  • When: 7/23 (Rookies) / 7/26 (Veterans)
  • Where: NovaCare Training Complex (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Open to Public: Limited (See Website)

Preseason Game Schedule:

  • Aug 10 -- @Green Bay 8:00 pm EDT
  • Aug 17 -- Buffalo 7:00 pm
  • Aug 24 -- Miami 7:00 pm
  • Aug 31 -- @New York Jets 7:00 pm

What We're Watching:

  • Tracking Carson Wentz' development -- Carson Wentz was excellent in six starts with Lane Johnson in the lineup, and awful in 10 games without his right tackle. The good news is Lane Johnson is healthy, and the Eagles offensive line is among the NFL's best. The bad news is Wentz showed opposing teams he couldn't handle pressure, and you can be sure he'll be tested with aggressive blitzing until he proves defenses wrong. 
  • Who is going to run the ball? -- LeGarrette Blount had 18 touchdowns for New England, but the team made little effort to re-sign him. Blount has a role to play in the Eagles backfield, but it's important to remember Blount has been a subpar runner outside of New England. Even if Blount looks good, his game is limited to 1st and 2nd down, which means Darren Sproles and rookie Donnel Pumphrey will duke it out for 3rd down honors. Pumphrey is the NCAA all-time leading rusher but is tiny (5'8", 176 lbs.). The dark horse is second year Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood has the most well-rounded skill set on the roster but isn't elite at anything.
  • Integrating Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith -- Wentz had less-than-stellar receiving options last year, and Philadelphia upgraded the position with a true #1 (Jeffery) and a veteran deep threat (Smith). If the new receivers make an immediate impact in camp and preseason game action, expect enthusiasm to skyrocket for the offense and, in particular, Wentz' fantasy prospects. 
  • Bolstering the defense -- Philadelphia added key pieces on defense including 1st round end Derek Barnett, veteran end Chris Long, veteran tackle Timmy Jernigan, veteran cornerback Patrick Robinson and rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas. How quickly can all the new pieces fit into the puzzle? 

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Washington was projected as the basement dweller in the NFC East, but the team was in playoff contention until the final month of the season. The team finished 8-7-1 but ended on a whimper losing four of its final six games. The offseason was tumultuous as Washington lost both coordinators, fired the general manager, lost both starting receivers, and had tense, verbal barbs with franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins. All is not lost in Washington though as Jay Gruden remains in place, Cousins will play under the franchise tag, and the team has an armada of new defensive personnel to compete for key roles. 

Camp Details:

  • When: 7/26 (Rookies and Veterans)
  • Where: Ben Secours Washington Redskins Training Center (Richmond, VA)
  • Open to Public: Yes (See Website)

Preseason Game Schedule:

  • Aug 10 -- @Baltimore 7:30 pm EDT
  • Aug 19 -- Green Bay 7:30 pm
  • Aug 27 -- Cincinnati 4:30 pm
  • Aug 31 -- @Tampa Bay 7:30 pm

What We're Watching:

  • Establishing an identity under two new coordinators -- Sean McVay took the Rams head coaching job, and Joe Barry was fired. On offense, Matt Cavanaugh was promoted to coordinator after two seasons as quarterbacks coach, but Gruden will call the plays after handing over play-calling duties to McVay. On defense, Greg Manusky takes over after spending 2016 as the outside linebackers coach. Manusky is an experienced defensive coordinator, but his units have rarely been special. Manusky's defenses have ranked outside the Top 15 in seven of nine seasons. 
  • Making peace with Kirk Cousins -- Cousins is playing under the franchise tag designation for the second consecutive year as he and the team remain far apart on a long-term extension. If Cousins had the choice, it's clear he would leave Washington and team up with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco; but Cousins doesn't have the option. Although Cousins may hold a grudge, for now the professional young passer will tow the line. 
  • Samaje Perine versus Robert Kelley -- Robert Kelley wasn't bad last year. He also wasn't great. It's not clear Kelley has "great" in him, which makes him a better RB2 than an every down starter. Enter rookie Samaje Perine. While Joe Mixon may be the more notable Oklahoma Sooner, it's Perine who ended his career as the university's leading rusher. Perine is the second coming of Michael Turner and could earn a full-time role quickly with a strong preseason.
  • Is Terrelle Pryor ready for a starring role? -- Terrelle Pryor transitioned from quarterback to 1,000-yard receiver in Cleveland, but the team chose to sign Kenny Britt to a sizeable deal instead of re-signing Pryor. Pryor ended up taking a one-year, "prove it" deal with Washington and will have the opportunity to be Kirk Cousins top target. Is he up to the task?
  • Forming like Voltron (on Defense) -- Washington ranked 19th in points allowed and 28th in yards, which made upgrading the personnel a priority. The team used four picks in the first four rounds on defense: DE Jonathan Allen, WLB Ryan Anderson, CB Fabian Moreau, and SS Montae Nicholson. Washington also signed veterans Terrell McClain, Zach Brown, Stacy McGee and D.J. Swearinger