The NFC East is often referred to as a “dumpster fire” by the harshest of critics. There hasn’t been a back-to-back divisional winner since the 2003 and 2004 Philadelphia Eagles. What some claim to be an atrocious division, there’s an argument to be made that it’s simply competitive. In fact, three of the last 15 Super Bowl champions have come from the NFC East: The 2007 and 2011 New York Giants, as well as the 2017 Eagles. We’re here to talk fantasy football, though. When it comes to the NFC East, it’s jam-packed full of fantasy potential. Let’s look at some bold predictions to help you navigate which players to target and which to avoid for the 2022 fantasy football season.
Each week, Michael Govier and I (@Colin_McT) will continue to highlight one bold prediction from each team, division by division, until the start of the 2022 NFL season. These predictions will hopefully get the gears in your head turning. Most are positive while others may be negative. The likeliness that every single one of these predictions hits is certainly not 100%. However, they should generate some buzz or cause you to think twice about each player. Just be confident in your feelings when you’re on the clock. Be sure to check out www.FantraxHQ.com for bold predictions from the other divisions all summer long!
A Fantasy Football Bold Prediction for Each NFC East Team
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Dak Prescott finishes outside the top-12 on a points-per-game basis
Since the start of the 2019 season, Prescott is averaging 21.8 points per game. If you applied that average to last year’s rankings, he slides in as QB4. However, from 2016 to 2018, Dak averaged just 17.36 points per game. That average would place Prescott in as QB13 for the 2021 season. My bold prediction is he finishes closer to the ladder in 2022.
It’s not hard to tell that Prescott’s average from 2019 to 2021 is directly correlated to the Cowboys’ acquisition of Amari Cooper. In two complete seasons with Prescott under center, Cooper caught eight touchdown passes each time. With 111 targets on average in those two seasons specifically, excluding 2020 due to Dak’s season-ending ankle injury in Week 5, it’s clear Cooper’s role as Dak’s top target boosted Dak’s fantasy value.
Amari Cooper is now a Cleveland Brown. Additionally, the Cowboys’ offensive line may be in the worst shape it’s been in since drafting Dak. While I do love Ceedee Lamb’s potential in fantasy football this season, as a target hog in Dallas, the wide receiver talent behind him on the roster is unproven. Lastly, the threat Ezekiel Elliott presents in the running and passing game is naturally lesser in 2022 after 2,026 career NFL touches. I’m not knocking Zeke’s value in fantasy, or as a player, but he’s simply not as much of a force as he was two or so years ago.
Taking this all into consideration, I feel strongly about this bold prediction. Let it be a caution to those investing in Dak at his QB8 Average Draft Position. He shouldn’t be going ahead of guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Russell Wilson, in my opinion. Dak is a matchup-based play for me this season. Hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense in Week 1 will be evidence of that.
Govier’s Bold Prediction: Noah Brown scores the second most fantasy points among Dallas wideouts
CeeDee Lamb is the top dog in this offense. Not just the WR corps, but the entire offensive side of the ball. Lamb should have an elite season this go-around barring injury. This prediction focuses on Noah Brown though. Brown was a 7th-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 2017. He’s been hanging around in Dallas for a while now. He saw an uptick in his production in 2020 with a repeat of almost the identical production in 2021. He’s never hauled in a TD reception.
This prediction relies on opportunity, but just as much on patience. James Washington was brought in from Pittsburgh, but he broke his foot in training camp. He’s likely to be out the first two months of the season. Then there’s Michael Gallup coming back from tearing his ACL and MCL in January. Gallup is progressing well, but is already not going to be active for week 1 and may well be on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list forcing Gallup to miss the first four weeks of the 2022 season. After that it’s CeeDee and rookie Jalen Tolbert from South Alabama rounding out the big challengers in the WR corps with TE Daulton Schultz always a threat to make plays.
The connection between Dak Prescott and Noah Brown matters here. The energy and flow that bonds a QB and his WR together can lead to a player becoming a favorite target of that QB. I believe that Cedrick Wilson was that player for Dak in 2021. Wilson is in Miami now though and that leaves Noah Brown as the ideal WR to step in as the possession player who makes clutch grabs that move the chains for the Cowboys. Dak always has a guy who isn’t one of the top two WRs on the depth chart that he seems to actively seek out. Dak came in during 2016 with Brown joining the ranks a year later. They have come up together. Brown is also having a stellar training camp right now. The Cowboys have all the confidence in their 7th-round pick from 2017. I do too.
New York Giants
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Saquon Barkley finishes as the overall RB1
I’m all in on Saquon Barkley this season. As training camp progresses, it seems more and more people agree. He is nearly two years removed from a 2020 season-ending knee ACL tear. Additionally, every report from training camp advertises how explosive and ready for this season Saquon is. That’s far different than the complete questionability of his status approaching last season upon returning from the aforementioned knee injury.
Saquon is a generational talent. As a rookie, he caught an NFL record 91 receptions for a rookie running back. He also has the most 100+ yard games as a rookie (12) and is tied with Randy Moss for most 50+ yard touchdowns (5) as a rookie. We’ve seen the ceiling for Saquon. It’s a top-three fantasy football running back with a powerful running style and pass-catching ability. The last three running backs to finish as RB1 in total points averaged approximately 80 receptions. Saquon has proven he is one of few backs that is capable of hitting that sweet spot in the passing game. Given the fact that the Giants’ highest-paid wide receiver, Kenny Golladay, has his own question marks, Saquon should be a reliable option for Daniel Jones through the air.
The Giants are turning a corner in their rebuild. Hiring former Bills offensive coordinator, Brain Daboll, is a good start. Then, consider the addition of 350-pound offensive tackle, Evan Neal, as well. New York’s been a bad combination of injuries and incompetence over the last few seasons. A healthy, well-run offense with Daboll at the helm can only help Saquon achieve RB1 status. My bold prediction is that he is a consensus top-five pick in fantasy football next year. Everyone will be regretting passing up on Saquon the year he bounced back.
Govier’s Bold Prediction: Daniel Jones will score 40 total combined touchdowns passing and running
Daniel Jones had a really excellent rookie season in 2019. Throwing for 24 scores with two more on the ground is a debut season worth tweeting about! Danny Dimes accomplished all this in just 12 starts in 2019. Jones also had 12 picks while fumbling the ball a league-leading 19 times his rookie year. Yikes! Those who know Jones already know he has serious fumbleitis. A bright spot on that front is the number has gone down each season since with 10 in 2020 and 7 last year.
So how in the hell do I see 40 combined scores happening this season? Two things: luck and Brian Daboll. I am heavily leaning on Daboll here to help Jones maximize his talent just like Daboll did for Josh Allen in Buffalo. Of course, Jones isn’t Allen by any measure. I realize that. Daboll will help guide the ball to the hands of the strong group of talent that surrounded Danny Dimes. Kadarius Toney has the game-breaker athleticism, Saquon Barkley still has his best season yet inside those powerful legs of his, and Sterling Shepard plays the role of the reliable target gobbler who can ease Jones’ pain when the going gets tough.
Lastly, how the offensive line performs is everything here! Andrew Thomas has become a solid tackle who only gave up two sacks last season. The Giants drafted Evan Neal with the 7th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. This Alabama product is a d-line defeater with a physical profile that strikes fear in the hearts of the defense. The early returns on Neal are not pleasant so far, but most of what he is struggling with in camp seems to be correctable. The rest of the bunch will be a consistent starting five. The previous Joe Judge regime worked through a rotational line setup with at least seven guys. Daboll is scrapping that method this year to create consistency on the line and save Daniel Jones from perpetual stuffings into the turf.
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Dallas Goedert finishes as a top-five tight end
There are a lot of players on the Eagles to discuss for fantasy football purposes this season. Dallas Goedert’s ADP of TE8 jumps out to me a bit. It isn’t criminally low, but I do think it’s a value, clearly by my bold prediction. Goedert is a very safe option at tight end with tremendous upside. He may not present the utmost safety at the position, like Travis Kelce. He also doesn’t provide a massive bang for your buck, like finding this year’s Dawson Knox on the waiver wire. However, for where he’s going in drafts, I think getting Goedert and a piece of this Eagles offense in the 8th round or later is a steal.
This will be Goedert’s first full season without Zach Ertz on the roster. In six games last season, before Philly traded Ertz to Arizona, he out-targeted Goedert 31 to 19. From that point on, Goedert averaged 5.7 targets per game. Extrapolating that average over 17 games is approximately 97 targets. The top-six most targeted tight ends last season each saw 104 or more. In the Eagles’ sole playoff game in Tampa Bay, Goedert logged a team-high 12 targets. So, the potential is there to hit 100 targets.
The team is adding A.J. Brown into the mix. He should be the top target in this offense. However, Hurts is playing to prove himself, and more importantly, win. Goedert is a reliable receiving tight end who is going to play a hefty amount of snaps at the position in 2022. If he can take a chunk of the target share in the red zone especially, a career-high six, or more, touchdowns could propel him into the top-five tight end rankings.
Govier’s Bold Prediction: Devonta Smith finishes as a top 12 WR in fantasy points
Right now DeVonta Smith is the 37th WR being taken in drafts over at the NFFC since August 1st. For Smith to finish 12th or higher in fantasy points for wideouts would be a surprising revelation. There are also two methods of identifying risk or results with A.J. Brown being in Philly now: Brown opens up more opportunities for Smith or Brown takes away too many targets from last year’s leader in targets with 104. I’m rolling with the first choice because, in order for this play to fly, Smith needs to maintain a strong foothold in the offensive game plan.
The last image we have of the 2021 Philadelphia Eagles was the one where Jalen Hurts was stifled by the stellar Tampa Bay defense as the Eagles tacked on two meaningless scores after trailing 31-0 to start the fourth quarter. How Hurts increases his prowess as a passer is the glue that holds this pinewood derby car together for the big race in the NFC East. Hurts already has an established rapport with Smith that is blossoming into a special relationship.
Second-year headman Nick Sirianni had several games last year end up with out-of-sync game scripts overly reliant on the passing attack. Sirianni leaves little to chance as a coach, but sometimes a coach’s tendencies become such because that’s how the coach operates. Former Philly coach Andy Reid still throws the ball too much in comparison to the run and he’s been a head coach since 1999! So the game scripts will likely favor the pass, Jalen Hurts is growing as a passer and A.J. Brown’s arrival creates more mismatches for the speedy Smith. That all sounds like a tasty recipe for a healthy fantasy output for Smith in 2022.
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Terry McLaurin finishes WR30 or worse on a points-per-game basis
Terry McLaurin is a borderline top-15 wide receiver when it comes to ADP. He is getting drafted ahead of players like D.K. Metcalf, Diontae Johnson, and Brandin Cooks, to name a few. I would prefer all three of those players, and then some, ahead of Terry McLaurin this year. McLaurin is a really good player, however, even with the addition of Carson Wentz at quarterback, I don’t think he will live up to his ADP. To double-down on that idea, my bold prediction lets on that McLaurin is more of a WR3 than a WR1 this season.
In my 100 facts for the 2022 fantasy football season article, I point out that no wide receiver has ever averaged more than 14.0 points per game with Carson Wentz as their quarterback. Even in 17 games with Indianapolis last year, Michael Pittman’s 88 receptions for 1,082 yards, and six touchdowns awarded him a WR29 finish on a points-per-game basis.
The fact of the matter is that Wentz isn’t accurate or reliable enough. This bold prediction centers around that. His abysmal 4.3 quarterback rating from a win or go-home loss to the Jaguars in Week 18 of last season is a perfect example of that. The Washington offensive line is also worse than it was in Indianapolis. I foresee Wentz struggling and possibly having a seat on the bench in favor of rookie, Sam Howell, at some point. That actually changes my opinion on McLaurin. I like Howell’s deep ball and think McLaurin could benefit with him under center. Still, if you’re relying on that to happen and go well, it speaks volumes in regards to McLaurin’s ADP and 2022 fantasy outlook.
Govier’s Bold Prediction: Sam Howell leads all Washington quarterbacks in fantasy points
A rookie from North Carolina who didn’t have the legendary season in 2021 that he had hoped for, ends up a 5th-round pick after foregoing his senior season. Yep. That’s Sam Howell I’m talking about. Howell was a big-time recruit for Mack Brown and the Tar Heels. He was so big-time that he started as a true freshman. Not only did he start, but he thrived throwing 38 scoring passes to only 7 picks. Howell had a similarly impressive performance in year two with a big increase in his completion percentage (68% up from 61%). Then he had a disappointing junior season as a passer that was capped off with him falling to the 5th round in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Carson Wentz took a different path to the NFL after he was the second overall pick in 2016 coming out of a small powerhouse in North Dakota. How Wentz ended up in Washington matters to this prediction. He infamously failed to lead the Colts to a road win over the moribund Jaguars in the last week of the 2021 season eliminating the Colts from the playoffs. With little shock to anyone, Wentz was dumped on the Commanders in the offseason. That made for two straight offseason trades involving Wentz and draft picks just for each team to be rid of his presence. That’s not a good look. The Commanders also have Taylor Heinicke as a backup, but I think everybody in the D.C. area (and beyond) knows the limitations of Heinicke’s ceiling.
So that leaves the rookie Howell to possibly be the man in Washington. Ron Rivera might be feeling a little job security fear with elite scumbag Daniel Snyder still owning the team. When Wentz shows he’s ineffective by week 5, Taylor Heinicke will get the chance to play. Heinicke will be so-so as the locals start to call for Sam Howell to start. Howell makes his debut in week 6 on Thursday Night Football in the Windy City. After that, Howell never looks back. He uses his underrated legs, which accounted for 828 rushing yards with 11 running scores in his last season at Chapel Hill. Howell plays out the season as the starter outdoing both the newly acquired and incumbent QBs in Washington D.C. Fitting, isn’t it?