Up next in the divisional depth chart review is the NFC East wide receivers. This division has new faces all around, and some of the best talent in all of football. The Dallas Cowboys are the only team that has all the same faces. They also arguably have the best starting group of anyone in the NFL. The New York Giants brought in a $76 million alpha-receiver and used a 1st-round pick on an electric slot receiver. The Philadelphia Eagles also used a 1st-round pick on the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, pairing him with another 1st-round pick from the prior year. Finally, the Washington Football Team possibly has the best receiver in the entire division. They also brought in some new talent to open the field up for a new-look offense. Dive into the rest of the article to see intriguing storylines in the division, along with projections for each.
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NFC East Wide Receivers
Who’s the Number One?
It will be fascinating to see who is the lead receiver for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. Amari Cooper is the safe choice, as he has led Dallas in targets per game the past three seasons. Prior to Prescott’s injury, Cooper was targeted an unreal 51 times in four games. While game-script played a large role in that, when Dallas wanted to depend on someone, it was Cooper more often than not. It makes sense to call Cooper the bonafide number one in Dallas.
However, CeeDee Lamb had an impressive rookie season in 2020, and a year two surge is possible. Lamb was targeted 29 times in those same four games with Prescott. He was hyper-efficient, catching 21 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Keep in mind, these were Lamb’s first four games of his NFL career. Also, there was a limited offseason to build chemistry with Prescott due to COVID-19 shutting down the world over the spring and summer. CeeDee Lamb will without a doubt be the Cowboys’ top receiver at some point in the future, could it be as soon as 2021?
#1 – Amari Cooper
2021 Projection: 92 receptions / 1,152 yards / 8 TD’s
#2 – CeeDee Lamb
2021 Projection: 87 receptions / 1,179 yards / 8 TD’s
#3 – Michael Gallup
2021 Projection: 60 receptions / 876 yards / 6 TD’s
#4 – Cedrick Wilson Jr.
No Projections Currently
#5 – Noah Brown
No Projections Currently
New York Giants
Who’s the Odd Man Out?
After signing Kenny Golladay, the New York Giants have their first true number one receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. With Golladay set to see a heavy target volume, it raises the question, who emerges behind him? Sterling Shepard has led the wide receiver room in targets per game the past two seasons. Shepard potentially could move to the slot after having primarily played outside in 2020. However, the Giants just used their first-round pick on slot receiver Kadarius Toney. Toney is dynamic on the inside and if he plays, he will undoubtedly be used primarily in the slot.
Then there is Darius Slayton. The third-year receiver is only 24 years old and has shown flashes of being a dangerous weapon. Slayton has four games of 20 or more fantasy points in his young career. However, the issue is he has had an extremely poor catch rate. Daniel Jones can certainly be blamed for this, but Slayton hasn’t shown he deserves to stay on the field consistently either. Pay close attention to where the Giants line up Sterling Shepard, as this will be telling of whether or not Slayton sees the field more than Kadarius Toney early in the season. Outside of Golladay, this is likely a situation to avoid in drafts.
#1 – Kenny Golladay
2021 Projection: 64 receptions / 1,063 yards / 8 TD’s
#2 – Sterling Shepard
2021 Projection: 65 receptions / 703 yards / 3 TD’s
#3 – Darius Slayton
2021 Projection: 41 receptions / 619 yards / 4 TD’s
#4 – Kadarius Toney
2021 Projection: 46 receptions / 548 yards / 3 TD’s / 19 rushes / 112 yards / 1 TD
#5 – John Ross III
2021 Projection: 11 receptions / 154 yards / 1 TD
Into the Unknown
No this isn’t about a Frozen song, this is referring to the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver room. The known is that the Eagles have used a first-round pick on a wide receiver for two consecutive seasons. DeVonta Smith is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and immediately comes in as the team’s best overall wide receiver. However, he hasn’t played a down in the NFL. Jalen Reagor was the 21st overall pick in 2020, and he is as explosive a player as there is. However, Reagor did not have a good rookie season, only hauling in 31 catches for 396 yards. These two should be the top two targets and are extremely talented, but again, they have to prove it first.
After the duo of Smith and Reagor, it is anyone’s guess as to who can make an impact on the field. Greg Ward led the team in targets in 2020. Naturally, that would lead one to believe he will be the next man up. However, Travis Fulgham did more damage with fewer opportunities in 2020. Ward caught 53 passes for 419 yards and 6 touchdowns. Fulgham caught 38 passes for 539 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ward was the primary slot receiver, while Fulgham played on the outside. With Jalen Reagor possibly playing more of the slot in 2021, it is possible we see Fulgham take on a larger role as the Eagles third wide receiver. Lastly, Quez Watkins is an explosive receiver (4.35 forty) who could arise from the unknown.
#1 – DeVonta Smith
2021 Projection: 80 receptions / 1,025 yards / 6 TD’s
#2 – Jalen Reagor
2021 Projection: 56 receptions / 796 yards / 5 TD’s
#3 – Greg Ward
2021 Projection: 37 receptions / 348 yards / 3 TD’s
#4 – Travis Fulgham
2021 Projection: 29 receptions / 387 yards / 2 TD’s
#5 – Quez Watkins
2021 Projection: 27 receptions / 404 yards / 2 TD’s
Washington Football Team
The Unnamed Team Gets A Talent Overhaul
The Washington Football Team has had a less than stellar wide receiver group over the past few seasons. It has been Terry McLaurin and…. *crickets*. Now, that is no longer the case. Head coach Ron Rivera reunited himself with his former Swiss Army Knife in Curtis Samuel. Formerly of the Carolina Panthers, Samuel had the best season of his career in 2020. While Samuel is entering his fifth season, he is still only 26-years-old. That is the age where receivers typically enjoy their peak seasons. Likely to be used in the slot and as a ball carrier, Samuel should not be ignored in fantasy drafts as a high-upside, low investment pick.
The other new addition is 3rd-round pick Dyami Brown out of North Carolina. Brown had an ultra-productive career at UNC, as he was over 1,000 receiving yards in 2019 and 2020. Even more impressive was the fact he averaged over 20 yards per catch in both of those seasons. This is exactly the type of receiver Washington needed to pair with McLaurin, as the field will open up more for one of the best route runners in all of football. While Brown shouldn’t be expected to put up those ridiculous numbers in his rookie season, he does bring intriguing upside with Ryan Fitzpatrick sure to give him plenty of deep targets in 2021.
#1 – Terry McLaurin
2021 Projection: 90 receptions / 1,203 yards / 7 TD’s
#2 – Curtis Samuel
2021 Projection: 68 receptions / 778 yards / 6 TD’s / 22 rushes / 123 yards / 2 TD’s
#3 – Dyami Brown
2021 Projection: 38 receptions / 594 yards / 4 TD’s
#4 – Steven Sims Jr.
2021 Projection: 38 receptions / 365 yards / 1 TD
#5 – Cam Sims
2021 Projection: 25 receptions / 364 yards / 1 TD
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