It’s been 20 years since the NFC East saw a back-to-back division winner. The Philadelphia Eagles not only claimed the division title in both 2003 and 2004, but 2001 and 2002, as well. They’ll look to do the same in 2023 after a massively successful 2022 season in which they fell short of winning the Super Bowl. However, both the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants made the playoffs last season. So, there’s obvious, tough competition. With that comes plenty of value for fantasy football. A bold prediction from each NFC East team could help lift any one of them to a division title as well as your fantasy team to a championship.
I am continuing to highlight one fantasy football related bold prediction from each team, division by division, until the start of the 2023 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 bold predictions from the other divisions all summer long on Fantrax as well as follow me on Twitter @Colin_McT for plenty more fantasy football content.
NFC East Bold Predictions for 2023 Fantasy Football
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Brandin Cooks makes his first ever Pro Bowl
Given the abundance of talent amongst the league’s wide receivers, this bold prediction may be one of my boldest. It should still speak to the level of success I think Brandin Cooks can have in his first season with the Dallas Cowboys.
First thing’s first, 31.6% of Dallas’ targets from last season are available with the departures of tight end Dalton Schultz (89), wide receiver Noah Brown (73) and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (10). Cooks has earned 7.3 targets per game throughout his nine year career including 7.86 per game over the last three seasons with the Houston Texans. Additionally, players who accounted for 38% of Dallas’ 2022 offensive touchdowns are no longer with the team, as well. That includes running back, Ezekiel Elliott.
Brandin Cooks joins the Cowboys via trade, for the fourth time in his career, now to his fifth team. In his first season with a new team, the three times he was traded prior, Cooks posted at least 1,082 receiving yards and five touchdowns each time. He’s never finished worse than WR29 in such seasons even as high as WR17.
Cooks has been around for a while, but he still doesn’t even turn 30-years old until September. The lowest stat line for a Pro Bowl wide receiver in 2022 over 17 games was Terry McLaurin’s 77/1,191/5 with the Washington Commanders. Cooks has had more receptions than McLaurin’s five times, more yards once, and as many or more touchdowns six times before in his career.
Dallas has been a top-six scoring offense in three of the last four seasons, with Dak playing at least 12 games. As Dak’s clear-cut number two receiver, Cooks’ ceiling has potential to see similar numbers. Even if he doesn’t earn the Pro Bowl title, he could have a strong season and is as cheap as ever in drafts right now with a low-probability of rising in the rankings. In the event Ceedee Lamb isn’t available to the Cowboys this season, Cooks is a proven WR1 for their offense, as well.
New York Giants
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Darren Waller finishes as the top fantasy tight end
Darren Waller will lead the New York Giants in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. I don’t think that’s much of a bold prediction. However, in doing so, I think his numbers are so great, that he could dethrone Travis Kelce as the top tight end in fantasy football. How’s that for a bold prediction?
The New York Giants offense averaged just 21.2 points per game last season. That’s tied for 17th-most in the league. Albeit a playoff team, that even won a road playoff game, they scored 365 total points during the season while giving up 371. That’s a negative six (-6) point differential, the worst amongst all 14 playoff teams. Even as the QB10 in 2022 fantasy football, quarterback, Daniel Jones, only threw 15 touchdown passes. Adding firepower to the 2023 offense, specifically in the passing game, was one of this team’s biggest off-season needs.
After trading former first-round pick, Kadarius Toney, to the Kansas City Chiefs last season, the Giants used the 2023 third-round pick they received from that trade to acquire tight end, Darren Waller, from the Las Vegas Raiders. That’s significant capital, with history, to give Jones a weapon.
Waller’s biggest competition for targets is running back, Saquon Barkley. Saquon led the team in targets (76) last season. Their current wide receiver group consists of Sterling Shepard, Jamison Crowder, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Collin Johnson, Wan’Dale Robinson, Jeff Smith, and rookie, Jalin Hyatt. None of these players have more than 872 receiving yards in a single season. Additionally, only five or six of them are going to even make the team.
Waller isn’t far removed from major success as the Raiders’ top pass catcher. As the team’s leading target in both 2019 and 2020, he posted back-to-back seasons with at least 90 catches and 1,145 yards. That’s with an average of 131 targets per season and 8.18 per game. Assuming Waller stays healthy and sees similar volume in New York, he is a top-five tight end with the potential to lead the position depending on his touchdown total.
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Rashaad Penny logs 1,000 rushing yards
Rashaad Penny is playing the 2023 season on a “prove it” deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. His one-year deal is worth $1.35 million but with just $600,000 in guaranteed money. So, for this bold prediction to come to fruition, Penny needs to get through training camp unscathed. After all, the reason for the deal’s structure is due to an unfortunately long list of injuries throughout his career.
In five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Penny has played in just 42 regular season games. In total, he has just 337 regular-season carries, as well. That includes 176 over his last two seasons in 15 total games. Even with limited opportunities, Penny still boasts a career 5.7 yards per carry average. In those most recent 15 games over the last two seasons, Penny has rumbled his way to a 6.2 yards per carry average on the aforementioned 176 attempts.
Now, Penny gets to run behind one of, if not the, best offensive lines in football. Furthermore, there are 259 vacant carries left behind from Miles Sanders from last season. That’s 47.6% of the Eagles’ 2022 regular season rush attempts. Given the new, big contract extension to quarterback, Jalen Hurts, who accounts for 30.3% of last year’s carries, it’s plausible that he hands the ball off a bit more in 2023 to protect himself. Penny’s biggest competition out of the backfield is trade acquisition, D’Andre Swift, who has his own injury history to put behind him. While I do expect Swift to touch the ball more, especially as a receiver, Penny can still thrive as a key piece to this Eagles backfield.
I don’t think there is a 200-carry back on this roster, but if there is, it’s a healthy Rashaad Penny. He should see his fair share of early-down carries as well as goal-line work. The Eagles were top-five in plays per game (5th) and points per game (2nd) in 2022. With little tinkering to their offense this off-season, we should see similar success in 2023. Penny has weekly flex appeal with a ceiling worth targeting assuming the health risks.
McTamany’s Bold Prediction: Antonio Gibson ranks inside the top five in running back receptions
This bold prediction has everything to do with Eric Bieniemy coming in as the Commanders’ new offensive coordinator. Bieniemy, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, is the exact jolt this offense needs to compete in the NFC East. Especially with expectations of second-year quarterback, Sam Howell, starting in Week 1, he will benefit from a proven play-caller to get him comfortable and, more importantly, succeed.
As for Antonio Gibson, if there is any year to truly break out, it’s this year. After 1,331 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns on 300 touches in 2021, Gibson followed it up with just 899 yards and five trips to the end zone on 195 touches in 2022. That’s a drop from RB19 to RB28 on a points-per-game basis in fantasy football, as well.
Buy. The. Dip.
Antonio Gibson isn’t going to be sought after this year in drafts. However, with Bieniemy calling the shots, there’s potential to finally unlock Gibson, especially as a pass catcher. In two seasons at the University of Memphis, Gibson lined up as a wide receiver. Specifically in his final season, in 2019, Gibson caught 38 passes for an eye-popping 735 yards and eight touchdowns.
In 2022, Chiefs running back, Jerick McKinnon finished third in receptions on the team with 56 with Bieniemy as the offensive coordinator. That’s just four receptions shy of finishing inside the top five among all running backs. McKinnon caught just 13 in Kansas City’s first seven games. He then hauled in 43 more over their final 10 regular season games.
Commanders running back, Brian Robinson caught just 52 passes in 55 collegiate games then just nine in 12 games with Washington last season. Gibson should see a heavy majority of the receiving work out of the Commanders’ backfield in 2023. Given Bieniemy’s new system, with Howell under center, I think Gibson sees a lot of check-down looks. This will be his best season yet as a receiver which makes him an enticing target later on in drafts.
For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!
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