NFC East Pressing Fantasy Football Questions

·8-min read

Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts was the fantasy QB8 over the final five weeks of last season. What is his floor and ceiling with a whole offseason to prepare, and will he be a proactive pick for you?

Dalton Del Don: Hurts’ floor is low given his small track record, but his ceiling is a top-three fantasy QB given his rushing upside. Hurts put up video-game-type numbers rushing in college (including 1,300 yards and 20 rushing scores his final season), and he was equally as aggressive running when he took over in Philadelphia. The Eagles upgraded their offensive line and drafted DeVonta Smith during the offseason, helping his situation as well. I have Hurts at the top of my second tier of fantasy QBs, right there with Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, and Justin Herbert. I’ll be proactively picking him for sure.

Liz Loza: At Hurts’ ceiling, he’s a top-five fantasy option. At his floor, he gets benched mid-season. With so little pro-tape available there are obvious questions about his ability, particularly as a passer (59.2 true completion percentage). His situation is obviously rife with unknowns.

New HC Nick Sirianni’s comments regarding his system and subsequent lack of interest in adjusting it to match Hurts’ skill set is concerning. Plus, Hurts has the least favorable strength of schedule among fantasy QBs in 2021. Reuniting with DeVonta Smith (assuming the rookie returns to full health soon) and gaining another pass-catching weapon in Kenneth Gainwell helps, but if Sirianni doesn’t go RPO heavy, Hurts is likely to struggle. His rushing upside is what’s keeping him inside my top-10. Let’s hope he gets to show it off.

Andy Behrens: Hurts rushed for 272 yards and three scores over his four starts at the end of 2020, so we can feel comfortable with his weekly scoring floor. Those rushing yards will basically always be there. A healthy O-line and much improved receiving corps will boost his fantasy profile in no small way. DeVonta Smith's knee injury is a concern, but he a massive addition for a team that had no one who resembled a No. 1 receiver last year.

All of this is to say that yes — emphatically YES — Hurts will be a proactive pick for me. He's an easy top-10 fantasy QB with top-3 upside.

New York Giants: Presumably healthy, Saquon Barkley is a middle-of-the-first-round option. What's the percentage chance he finishes as a top-three running back scorer in 2021?

Scott Pianowski: Whatever my percentage would be, it's under the market. I'll be light on Barkley this year. Although I do like the Giants defense quite a bit, I don't trust OC Jason Garrett and I'm not sold on Daniel Jones either. Barkley's pass-catching stats have been buoyed by opportunity, not wonderful receiving skill. Oh, and he's coming off a major injury, too. To be fair, you can talk down anyone, even first-round bell cows. But Barkley isn't going to be one of my common targets this year.

Liz: A top-three FF finish is a more possible than probable outcome for Barkley. With so many capable pass-catchers added to the Giants receiving corps, his target volume will obviously dip. But I also expect his tote total to decrease. Coming off a devastating knee injury that required reconstructive surgery, the Giants aren't rushing Barkley. That would explain part of why the team added a glut of warm bodies to the backfield.

In 2018 and 2019 Barkley averaged just over 16 carries per game. I think he’s more likely to see around 13 or 14 per contest in 2021. It is worth noting that while his touch-total figures to go down, his efficiency should rebound a bit with so many field stretchers added to the squad. And he remains one of the most complete and creative backs in the game. Still, with an unfavorable strength of schedule and game script unlikely to benefit the running game (+450 to win the division, per BetMGM) Barkley’s days as an ultra-elite producer appear numbered. He’s firmly ranked at the top of my second tier of RBs.

Matt Harmon: Let’s give him a 70 percent chance. To be clear, that’s extremely high, and does presume he gets back on the field soon. Barkley was hammered with 24 opportunities and played on 87 percent of the Giants snaps in his lone full game of 2020. There’s every reason to expect he gets right back to that workhorse level, as long as he’s healthy.

The Giants restocked the pass-catcher cupboard. That is only going to boost the team’s overall offensive efficiency. More scoring chances for the Giants’ offense means more potential touchdowns for Barkley. The still ultra-talented New York back is a near-lock for 70-plus catches on a unit that should improve this coming season. Those are the types of bets you make in fantasy.

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott is presumably healthy and ready to start Week 1 after a devastating, season-ending injury in 2020. He's a consensus top-five QB. What’s a more likely scenario for Prescott in 2021: Finishing as a top-two quarterback, or outside the top five?

Matt: A lock top-two finish is a lot to ask when Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen all exist. However, it’s certainly within his range of outcomes. Prescott was the No. 2 quarterback in 2019 and was pacing for another such season last year before the injury. The play volume, rushing floor, and upside of the offense is the perfect stew to mix an overall QB1 season. The only question we have with Prescott is about his recovery from the leg injury, and now a shoulder problem, too. Otherwise, it’s full steam ahead.

Andy: Prescott somewhat quietly finished second overall at his position just two years ago, in a season dominated by the Lamar Jackson experience. Dak was well on his way to a top-tier finish last year as well, pre-injury. I'd never put money on a top-two finish at such a loaded position, but I'm also not gonna pick against Prescott. Where's the fun in that?

The setup for Dak is every bit as excellent as it was last season and his receiving corps is absurd. For fantasy purposes, he's the best kind of rushing quarterback: limited carries, but lots of goal-line action. He should be drafted with confidence at or ahead of his current ADP.

Scott: The way probability works, outside the Top 5 is the bet. But I don't want to dissuade anyone from drafting Prescott. This offense has all the toys, and you're welcome to make him a proactive pick.

Washington Football Team: The only thing that seems to be keeping Terry McLaurin from becoming a star is better QB play. What is his ceiling with the bearded wonder, Ryan Fitzpatrick, now throwing him the ball?

Liz: I’ll go with exospheric. Fitz’s YOLO arm in combination with all that makes Terry so scary allows for astronomical comps. The veteran QB may be 38 years old but he’s coming off of a season in which he averaged 7.8 YPA (QB9). McLaurin, on the other side of this equation, averaged nearly 88 air yards per contest ... and that was with a cadre of upper-level management under center.

More specifically, from Weeks 9 through 17 — with Alex Smith tossing the ball and noting a high ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 11 — McLaurin averaged over 72 air yards per game (WR22 overall during that time span) and was the WR14 in fantasy points per game. If he could do that then, surely he’ll post top-10/12 FF numbers in 2021.

Scott: His upside is the best receiver in fantasy.

I will draft McLaurin aggressively, and I'm generally not an elbow-out-of-the-way drafter. Compared to the previous quarterbacks in this city, Fitzpatrick might as well be Patrick Mahomes. And don't forget it's Season 3 for McLaurin; though wideouts have shown in recent years that they can produce quickly, this is still the perfect time for a spike year, and a ton of end zone spikes. Go get him.

Andy: I love Ryan Fitzpatrick with my whole true heart; let's start there. He's demonstrated over several seasons that he can support multiple viable fantasy receivers. McLaurin's skill set pairs extremely well with a heady quarterback who's willing to make YOLO throws — in fact, the setup is pretty sweet for Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown, too. McLaurin's upside is a top-3 positional finish. Football Team's offense could be a party.

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