Each divisional preview will have a consistent structure—highlighting two each of the following: (1) undervalued players compared to average draft position (ADP), (2) overvalued players compared to ADP, (3) sleepers, (4) breakout candidates and (5) bold predictions.
With that said, let's get to the NFC ESst divisional preview.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 129 overall, QB17)
Yet to finish outside fantasy’s top 12 quarterbacks in his career, Prescott has been the QB6, QB11 and QB10 in his first three NFL seasons, respectively. Prescott has been both durable (no missed games) and consistent—six rushing scores and either 22 or 23 passing scores each season.
While he started 2018 slowly, the midseason trade for Amari Cooper was a major boost. With Cooper, Prescott scored 3.3 more fantasy points per game than he did without him. A full season with Cooper, improvement from second-year wide receiver Michael Gallup and the additions of Randall Cobb and Jason Witten, it could be more of the same for the dual-threat quarterback—another top-12 season.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 67, WR29)
Two seasons into his Eagles tenure, Jeffery has finished as fantasy’s WR18 (2017) and WR25 (2018). While he was worse in absolute terms, much of that was due to missing three games in 2018.
On a per-game basis, Jeffery actually improved his fantasy production year-over-year from 10.5 (2017) to 11.8 (2018). A significantly higher catch rate in 2018 (70.7% vs. 47.5% in 2017) led to per-game improvements in both receptions and yards (5.0/64.8 vs. 3.6/49.3). Essentially you’re getting what I expect to (still) be a WR2 producer at a WR3 price.
Jordan Howard, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 87, RB33)
See Breakout Candidates, where we’ll get to Miles Sanders.
I wouldn’t say that Howard is “overvalued” per se at his current ADP as much as I would say that I prefer Sanders over him. To be fair, Philadelphia’s offensive line is one of the best in the league and their offense is going to score a lot of points with Howard potentially handling the bulk of goal-line carries.
That said, Sanders is the most talented of the team’s backs and is currently being selected after Howard. NJ.com’s Zach Rosenblatt wrote earlier this month, “I fully expect [Sanders] to become the Eagles’ No. 1 running back—and soon.” Granted, the team will use a committee approach and that limits the upside of all the Eagles’ running backs to some degree, but I envision a scenario where Sanders becomes more and more involved as the season progresses.
(The holdout version of) Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 4, RB4)
Once the holdout is over, there will be zero concern with Elliott, who has led the NFL in rushing yards per game every year that he’s been a pro. (Well, there is concern that he does something dumb to put himself in the spotlight for the wrong reason again, but no concern about drafting him in the top four if he isn’t holding out.)
Having returned from Mexico to Dallas, there is optimism that a deal could get done sooner rather than later. Given the poor advice Le’Veon Bell got as he sat out all of 2018, however, there is no telling when (or if) Elliott will return absent a new deal.
Note: For our purposes, a sleeper is defined as a player with a current ADP of Round 10 or later.
Trey Quinn, WR, Washington Redskins (ADP: 256, WR84)
With Jamison Crowder signing with the Jets this offseason, Quinn has the “slot spot locked down” heading into 2019. A deeper sleeper, especially for those in full-PPR formats, I project Quinn to lead Washington’s receiving corps in both receptions (55) and receiving yards (621). While those numbers may not be elite, he currently sits at WR60 in projections—more than 20 positional spots higher than his ADP (WR84).
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 225, TE25)
If it weren't for Zach Ertz, Goedert would be hyped for a second-year breakout. The Eagles could employ more two-TE sets in 2019, but Ertz almost never comes off the field (1,000 snaps last year, 92%). Philadelphia's tight ends coach Justin Peelle has described Goedert's development as "phenomenal." Inside my top-20 fantasy tight ends, the second-year player has top-six upside if Ertz were to miss any time.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Sanders may begin the season as the No. 2 to Jordan Howard, but it’s certainly possible that the talented rookie sees his role expand as the season progresses. Not only was Sanders taken with the same draft pick (No. 53) as LeSean McCoy, the rookie has drawn some early comparisons to Shady due to his burst and ability to change directions.
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh said the following of Sanders: “Unique skill level in the hole and in a short area and being able to make quick cuts and then get vertical, and he's made some plays in the passing game down the field.”
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants
Maybe more bounce-back than breakout, I still expect Engram to have the best season of his young career in terms of total and per-game production. Engram has missed six games in his first two seasons and left three other games early due to injury. Engram has a minimum of four targets in all 23 of the other games he’s played.
Returning to the field just as Odell Beckham Jr. missed the final four weeks, Engram amassed a 22/320/1 line as only George Kittle scored more fantasy points over that four-game stretch. With Beckham now in Cleveland and Golden Tate suspended the first four games, Engram should significantly outpace his 6.88 targets-per-game career average.
Note: Perhaps it will take a best-case scenario for these predictions to become reality, but if that weren't the case, they wouldn't be bold.
DeSean Jackson will finish as a top-25 fantasy wide receiver in 2019.
Granted he’s better in non-PPR formats, but I still don’t understand Jackson’s current (half-PPR) ADP of WR47. In spite of missing four games last year, Jackson still scored the 36th-most (half-PPR) fantasy points amongst wide receivers and was better on a per-game basis (top 30).
Now back in Philadelphia, D-Jax gives the Eagles the deep threat they have lacked as he has led the NFL in Y/A three separate times—2018 (18.9), 2016 (17.9) and 2014 (20.9). Chemistry between Carson Wentz and Jackson has been strong and NJ.com's Mark Kaye recently wrote that the duo is "clicking like they’ve been together for years." There could be some game-to-game volatility for the big-play receiver, but there is no doubt that he’s extremely undervalued at WR47.
Jordan Reed will finish as a top-10 fantasy tight end in 2019.
Seemingly every year, the phrase fantasy owners use with Reed is “only if” (as in “only if” he could stay healthy). Before last season, he had played at least 12 games only twice and finished those seasons as fantasy's TE2 (2015, 14 games) and TE9 (2016, 12 games), respectively. Playing the first 13 games last season (and then missing the final three games), Reed was more solid (TE10) than great through Week 14.
Training, instead of rehabbing, for the first time in three years, Reed recently told ESPN's John Keim, "My feet are definitely getting stronger, way stronger than last year. I feel more explosive, and I feel a lot better." Take that with a grain of salt, but there is little risk at his TE21 ADP and plenty of upside as the team’s best receiving option.
Good luck in your league(s) and stay tuned for more divisional previews later this week!
Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2019 season. His fantasy rankings have placed him in the Top 20 in each of the past two seasons among all the industry experts tracked by FantasyPros.com, and he has been in the Top 25 in six of the past eight years.