With the NFL Draft approaching on April 23, it’s time to take stock of NFL rosters to find prime opportunities for the incoming rookie class. Even the most talented rookie can get buried on a depth chart in the NFL, while a fourth-round pick could break out in year one if drafted into the right situation.
This series of articles will search each NFL roster for glaring holes in the depth chart, focusing on the fantasy football positions of quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. If a talented rookie is drafted to fill one of the following roster holes, we could have the formula in place for a fantasy football difference-maker. Check out our AFC North, AFC South, AFC East, AFC West, NFC North, NFC South, and NFC West coverage as well. Let’s take a look at the NFC East.
Dallas Cowboys: WR, TE
Dak Prescott led an explosive Dallas Cowboys offense in 2019, that finished first in total yards and sixth in total points. The Cowboys return a solid core with Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. Elliott enjoyed another Top-5 fantasy finish at running back. Elliott was slow and steady but he got the job done for owners each week. However, years of pounding may finally be catching up with him as his explosive runs have all but disappeared. The Cowboys receivers appear to be entering their prime though. The Cowboys were one of just three teams to have teammates to finish inside of the Top-24 in fantasy receiver scoring. The team retains its offensive coordinator and play-caller Kellen Moore, which bodes well for the team’s top playmakers.
Dallas did lose several players in free agency but on offense, the biggest holes will be at tight end and slot receiver. Veteran tight end Jason Witten signed with the Raiders and while slowing down, Witten still managed to lead the position with 63 receptions and 529 yards. Wideout Randall Cobb also left to sign a big deal with Houston and Tavon Austin remains unsigned. Cobb enjoyed a bounceback season, reaching the 800 yard mark for the first time since 2015. The loss of these three will be felt on the field but it is likely that the loss in the locker room will be felt more.
Look for Dallas to draft at least one receiver in a draft class that looks to be as deep as we have seen in a decade. The type of receiver the team may be looking at is anyone’s guess though. Cooper can line up inside at slot and its a role that he may even be better at which could free up a rookie to line up on the outside. At tight end, although there appears to be a need, expect the Cowboys to stand pat and roll with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Shultz moving forward.
New York Giants: OL
The Giants have the making for an explosive fantasy offense and are a team that savvy fantasy owners may look to target in fantasy drafts. New York’s depth chart is scary with Saquon Barkley and Evan Engam headlining. Sterling Shepard appeared in just ten games but was productive when available and veteran Golden Tate returns. Then there is Darius Slayton, the speedster out of Auburn, the Giants selected in the 5th round in 2019. Slayton exploded on the scene, leading the team in receptions and touchdowns and cementing himself in the lineup. If Daniel Jones, the young signal-caller, can take the next step the Giants could be scary for opposing defenses.
The team was also busy in free agency, adding several veterans who will provide depth and an intriguing name that is looking for one last chance. Dion Lewis was added to give the team another threat out of the backfield. Colt McCoy is now the backup quarterback and Levine Toilolo joins the team to provide much-needed blocking help. Finally, Corey Coleman has been given one last chance, and while the likelihood of him making the team is slim, stranger things have happened.
Heading into the draft the Giants’ most glaring need is at offensive line. Nate Solder is the veteran at the right tackle and while he is a big name, he struggled all season. He allowed 11 sacks and committed five penalties, sign the 32-year-old may be slowing down. Nick Gates lined up at left tackle for most of the season and finished as the highest-graded player on the line but the team could be looking to move him inside to guard. Either way, it is likely the Giants will draft an offensive lineman at the top of the first or second rounds. That would go a long way in seeing these skill players realize their potential.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR
Anyone who spent time watching the Eagles in the second half of the season saw just how desperately the team needed explosive playmakers at the receiver position. Carson Wentz was a magician, willing his team to victories down the stretch while throwing to guys who sounded more like insurance salesmen in Greg Ward and Robert Davis. It will be no surprise when fans see the team spend significant draft resources on improving the position.
Veteran receivers Alshon Jeffery (30-yo) and DeSean Jackson (33-yo) return but both are on the downside of their careers and Jeffrey is said to be disgruntled with his role on the team. Last year’s second-round draft pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside disappointed in year one, hauling in just ten catches on the season. While it is too early to tell whether he can make the leap in year two, the team cannot afford to gamble on his development when the roster appears ready to win now. One area where the team will not need help is at running back, where QB List favorite Miles Sanders appears ready to build on his impressive rookie campaign in 2020.
The Eagles will target receivers that can step in and contribute right away, adding the depth to veteran receivers and the best tight end duo in the league in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. The team needs an alpha at the position, a number one that Wentz can rely on, and one that could allow them to move on from Jeffrey in the near future.
Washinton Redskins: WR, TE, RB
The Washington Redskins are picking number two overall and all indications are they will select defensive end Chase Young to add to an already frightening defensive line. However, the team does have limited draft capital because they used their 2020 second-round pick to move up last year and select Montez Sweat. The move worked out well for a team that has an improving defense. However, that doesn’t leave much draft capital to help improve an offense that finished dead last in scoring.
For the Redskins, there isn’t an offensive skill position that doesn’t have big questions and the team could go in multiple directions. At the receiver, Terry McLaurin looks like a bonafide star that will continue to improve with experience. However, the depth chart after Scary Terry is young and unproven. And all signs point to Dwyane Haskins returning as the starting QB. Haskins struggled in year one but that can be expected for any young signal-caller. He must show improvement out of the gate though because the Redksins signed Kyle Allen as the backup, and he has a history with the team’s new coaching staff.
After these players, there are plenty of questions. Derrius Guice is as likely to miss time with injury in 2020 as any back in the league. Adrian Peterson led the team with nearly 900 yards but he will be 35 entering the season and there is no telling when he will finally drop off. The team must look for a reliable option at running back, even if they wait till day three of the draft. Finally, at tight end, both Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis retired, leaving a huge hole at the position. Tight end is historically a difficult position for rookies to contribute early but the team must look for a long-term option at the position.
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