NFL Midpoint Evaluation: NFC East

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) –

Offensive Points per Game (4th) Yards per Game (6th) –

  • Pleasant surprise in both of these categories. Last year the Eagles were 16th in points scored per game and are now 4th midway through this season.  The reason for this is the emergence of Carson Wentz.  Wentz showed promise last year and has taken a huge step in the right direction for this season.  The running game has been a little bit lackluster to begin the season but the recent signing of Jay Ajayi could change that by the end of the season.

Defensive PPG Allowed (10th) YPG Allowed (14th) –

  • In pretty much the same position as they finished last season, the Eagles live off of forcing turnovers and keeping opposing offenses from truly going off. They have 2 sacks or more in every game so far this season except one and they have given up no more than 27 points in a single game this season.  Keeping games winnable for your offense is exactly what defenses have to do in today’s game and the Eagles defense does just that.

Players above expectations –

  • Carson Wentz, 2nd in scoring for the QB position sits the #2 overall draft pick in the 2016 NFL draft. He was essentially used as a bye-week-streamer last year but has been an every week reliable starter this season.  With 19 TDs to only 5 INTs so far this season Wentz will surely get some MVP votes come season’s end if he can keep up this kind of production.  This was very much unforeseen by fantasy experts this season and anyone who is otherwise is lying.
  • Zach Ertz, the player seeing the most benefit from the emergence of Wentz has to be this guy. The main nock against Ertz in the past was that he had trouble when it comes to catching the football in the redzone.  He now has 6 TD catches on the year in 8 games.  He continues to be the main target for Wentz who spreads the ball around otherwise.
  • Nelson Agholor, if you were wondering what I meant when I said there weren’t many “studs” sticking out right now in the WR position this year this is a prime example of that. Agholor is having himself a fine season; he has 5 TDs on the year but his best stat line is a measly 6/86/1.  He has not broken 100 yards in a single game yet he is the 11th best WR in fantasy.  He definitely did not produce well last year but has done wonderful so far in 2017.

Players below expectations –

  • LeGarrette Blount, Blount is currently ranked 22nd at the RB position fantasy-wise right now; the reason he is on this list is because he has only scored 3 times (one of them receiving). Blount had a monster game against the Chargers week 3 with 16/136/0 but his main job is to punch the ball into the endzone.  He hasn’t really done that but with a 4.7 YPC average he’s done fine for himself in other aspects of the game.  There were limited options here.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • Sitting on the best record in the game it’s hard to predict them for anything short of a division title. The Eagles have been soaring on offense and their defense has done exactly what has been asked of them.  The signing of Ajayi was good for this team but it’s going to take time for him to understand this system.  Come playoff time this is not a team you want to face but they are definitely beatable.  I’d be surprised if Wentz doesn’t begin to slow down though.

Dallas Cowboys (4-3) –

Offensive Points per Game (5th) Yards per Game (8th) –

  • Considering this team has the best run game in the NFL and a competent QB that doesn’t turn the ball over, neither one of these numbers surprise me. What is starting to annoy me is the narrative surrounding Ezekiel Elliott.  Either serve the suspension or don’t.  The NFL and the legal system just need to agree on something and call it a day.  I am sure you Zeke owners agree with me so you can move on with your lives and properly set your fantasy lineups.

Defensive PPG Allowed (T-19th) YPG Allowed (13th) –

  • Similar to last year and for the same reasons: they are a capable defense that doesn’t have elite talent but can force stops and turnovers when necessary. The offense is good enough to keep them from being exploited at every turn which makes for a good relationship between the offense and the defense for this team.

Players above expectations –

  • Dak Prescott, I’ll admit that so far it seems that I am wrong about Dak Prescott. Last year he did an admirable job controlling this offense and running through Zeke and so far it’s been the same story.  He still has yet to throw for over 300 yards in a single game this season but he isn’t turning the ball over and he’s throwing TD passes with relative ease.  It will be interesting to see how he performs if Zeke does indeed serve his suspension this year.

Players below expectations –

  • Dez Bryant, part of this relates to Dak. I had Dez pegged as a low-end WR 1 at the beginning of the season and I still think he has the talent to be a top 5 WR.  The issue is that Dak is just not willing to force him the ball (not a bad thing, but not good for fantasy in Dez’s case) and he doesn’t throw it enough to have an elite WR in this offense.  Things may change if Zeke serves his suspension though.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • I’m writing this as if Zeke serves his suspension for the rest of the season, because that’s how it looks as of the time of this writing. If Zeke is out they will still have a decent run game but will be forced to throw it more which I do not think Dak will be able to handle extremely well.  This team misses the playoffs if he serves.  If he does not, a wild card birth is in their future but they won’t be able to overthrow the 7-1 Eagles for the division title.

Washington Redskins (3-4) –

Offensive Points per Game (12th) Yards per Game (14th) –

  • Both seem pretty fitting for an offense that can move the ball but lacks any true studs. The Redskins’ front office has not been willing to pay Cousins a fat contract that he desires and they have lost big on it.  Cousins has been brilliant since he took over for RG3 some time ago.  They don’t have great weapons offensively and even let some go before the season but he still commands this offense like a true superstar.

Defensive PPG Allowed (28th) YPG Allowed (12th) –

  • If these numbers were flipped then this team would be 4-3 or even 5-2 instead of 3-4 right now. Bending but not breaking seems to be the thing to do in today’s NFL since it’s impossible to stop opposing teams from scoring based on the skill level of opposing WRs and because of the rules themselves.  These numbers tell me that the defense is slowing down opposing teams at times but once they get into the red zone they score unhindered.

Players above expectations –

  • Chris Thompson, currently ranked 7th at RB with over 17 PPG is Chris Freaking Thompson. I liked him going into the season as a late-round flier at RB in PPR leagues because he has a well-defined role and Kelley doesn’t catch passes.  Well, with the combination of Kelley being hurt/ineffective and the WR core being lackluster, Thompson has been relied upon heavily in the passing game and has been producing at an incredible rate.

Players below expectations –

  • Terelle Pryor Sr., Pryor had quite the season last year with the Browns but he’s ranked as the 74th WR in terms of fantasy right now. He opened the year with a 6/66/0 statline but since has had 1 game with 3 catches for 70 yards and a TD but has not topped 31 yards or scored other than that.  He wasn’t a slam-dunk to be a WR1 but everybody suspected more from him than this.
  • Jordan Reed, Reed is hurt, I mean ALWAYS hurt. That’s the problem with him but for this season even when he’s been “healthy” he hasn’t been all that productive.  It’s very smart of them to hold onto a decent TE2 in Vernon Davis but Reed just needs to get healthy for them to have any chance at the playoffs.
  • Rob Kelley, Kelley is one of those backs who you give the ball to and expect 3 yards every time. Now he has been hampered by an injury, but his production has been iffy at best.  It seems that the play calling is favoring Thompson in those short-yardage situations this season so it’s not clear if Kelley will be given a chance to take back those opportunities.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • The defense is ranked 13th in both passing YPG allowed and rushing YPG allowed but they have apparently been dreadful in the red zone. Cousins has few weapons to work with and they also have a tough schedule moving forward.  Unless the WR core magically turns it around and Kelley starts getting 5 yards a pop I don’t see this team making the playoffs at all.

New York Giants (1-6) –

Offensive Points per Game (30th) Yards per Game (27th) –

  • The Giants were another team entering the season that were a trendy Super Bowl pick. Eli has historically been up-and-down his entire career but he had a good set of weapons to work with entering the season.  The Giants then promptly lost their 1st 5 game games.  It doesn’t help that now OBJ and Marshall are done for the season but the season was pretty much over before that anyway.

Defensive PPG Allowed (17th) YPG Allowed (27th) –

  • This is more of what defensive coordinators are looking for, commonly referred to as “bend but don’t break”. This squad is allowing opposing teams to move the ball down the field but they are not letting them into the promise land nearly as easily.  There are a few good veterans on this team but the youth of this team is what will make this defense into one of the better units in the league moving forward, they just need some help from the offense.

Players above expectations –

  • Evan Engram, a solid example of what can happen when you are force-fed the ball. Engram has had solid production so far this season but he would not likely be on the same pace had injuries not decimated this receiving core back in week 5.  He is currently ranked 6th at the TE position and should be able to keep his production going in the 2nd

Players below expectations –

  • Eli Manning, at this point it’s not surprising given that he has no viable targets to throw to but in the 1st 5 weeks when he did have his options available he still looked like a scared puppy in the pocket. His OL is one of the worst in football so even that’s not entirely his fault but Eli shows absolutely zero confidence in the pocket.
  • Brandon Marshall, questions about Marshall started to arise when opened the season with 2 measly catches over the first 2 weeks. He started to turn on the gas with 8/66/0 and 6/46/0 in the 2 following weeks but then promptly injured his ankle which required season-ending surgery.  We don’t know if we have seen the last of Brandon Marshall, I bet we haven’t, but his productivity at this point is still very much in question.

2nd Half Outlook –

  • With the second-to-worst record in football there isn’t much that can be said in favor of this team.  Eli looks rough, the run game can’t get going because the O line is pathetic, the defense is gassed because the offense can’t keep them off the field, and there are no weapons offensively that opposing defensive coordinators have to worry about.  Here’s to a high draft pick in 2018!

 

*Featured image courtesy of thegamehaus.com*