Thursday, August 23, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: NFC East Preview

Dallas Cowboys:

1. Terrell Owens-WR- It's true: If TO were a military officer, his name would be Major Drama. One of the most controversial players in the history of the game, TO often has fantasy owners on the edge of their seat, worried that their starting WR is going to aggravate his NFL team to the point where they suspend or cut him. While he does bring his share of stress, his talent and professional statistics are beyond reproach. Draft him by the early third round and watch one of the best WR's in football deliver 10-13 touchdowns along with his share of Maalox moments.

2. Marion Barber III-RB- MBIII delivered an outstanding season under the tutelage of Bill Parcells last season, scoring 16 touchdowns in a timeshare backfield. While it may be a bit much to expect those lofty numbers again, he has the talent to be used in a variety of ways by new coach Wade Phillips. A punishing inside runner, he is also a gifted receiver out of the backfield. Look for Phillips to keep some semblance of the timeshare intact (to ensure both him and Julius Jones stay healthy) and draft Barber III in the fifth round as a low tier RB2 or a very good RB3/Flex player.

3. Julius Jones-RB- The other half of the Cowboy's running attack, Jones fell into disfavor with Parcells last season and was consequently not used to his fullest potential. Despite dealing with the demotion, he still managed to run for more than 1,000 yards and 4 touchdowns. How Wade Phillips will use him is unclear as of right now, but Jones should continue to be a valuable cog in the Dallas system. You might still be able to get him late in the sixth round as an RB3/Flex player or a very good reserve RB.

Bargain Bin: Tony Romo-QB- Dallas fans haven't forgotten Bobble-Gate yet. That's a shame because, other than that one cataclysmic error, Romo rescued the franchise from the elderly (and often inept) clutches of Drew Bledsoe. He's one of the better second tier QB's available and should be targeted late in the eight round as a serviceable starting QB or a high quality backup.

New York Giants:

1. Brandon Jacobs-RB- A rumbling tank of a man, Jacobs should seize the opportunity afforded to him by Tiki Barber's retirement to prove he is an every down back and not just a goal line vulture. His game is playing smashmouth football, pounding a defense until they wear down. Whether or not he is capable of of lugging the rock 25 times a game is a question mark, but he will certainly see the goal line looks regardless of whether or not the backfield develops into a timeshare with Reuben Droughns. He is a very sexy pick this year for fantasy owners, so you'll have to nab him no later than the early second round if you want him as your RB1.

2. Plaxico Burress-WR- Though he never really hit his stride in Pittsburgh, Burress has found a home with the Giants as their starting wide receiver. He possesses quite a bit of skill along with prototypical NFL WR size and bulk (6'5, 232lbs.) and good chemistry with quarterback Eli Manning. The questions revolve around his health ( he is currently dealing with a pesky ankle injury) and his sometimes suspect attitude. Expect him to last no further than the late fifth round as someone will be happy to make him a sound WR2 with their pick.

3. Jeremy Shockey-TE- There's no doubt he's a warrior, but the drawback is his hard nosed style often results in nagging injuries throughout the season. He continues to improve as a player, though, posting over 60 catches each of the last three seasons. The Giants love to employ him in the Red Zone as well, which ups his value (seven touchdowns last season). He'll definitely be among the top six TE's selected and will make a good TE1 by the early part of the eight round.

Bargain Bin: Eli Manning-QB- It really can't be easy being stuck in the shadow of his older brother Peyton. However, Eli has started to establish his own buzz by posting 24 passing touchdowns last season and standing up to derogatory comments made by ex-Giant Barber in reference to his leadership abilities. He should be taken as an excellent reserve QB past the tenth round.

Philadelphia Eagles:

1. Brian Westbrook-RB- He's forever listed on the injury report and yet he always seems to be on the field performing at a high level. They don't come much more lethal than Westbrook as a receiver out of the backfield (257 career receptions) making him especially valuable in PPR leagues. He also has a nose for goal line as evidenced by his 38 career touchdowns. He'll be gone by the end of the first round and may go as high as sixth overall, so take him with confidence as your RB1 if you get the opportunity.

2. Donovan McNabb-QB- Questions abound regarding whether or not he'll be able to return from ACL surgery and perform at the high level we're accustomed to. It would be foolish to count him out, though, because he has proven to be one of the better QB's in the league when he's healthy. He has fought the critics his whole career, outlasted TO in Philly and should be primed for a bounce back season. His status may scare off some owners which means you should be able to steal him in the late fifth round as your QB1.

3. Reggie Brown-WR- Brown is one of several WR's entering their third season in the league and is being counted on by the Eagles to have a breakout year. He improved marginally on his reception totals from his rookie year (46 vs. 43), but made big strides in the touchdown department (8 vs. 4). It's possible he could break 1,000 yards receiving this year a well, making him even more attractive. You wouldn't be wrong drafting him as a WR2 in the middle of the sixth round.

Bargain Bin: Kevin Curtis-WR- Curtis joined the Eagles this off-season looking for a new start and greater responsibility. He'll certainly get the chance in Philadelphia, who expect him to be a solid possession receiver that will counterbalance the home run threat in Brown. Don't reach, but Curtis makes a nice pick in the ninth round as a WR3/Flex player.

Washington Redskins:

1. Clinton Portis-RB- An injury cut short his season last year and suddenly football fans everywhere discovered Ladell Betts. Portis is also experiencing some trouble with his knee this pre-season, leading many owners to shy away. For those who are brave of heart, Portis could potentially turn in a good season (expect 1,000 yards rushing and six touchdowns) despite sharing time. Take him as a low level RB1 or a solid RB2 by the middle of the third round.

2. Santana Moss-WR- A speedster by nature, Moss' problem has been staying on the field consistently. He is allegedly healthy entering this year as Washington's primary WR. That could be good news for your team as the last time Moss was healthy (two seasons ago), he produced 84 catches for nine touchdowns. Don't go crazy, but drafting him by the end of the sixth round to be your WR2 is not the worst thing in the world.

3. Ladell Betts-RB- He took less money to stay with Washington when he was a free agent and the move has turned out to be a pretty good one for him. Given the injury history of Portis, the Redskins will be much more inclined to give touches to Betts to keep the running game healthy. He showed he was more than capable operating as the #1 RB last year, racking up over 1,100 yards rushing to go along with 5 total touchdowns. He's a great choice as an RB2 and will be gone before the seventh round.

Bargain Bin: Chris Cooley-TE- He's not one of the more high profile TE's in the league, but that's all about to change this season. Abundantly talented, especially around the red zone, expect Cooley to be QB Jason Campbell's primary safety valve, making it very possible he will eclipse last year's totals (57 catches and six touchdowns.) Don't sleep on this guy past the seventh round for, if you do, you'll be watching him become a top 5 TE for some other team.

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