Opening Day in the NFL is 36 days away. Thirty. Six. Days. And never mind that, there is a preseason game this Sunday! So maybe there is only one game on the slate this weekend, and maybe Giants v. Bills on August 3rd doesn’t warrant a daily fantasy football contest, but they’re coming. Soon.
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Like the rest of the divisional updates, this is not meant to be an in-depth discussion of the relevant fantasy issues of each team – there is plenty of time for that. Instead I am going to rely on the fact that you already know plenty about fantasy football on your own. But, it HAS been a while, so this is just a quick review of what has changed since the end of last season. If you combine this info with what you already know about each team – LeSean McCoy is Good! – you might just give yourself a chance at not screwing up those week 1 roster decisions.

Philadelphia Eagles

As previously mentioned, LeSean McCoy is good. And you know that. But hey, let’s talk about him anyway. He touched the ball 366 times last year, including 52 receptions. And something new about the Eagles is Darren Sproles. There are two ways to think about that addition: 1. He is obviously going to cut into McCoy’s touches or, 2. Chip Kelly will come up with plenty of ways to use both of them. But from a daily fantasy football perspective, McCoy is still a top option when the matchup is right, and the Sproles move either improves or maintains his value, because as good as a fit as he was for Sean Payton’s offense, the same is certainly true in Philly. His versatility is exactly the sort of thing you look for in a high-speed offense. You might see Sproles give McCoy a rest with an entire series off instead of just a play here or there, which could help keep McCoy fresh and the offense clicking. So maybe it helps Foles too? Because something else new – Vick is gone. Foles is the guy. And weapons can’t hurt. And if he plays like he did last year, he’ll be a top-priced option in a hurry, so you might want to take advantage early if his lack of a track record is baked into his early-season cost.

New York Giants

The Giants are a fun team to talk about in this context, because they actually have two rookies from this year’s draft class who could contribute this season. And who doesn’t love talking about rookies? We haven’t seen them fail yet, so there’s nothing but upside.

With the 12th pick in the first round, the Giants took Odell Beckham, Jr. out of LSU. The 5’11’’ wide receiver was widely regarded as the most explosive playmaker in the draft not named Sammy Watkins, and, like Watkins, he is going to get an opportunity to showcase it right out of the gate. The outside spot in the Giants offense, which Eli loves to utilize, was just vacated by a declining Hakeem Nicks, and if all goes according to plan, the influx of talent coming in the form of Beckham will be good for everyone involved.

The second rookie who could make an impact is Andre Williams, a fourth-round running back out of Boston College. Williams rushed for 2,177 yards last season to lead the ACC, and watching him run, he looks like a slightly smaller and maybe more explosive version of Brandon Jacobs. Even if David Wilson remains healthy for the start of the season, it can’t be a bad idea to try to keep him fresh and limit the abuse he takes, and Williams is the kind of back – in a best-case scenario – who can do exactly that and potentially be a source of value in his own right, especially by later in the season, if he starts seeing the field more and possibly getting some of those red zone and goalline chances.

Washington Redskins

The biggest change of the offseason for the Redskins might be the hiring of Jay Gruden. I think he’s an offensively minded coach, although two seasons at the helm of that juggernaut in Cincinnati doesn’t really prove that. And the personnel in the two places couldn’t be more different, so as far as that goes, all we can say is “we’ll see.” Let’s assume it won’t be a disaster. So what else?

Well, they finally gave RGIII a legit weapon on the outside in Desean Jackson (not to mention Jerry Rice, Jr.). It’s hard to say if this helps Jackson’s value, because he certainly thrived in a short sample of games with Foles under center in Philly. But he will be featured in Washington as well, perhaps to an even greater extent, which could help his per-game potential remain at least constant. But there is no doubt that the move helps Robert Griffin III, giving him someone who will not only draw defenders out of the box, and also produce in his own right, immediately increasing the potential of this offense to create big plays in more ways than one.

Dallas Cowboys

Like the Giants, the only real interesting changes since last season to discuss involve a couple of rookies. The first one might not seem exciting, but first round pick Zack Martin, an offensive tackle out of Notre Dame, could be the final piece in a multi-year rebuild of the o-line. Their first round pick in three of the last four drafts have been on the line, and those picks have been fruitful, giving them at least two solid starters at center and tackle, and hopefully, now, a third. That kind of solid base for the offense is good news for every skill player on the field, and anything that is going to make Dez, Romo and Murray more productive is important for fantasy owners to consider.

The Cowboys parted ways with Miles Austin this off-season, and while he hasn’t produced much fantasy players could count on over the past couple of seasons, he still filled an important role for the team when he was out there. And the Cowboys took a shot at replacing him in the fifth round with Devin Street, a wide receiver from Pitt, who at 6’3’’ could be a great complement to Bryant on the outside.

They obviously liked him, trading up to make such they got him, and it is not hard to see why – he was a captain at Pitt, as well as their leading receiver for two years running and is the owner of the school’s career receptions record. Coming into the draft he was lauded as an excellent route runner, and that is exactly the kind of guy Romo will need as an outlet when defenses roll over to concentrate on other weapons.