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NFC East: 2017 NFL Division Previews
AccuScore is previewing ever NFL division ahead of the 2017 regular season, with every team in each division getting a detailed preview and projections, along with fantasy tips. For the NFC East division preview, AccuScore previews the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles below:
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Dallas Hoping Sophomores Don’t Slump
Projected Wins: 10.4
Division Rank: 1
The Dallas Cowboys surprised many experts during last season, as Jerry Jones’ men rode two rookies and a strong offensive line to the best record in the NFC: Thirteen wins. But the playoff run ended quickly in divisional game against the streaking Green Bay Packers.
For the 2017 season, Accuscore simulated every game of the upcoming season 10,000 times to project win/loss records, and Dallas projects to repeat as NFC East champions, even with Ezekiel Elliott suspended for six games. This time, simulations show 10 wins for Dallas, but that’s still good enough to finish top of the division pile, though the Packers and Seahawks project to finish with a better record in the conference. Based on these numbers, Cowboys would reach playoffs this time with 76% probability.
During the last season Dallas’ defense wasn’t anything close to great. In 13 wins they managed to keep only Cleveland at or below 10 points. More than likely, the offense will need to replicate numbers from a year ago, when the Cowboys scored at least 24 points in all but one win.
Roster MovesThe biggest changes in Dallas are in secondary. Brandon Carr, Barry Church and Morris Claiborne took off, and Nolan Carroll from Philadelphia signed to replace at least part of the hole left behind. Otherwise, Dallas continues more or less with the offensively dependent team that produced 13 wins. However, there are two big questions hovering around Dallas. Will Dak Prescott keep improving and step up as franchise quarterback after Tony Romo retired? How will Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension affect the team? If these key players can perform, Dallas should hit double digit win and earn the right to play in the postseason yet again.
Fantasy Analysis: Dallas Cowboys
Usual suspects are on the list when we think best bets for your fantasy team. Elliott would be second of the running back list if he got the full six games, but he will likely be a monster after coming back from suspension. QB Dak Prescott is among top 8 quarterbacks based on Accuscore’s fantasy predictions. Also TE Jason Witten is among top 10 tight-ends and WR Dez Bryant is knocking on the door of top 10 wide receivers. With Elliott out, Prescott could be even more pass happy than usual.
New York Giants’ window of opportunity
Projected Wins: 9.9
Division Rank: 2
New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo did better than expected during his rookie season. They went clearly over Vegas line of 8 wins when the team managed to win 11 games before losing to the same streaking Green Bay in the wild card round of the playoffs. And considering the Giants are projected for 10 wins and a 67.5% chance at the playoffs, the expectations have been raised from a season ago when Vegas had the Giants’ win-total line at 8.0.
The Giants’ chances to win NFC East division are around 38%, but the projected difference between the Giants and the Cowboys is only half a game. Eli Manning project to take this division race down to the wire.
Offseason moves were quite limited in New York. The high profile free agent signing was receiver Brandon Marshall that moved from local competitor, NY Jets, to the Giants. He would provide additional weapon for 36 year old Eli Manning that hopes to engineer a third trip to the Super Bowl. The Giants will be the fifth team of Marshall’s career. On the defensive line, starter Jonathan Hankins departed to Indianapolis, which adds more of a load on Damon Harrison at DT.
Fantasy Analysis: Dallas Cowboys
For fantasy players Giant’s WR tandem of Beckham and Marshall generate a lot interest. Beckham will be top3 WR based on Accuscore fantasy predictions and clearly number one receiver to produce a high amount of fantasy point week after week. Marshall is a bit on decline in his career, but can still be top 20 receiver in this league. It looks like he would give more value in many leagues compared to Beckham.
QB Eli Manning is ranked to 17th when all predicted fantasy points during the season have been summed up. As the running back situation is a bit open, there is no reason to spend draft slots on Giants running back in early rounds.
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Washington continues without step forward
Projected Wins: 7.5
Division Rank: 3
Washington’s chances to win NFC East are around 6% as Dallas and NY Giants are ahead of Redskins in many areas. However, their chances to reach playoffs are a bit over 20%. Last season was a small step backwards for the Washington Redskins. A freak tie led to eight wins, which was effectively 8.5 wins behind the nine win the team claimed in 2015. The Redskins missed out on the playoffs, and Accuscore predicts the Redskins will win between seven and eight games, and that likely would not be good enough for a wildcard berth.
Washington needs to get off to a fast start with games against the wounded Eagles in Week 1 and a trip to the rebuilding Rams in Week 2. Washington has the toughest schedule among NFC teams, highlighted by tough non-division road trips to Seattle in Week 9, New Orleans in Week 11 and Kansas City in Week 4.
The most notable changes in roster take place in receiver corps. Both starting WRs Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson took off from the nation’s capital. As a response, the Redskins signed Terrelle Pryor to be their no. 1 receiver.
Fantasy Analysis: Dallas CowboysWhen reviewing fantasy predictions, Pryor could be one of the top value players among WR. Accuscore’s season fantasy prediction lists him as number seven when all fantasy points are calculated. Tight end Jordan Reed is projected to be an early favorite to collect the most fantasy points among all TEs. His performance has been great, and we don’t have any reason to expect drops. Franchise tagged Kirk Cousins is a top 10 fantasy quarterback in the league but is a couple levels below the likes of Rodgers, Brees and Brady in fantasy.
Too tough division for Eagles
Projected Wins: 5.9
Division Rank: 4
The second pick of the 2016 draft, QB Carson Wentz had a reasonably good rookie season in the helm of Philadelphia Eagles offense. It cannot be compared to Dallas’ Dak Prescott, but he was performing better than no. 1 pick Jared Goff. Unfortunately for Wentz, he's in a tough division. The NFC East has two clearly better teams in the Cowboys and the Giants. Even though the Eagles made some good additions to the offense, simulations predict only 6 wins for Philadelphia. That would be one less than year ago. Based on Accuscore’s predictions, the Eagles will have 5% chances to playoffs. To win the division, they need a minor miracle, as the current probability win the division is around 2%.
In games that the Eagles lost a season ago, they gave up at least 24 points to opponents. Comparatively, games the Eagles won only saw them give up 12 points on average.
Philadelphia added running back LeGarrette Blount from the Patriots to bolster their running attack. There have been numerous examples of players exceling under Bill Belichick and not quite replicating the same output elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how Blount performs in Philadelphia. There are two high profile additions to wide receivers: Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. This gives more tools to QB Wentz and will improve the offense quite a bit. All three players should gain from each other’s presence. There weren’t any significant additions to the defense through free agency, but the Eagles spent their first three picks in the draft on defense. That should pay off for years to come.
Fantasy Analysis: Dallas Cowboys
Fantasy projections rank QB Wentz to number 24, RB Blount to number 22 and best WR Jeffery to number 30 among all players in their respective positions. These guys can be considered sleepers, but it won’t make too much sense to build the core of your fantasy team with these guys. Based on Accuscore’s fantasy predictions Eagles defense is ranked at fourth from the bottom.
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