• NFC East: 2017 NFL Previews

    Written by AccuScore Staff
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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:

    2017 NFC North Projections and Preview

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    Other Previews:
    NFC North Division Preview
    NFC South Division Preview

    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 Moves

    The 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.

    Roster Moves

    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.

    Roster Moves

    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 Cowboys

    When 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.

    Roster Moves

    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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  • NFC South: 2017 NFL Previews

    Written by AccuScore Staff
    Follow @AccuScore on Twitter

    NFC South: 2017 NFL Division Previews

    AccuScore continues its NFL division previews ahead of the 2017 regular season, with every team in each division getting a detailed preview and projections, along with fantasy tips. After previewing the NFC North and the NFC East on Monday and Tuesday, it’s time for the NFC South on Wednesday:

    2017 NFC South Projections and Preview

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    Other Previews:
    NFC North Division Preview
    NFC East Division Preview

    Tampa Bay: New Ruler in the South

    Tampa Bay has improved from 2-14 in 2014 to 9-7 in 2016, but the Buccaneers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2007 haven’t experienced a playoff win since January of 2003, when they beat Oakland Raiders to win the Super Bowl. Yes, it’s been a while. Quarterback Jameis Winston continues to improve and is at the heart of AccuScore’s confidence in Tampa Bay ending the playoff drought.

    Accuscore simulations predict Tampa Bay to win an extremely tight NFC South despite only being projected to win 9 games. It’s neck-and-neck down south, though, as all three division rivals finished with 8 wins and about a one in three chance at a playoff berth and a one in five chance of winning the division. Tampa Bay may be AccuScore’ favorite, but after simulating all 256 games of the 2016 NFL season 10,000 times each, AccuScore gives the Bucs a 37% chance to win the division and a 52% probability of making the playoffs.

    Roster Moves

    In free agency, the Bucs focused on defense. Chris Baker from Washington will form one of the best defensive tackle duos with Gerald McCoy. That combo should do wonders to stop the run. One of the big name signing was WR DeSean Jackson, also from Washington. However, he seems to be an overrated player in simulations and the main load to catch balls will still be on Mike Evans.

    Fantasy Analysis: Tampa Bay Bucs

    In Fantasy predictions, Mike Evans is top 20 receiver and Cam Brate is a top 5 TE. Even though Jameis Winston is the single most important player for Tampa, he is not top10 QB in fantasy projections. Actually he is listed 15th when all fantasy points generated during the season are summed up. If Doug Martin bounces back from the last season mediocre numbers to the 2015 season records, he should be top 10 running back for fantasy leagues.

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    New Orleans Saints: Adrian Peterson + Drew Brees = ?

    A few years ago, Peterson and Brees would be the story of the offseason. Now, when Peterson is coming out of terrible season in Minnesota with his career clearly winding down, it is just interesting to see how much these two veterans can produce together. Will there be more than 7 wins for Saints to improve last season results?

    Yes, if you believe Accuscore’s season simulations. The most probable amount of wins for Saints is 8, but that’s hardly a guarantee of the postseason or winning the division in a NFC South. Scheduling wise, the most probable wins arrive from the visiting Bears (week 8) and Jets (week 15). The Saints have over 70% probability to win in both of those games. On the flip side, the Saints are clear underdogs when the Patriots visit them in week 2 and also when they go to Lambeau field in week 7. A win against New England or in Green Bay could be the difference between winning the division and missing out on the playoffs altogether.

    Based on Accuscore’s projections, the Saints probability to win their division is 22% and the figure is 35% to reach the playoffs. Again, a freak victory over New England or Green Bay could quickly change the Saints’ season and double those postseason prospects.

    Roster Moves

    As mentioned, the biggest addition during the offseason was running back Adrian Peterson. Also, the linebacker corps was improved with A.J. Kein, Alex Okafor and Manti Te’o. In addition, the Saints traded their top wideout, Brandin Cooks, but Drew Brees has a way of finding receivers and completions.

    Fantasy Analysis: New Orleans Saints

    Drew Brees collected huge amount of fantasy points for his owners in last season. He led passing yards and was only QB to reach over 5000 yards passing. This time, Accuscore fantasy prediction predicts him to be again top 3 QB. He would feed WR Michael Thomas, who is predicted to be among top six wide receivers in fantasy points. Fantasy predictions narrowly rank Mark Ingram over Adrian Peterson at the RB position - both would be in top 25 players in their position.

    Will Carolina bounce back?

    Last season was a big disappointment for the Carolina Panthers. As many experts predicted them to win Super Bowl against the Broncos in January 2016, though Accuscore’s supercomputer picked the right side of that big game. Last season, Cam Newton and the Panthers essentially fell down the stairs and only won six games.

    This time Accuscore predicts them to win 8 games in a very tight NFC South, so Newton and company should be back hunting for a postseason berth. Though Carolina is projected to finish last in the division, the difference between the Panthers, Saints and Falcons is miniscule. Assisting the Panthers is the easiest ranked schedule in the NFC South.

    Roster Moves

    During free agency, Carolina and Minnesota swapped tackles when Matt Kalil joined Carolina and Mike Remmers went to Minnesota. The Panthers also signed CB Captain Munnerlyn and WR Charles Johnson from Minnesota. Maybe the biggest name on the list of added players was a 15 year veteran Julius Peppers, who returned back to Carolina after a few seasons in the NFC North.

    Fantasy Analysis: Carolina Panthers

    Accuscore’s fantasy predictions highlight some interesting individual players. Many expect Cam Newton to bounce back and be top performer among all QBs. Our predictions rank him 18th in fantasy points this season. A bit lower will be RB Jonathan Stewart and there won’t be any top 30 receiver when calculating season long fantasy points. The shiny points of Panthers fantasy predictions are TE Greg Olsen who is ranked sixth among tight ends, and their defense lead by healthy Luke Kuechly is ranked 7th among all NFL defenses. As Accuscore predicts also individual defensive player fantasy output, Kuechly is top 5 linebacker based in those simulations.

    Atlanta Falcons: Superbowl Hangover

    The last season was perfect for the Falcons until halftime of the Super Bowl. Their high octane offense produced enough points in 13 games (including playoffs), but the Patriots shot them down at the latest moment to win Super Bowl in overtime. So where to from here?

    Accuscore simulated all games of this season and it looks like the flight of Falcons continues on lower level than year ago. Instead of 11 regular season wins, they project to only win 8 games after losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to a head coaching gig with the San Francisco 49ers. The Falcons are hardly dead in the water, considering they’re less than one win behind the competition in the division.

    Key season shifting games include an NFC Conference Championship re-match against the Packers in week 2, a Super Bowl re-match against Patriots in Week 7, and a trip to Seattle in Week 11. Wins in any of those games could push Atlanta back into the post season and then, anything can happen.

    Roster Moves

    Atlanta’s offense took a biggest hit on a sideline. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was a key engineer for the high performance offense during last season. Even though there are not too many changes on offensive side of the ball, it would be difficult to see another record breaking year for Atlanta’s offense.

    Defensive lineman Dontari Poe was the biggest addition to the Falcons’ roster during free agency, but it would be interesting to see if he can fill the massive holes left by Paul Worrilow (LB), Sean Weatherspoon (LB), Jonathan Babineaux (DT) and Dwight Freeney (DE). The offense may have to be even better than a season ago, so Matt Ryan has his work cut out for him.

    Fantasy Analysis: Atlanta Falcons

    For fantasy players, it would be easy to pick up WR Julio Jones who averaged over 100 yards per game during the last season. He was only player to achieve this. QB Matt Ryan averaged over 300 passing yards per game and was second on that list after Drew Brees. Still, Accuscore’s fantasy predictions list 8 QBs that would gather more fantasy points by the end of the season. He would be good choice after few first rounds, but it doesn’t make sense to spend your first round pick on Ryan.

    Running back Devonta Freeman broke 1000 yards mark during last season. He would be good pick to your fantasy team, as Accuscore’s fantasy player predictions list him fourth among all running backs. With Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliot out for the first six games due the suspension, Freeman could be a top 3 fantasy running back.

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