In this, the second installment of our divisional previews, we'll take a look at the position-by-position breakdowns in the NFC East.
The East has had a lot of change over the past 12 months, with two of the biggest profile players in the division, Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens, no longer on their respective teams. Burress is in jail and Owens is in Buffalo... you tell me who's got it worse!
All kidding aside, there is still a ton of talent and production to be had in this division, but while many analysts consider this one of the best divisions in football on the field, fantasy owners might be disappointed if they hitch their wagons to lots of the big players from this division.
We'll take a look at each team's fantasy preview this weekend, but for now let's look at how the players from the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins stack up heading into 2009.
There aren't many bigger names in the league than McNabb, Romo and Eli Manning, but all three might find themselves being over rated in 2009. McNabb got a nice compliment to Brian Westbrook in the draft, but the Eagles didn't get him the marquee receiver he wanted. Romo lost Owens, Manning lost Burress, and Campbell lost his sense of direction in 2007.
When there's a real chance that Roy Williams is the best receiver in the division, all four of these guys is praying for their running backs to go big this year. Campbell gets the nod as the sleeper in the group because he has the lowest expectations and, with Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, might sneak up on 20 touchdowns this year.
And no, Michael Vick does not have any fantasy value this year.
Rank: Brian Westbrook, Clinton Portis, Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Marian Barber III, Felix Jones
Sleeper: LeSean McCoy, Bradshaw
Running back is where games will be won and lost in this division, and this group is also where lots of fantasy owners could be disappointed in 2009. Westbrook finally has a solid compliment to share the burden in Philly, but that means McCoy and he will also split the points. Same thing in New York, where Jacobs and Bradshaw are now just a two-headed freight train since Derrick Ward left for Tampa.
Dallas and Washington stand to be intriguing plays this year. Barber is a beast, but has issues putting up big yards. Jones was hurt last year, but the plans are for him to be the speed option that Julius Jones couldn't consistently provide. Again, splitting points. In Washington, there won't be as much splitting of points as there could be Portis looking for an ice bag because the Redskins line has questions all over it.
Rank: Santana Moss, Roy Williams, DeSean Jackson, Antwaan Randle-El, Dominik Hixon, Patrick Crayton
When you take Owens and Burress out of the division, you're left with what has all the makings of a really mediocre group of receivers. Williams as the sleeper, after catching more colds than passes last year, tells you how limited the options are here. In fact, Moss is the only 1,000 yard receiver returning to the entire division, and the Redskins offensive line might keep him from making it to that plateau this year.
For all the substance the receivers lack in this division, there are three tight ends in this division that should lead their respective teams in touchdown receptions and Boss could make a case to be Manning's favorite target as well. Witten's a legit top-tier receiving tight end and should be one of the first two or three off the board. Cooley's a solid play as well, while Celek takes over the full-time tight end duties after a solid 2008 campaign in Philadelphia. Celek is a solid sleeper play this year.
Team Defenses/Special Teams
Rank: Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins
Health is the biggest impact player in the East this year on defense. If the Giants can keep their pass rush together, they're scary. If the Cowboys can keep their secondary on the field standing up, they're excellent. If the Eagles hadn't already lost their leading tackler from 2008 (Stewart Bradley) to injury, they might be a better play. And if the Redskins can keep all $100 million of Albert Haynesworth motivated, they could shut down a few running games this year.
All four of these guys figure to be kicking a lot of field goals and extra points this year, the only wild card in all four home stadiums is the weather.