NFC East: fantasy football

No, of course it's never too early to talk fantasy football. I mean, sure, if you're like me, you're working on buy-low targets to try and make up points in your rotisserie baseball league before it's too late (I always seem to struggle with batting average), but your football draft is likely about three months away, give or take. Not by coincidence, ESPN.com's first 2013 fantasy football rankings came out at the end of last week, so why not take a look at where the best players in the NFC East fell in those?
  • The top NFC East player in the rankings is Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris, who ranks ninth overall and ninth at his position. Morris finished second in the league in rush yards as a rookie in 2012, and my goodness, how far we've come that a Mike Shanahan running back is a top-10 fantasy option.
  • Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, a top-three pick a year ago, ranks 11th overall and 10th among running backs. Chip Kelly likely will use the run game a lot in his first year as Eagles coach, and if healthy McCoy should benefit greatly.
  • Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who won some fantasy leagues singlehandedly last year with his Week 16 peformance, ranks 16th overall and third among wide receivers, behind only Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green. If you read this blog regularly, you know I have no disagreement with a ranking like this.
  • The highest ranking New York Giants player is running back David Wilson, who ranks 32nd overall and 17th among running backs. It's widely believed Wilson will be the feature back in New York this year, and his explosiveness makes him a tantalizing option if he does get the job. But since no one's certain what the Giants will do in terms of carries and how Wilson will handle the carries he does get, this is a guy primed to move up or down dramatically as the preseason unfolds.
  • Quarterbacks? Washington's Robert Griffin III ranks ninth overall, and could obviously move up with a healthy preseason. The Cowboys' Tony Romo and the Giants' Eli Manning rank 12th and 13th, respectively, and always seem to land next to each other in these things. And the Eagles' Michael Vick, not yet assured of the starting job in Philadelphia, ranks 16th. Interesting to note that the Eagles' Nick Foles and Matt Barkley rank 35th and 47th, respectively, and that Washington backup Kirk Cousins came in at No. 40.
  • Giants wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks seem a bit undervalued at 14 and 21, but there's a holdout concern with Cruz and health concerns with Nicks. If those get resolved, those guys likely slide up a good bit.

Much more on this as we get closer to the season, obviously. I know there are a number of you out there who obsess over this nearly as much as I do. At least, I get myself to sleep at night with the help of that belief.

It's just a fantasy

June, 1, 2011
6/01/11
10:37
AM ET
It is fitting, since the real 2011 NFL season currently exists only as a fantasy, that our ESPN.com fantasy experts released their 2011 fantasy football player rankings Tuesday. Here are the top 10 NFC East players on the list, with their overall rankings and positional rankings in parentheses.

1. LeSean McCoy (8, RB7)

2. Michael Vick (10, QB2)

3. Hakeem Nicks (17, WR4)

4. Miles Austin (31, WR10)

5. DeSean Jackson (32, WR11)

6. Dez Bryant (34, WR12)

7*. Ahmad Bradshaw (35, RB17)

8. Jeremy Maclin (41, WR15)

9. Tony Romo (42, QB7)

10. Felix Jones (54 RB24)

11*. Jason Witten (56, TE3)

All right. Full disclosure here: I'm a big fantasy sports nut. Before I worked here, I would bet I read the fantasy guys as much or as religiously as I read anybody else on the site. I play fantasy football, fantasy baseball, fantasy hockey ... heck I'm currently in the middle of a huge season in fantasy golf -- maybe my best ever in the 10 years we've had the league going. I wrote a weekly fantasy football column for the last place I worked, and had a blast doing it. So I dig this stuff, even if I'm sitting here thinking none of it's going to matter until November anyway.

As for these rankings, I understand the fantasy credo says RBs matter the most, but I could argue for Vick over McCoy. Heck, I could argue for Vick over Aaron Rodgers, the only QB ranked ahead of him on the overall list, because of Vick's rushing stats and ability to break a big play without the help of anyone who's on anybody else's fantasy team. But that's fine. Rodgers runs, too, and he's a stud. As for McCoy, the league I play in gives a point per reception, which makes him more valuable than a lot of other running backs, including Frank Gore and Michael Turner, who are ranked behind him on this list.

And, yeah, there sits Jackson, behind both Nicks and Austin. Why? Well, because most standard fantasy leagues don't count the return stats for individual players, and because, as we've mentioned here a lot in the past week, Jackson caught only 47 balls last year. Yes, he's as dangerous as any player in the league with the ball in his hands. But he's not as useful a fantasy player as he'd be if the ball were ... you know ... in his hands more often.

I threw Witten in there at the end because Bradshaw (No. 7) is a free agent and I guess might not be back in the division.

Now, for those of you fellow fantasy nuts out there, answer me this question: Do you like having your favorite players on your fantasy team? Do you avoid players from teams you hate? Or are you able to separate your fan emotions from your fantasy GM philosophies? Key question, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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