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Carson Wentz
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Eagles Fantasy Preview

by Patrick Daugherty
Updated On: August 15, 2019, 6:55 pm ET

2018 Stats (Rank)

Total Offense: 5,845 (14th) 
Offensive Touchdowns: 41 (14th)    
Offensive Plays: 1,037 (8th)   
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 639 (8th)   
Rush Attempts: 398 (20th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 114 (16th)    
Unaccounted for Carries: 87 (18th)

 

Coaching Staff 

There is nothing the Eagles value more than flexibility. From roster construction to play-calling, GM Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson want options. It’s why they are routinely 4-5 deep at running back and used a second-round pick on Dallas Goedert even though they already had Zach Ertz.  It’s how they’ve won playoff games in back-to-back years with their backup quarterback. Roseman keeps the cupboard stocked, and Pederson listens to more than just his stomach when deciding what to eat. Famed for his run/pass options, Pederson maximizes any given play’s odds by paying attention to success rates and win probabilities. That’s how a team that’s been bottom 10 in pace each of the past two years has still managed to be top 10 in plays. Raw plays typically equals fantasy production, though Pederson’s spread-the-wealth approach can make for hard-to-figure workload delineations.    

Passing Game

QB: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson, Cody Kessler 
WR: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside 
WR: DeSean Jackson, Mack Hollins   
WR: Nelson Agholor, Shelton Gibson, Braxton Miller   
TE: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert  

After his should-have-been MVP 2017 was derailed by a torn ACL and LCL, Carson Wentz had a hall of mirrors 2018. Wentz actually dramatically increased his efficiency, goosing his completion percentage from 60.2 to 69.6 while upping his yards per attempt from 7.5 to 7.7. The flipside was that his 7.5 touchdown percentage predictably came back down to earth at 5.2 as his interception percentage, sack rate and fumbling all increased. Wentz was also less effective as a scrambler and deep passer. One year after Pro Football Focus charted Wentz with a 100.2 rating on attempts of 20 yards or longer, that number plunged to 70.8. 

Injury, both to himself and his teammates, was the primary culprit. Not all the way recovered from his ligament tears, Wentz missed Weeks 1 and 2. He guided the Eagles to a 5-6 record before suffering what would prove to be a season-ending back ailment in Week 14. Nick Foles then promptly galvanized the team for the second straight year. While Wentz was on the field, Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi all dealt with injuries of their own. Wallace’s loss, in particular, hurt because it left the Eagles without a viable deep threat. Intriguing second-year pro Mack Hollins wasn’t there to pick up the slack because he was on I.R. with a groin issue. On top of everything else, Wentz was privately taking guff for his leadership, a problem laid bare in an offseason exposé that Wentz tacitly admitted to. "I know I’m not perfect. I know I have flaws," Wentz said in response to the Philly Voice’s article. "So I’m not going to sit here and say it was inaccurate and completely made up. I’m not going to do that."           

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So there was a lot going on in 2018. That makes 2019 the perfect time for a reset. Foles is gone. Wentz has been extended. The quarterback is healthy and so is his supporting cast. Wallace has been dramatically upgraded in the form of DeSean Jackson, though it will still be Alshon Jeffery leading the way. Now 29, Jeffery has not cleared 1,000 yards since 2014 in Chicago. He has appeared in all 16 games once in the past four years. As an Eagle, he has turned in fantasy finishes of WR30 and WR23 by average PPR points. Jeffery butters his bread in the end zone. He has 15 touchdowns across 29 games in Philadelphia. If offseason reports are to be believed, he will face stiffer competition inside the 20, with both Goedert and second-rounder JJ Arcega-Whiteside ticketed for looks in the red zone. Even D-Jax, who is capable of ending drives early with his long-scoring ability, could take away touchdowns. In a best-case scenario, Jeffery will provide borderline WR2 value. The 28-34 range seems more likely. 

Although he is headed into his age-33 campaign, Jackson has not lost a step. His 18.9 yards per catch as a Buc last season was the third best mark of his career. Still severely underrated in terms of his legacy, Jackson has been one of the best deep threats in NFL history. Amongst players to catch at least 589 passes — Jackson’s current total — only Don Maynard and James Lofton have averaged more yards per grab than D-Jax’s 17.42. Even at his advanced age, Jackson offers offense-changing speed when put in the hands of a good quarterback and play-caller. With a summer ADP typically north of WR50, Jackson is a bargain in fantasy leagues. 

Slot man Nelson Agholor broke out in 2017 then duplicated the campaign in 2018, though in less satisfying fashion. Miscast as the fill-in No. 1 wideout during Jeffery’s three-game absence to begin the year, Agholor was productive enough for Weeks 1-10, averaging 50 yards. That number cratered to 40 for Weeks 11-17, propped up by a 116-yard effort with Foles under center in Week 16. Agholor caught only four balls for 38 yards during the playoffs. The Eagles were as disappointed as fantasy owners, leaking that Agholor could be traded or released before his salary increased from $1.7 million to $9.4 million. Agholor’s departure did not come to pass, but his replacement was selected in the second round. The No. 57 overall pick, Arcega-Whiteside drew considerable offseason hype, making noise both in the slot and inside the 20-yard line. Although “just” a possession receiver, Arcega-Whiteside is a beast in contested-catch situations. His presence drops the fantasy floor out from underneath Agholor. Arcega-Whiteside is the more exciting WR5 flier. 

Despite all the receiver talk, it will be Ertz who once again leads the team in targets. The 28-year-old is coming off another career year, one where he bested his previous top catch and yardage totals by 38 and 310, respectively. With Jackson and Arcega-Whiteside restoring balance to the Eagles’ receiver corps, Ertz probably won’t match last year’s lofty totals, but 75 catches and 820 yards are a given. He is a safe top-three option at fantasy’s thinnest position. 

Goedert is the biggest wild card in the offensive attack. The second-year second-rounder drew relentless praise during the offseason program. The Philadelphia Inquirer was the most breathless, saying Goedert looked capable of “making a leap into stardom.” Pederson has said he wants to use more two-tight end sets, but the Eagles were already amongst the league leaders in “12” personnel last season (35 percent). The reality is, there is only so much room for Goedert to grow behind target hog Ertz, especially since the Eagles have improved their receiver group. Goedert’s re-draft fantasy value figures to be limited to matchup-based TE2 status.  

Running Game 

RB: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Josh Adams  
OL (L-R): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson 

One of the league’s least-effective running teams last season, the Eagles have overhauled their backfield. Jordan Howard was acquired for the price of a sixth-round pick, while Miles Sanders came off the board at No. 53 overall. Speaking after the draft, Roseman gushed about Sanders, saying he was the type of back the Eagles had waited “years” for. Roseman’s comments coupled with Sanders’ explosive three-down pedigree would seem to make the rookie the obvious favorite for starting duties, but Sanders did not blow the doors off the offseason program. Although RBs coach Duce Staley praised Sanders’ pass catching, he also drew questions about his ball security and pass protection. Those two areas, of course, are the most common speed bumps for rookie backs. It is well within the range of possibilities that Howard takes the early-season lead on early downs while Sanders refines his overall skill-set. With both players’ ADPs sitting in the early 30s, Howard is probably the better fantasy investment. In dynasty, there is hope that Sanders eventually undoes the Eagles’ preference for sprawling backfield committees.   

Behind the two potential lead backs are Darren Sproles, Corey Clement and Josh Adams. Now 36, Sproles signed in July after spending four months on the open market following his six-game 2018. The legendary COP back has been limited to nine appearances over the past two years. He will have to solidify his 53-man roster spot in camp. If he does, he will undoubtedly siphon work on offense, though not enough for his own standalone fantasy value. A third-year UDFA coming off a 90-touch campaign, Clement is returning from a knee issue that cost him the final three games of 2018. If Sproles is healthy, Clement could have to rely on his special teams ability to avoid game-day inactives. Adams enters camp on the outside looking in of a roster spot.      

 

Win Total 

The Eagles’ over/under is typically installed at 9.5. With the Redskins and Giants both in rebuilding mode, the path to the over seems wide open. Boasting one of the league’s easiest schedules, the Eagles have upgraded their skill corps while maintaining excellent lines on both sides of the ball. The secondary cannot possibly be as injured as it was in 2018, and Wentz is finally back to full health. As I have said before, I am not a good enough bettor to be shouting my Vegas takes from the rooftops, but it’s ultimately difficult to envision the Eagles finishing with fewer than 10 victories.    

Patrick Daugherty
Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .