Miles Sanders
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Team Previews

Eagles Fantasy Preview

Updated On: July 26, 2020, 3:01 am ET

2019 Stats (Rank)

Total Offense: 5,772 (14th)
Offensive Touchdowns: 43 (12th)
Offensive Plays: 1,104 (1st)
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 650 (6th)
Rush Attempts: 454 (7th)
Unaccounted for Targets: 128 (9th)
Unaccounted for Carries: 150 (7th)

 

Coaching Staff

Doug Pederson is one of the top offensive minds in the NFL, but last year he was forced into a more conservative game plan because of the Eagles’ injuries at receiver. Typically aggressive, Pederson finished 31st in pass rate while trailing and 23rd in percentage of passes thrown downfield. That kept him just outside of my top-five analytics usage rankings. With first-round WR Jalen Reagor in the building and DeSean Jackson hopefully healthy, Pederson’s aggressive play-calling should return, and Carson Wentz’s production should follow. Even if receiver remains a question mark in 2020, the Eagles at least play with pace, as evidenced by their No. 1 ranking in offensive plays last season. Overall, this could be one of fantasy’s top offenses if things align.

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Passing Game

QB: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfield, Jalen Hurts
WR: DeSean Jackson, Marquise Goodwin
WR: Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward
WR: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside
TE: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert

 

In 2017 when he threw 33 touchdowns and was in the MVP conversation, Wentz’s average depth of target was 9.9 yards. Last year, it was down to 8.1 yards, the 17th highest in the league. I’m expecting more downfield shots this season with Reagor and D-Jax vastly increasing the team’s speed, and if one or both of these receivers prove capable, Wentz will out-perform his fair QB9 average draft position. Even if they don’t, Wentz should be a borderline top-12 quarterback after finishing as the QB14 on a per-game basis last season with nobody to throw the ball to at receiver. In standard-sized leagues, Wentz is a nice target in the 9th or 10th round as he provides both a nice ceiling and floor. As a bonus, his opening schedule (@WAS, vs. LAR, vs. CIN) is friendly. Wentz is a Rotoworld favorite this season.

Backing up Wentz is very intriguing second-round QB Jalen Hurts, but don’t expect much if any production from him as an occasional dual-threat substitute after losing offseason practice reps to the coronavirus. Hurts’ only value is in dynasty leagues where managers would only be able to start him in the event of a Wentz injury. Even then, the Eagles could opt to initially start Nate Sudfield, a coaching staff favorite.

Figuring out the Eagles receiving depth chart is one of the keys to the double-digit rounds. There’s room for one Philly receiver to be an every-week flex option, yet Jalen Reagor, DeSean Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery are all being selected after WR50 in early drafts. Something has to give. Of the three, I’m most confident in fading Jeffery, who is now 30 years old and returning from a serious Lisfranc foot injury. Alshon remains without a timetable to return and is “almost certain” to open the season on the PUP list, meaning he could miss the first six weeks of the season. Even if he is active for the season opener, the re-injury risk is high and Jeffery has averaged just 62 yards over his last 16 healthy games. Keep in mind that he was the only receiver on the Eagles with starting-level talent during that span.

Long-time Eagles reporter Adam Caplan predicts first-rounder Jalen Reagor will lead the Eagles’ receivers in all receiving categories. It’s certainly possible. Reagor was an early-age producer in college at TCU and dominated in various market share stats, metrics that are our biggest predictors of NFL success. It’s a little unnerving that he averaged 6.9 yards per target as a junior last season, but he’s an explosive athlete (42-inch vertical) and there are more question marks than answers up-and-down the Eagles’ receiver depth chart. Reagor has long-touchdown upside every week and hopefully receives scripted touches as well, something he didn’t get while in a Horned Frog uniform. Reagor is a worthwhile buy as your WR5, especially if/when Alshon is officially put on the PUP list. I like Reagor’s chances of starting in two-WR sets from the get go. Becoming a weekly flex option is well within Reagor's range of outcomes.

Despite appearing in just three games in 2019 and posting anti-semitic comments on social media, DeSean Jackson returns for his age-34 season in Philly. The worry for soft-tissue injuries is heightened this season given the pandemic -- that’s compounded for a player like D-Jax who has had his fair share of hamstring pulls -- but when he’s healthy, Jackson is a fantasy asset. In the season opener, he posted an 8-154-2 receiving line, and he led the NFL in yards per reception (18.9) in 2018. Wentz wants to get back to airing things out -- it’s what made him so effective in 2017 -- so I’m willing to click Jackson’s name well into the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts. Jackson will have top-25 fantasy receiver weeks because of long touchdowns this season. It’s just a matter of predicting when those will happen. That’s why he’s even more valuable in bestball formats, where the optimal lineup is submitted every week. I’ve stacked Wentz-Reagor-Jackson often in bestball leagues.

With uncertainty at receiver, Zach Ertz remains a high-floor fantasy tight end. He’s caught at least 74 balls in each of the last five seasons, including 116 and 88 over the last two years. Another 100 to 125 targets are on the way with the Eagles projected for the most offensive plays in the league, but my question is what is his fantasy ceiling? Last year was Ertz’s worst season in terms of yards per target (6.8), and there’s an emerging tight end behind him that will command looks as well. His ceiling is lower than Mark Andrews’ (the Ravens top-target), but Ertz’s floor keeps him inside the top-four at the position. Particularly in full-PPR leagues, a fourth- or fifth-round pick for Ertz feels right, although it’s not a sexy pick considering he’s beginning to exit the prime of his career. Ertz will be 30 years old in 2020.

Dallas Goedert is one of the few insurance tight ends in fantasy that retains some starting value even as the No. 2 tight end on his own team. Last season with Ertz playing 15 of 16 games, Goedert finished as the TE13 on a per-game basis. That’s actually ahead of his current TE15 average draft position, meaning he’s arguably being priced near his floor. If nothing changes, Goedert will be a weekly streaming option during bye weeks, but there’s top-six upside that’s not being baked into his price tag. An Ertz rolled ankle would vault Goedert into six to nine targets per game, and Goedert has the talent (TE15 in yards per route run last year) and athleticism to make the most of any new opportunities.

 

Rushing Game

RB: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement
OL (L-R): Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Lane Johnson

It took a Jordan Howard injury to happen, but Miles Sanders broke out in the second half of his rookie season. He was the RB10 per game (18.8 PPR points) from Weeks 13 through the playoffs, while averaging 15.7 carries and 5.3 targets. Sanders walks into a similarly-sized big workload in year two with only Boston Scott, a scat back, threatening for touches on the Eagles’ running back depth chart. That, of course, assumes Philly doesn’t add a veteran like Devonta Freeman during training camp. With 17-22 projected touches a week and with the Eagles deploying an above-average offensive line, Sanders seems poised for top-12 fantasy production with a top-five ceiling if the Eagles’ offense can be more explosive than they were in 2019. Sanders joined a fantastic list of rookie backs with at least 400 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards last season. Selecting Sanders inside the top-seven is too rich for me -- he ranked 44th out of 45 qualifying RBs in PFF's rushing grade last season, largely because of his vision -- but I’m fine with him around the Round 1/2 turn.

Boston Scott has headlined many zero-RB columns this offseason because he checks the receiving-back box in a decent offense. Including playoffs last season, Scott caught 27-of-29 targets, all of which came from Week 6 on. He lacks standalone value, but Scott has top-15 running back upside if Sanders were to miss games. In his lone start last year (the meaningless Week 17 game), the Eagles gave Scott 19 carries and six targets. Scott belongs at the bottom of the “strong insurance RB” tier for as long as the Eagles don’t add a veteran. He’s worthy of a bench spot in most standard-sized PPR leagues. Keep in mind that Scott has 4.40-speed and a 38.5-inch vertical.

The Eagles ranked third in PFF’s pass-blocking grade and first in run-blocking last season. It’s still a great unit, but it will be worse in 2020. Right guard Brandon Brooks (PFF’s No. 1 OG) tore his achilles this offseason and will be replaced with 38-year-old Jason Peters who has played left tackle throughout his NFL career. At left tackle, Philly will be rolling with 2019 first-rounder Andre Dillard. He’s talented but was exposed in limited rookie reps. Dillard needs to improve. C Jason Kelce and RT Lane Johnson are still as good as it gets, however, and it’s a top-10 overall unit even after losing Brooks.

 

Win Total

Coming off a nine-win season where they only led on 38% of second-half offensive snaps, the Eagles’ win total sits at a fairly priced 9.5 wins. Their 19th-easiest schedule doesn’t change my overall projection of the team, one that improves out wide but likely takes a step back in the trenches. It’s essentially a two-man race in the weak NFC East, but I trust the Cowboys Offense slightly more. For that reason, I think the Eagles are most likely to finish with a 9-7 record, so I’ll take the under on their win total. Anywhere from eight to 10 wins is expected.


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