The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the end of July as training camps open. We’ll tackle pressing season-long fantasy questions, Best Ball tips (new on Yahoo for 2019) and team win totals. Next up, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Once again, the Philadelphia Eagles had to turn to Nick Foles at quarterback after Carson Wentz suffered another injury. More injuries and odd game-planning led to an up-and-down season, but the Eagles put it together late and made the playoffs.
Outside of surefire top-three fantasy tight end, Zach Ertz, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles fantasy assets come with asterisks. Can Carson Wentz stay healthy for a full season? Can a true RB1 emerge in the Eagles’ active committee?
Does Miles Sanders lead ground game?
The Eagles grabbed Miles Sanders in Round 2 of last month’s NFL draft. Though in competition with Jordan Howard, Corey Clement and Josh Adams for touches, OVER or UNDER 13.5 average touches per game the rookie logs this Fall.
Brad: OVER. Eagles GM Howie Roseman would gleefully swipe right every time Sanders popped up on his screen. His gushy commentary post-draft describing the rookie as a “front office favorite ... a perfect fit” spoke volumes. Doug Pederson is a staunch supporter of rotational backfields, but the youngster is superior to Jordan Howard, Corey Clement and Josh Adams in every facet. It’s not a matter of if, but when, he’ll sit atop the RBBC and command upwards of 15-16 touches per game.
The organization has waited for the second coming of LeSean McCoy and Sanders could be that game changer. Last year with Penn State he notched 3.84 yards after contact per attempt and forced a missed tackle an appreciable 23.2 percent of the time. His wiggle, patience and reliable hands comprise a three-down makeup.
Sanders might be brought along gradually, but by mid-season I suspect he’ll record top-20 outputs with regularity. Operating behind a top-flight offensive line he’s sure to profit significantly at his 71.4 ADP (RB32).
Andy: I’ll take the UNDER, because we simply haven’t seen it happen during the Doug Pederson era in Philly. Over the past three years, no Eagles running back has reached 200 touches in any season. This is a team that’s enjoyed extreme success with committee backfield arrangements; we should basically never expect NFL coaches to veer away from things that work.
That said, Sanders might just be the sort of back who can force his way into 220-plus touches. He was terrific last year as a collegiate runner — check this clip for details — and he clearly has a three-down skill set. He’s a much livelier runner than Howard, no question. It’s not going to shock me if Sanders falls into a significant workload in his first season, but, if we’re betting, I’ll remain conservative.
Fantasy Mad Libs
Your reaction to trotting out Carson Wentz as your QB1 in a 12-team league would be _______. (adjective)
Andy: YES, PLEASE. First of all, Philadelphia’s early-season schedule is full of defenses that were generous to opposing QBs last year. Wentz was the MVP frontrunner before his injury in 2017, so we’re not asking him to reach any unprecedented heights. He’s a gifted passer with phenomenal weapons at his disposal who simply needs to stay healthy. Quarterback is obviously a loaded position, so no one is likely to fight you for Wentz on draft day. I’ll happily invest.
Liz: ACCEPTABLE. Does Wentz have the potential to disappoint as hard as the GoT series finale? Absolutely. However, he’s also teased us with an MVP season. Examining the 2019 additions to the Eagles offense and I’m feeling a rebound for the third-year QB. With field-stretcher DeSean Jackson and contested catch hero JJ Arcega-Whiteside joining the squad, Wentz gets a new and improved stable of weapons. Furthermore, the offensive line should start the season healthier than it did last year, giving Wentz the time to extend plays, push the ball deep, and rack up those fantasy points.
BUY or SELL
Among the Eagles top receiving options - Zach Ertz (21.5, TE2), Alshon Jeffery (62.9, WR30) and DeSean Jackson (117.1, WR47)
Liz: ERTZ is easy money. After all, he’s managed eight TDs and top-three fantasy numbers in back-to-back seasons. With Wentz under center and Jeffery on the field, Ertz averaged 1.5 red zone looks per week in 2018. Even with more options in the passing game, Ertz’s accessibility in tandem with his athleticism make him an elite pick at a volatile position.
Brad: ERTZ owns the most bang for the buck. Yes, he’s the priciest choice on the board, but his floor is extraordinarily high. A season ago, he ranked No. 3 or better at the position in 14 different categories, most notably target share (26.4%), total air yards (848) and red-zone receptions (16), along with fantasy points per game (13.9). A true consistency king, it’s hard seeing him taking a backward step.
This year tight end is extremely top heavy with Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Ertz heading up the highest tier. Their reliability combined with the position’s wasteland nature imply they’re worth every penny. Better yet for Ertz investors, you can typically acquire him a full round after Kelce. Score.
Best Ball Bargain Bin
Andy: DeSEAN JACKSON was born for this format.
Brad: JORDAN HOWARD. Again, I’m a strong Sanders advocate. He’s the RB to target. But Pederson’s socialist spread-the-wealth rotation at the position could mean Howard emerges as the primary goal-line option. In a healthy offensive environment, he has a chance to be what Latavius Murray will be in New Orleans, a forward-leaning red-zone rusher who may trip and fall across the goal-line 6-8 times. At his RB36 cost (87.8 ADP), he possesses some profit potential.
Mad Bets (From FanDuel Sportsbook): Phi 9.5 wins OVER (-140) or UNDER (+120)
Brad: OVER. Using projected Vegas win totals as a barometer, the Eagles own the fourth-easiest schedule of any NFL team. As long as Wentz remains upright, they’re the team to beat in the NFC East. Yes, the juice is a wallet hit ($140 to win $100), but sharpie yours truly in for 11 victories.
Liz: OVER. Philly managed nine wins in 2018. Admittedly, only five of those came with Wentz under center. However, if the third-year QB takes the step forward that I’m anticipating, then the Eagles can work their way back to double-digit Ws.
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