3-Point Stance: Jeffery, Blount a pair of Eagles with sharp talons for fantasy
As the mercury rises, Brad Evans and Liz Loza will tackle pressing fantasy questions tied to every NFL team. Read, ponder and get a jump on your offseason research. Wednesday’s topic: The Philadelphia Eagles.
Alshon Jeffery’s final playing days in Chicago were undulated. Last season, he finished WR35 in fantasy points per game and missed four games due to injury. BELIEVE or MAKE BELIEVE: Jeffery returns to the upper echelon in his first year with the Eagles and finishes inside the wide receiver top-12.
Liz – BELIEVE. Jeffery hasn’t produced WR1 numbers since 2014 when he was a part of Marc Trestman’s up-tempo offense. However, now released from John Fox’s yawn-inducing scheme and part of Frank Reich’s pass-friendly game plan, Jeffery’s targets should flourish anew in Philly. In fact, Jordan Matthews averaged 7.7 targets per contest in 2016, which extrapolated over a 16 games season could result in nearly 125 opportunities for the team’s new No. 1 WR.
Furthermore, there’s more consistency under center for Jeffery this time around. Fantasy managers should monitor the rapport between Carson Wentz and Alshon as the summer progresses, but one would assume their mutual objective is to build chemistry. I can’t tell you that the soft tissue issues won’t continue for the former Bear, but taking into account his size, talent, and situation there’s substantial reason to believe he’ll produce a 70-1,000-8 stat line.
Brad – BELIEVE. Injuries and inept QB play dampened Alshon’s curtain call in Chicago. Brian Hoyer was respectable, but Matt Barkley is the football equivalent of drowning a perfectly cooked filet in ketchup, a shameful offense. Considering the hinderances, Jeffery performed at a decent level, tallying a WR3 employable line (on a per game basis) in 12-team formats.
In Philly, he should pen a Rocky-like comeback story. Recall two years ago he closed out the season posting the 13th-most valuable WR line from Week 8 on. When featured and healthy he dominates. Torrey Smith, Zach Ertz and, if he isn’t traded, Jordan Matthews will compete for looks, but Jeffery should command at least 23 percent of the targets share. That occurs, he notches a spectacular line around 85-1100-9. If you invest in RBs early, he’s an ideal target in Round 3 (31.9 ADP, WR18).
It’s almost unfathomable LeGarrette Blount crossed the chalk 18 times last season in New England. This fall donning Kelly Green, OVER or UNDER 8.5 touchdowns for the 30-year-old running back?
Brad – OVER. According to several critics, Blount is an average NFL running back. Limited to early-down work, he is a classic between-the-tackles chain mover and essentially nothing more. Still, the niche he carved last year in one of the league’s most explosive offenses elevated him into the RB1 ranks. He also disproved the ‘mediocre’ claims by finishing No. 8 in total evaded tackles. Yes, he’s due for a regression, but the Eagles lived inside the red zone last year (No. 6 in total plays inside the 20) and will likely do the same. Because they converted just 49.1 percent of those opportunities, Blount is the Red Bull jolt the Birds sorely need.
Mathews splashed six eight times in 2016. He also totaled the eighth-most carries inside the 10 (25) over only 13 games. Running behind a stout offensive line and with Alshon/Torrey Smith added to the mix, Philly should move the ball relatively freely and easily presenting Blount with several punch-it-in opportunities. The veteran won’t exceed 1,000 yards, but an 850-9 tally is very attainable. Take a puff anytime after pick No. 85 overall.
Liz – OVER. Expected to fill Ryan Mathews role, Blount will be on the field for early downs and in short yardage situations. That means goal line opportunities. And considering Mathews hit pay dirt eight times over 13 starts last year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Blount ball out for slightly over that number.
Many scouts and pundits tabbed Carson Wentz a project entering training camp last year. To their astonishment, however, he beat the odds, won the starting job and at times performed admirably as a rookie. Provide your FEARLESS FORECAST (pass yards/pass tds/ints/rush yds/rush tds) for the sophomore passer.
Liz – In his first pro campaign, Wentz tallied 607 passing attempts, which was the fifth most of any QB in the league. He also managed a respectable 62.3 completion percentage. With Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and receiving back Donnel Pumphrey added to the team’s arsenal, the sophomore signal caller’s YPA should receive boost, creating an uptick in his second year stats. Bic me in for: 4,001-26-18-193-173-2
Brad – 3,986-22-15-161-2. Even with an inexperienced pup under center, Doug Pederson and Frank Reich were vertically aggressive in 2016, as Loza discussed above. The gadgets added only affirms their commitment to chucking it. Wentz’s 6.2 YPA last year, which ranked No. 31, should improve substantially. However, he must sharpen his accuracy to really take advantage. The passer landed outside the top-20 in four completion percentage categories as a rookie. Even with an uptick in that area, he probably won’t break into the QB1 class.