This week in the Fantasy Spotlight the focus is on the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles were one of the busiest teams this off-season adding multiple pieces on offense. Clearly in a win now mode, the Eagles present a multitude of players with potential fantasy impact.
Fantasy Spotlight 2017 Preview: Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz is entering his second season in the NFL and is coming off a productive rookie year. Despite uneven play at times, Wentz showed he could lead an efficient NFL offense. In 2016, Wentz threw the football 607 times which was an all-time Eagles rookie record. He finished the season with 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 62.4 completion percentage. Wentz has been focusing on his footwork in the offseason and hopes to improve on his 8:7 touchdown to interception ratio as rookie.
The Eagles were very active during free agency adding both Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to go along with slot receiver Jordan Matthews. The new additions will give Wentz plenty of targets in the passing game. Even with the new additions things won’t be that easy for Wentz in his second season. Per thesportsquotient.com, Wentz faces the fourth toughest strength of schedule for quarterbacks in 2017. While Wentz is headed in the right direction, he is most likely at least a year away from taking the leap to becoming an impact fantasy quarterback.
Spotlight Says: QB2, bye week streaming option.
The NFL’s reigning rushing touchdown leader signed a one-year contract with the Eagles on May 17th. This move on paper brings some clarity to an already crowded Eagles running back group. The signing of Blount also almost guarantees the end of Ryan Mathews in Philadelphia. Even though Blount is coming off a season in which he ran for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns, many people question if he can be successful outside of New England. The 250 pound power running back has 49 career touchdowns, but 36 of those have come in parts of four seasons in the structured New England Patriots system. The other 13 have come in unsuccessful seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers. He was released very early during his only season in Pittsburgh because of his attitude on and off the field.
Blount will be a threat in goal line situations and will be drafted high because of that. He will enter the season as the lead back, however with his history outside of New England and the amount of bodies behind him on the depth chart, Blount will be over-valued in most fantasy drafts.
Spotlight Says: Low RB2 with average yards/high touchdown potential.
Sproles, who will turn 34 years old in June, is entering his 14th NFL season and fourth with the Eagles. Before the signing of Blount, Sproles was at the top of the Eagles running back depth chart. He is coming off a 2016 season in which he totaled 865 yards from scrimmage and scored four touchdowns. His superb pass-catching ability always makes him a threat in PPR (points per reception) fantasy leagues. It also puts him on the field in most third down situations. Game flow will always be the determining factor in his fantasy production.
Spotlight Says: Non-PPR leagues RB4. PPR leagues LowRB2/HighRB3, bye week replacement.
With LeGarrette Blount added to the Eagles backfield, any value that Wendell Smallwood had is gone. He will enter the season third on the depth chart behind both Blount and Sproles. He showed ability in his rookie season rushing for 312 yards and averaging 4.1 yards per carry. However, barring injury to either of the guys above him, look for the second year back to be about a five to seven touch per game player.
Spotlight Says: RB4/RB5, needs injuries to become a factor.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Entering his sixth season, Alshon Jeffery will be in his first with the Philadelphia Eagles. The long-time Chicago Bears receiver signed a one year $9.5 million contract to be the Eagles top wide-out. Even though his last two seasons have been plagued by injuries and suspension, the Eagles fully expect Jeffery to be the go-to guy for Carson Wentz. Jeffery has only cracked the 1,000-yard mark twice in his career and has never surpassed 89 receptions. If he stays healthy, the 6’3’’ Jeffery should help bolster an Eagles wide receiver core that ranked 24th in receiving yards in 2016.
Spotlight Says: High WR2 / Low WR1
Jordan Matthews enters his fourth season as one of only five players in NFL history to record 65+ receptions and 800+ yards in each of their first three seasons. Matthews figures to line up in the slot which should allow him to find some more open field. He has amassed 225 receptions on 349 targets through three seasons. He is in line to have another 100+ target season. Head Coach Doug Pederson said Matthews is a “dynamic slot guy, he works well in there.” Pederson also said that “Jordan and Carson [Wentz] have a great relationship.” Matthews is almost certainly going to be undervalued in fantasy drafts.
Spotlight Says: WR2
28-year old Torrey Smith signed with the Eagles in the offseason. The veteran wide receiver brings outside speed that the Eagles have been lacking in their passing game. Smith at times has shown fantasy promise but he has been unable to consistently produce week to week. He is coming off a season in which he only played 12 games and recorded just 20 catches. The Eagles are hoping that Carson Wentz can build a solid connection with the speedy Smith.
Spotlight Says: WR4, bye week replacement
Zach Ertz was a very reliable target for Wentz in 2016. Ertz finished with the fifth most receiving yards (816) of any tight end. He has 153 receptions over his last two seasons and enters his fifth full season as a big red zone target for Wentz and the Eagles. Ertz has produced solid fantasy numbers over the last two seasons and should do so again in 2017.
Spotlight Says: TE1
Best Value: Jordan Matthews
Worst Value: LeGarrette Blount
Surprise Potential: Carson Wentz