Predicting rookie success is always one of the most difficult parts of real and fantasy football. Each and every year, teams add new players and figure out how to best utilize them within the offenses. Fantasy football owners need to not only determine these players’ talents but also analyze their utilization. Based on early returns, all signs point towards Miles Sanders becoming a star both on the field for the Philadelphia Eagles and for fantasy football owners everywhere.
Why Miles Sanders Will Dominate With Philadelphia Eagles, Fantasy Football
The Eagles Love Miles Sanders
The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the most forward-thinking front offices in the NFL. Howie Roseman has been one of the pioneers of the analytics movement, and his work has translated into two consecutive playoff berths and a Super Bowl championship.
One of the biggest and most fundamental arguments of the analytic movement is that running backs are largely replaceable. While some players obviously move the needle more than others, most of their production has to do with the blocking and play-calling instead of the actual back. Taking a running back in the first two rounds is generally viewed as a bad decision, yet the Eagles did it anyway with Sanders.
This high investment shows the Eagles believe Miles Sanders truly is something special. Roseman and the front office viewed Sanders as easily the best player on the board, and you better believe they have a plan for him.
Through his first two preseason games, Sanders looks like everything the Eagles were hoping for. This is obviously a small sample, but it’s an encouraging sign nonetheless. Philadelphia has rested starters through two games, meaning Sanders has only played 17 offensive snaps thus far. However, during his time on the field, Sanders has managed to record 31 yards on five carries. Again, this is a ridiculously small sample, but he’s looked good in his limited opportunity.
Sanders also happens to play in what should be one of the best offenses in football. Being in a good offense means more plays which, in turn, means more opportunities to rack up yards and touchdowns. Carson Wentz is fully healthy for the first time since 2017, and the Eagles have a stacked receiving core consisting of Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor.
This high-powered passing attack will force other teams to worry about the passing game. This works to Sanders’ advantage, but the rookie has more working in his favor. The Eagles have a top offensive line which should excel at creating rushing lanes. Sanders should make play after play when given the ball, and he should see a lot of time on the field.
The Running Back by Committee
Ever since Doug Pederson took over in Philadelphia, the Eagles have primarily operated with a committee approach out of the backfield. Over the past three seasons, no Eagles’ running back has eclipsed 173 carries under Pederson. At the surface, this looks like Pederson clearly prefers multiple running backs. However, there are plenty of reasons to believe he’ll change it up in 2018.
Part of the reason Pederson used a committee approach thus far is that his running backs haven’t been that good. Since 2016, Pederson has employed Ryan Matthews, LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Josh Adams as his primary running backs. Each one of these players had a clear shortcoming keeping them from being a true three-down back. Pederson comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, and Reid has always used one running back whenever he’s had a capable player.
Miles Sanders is that long-awaited capable player. Sanders has the size and build to run between the tackles and also possesses the agility and speed to get to the outside. Additionally, he’s great catching passes out of the backfield and looked like an all-around great player during his lone season as “the guy”. He didn’t see the field much before 2018, but that’s because he was behind Saquon Barkley. Sanders isn’t better than him, but he’s more than capable of seeing a full three-down workload.
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