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Philadelphia Eagles fantasy football team preview

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Who to target and avoid in fantasy football from the Philadelphia Eagles. 

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia is primed for a big time bounceback in the box score. The 2019 Eagles’ pass catching group was so decimated by injury that Greg Ward Jr., a rookie receiver that played quarterback the previous four years at the University of Houston, was their No. 1 WR down the stretch. Although the Eagles didn’t escape training camp unscathed, the team is far healthier than they were last season. Sharp Football projects the team to face a perfect schedule for fantasy purposes: exploitable defenses and great offenses. When facing high-scoring opponents, a high pace is ensured for the Eagles offense and they throw to keep up. That the Eagles’ opponents are generally ill-equipped to slow the Eagles fearsome offensive attack is the cherry on top.

Sharp Football’s Strength of Schedule:

  • Mid-tier overall schedule
  • 13th softest in terms of the opponent’s overall defensive efficiency
  • 10th softest blend of pass defenses
  • 7th softest in terms of the opponent’s defensive pass efficiency
  • 9th softest blend of rush defenses
  • Mid-tier in terms of the opponent’s defensive rush efficiency
  • 6th toughest in terms of the opponent’s overall offensive efficiency
  • 11th toughest in terms of the opponent’s offensive pass efficiency
  • 3rd toughest in terms of the opponent’s offensive rush efficiency

Quarterback

Despite missing his top three receivers (Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor) for effectively 26 combined games last year, Carson Wentz still took home overall QB9 results in fantasy. The fourth-year QB finished 9th in passing yards, tied for 5th in passing touchdowns, and threw just seven interceptions — the latter was easily in the top tier of full-time starting quarterbacks. Wentz managed to flash a little of his early career rushing ability too, averaging just over 15 yards per game on the ground. With a fully healthy DeSean Jackson who dominated Week 1 of 2019 and a fully integrated Greg Ward Jr., the offense is lightyears ahead of where they were last season. Expect Carson Wentz to compete for a top five fantasy QB finish in 2020. His 7.06, QB12 ADP in .5PPR is a fine place to take him.

The Eagles presumably drafted their QB of the future in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft in Jalen Hurts. Hurts is a dynamic dual threat who would theoretically play a similar type of football as Carson Wentz, were Wentz to miss time in the short term. It’s possible Hurts even sees the field in subpackages in 2020. Long term, a transition similar to Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre is likely.

Running Back

For all the concern over head coach Doug Pederson supposedly being a running back by committee truther, no new running backs have been brought in, clearing the runway for Miles Sanders’ impending King Kong season.

In the 2019 training camp, Sanders suffered a hamstring injury and was unable to fully absorb the Eagles’ system. Incumbent banger back Jordan Howard was thus able to retain rights to lead back duties. As the season progressed though, Sanders assertively became the top dog, leading many fantasy managers to championships in the process. From Week 13 and on, Sanders was a dual threat-force to be reckoned with. Then-second-year back Boston Scott, who plays a game very similar to Sanders as a talented dual threat, likewise took over the change of pace roll from Week 14 and on.

From Weeks 14-17, Scott actually finished as the overall RB9. Although Week 17 carries little weight, it’s fair to note what Scott is capable of. Should Scott keep the change of pace role in the neighborhood of 10-15 touches per week, he has a legitimate shot of producing as a standalone flex option in .5PPR and PPR leagues.

With the only other back on the roster being Corey Clement, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott’s workloads are secure. With Sanders expected to total 18-22 touches per week against such a soft schedule, per Sharp Football’s Strength of Schedule metrics, the second-year back has a serious shot at entering the elite RB1 tier in 2020. Draft both Sanders and Scott at their respective ADPs. Drafters are foolishly letting Sanders fall to the final pick of the 2nd Round in .5PPR leagues (2.12, RB13). Meanwhile, Scott is going in the 14th Round.

For those concerned over Sanders’ current mild hamstring injury, the great hosts of Inside The Birds, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan want you to “RELAX. EXHALE. THEY’LL BE OK”. Should Sanders miss time though, the Inside The Birds duo has also speculated that the stoutly built Corey Clement would be the one to take over for Sanders while Scott’s role would perhaps only slightly increase.

Wide Receiver

Update: 9/7/20: Quez Watkins was placed on IR. He can return in Week 4.

Rookie WR Jalen Reagor was primed for a big year but a training camp shoulder dislocation that resulted in a torn labrum knocked his season off course. Unfortunately on Ian Hartitz’s PFF Fantasy Podcast, Fantasy Points Medical Analyst Edwin Porras puts his re-injury likelihood at 40-55%, since Reagor opted not to have surgery in order to return sooner. We’ve seen this exact situation previously with the Chicago BearsAnthony Miller. Ultimately, Reagor will have to play with a harness this year, which will limit his range of motion. That does not mean that he can’t come back and produce, but it does drastically increase the risk of rostering him. He’s expected to return sometime in September.

The team’s primary X-receiver, who Reagor was expected to start in place of, Alshon Jeffery is still recovering from his Lisfranc injury. Although a September return is expected, Jeffery’s injury history could be considered “decorated”. Jeffery really hasn’t been overly effective in years, even when healthy. Upon his return, Jeffery would not be considered a high-ceiling option.

Second-year man JJ Arcega-Whiteside has reportedly had a decent camp and is expected to fill in at X until Reagor or Jeffery return. The camp reports provide reason for newfound optimism as he did not show well in his rookie year, falling short of his 2nd Round pedigree. JJAW is best used as a matchup-based option in very deep leagues.

Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson has had a phenomenal camp, routinely roasting DBs in practice. We caught a glimpse of the Wentz/D-Jax duo for one game last year and it was a smokeshow. Jackson is likely to challenge TE Zach Ertz for the team lead in targets and the majority of said targets will be high-value downfield shots against the aforementioned paltry slate of opposing pass defenses. The drafting public’s decision to let Jackson fall to an ADP of 13.05, WR58 in .5PPR leagues in an unforgivable error. Draft him aggressively at his ADP, or a round earlier to ensure rostering him, plug him into your lineup, and don’t consider benching him until Week 4 against San Francisco’s vaunted defense. In Weeks 1-3, Philly will fillet the secondaries of the Washington Football Team, the LA Rams, and the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s quite possible that DeSean Jackson is the single greatest fantasy value of the 2020 season.

By all accounts Greg Ward Jr. has secured his roster spot and is likely to lock down the starting slot receiver role. Ward is a candidate for multi-flex starts, in .5PPR and PPR leagues, through the season’s first 3 games.

Rookies John Hightower and Quez Watkins are backup deep threats. Coming off of a strong season at Boise State where Hightower notably excelled in the return game, a trait now recognized as an indicator of future NFL success, Hightower drew praise as training camp’s offensive MVP from beat reporter Jeff McLane. He looks the part of a developing NFL downfield receiver and would need to be immediately rostered were D-Jax to miss time. The same would be true of Watkins were both D-Jax and Hightower to miss time.

Tight End

Tight end Zach Ertz has led the team in targets, catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. With primary pass catchers Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor both starting the year unable to play, it’s likely Ertz repeats that feat in 2020. Of fantasy’s tight end top dogs (Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, and Zach Ertz), Ertz is currently the most affordable, coming off the board last of the bunch in .5PPR leagues at the 4.06, TE4 spot. With the incoming slate of swisscheese pass defenses and such a guaranteed high target market share, Ertz has a shot to overtake the other 3 as the overall TE1. Draft him comfortably at his current ADP.

Despite being the Eagles’ No. 2 TE, Dallas Goedert blossomed into fantasy’s TE10 in .5PPR. Goedert appears to already be a better blocker than Zach Ertz and is nipping at his heels in the receiving department. Given how much the Eagles love running two-tight end sets, Goedert is a great platoon option at tight end. Although Ertz has been active for no fewer than 14 regular season games every year of his career, he does frequently get banged up. Were Ertz to miss time, Goedert would skyrocket to the top tier of the fantasy TE1 rankings.

Kicker

Given the high-scoring nature of the Eagles’ offense, Jake Elliott is a premier option at kicker.

Defense/Special Teams

The Eagles’ D/ST is more of a streaming option than a reliable weekly starter. Although, the defensive line will see ample opportunities for sacks as the Eagles offense keeps opposing team’s in pass-mode.