There's no denying Philadelphia Eagles' offense was explosive in 2013. It even had some historical greatness to it. The Eagles recorded a total of 99 plays of 20+ yards, which set an NFL record. It was easily one of the best offenses in the entire NFL. The Eagles offensive success came much to the delight of fantasy football players who drafted Philadelphia players. Moving forward, it seems fair to assume Eagles players will be highly coveted safe options in fantasy leagues.
But for SB Nation's Daniel Kelley, that's not the case. Kelley recently released an extensive Eagles fantasy football preview and came to the conclusion that there aren't any trustworthy fantasy players on Philadelphia's offense. Here's his breakdown for each offensive position:
Add it all together, and Foles promises to be a low-end QB1 - if you end up with him, you aren't devastated, but you shouldn't feel altogether great about it, either. It's that "trust" thing - Foles will probably be good, and you'll probably be fine with him, but he just doesn't have the same reliability that the upper tier of the position has.
I would slot Foles right around 10 among quarterbacks, and in the 70-ish range overall. I have him basically back-to-back with Russell Wilson, though if I get to the point where I'm deciding between those two, I will certainly have the decision made for me - if I have a lot of reasonably sure things, guys I know I can count on, in the rest of my lineup, I'll take a flyer on the upside of Foles. Conversely, if I've taken injury risks and question marks in the first few rounds, I would opt for Wilson, who generally is less likely to have a huge game, but we know he is who he is. Foles might drop off completely in 2014; there's very little chance Wilson will.
Kelley, not unlike most, is skeptical that Foles will regress. That's obviously a fair concern. There are probably a number of safer options when it comes to drafting a fantasy QB.
Another concern with Foles is the trickle down effect. If he struggles, other Eagles offensive players could be in jeopardy.
Overall, I would take McCoy, as I said, third, and wouldn't argue if you bumped him up. Sproles I would take around 45 among running backs and 100-ish overall, but I'd bump him up a dozen or so RBs in a PPR. And for Polk, I find it hard to imagine I'd draft him at all. I suppose if I had McCoy, I might burn a late-round pick on Polk, but in general, I think I might find a more trustworthy running back elsewhere.
I can't agree with Kelley's take on LeSean McCoy. He's a safe bet for me. He's young, productive, healthy, and featured in a run-heavy offense. Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles are far from bad picks, but I don't see a reason to bet against Shady.
The Darren Sproles assessment is fair. He'll probably get a few touches per game and it's easy to imagine those will come on receptions despite the fact the Eagles insist he's "not a receiver." It's hard to see Chris Polk heavily in the mix with McCoy being the feature back and Sproles rotating in. If there's an injury to McCoy (heaven forbid), however, Polk's value could skyrocket.
Cooper would be a flex play at best for me, if that, coming in around 50 among receivers and around 130 overall. Matthews is much further down for now, maybe 70 at wide receiver. That said, I would rather have Matthews on my roster than Cooper, especially if Maclin's knee looks subpar. If I draft Matthews, it's a lottery-pick choice, a guy I know I'm not having to rely on, while a pick spent on Cooper is a pick you're likely to have to use. To me, Matthews is much more likely to provide positive return on his investment than Cooper is.
We talked about the Eagles receiver position here at BGN earlier in the week. There's certainly a lot of talent here, but it's not necessarily reliable. Maclin is coming off an injury. Some people will look at Cooper as a one year wonder. Matthews, despite the hype, is still a rookie. And so on. There's definitely potential at this position, but it's easy to see why there's cause for concern.
Going forward, Ertz has to be seen as a better fantasy option for 2014 than Celek. Neither guy should be a starter in a standard league, if for no other reason than they'll fight each other for touches. But Ertz would be a passable TE2, maybe 15th or 16th at the position. Celek falls shorter; I can't picture drafting him as long as the Eagles have Ertz and all those other non-tight-end weapons. I certainly believe Celek will have his occasional moment in 2014, but his days as more than that have come and gone.
It will be interesting to see how the Ertz/Celek situation plays out. The Eagles are still a run-heavy team so Celek has value as a blocker. He proved to be effective in the red zone last year as well. On the other hand, Ertz is more of the dynamic pass catcher. The Eagles should get good production from this position, but the fact that it won't come from a single player could be annoying to fantasy players. I'd go Ertz over Celek as well.
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After a closer look at each position, I can see why Kelley argues that it's hard to trust some of these options. Aside from McCoy, I'm not sure there are many sure bets. With that said, there's still a lot of potential in this group. Picking some of these players in your fantasy league could really pay off. Let's not forget that Chip Kelly is still designing the offense and calling the plays. The offense as a whole will likely be successful yet again. It's just a matter of figuring out who will be the most reliable contributors.