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Which Eagles are Fantasy Relevant in 2019?

SPOILER: Zach Ertz is

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Minicamp Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue to fly through the offseason (Happy Summer, y’all) and towards training camp, some die-hards are beginning to prepare for fantasy football season. Part of said preparation includes determining which players on each of the 32 NFL teams are going to receive enough playing time to be relevant to fantasy owners.

What follows is my evaluation as such for your Philadelphia Eagles.

Quarterback - Carson Wentz

Ya boy is back and he is healthy (we think). In 2017, Wentz got his owners 0.57 fantasy points per dropback, which trailed only Deshaun Watson (0.73). Last season, Wentz scored 0.47 pts/db, which was good for t-20th overall (tied with Andy Dalton). Now, I wouldn’t recommend you assume that Wentz will get you 0.57 points per dropback, but it seems fairly safe to project him to score somewhere in between 0.47 and 0.57. If Wentz continues to receive about 40 dropbacks per game he should score somewhere around 20 points per game, or 320 total points in 2019.

Bottom Line: Wentz is a mid-tier QB1 and should be drafted in rounds 6-8 (for 12-team leagues. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter if you want me to reevaluate for your specific situation)

Running Backs - Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, Donnell Pumphrey, and Boston Scott

Traditionally, at least since the departure of LeSean McCoy, the Eagles have employed a running-back-by-committee approach which can also be referred to as a fantasy-football-no-go approach. However, given the shift in overall NFL philosophy regarding “bell-cow” running backs (only 14 RBs with 200+ attempts in 2018 compared to 22 in 2013), fantasy owners nowadays are being forced to look at teams employing such an approach.

With that said, there are only two RBs on the Eagles that you should even consider considering, and those two RBs are Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders.

Jordan Howard burst onto the scene in 2016 with 1,313 yards and 6 TDs. Since then, Howard has seen a decline in production per attempt (5.2 YPA in 2016, 4.1 YPA in 2017, and 3.7 YPA in 2018). Given the poor environment that Howard is coming from, it shouldn’t surprise you to see Howard return to his 2016 form when inserted in a much better offense. Unfortunately, it also shouldn’t surprise you to see his overall volume decrease from about 275 touches to 150 or so. If he plays like 2016 Jordan Howard, this would give him a stat line of about 750 yards, and 4 TDs.

Recent draftee Miles Sanders should slide into the depth chart as a change-of-pace back from Day 1. Obviously, depending on how well he plays, Sanders should finish the season with somewhere around 100 or 125 touches. Projecting his output based on his college stats is a fairly unreliable science (as of today, at least) but if you look at players such as Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Jay Ajayi over the last few seasons, it seems reasonable to project Sanders as a 500 yard, 3 TD guy.

Bottom Line: Barring injury, and maybe even if an injury happens, Howard and Sanders are likely the only two guys you should even look at here. I have Howard currently projected to be a high-end RB3, with Sanders right behind him as a mid-tier RB4. While Howard is the preferred guy, neither should be taken before round 6 and you’re probably best off by waiting and trying to scoop up whichever one falls to round 8 or 9.

Wide Receivers - Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Shelton Gibson, Mack Hollins, Braxton Miller, Carlton Agudosi, Greg Ward Jr., Michel Markin, Charles Johnson, DeAndre Thompkins, Devin Ross

It's never a great situation for a wide receiver when they are set to get fewer targets than a tight end, and unfortunately for all 13 guys above, that is what they’re in for this year. Hopefully, for Alshon Jeffery, who is projected to be the Eagles top wide receiver once again, there are enough targets to go around. Although I must note that he played in just 13 games last year, Jeffery finished the 2018 season as a WR3 in most leagues, and that’s just not going to cut it. Jeffery had 90 targets last year but only pulled in 65 receptions, which was good for a catch percentage of 72.2%. He’ll want to get that number up towards 80% if he hopes to finish the season as a WR1.

At the ripe age of 32, DeSean Jackson is still among the scariest deep threats in the league. Playing on an incompetent offense, Jackson still managed to finish the year with 3 40+ yard TDs which trailed only Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown who each had 4. He also had a whopping 18.9 yards per reception. If Jackson can find the targets, he has the potential to put up some “DeSean-Jackson-like” numbers with Carson Wentz.

The 34th best wide receiver, from a fantasy perspective at least, Nelson Agholor’s stock is at an all-time low thanks to the addition of DeSean Jackson. Not only is his production projected to be a career low, but after scoring just 2.46 PPR points per touch last year, his play has not been stellar either.

Bottom Line: Alshon is the “Belle of the Ball” as they say, and he is, at best, a top of the line WR2, but I’m afraid it’s more likely he ends up being borderline WR2/WR3 due to a projected lack of targets. He will likely get scooped up as soon as the 3rd round, but I wouldn’t personally go near him until Round 5. DeSean is the only other draftable guy of the group, and he should end up being a boom-or-bust WR3. Given the immense upside that DeSean Jackson offers, he might be scooped up early in some leagues, but if he makes it to the 7th or 8th round, you’ll want to scoop him up. Sitting behind Jeffery, Jackson, and Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor may be a $9 million dollar free agent in standard-sized fantasy leagues.

Tight Ends - Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Joshua Perkins, Will Tye

Ertz has become, and will continue to be, a fantasy football stud. In 2018, Ertz finished just third with 0.28 PPR points per snap (I bet you can’t guess who was first) and considering he also was targeted 154 times, he will in all likelihood finish 2018 as the top TE in the game. Now, he will always have a significant flaw with his inability to get YAC (3.22 YAC/Rec ranked just 23rd last season), but fortunately for Ertz owners, YAC doesn’t matter in fantasy football.

The only thing, in my mind at least, stopping Dallas Goedert from being a sure thing TE1 is Zach Ertz. He takes so many snaps and targets that everyone else on the offense will be forced to take a step back. It will be nice to see Goedert develop in his sophomore year, but will he be fantasy relevant? Among TEs with at least 25% of their team’s snaps, here are how the Eagles 2nd string TEs (in terms of attempts) have fared since Ertz entered the league:

  • 2018: Dallas Goedert - 90.4 pts - 20th
  • 2017: Trey Burton - 77.8 pts - 30th
  • 2016: Trey Burton - 75.7 pts - 34th
  • 2015: Brent Celek - 84.8 pts - 29th
  • 2014: Brent Celek - 72.0 pts - 30th
  • 2013 (rookie season): Zach Ertz - 106.9 pts - 23rd
  • 2012 (last year before Ertz for LoLz): Clay Harbor - 55.6 pts - 42nd

So, barring some unforeseen circumstances, Goedert is not a player you should jump to draft in 2019. Obviously in dynasty or keeper leagues, Goedert is a must own, but otherwise, let someone else take him.

Bottom Line: Zach Ertz is now a top-two TE1 in fantasy, and will be drafted as such. Depending on how the board falls, I would possibly take him at the end of Round 2 and would be glad to get him in Round 3 or 4. Dallas Goedert is borderline draftable and should be treated as late-round dart throw. He is a TE2/TE3 that would instantly become a TE1 should Zach Ertz get hurt, but what kind of Eagles fan would hope for such a thing?

Other Fantasy Options - Jake Elliott, Defense & Special Teams

Nothing too notable here. After playing in 16 games last season, Jake Elliott finished the year tied for the 15th best kicker (tied with our old friend, Cody Parkey). From 50+, he made just 2 of 5 (compared to 5 of 6 the year prior) in 2018 which wasn’t very promising, but projections show him regressing to being a usable fantasy kicker.

The defense has a handful of question marks, one of which being how good will they be at stopping the pass. The Eagles defense, recently, has been good for their ability to turn balls over and force sacks, but they have also allowed their fair share of splash plays. Until the holes in the secondary are patched and Nigel Bradham proves he can handle running the defense, I am not buying into this unit as a fantasy option.

Bottom Line: Jake Elliott should continue his career as a low-tier K1 for fantasy purposes. If you want him, take him in the last round of your draft. As for the Defense and Special Teams... Unless you’re playing in a league full of Philly fans, the Eagles are likely not going to be drafted. Their defense may be considered an elite unit in real life, but in the fantasy universe, the leaky secondary and inconsistent front-seven make for an incredibly unreliable option. Treat them as a DST2 with no draftable value.

*Thanks to pro-football-reference and PFF for the data

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