Training Camp is just a couple of days away and it’s probably time to start thinking about your fantasy team this year. If your room doesn’t already look like the Pepe-Silvia scene from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, then now’s the time to change that. As Eagles fans, you’re naturally going to want some Birds on your roster, but who should you pick?
Circle them in red
If you want an Eagle who is almost a lock to provide you some production on a weekly basis, Miles Sanders is easily the most attractive option. As a running back, there’s still a lot of room to grow. He’s a natural home-run hitter but when he’s not breaking off 80-yard runs, he is a little harder to trust, at least if you’re Doug Pederson. What we need to remember is that:
A) He’ll be running behind an actual offensive line this year
B) Nick Sirianni has a strong blueprint when it comes to constructing a backfield.
We can’t forget that Sanders was on the cusp of an Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2019 and all Sirianni has to do is find that winning formula to have a back worthy of top-10 mentions by his side. Sure, the Eagles did add Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Gainwell, but it’s not like a strong committee has stopped Jonathan Taylor finishing 3rd in rushing during his rookie year under Sirianni.
The beauty of Miles Sanders is that he’s on a 4-12 team with a new coaching staff that very few people will be turning to when it comes to fantasy. This provides a real opportunity to add a running back who could easily eclipse 1,000 yards fairly deep into the drafting process.
Sanders shouldn’t be drafted as your bell-cow back, but as an RB2, you won’t find many better.
If you can stack Smith with Jalen Hurts then this could be a great budget pairing to roll out on a rotational basis. Smith should be available pretty deep into the draft, as most rookie wideouts will be.
It’s hard to really contextualize how impressive his route-running truly is and in an offense that’s going to be predicated on maximizing the strengths of its soldiers, DeVonta Smith should be targeted early and often, making him a very viable pick in PPR leagues and a player with a ton of upside overall.
Look as last year’s first-round wideouts as a benchmark. CeeDee Lamb had 935 yards. Justin Jefferson ripped the league apart. Jerry Jeudy had 856 of his own, Jalen Reagor…tried his best. If you can snag Smith late on, we should be able to comfortably expect a 500+ yard season.
At the very least, Smith should be targeted in the heart of most fantasy drafts with the aim of being able to have a deep wide receiver group where you can bring up a WR1 off the bench during a bye-week or on a favorable matchup basis.
Solid picks, but think twice
There are three reasons why I’m not fully ready to YOLO Dallas Goedert in my fantasy Draft.
1) Tight ends under Nick Sirianni don’t typically put up a ton of numbers.
2) He’s often been inconsistent with his hands and takes a while to get going.
3) Injuries have held him back and he struggled to really steal the spotlight when Ertz was out of the picture.
The Colts run 11-personnel more than most, having lined up in it a staggering 69% (nice) of times in 2020. I don’t think that’s going to change much given how much weaponry the Eagles now have on the outside.
With all of that said, there is a strong chance that he starts the year over Zach Ertz in the depth chart, finally giving him exposure as TE1. The only exposure to the ‘tight ends not shining under Sirianni’ rule is Eric Ebron and there’s no reason why Goedert couldn’t become a volume-machine over the middle. He had 46 catches last year for 524 yards, 20 catches less than Ebron’s 750-yard campaign in 2018.
If he is the bonafide TE1, he’s still going to be a very nice addition late into most Drafts when attention from TE’s pivot away from the top 5-6 names, leaving Goedert as the debatable best of the rest, falling firmly under the radar.
There’s a lot to like about Jalen Hurts in 2021. His first full year as a quarterback will be completed under a Head Coach that will actually give him a run-game to lean on and an offense with a versatile array of weapons to compliment an offensive line that won’t give up QB pressure on every other play.
Hurts isn’t going to be sought after and if you can snag him late as a QB2/3 to keep around and potentially stack with Smith, the rewards could be tantalizing if he takes the step forward that many expect.
The main worry with Hurts is fumbling. He led the league with 9 in this category last year, but we can put a lot of that down to a flailing offensive line and the fact he was running for his life on most plays.
If Hurts can show growth when it comes to read-progression and decision-making, then we could see a breakout in his sophomore campaign, which makes him well-worth selecting if you need an extra arm who has the potential to bring more than just an áverage’ performance.
Reagor’s rookie year was one to forget and he’ll be the first to admit that it could’ve been better. A move to the slot might end up being the best thing to happen to the TCU product, who will be able to use that burst and twitch more successfully over the middle and find pockets of space to work in.
In terms of targets, Reagor might not be the most attractive option, but all it takes is one deep shot…and he won’t have a QB who’s going to miss them as often as Wentz did. He should only be taken as a bench wideout for the time being, but it’s worth keeping him around.
Nobody has forgotten just how dominant Travis Fulgham looked during his opening four games with the Eagles. In that same breath, everyone has forgotten what happened afterwards. When Alshon Jeffery returned, Fulgham’s snaps decreased and his ability looked to drop with it.
We all know what the ceiling is, but there’s reason to believe Fulgham is a volume receiver who needs those early targets to get the wheels churning. There’s nothing wrong with that, but his production is not something you can take to the bank.
With that in mind, Fulgham could well be in line to get plenty of reps opposite DeVonta Smith with Reagor in the slot. This gives the Eagles a big-bodied option who can complement the blazing game of Smith and help haul in those tricky red-zone targets, and use his large catch radius to bail out his QB. He’s a fun option, but shouldn’t be seen as a starter.
Take a late flyer
If he’s still on the roster by week one, then Ertz could be a really valuable late option to work with. For the reasons mentioned above, I don’t think he’ll reach the heights of a record-breaking season again in 2021, but it’s not like his floor can get any lower…and the ceiling is still a TE who was once regarded as one of the best in the league.
If Goedert does struggle with durability or the Eagles decide to creatively deploy both as they did under Pederson, then there’s still a chance that Zach Ertz can provide some valuable red-zone targets that turn into touchdowns for your fantasy team…and for a waiver claim or a late-round pick, it’s worth the gamble.
Watkins is a rapid wideout who will likely be working in the slot this year. We know that Jalen Reagor will be seeing time inside and Greg Ward Jr. Is all of a sudden fighting for his future again. Watkins was drafted by the Eagles last year and flashed some real menace on screens late into proceedings. His route-running was sloppy at best, but an offseason of work leaves him looking crisper than he did as a rookie, at least according to his workout videos.
If Reagor is unable to kick onto gear or is used outside as a Z, then Watkins could be a really fun low-risk, high-reward play for the Eagles, thanks to what he can create with the ball in his hands. That should be enough to not only secure him a spot on the roster, but give him some fantasy upside as well.
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