Booms, Busts, Breakouts & Bets: Philadelphia Eagles
As the mercury rises and we inch closer to training camp openings, our resident fantasy football aficionados, Brad Evans and Derek Brown, profile their favorite Booms, Busts, Breakouts and Bets for every NFL team. Giddy up, gamers. Today’s topic: Fly Eagles, Fly.
Fantasy Football Booms - Eagles
Jalen Hurts, QB
Even with a broken offense around him, Hurts flashed his fantasy football upside last year. In his brief three-full-game stretch as the starter, he was the QB4 in fantasy points per game. Yes, a large part of his fantasy production was from his legs — he averaged 79.3 rushing yards per game — but that component of his game isn't going away. Even if it slows down a tad this season, he can realize a higher ceiling as a still underrated passer.
Earlier this offseason, I dove into Hurts' abilities as a passer and how he can take another step forward in this area based on his college production. With a starting trio of DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor and Travis Fulgham, Hurts has top-five fantasy quarterback upside this year. — Derek Brown
Jalen Hurts, QB
Cue Mellencamp. Fans of the “Fade the Noise” radio slapstick (M-F 2-4 p.m. ET on SXM’s Fantasy Channel), are quite familiar with this scribe’s adoration toward Hurts. Mentioned ad nauseam last season as a potential late-round lottery ticket, the then-rookie, once thrust into the lead role, made this generally inaccurate prognosticator look like a genius, for once. Despite tossing frozen ropes to a motley crew, he thrived numerically, finishing QB7 in total fantasy scoring over the final five weeks of the regular season.
Yes, his final rankings in adjusted completion percentage (QB42) and deep-ball passer rating (QB29) have doubters shying away, but don’t buy into their negativity. Pressured on 37.8% of his dropbacks, the sixth highest in the league, and throwing passes to an underwhelming receiving corps, he’s bound to show stark improvement in multiple categories. Philly’s now-healthy offensive line is a top-half unit, and the addition of DeVonta Smith is a major boost outside. Hurts’ phenomenal leadership qualities, Howitzer arm (10.1-yard aDOT as the starter) and duality provide a higher-than-you-think floor. After the top-seven, ending with Russell Wilson, fall off draft boards, he’s the next best thing (QB8, 89.96 ADP). Thirty combined TDs are achievable. Make it Hurts so good, Jalen. — Brad Evans
2021 Fantasy Football Busts - Eagles
Miles Sanders, RB
RBBC. There are few phrases in fantasy football that shake gamers to the core like that one. Despite the coaching change, Sanders, unfortunately, is likely to be immersed in an unpredictable and frustrating rotation. Head coach Nick Sirianni and RBs coach Jamel Singleton have both hinted at specialized roles. The rusher, who has fallen short of 900 ground yards in his first two seasons, is unlikely to recapture the 18.3 touches per game he averaged with Hurts at the controls. Boston Scott, Kenneth Gainwell and mummified Jordan Howard could push him for touches. Most troubling, his RB49 standing in red-zone touch percentage last year may not improve. Even if it does, Hurts is bound to siphon valuable goal-line work.
There are some silver linings attached to the RB. Last season he finished RB9 in YAC per attempt (3.38) and RB10 in yards created per touch (RB10). His buttery hands (8 drops) coupled with the concerns outlined above suggest he’s overvalued at his RB18 ADP (32.15 overall). David Montgomery, Chris Carson and J.K. Dobbins are better options available at a similar price point. — Brad Evans
Miles Sanders, RB
Sanders is being drafted as a top-20 running back, and at that draft cost, I'll gravitate to other rushers or receivers. All the buzz out of Eagles' camp has new head coach Nick Sirianni reprising the committee backfields that dominated his time with the Colts. Last year he oversaw a backfield that divided 39.7% of the red zone rushing attempts to backs not named Jonathan Taylor. Sanders already had worries in this area with Jalen Hurts under center, but after finishing 37th in red-zone touches last year with other players possibly involved, his fantasy upside is capped, and the floor has been lowered. Give me any of the three rushers mentioned by Brad at that juncture of the draft or a wideout over Sanders. — Derek Brown
Fantasy football breakouts for the Eagles
DeVonta Smith, WR
Smith proved during his final year at Alabama that he could carry a passing attack, so there should be no questions regarding his ability to do so at the NFL level. He averaged a ludicrous stat line of nine receptions, 162.5 receiving yards and 2.3 receiving touchdowns per game, with only he and Najee Harris to put the fear in opposing collegiate defenses during his final eight games. Smith more than proved his status as a true alpha-level wide receiver.
The worries about his weight have been discussed at length regarding his transition, but let's take this time to dispel one common fallacy about the NFL: Teams are not playing press coverage at high rates. Most teams don't even operate in man coverage on over half of their plays. Looking at the 14 teams, Smith will square off against each of them, deploying their starting corners in zone coverage on 43.6% or higher. Smith will hit the ground running from Week 1 as the immediate tip of the passing spear for Sirianni. — Derek Brown
DeVonta Smith, WR
The Slim Reaper is a silent assassin. His Gumby-like bendability, elite speed and ball-tracking skills outweigh worries about his beanpole frame. Whether versus press or zone coverage, he dominated opponents in the Triple-A affiliate of the NFL, the SEC. He also ranked No. 2 in yards after catch per game and No. 1 in yards per route run among all Division I wide receivers. It’s no surprise he hoisted the Heisman at year’s end.
His rubber-peeling wheels combined with Hurts big arm are a match made in fantasy heaven. So is the opportunity path. Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert will push for looks, but 110-120 targets are entirely possible in his inaugural campaign. When the dust settles, final numbers in range of 65-900-7 are reachable. In other words, he’s a WR3 available at a WR4 ADP (WR40, 91.81). — Brad Evans
Best Bets for the Eagles 2021
(Use the FTN Prop Shop to uncover the best lines across legal sportsbooks)
DeVonta Smith to win Offensive Rookie of the Year (+1600, William Hill)
Since 2009, only Odell Beckham and Percy Harvin have taken home this award at the wide receiver position. I'm willing to toss some hard-earned greenbacks at these long odds betting that Smith is a unicorn at the wide receiver position. — Derek Brown
DeVonta Smith OVER 749.5 receiving yards (-115, BetMGM)
As detailed above, a likely 20-22% target share matched with the rookie’s elite tools should guide him to favorable opening act numbers. — Brad Evans