Regular season football is almost here. Hallelujah hallelujah. This means the beginning of fantasy football as well. Drafts should be in full force over the next nine days as the third week of the preseason is over and all the studs should be idle waiting for the real games to start. No more worrying about devastating preseason injuries (lol @ Tony Romo) that could derail your fantasy season before it even started for those who drafted too early.
If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite things is getting at least one Eagle on your squad. It’s a double win on Sundays when a Bird scores in a game and he is also on your fantasy team. This is also why I usually try as hard as I can to refrain from drafting any Cowboys, Giants or Redskins because that forces me to somewhat cheer for them to perform well statistically. Yack.
Back in the early Chip Kelly days this was great. Guys like Foles, Jackson, Maclin and Shady were lighting up the stat sheets. Now a days, not so much. Our offense is about as vanilla as they come and Doug Pederson’s scheme looks like it’ll be a lot of dink and dunk with an emphasis on ball control. A very sound football strategy that sucks for fantasy purposes.
Let’s take a look at who you should take a chance on and who to stay away from on the Eagles roster come draft day.
Don’t touch them. Like stated earlier, this offense lends itself to running the ball and quick short passes. The west coast scheme can have a big play aspect to it, but not with this personnel. In standard fantasy leagues you only carry two quarterbacks, if not just one. Bradford is not worth a roster spot. The only way he should ever make it onto your team is if your guy is on a bye and he has a juicy match-up. Otherwise, stay away.
If you’re in a dynasty league you could take a flier on Wentz in the late rounds and stash him but even that is a bit of a stretch.
The RB position is really weak this year. For the first time in my fantasy career I would take a WR if I had the first overall pick. Ryan Mathews is a low end RB2 and a high end RB3. It’s really all about health with him which is a huge if. If he can stay upright, Mathews will tote the rock upwards of 15 times per game and catch passes out of the backfield. Volume is what you’re looking for in a fantasy RB and Mathews will have the first shot at getting a substantial amount of it on this roster. Last year he posted four double digit fantasy games in standard scoring. That was with him being hurt for a couple contests as well as being a secondary option most of the year to DeMarco Murray. Mathews could surprise fantasy owners with a solid year if he can avoid the injury bug. Look to draft him in the late 6th or early 7th round.
Darren Sproles could be worth one of your final 3 picks if you just want to have an Eagle on your team. His production is not consistent enough to merit starting him on a given week or even keeping him on your roster. If for some reason you’re desperate enough to start him at any point due to a heavy bye week or injuries you better hope he breaks off a huge play or returns a punt for a TD.
Barner/Smallwood aren’t worth drafting. Look to snag one of them off the waiver wire when Mathews goes down with a nagging injury.
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God this group is bad, but somebody’s gotta catch the ball, right? Look for that to be Jordan Matthews. Even during a down year, Matthews was a top 20 fantasy receiver in 2015. He posted seven games of double digit points and had better overall years than guys like Amari Cooper, TY Hilton and Mike Evans. He is going to work the middle of the field and hopefully won’t drop as many balls as he did in his sophomore season. He is a high end WR3 which could justify starting him in the flex spot on a weekly basis. Look to get him in the early 8th round.
Dorial Green-Beckham is a guy that I would definitely take as it gets near the end of the draft. It might be a stretch but he has so much talent, size and athleticism that it makes him worth a bench stash for me. He will have high usage in the red zone which could result in him hauling in double digit touchdowns in 2016. He didn’t have a spectacular rookie year but people seem to forget that he didn’t play football at all in 2014. DGB is one of my sleepers this season.
Nelson Agholor sucks, don’t touch him. Josh Huff also sucks and is a gadget player. I’m pissed off that these two are even gonna be on the team. High draft picks (real draft not fantasy) my ass, they can’t play.
Ertz is such a tease. I feel like he has been poised to break out for three years now. Every now and then he’ll give us a glimpse of what he can do then the following week you won’t even know he’s on the field. I’m gonna give him one more chance. Ertz should be a top 10 TE this year but he needs to find the end zone more for that to come to fruition. He did catch 75 balls last year for 853 yards, but only 2 scores. Fantasy points are made in the end zone, Zach. A lot of people are hoping he turns into a Travis Kelce-esque player due to Pederson being Kelce’s offensive coordinator in KC. Kelce had 72 catches for 875 yards and 5 TDs last year, but he also played in one more game than Ertz. So the production is almost equal, but the difference we all see as fantasy owners is those three TDs (18 more fantasy points). If Ertz can become more of a red zone threat then his ceiling is a top 5 fantasy TE. Look to snag him in the 12th round.
The Eagles unit was 11th last year in standard scoring, which is pretty good considering the defense was on the field 70% of the game. This year Matthew Berry has them ranked as the 19th best group, which doesn’t make much sense to me. They won’t be on the field as much, they have more talent than they did last year and they’re playing in a scheme that is designed to pressure the opposing QB and force turnovers. Special teams touchdowns had a lot to do with the Eagles’ fantasy success last year and that isn’t necessarily something you can consistently count on. With that being said, Dave Fipp, one of the best Special Teams Coordinators in the league, is still here and the bulk of the personnel on his unit has stayed the same. When drafting a fantasy defense you are really looking for the team that is most likely to take the ball away and score it themselves whether its a punt return, kick return, pick 6 or fumble recovery TD. I still think the Eagles get some good special teams play and I definitely think they force a substantial amount of turnovers which makes their fantasy D/ST one worth taking a shot on. Look to grab them as one of your last two picks.
Kickers are the dumbest fantasy position known to mankind. It is all luck. Is there anything worse than losing a game because your opponent’s kicker went off for 25 points? Sturgis or Parkey, it doesn’t matter. If you’re down to the last pick in your draft and you still don’t have an Eagle on your team then take one of em.
Written by Eric Quinn
Image Source: Al Bello/Getty Images