Wentz looked every bit the top three pick at the start of his
rookie season in 2016, posting double-digit touchdown games in
three of his first four career starts, including 301 yards and
two passing TD’s Week 3 against Pittsburgh. As the season
progressed and the Eagles faced tough defenses, Wentz struggled
with interceptions and a poor completion percentage, highlighted
by a two-interception, zero-TD loss Week 6 on the road against
It did not help the rookie passer to lose starting right tackle
Lane Johnson to suspension for most of the season, and the Philadelphia
receiving corps was arguably the worst in the league. Both issues
were addressed in the off-season with Johnson ready to start the
season Week 1, and the Eagles front office adding Torrey Smith
and Alshon Jeffery via free agency.
As a sophomore, Wentz commands an offense with one of the better
offensive lines in the league, a revamped wide receiving group,
and a productive running back stable of LeGarrette Blount, Darren
Sproles, and Ryan Mathews. The depth of the quarterback position
will make him a fringe draft pick in most 10 and 12 team leagues,
but home games against weak defenses like the 49ers in Week 8
and the Bears Week 11 are excellent streaming options.
Blount led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (18) and set a career
high in rushing yards (1,161) in 2016 as a member of the Super
Bowl champion New England Patriots. As is often the case with
the Patriots, who are masters of maximizing production while not
paying for past performance, Blount was rewarded with a lowball
offer and a free agent signing for below market value with the
Although Blount is big and relatively agile for his size, he
is not elusive and only excels as a powerful between the tackles
running back (as evident to his subpar 3.9 YPC average last season.)
In Philadelphia, Blount joins a crowded group of running backs
in which four running backs combined to carry the ball 353 times
for first-year head coach Doug Pederson. The former Chiefs offensive
coordinator proved that he prefers to use a backfield by committee,
which could limit Blount’s effectiveness for fantasy owners
in 2017, as Blount received 299 carries in New England last year.
Despite these concerns, Blount will have significant value in
standard leagues if he is given the majority of goal line carries
in what appears to be a much-improved Eagles offense. If the team
does not release Ryan Mathews and the two players share duties,
Blount will be a nightmare for fantasy owners, as Pederson is
unpredictable in how he uses his running backs.
As part of the running back-by-committee last season, Sproles
posted the most rushing yards (438), attempts (94), and receiving
yards (427) in his three seasons with the Eagles. His relatively
low touchdown total of only four combined scores limited his effectiveness
in standard leagues, but his usage in the passing game made up
for his shortcomings (pardon the pun) in PPR formats.
At age 34, the diminutive running back continues to prove his
detractors wrong by delivering productive seasons well into his
30’s. The addition of Donnell Pumphrey is a significant
threat to Sproles, as Pumphrey is a talented pass catching back
that could take the third-down duties away from the ageless one.
For this reason, Sproles should only be considered in deep PPR
formats and not standard leagues. The addition of Blount to an
already crowded backfield will certainly limit Sproles’
usage in the red zone, and Pumphrey could take the receiving back
lead in training camp.
After five up and down years in Chicago, Alshon Jeffery signed
a one-year “prove it” contract with the Eagles, instantly becoming
the No. 1 wide receiver on a team devoid of any viable receiving
threats in 2016. Joining Jeffery in Philadelphia is fellow free
agent wide receiver Torrey Smith, who will likely be the deep
option for Carson Wentz alongside Jeffery and slot receiver Jordan
Although Jeffery as never been a big touchdown scorer, with only
one double-digit TD season to his credit, when given over 130
targets he has proven to be capable of at least 1100 yards and
seven touchdowns. The biggest question surrounding Jeffery is
his ability to play a full-16 game season, as injuries and suspensions
have limited him to a full slate of games only twice in his career.
From a consistency standpoint, Jeffery lags behind other No.
1 wide receivers, with only one career top-ten finish according
to FFtoday’s fantasy consistency
calculator tool. But with a new offense and playing in a contract
year, Jeffery could deliver one of his best seasons and finish
2017 as one of the steals of the draft.
Smith spent two seasons wasting away in the dumpster fire that
is the San Francisco 49ers organization, fading away from fantasy
relevancy with 53 catches and seven touchdowns over 27 games.
After signing a three-year, $15 million contract with the Eagles
over the off-season, Smith has once again emerged as a viable
flex play in deeper leagues as the likely deep threat for quarterback
Owners looking for Smith to return to his 100-plus target days
back in 2013 in Baltimore will surely be disappointed, as there
are too many mouths to feed in the passing game with Alshon Jeffery,
Jordan Matthews, and Zach Ertz also vying for passes. But it is
feasible for Smith to garner close to 50 targets, especially nine-routes
and posts to stretch the defense, making him a home run play based
Matthews appears to be the forgotten receiver in Philly this
season after posting a surprisingly good, but injury shortened
season in 2016. Despite playing in just 14 games, Matthews finished
with 73 catches for 804 yards and three touchdowns on 117 targets.
His 16-game pace would have left him with an 82/904/4 line, making
him a viable flex or matchup play in deeper 12 and 14 team leagues.
With the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith helping
to take away coverage from Matthews in the slot, the former second-round
pick from Vanderbilt could have a bounce back year and post close
to the eight touchdowns he averaged in his first two seasons in
Ertz finished as the No. 10 fantasy tight end last season after
posting a respectable 78/816/4 line, despite playing in just 14
games in 2016. Depending on which narrative you believe, the addition
of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith could be a positive or a negative
for Ertz. On one end, having viable receiving threats on the outside
could open up the middle for Ertz and Matthews to exploit. While
on the other side of the argument, the crowded reviving corps
will take away targets and catches from Ertz, a player that has
never caught more than four TDs in a season, relying heavily on
volume and yardage to score fantasy points.
It remains to be seen which narrative will play out for the former
Stanford Cardinal. One thing is for certain, if you do draft Ertz,
be sure to play him in the final two weeks of the season, as he
has been one of the most heavily targeted players in weeks 16
and 17 since joining the league in 2014.