Fresh off the end of the Chip Kelly era the Philadelphia Eagles are trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild their roster. In Kelly’s tenure as the head coach, head of football operation, and having final say over the team’s 53-man roster he moved on from many talented players such as DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Jeremy Maclin. Kelly was a one man wrecking crew and was obviously cleaning house and wanting to bring in HIS players. This strategy totally blew up in Kelly’s face and the organization moved on from him in the 2015 season after a 6-9 record. Enter Doug Pederson the former Eagles quarterback (1999) and quarterbacks coach (2011-2012) to right the ship. Can his new offensive philosophy buoy the fantasy stock of the Eagles offensive weapons?
RB Ryan Mathews
In what was an eventful off-season last year for the Philadelphia Eagles, the team signed both RB Demarco Murray and RB Ryan Mathews to join a three headed backfield along with Darren Sproles. The Mathews signing was a bit of a surprise and puzzling as he was coming from a situation in San Diego where he was the early down back. As fate will have it Murray lasted one season in Philly leaving Mathews as the RB1, which gives him the opportunity to try again live up to his potential. The former 12th overall pick out of Frenso State has been brittle to date playing in only one full season in his six year career. Currently Mathews is being drafted as the 24th running back which equates to a 5th round pick in 12 team leagues, therefore you need to ask yourself can Mathews produce RB2 numbers in new head coach Doug Pederson’s offense. Pederson is an Andy Reid disciple who’s offensive scheme is very running back friendly. As the offensive coordinator last year with the Chiefs, the team who mind you lost Jamaal Charles early in the season to a knee injury ranked 6th in the league in rushing (127.8 ypg) with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. At the end of the day health will be the biggest determining factor to Mathews success this season as every thing is set up for him to have a renaissance season and be an absolute steal in your fantasy draft as a mid-round running back to target.
WR Jordan Matthews
As a guy that was super high on Jordan Matthews last year he was an utter disappointment for the Eagles and my fantasy team. He was coming off a very solid rookie season in Chip Kelly’s offense, the departure of Jeremy Maclin would free him up for more targets, and his run after the catch prowess would be a perfect fit in Kelly’s wide open offense. Well, I guess you need to be able to catch the ball before you can run with it. Mathews was charged with 9 dropped passes on his 94 catchable targets last season and never looked comfortable last year until the last 3 games of the regular season. This didn’t helpfor fantasy purposes as most didn’t trust Matthews to start him in a big playoff matchup. With new head coach Pederson who runs far less three wide receiver sets than Kelly, and Matthews a predominately inside WR who hasn’t yet shown consistent capabilities to play on the outside, I am not bullish on his fantasy outlook for 2016. Maybe he can be a steal later in your drafts but him as a WR3 might be a stretch.
TE Zach Ertz
After yet another disappointing first 3 months of the regular season for fantasy owners, Zach Ertz ended the 2015 season with a bang catching 35 passes for 450 yards in the last 4 weeks of the regular season. Ertz cashed in on that final month of production this offseason signing a 5-year $42.5 million contract extension, which makes him the fourth highest paid tight end in the entire league. The new contract for Ertz, plus his steady increase in receptions and yards (36/469, 58/702, 75/853) in his first 3 seasons in the league suggests a breakout 2016 season for the Eagles starting tight end. Not so fast my friends, I am not buying Ertz’s explosion at the the end of the 2015 season as the rule but I see that performance as the exception. The Eagles new coaching regime will need to be able to trust Ertz as a blocker in order for him to stay on the field ahead of fellow TE Brent Celek. Secondly, the murky quarterback situation. Third, the installation of Pederson’s new offensive scheme to be able to trust Ertz as a TE1. And lastly, if it wasn’t for the huge explosion towards the end of last season and the 2014 season we wouldn’t we even be having a Zach Ertz, Top 10 fantasy TE conversation. Ertz’s physical gifts are enticing but until I see some consistency week in and week out from the Eagles tight end I wouldn’t recommend drafting him as your TE1.
Others of note:
- QB Sam Bradford/Carson Wentz
- WR Nelson Agholor