The 2016 season was one to forget for the Philadelphia Eagles offense. Dealing with multiple injuries, and players sitting out games due to mental breakdowns, Carson Wentz needed help. The front office stepped up big time this offseason adding Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount, plus some weapons via the draft.
They hit the practice field for the first time as members of the @Eagles
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 25, 2017
Wentz was forced to throw the ball 607 times, more than Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Matthew Stafford and just three less than Aaron Rodgers. Forcing a rookie to throw the ball that much, and not giving him weapons is a recipe for disaster.
The wide receiver position especially was a gaping hole in the Eagles offense. Nelson Agholor continued to struggle, Dorial Green-Beckham never seemed to grasp the playbook, and Jordan Matthews dealt with drops, again. Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner also saw time but offered little relief for Wentz. Enter Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
With these two veteran targets on the outside, Jordan Matthews can now operate in the slot where he is more comfortable. Alshon Jeffery should be the first Eagles receiver off the board in your fantasy draft. His production will drop off with less targets than he saw in Chicago, but he should see more touchdowns with improved quarterback play. Jeffery’s ADP in standard ten team leagues is 32, the proper position for him. He provides the upside that you want in a early round pick, but isn’t someone you can trust with one of your first two picks.
Matthews is the only other Eagles receiver that should be drafted, due to the lack of targets to go around. Matthews is a WR4 heading into next season. He’s the 49th receiver coming off the board during offseason mock drafts. That is good value for Matthews who will work well in the slot, but won’t see as many targets as he has in past years.
Torrey Smith will provide Wentz with a deep threat, but won’t see enough targets to provide value. Smith is someone to keep an eye on, if Jeffery gets hurt he could be in for more targets.
Another problem for the Eagles offense was the running back position. Ryan Mathews was effective when healthy, but he dealt with injury issues again. Darren Sproles was asked to carry the ball too much for his age and size, with no one else to turn to. Rookie Wendell Smallwood showed flashes of potential but dealt with injury issues as well.
Wentz now has a 250 pound battering ram to handoff to in LeGarrette Blount. Blount led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns last year in New England. While he will not reach that total, the Eagles offense should provide him with a lot of work around the goal-line. Blount will handle most of the first and second down work while Sproles will be the third down back.
Blount will be a RB2/FLEX in standard leagues, but his ADP is RB31, which is really low. With a massive amount of backfields by committee, Blount is one of the few backs who is guaranteed carries and goal-line work. If you draft a running back early, Blount is someone to target as the wide receiver run starts as he can be a strong RB2 for your roster.
Bust: Zach Ertz
Every year it feels like this will be when Zach Ertz finally has that breakout season. It hasn’t happened yet and while he has been effective at times, he doesn’t dominate. With a stable running game and multiple weapons, Ertz will struggle for targets and scoring chances. The potential is there, but Ertz doesn’t command the ball enough to be your starting tight end.
Sleeper: Carson Wentz
The only member of this offense who’s value has increased this offseason is Carson Wentz. After an up and down rookie season, Wentz now has all the tools to take a step forward this year. In addition, the skill position upgrades we’ve discussed, the offensive line is stronger as well. With injuries and suspensions biting almost every member of the line, the Eagles improved their depth by re-signing Stefen Wisniewski, signing Chance Warmack and keeping Jason Kelce and Allen Barbre.
Wentz still has a lot of room to grow but will be worth rostering late in drafts as your backup quarterback. He offers high upside with an improved offense but had issues last season that could repeat themselves. With less pressure on him and skill position players who can get open, his turnovers should decrease.