Fantasy Focus: Eagles Week 1 Projections
You’ve cleared the first fantasy football hurdle: drafting your team. Now, you have to determine who you’re going to start and sit Week 1. I don’t know who’s on your team, but I do know who’s on the Eagles and how they match up against the Falcons.
All projections are from ESPN, and all decimals are rounded (Jordan Matthews, for example, is projected to catch 0.5 touchdown passes). I’ll tell you what ESPN says about several Eagles and whether they’re overrated, underrated or spot on in their analysis.
ESPN’s analysis: “From ‘can he walk without a limp?’ to ‘can he walk on water?’ in a matter of a few preseason series, Bradford epitomizes the crazy echo chamber that surrounds fantasy football. In a game with the week’s highest point total and facing the soft secondary of the Falcons, who allowed 4,568 passing yards last season, Bradford is poised for a big Philadelphia debut.”
My take: Underrated. I agree about Bradford’s big Philadelphia debut, but I guess I have a different definition of “big.” Atlanta doesn’t have a great secondary, and Bradford will have plenty of time to throw the ball. Two touchdowns and 249 yards are fair—though a bit conservative—but I don’t see him turning the ball over. Unless you have an elite quarterback on your roster, start Bradford—and feel good about it.
ESPN’s analysis: “You should not be scared away from using Murray, even if he ends up receiving at least 100 fewer touches than last season. A strong share of the league’s snap-happiest offense offers hope for a repeat elite effort. The Falcons allowed 22 total scores to backs last year, setting up Murray for a big Monday Night outing in Atlanta.”
My take: Spot on. This is a fair projection for Murray. Is he capable of more? Yes, much more. But Mathews will get his carries and the Eagles have several weapons in the red zone. The number I disagree with most is his rushing yards—I think he’ll be closer to 100—but he won’t catch a ton of balls out of the backfield and give you many points through the air.
ESPN’s analysis: “Eighth among fantasy wideouts in points per game over the second half of last year, Matthews might just prove to be the rare breakout candidate that, you know, actually breaks out with big production. With the Falcons proving porous to the position last season — having allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game — a volume of valuable targets offers a stable WR2 floor for Matthews’ investors.”
My take: Spot on. See my notes on Murray, and apply them here. Matthews could get closer to 100 yards or haul in two touchdown catches, but I wouldn’t bet on it given Bradford’s other weapons. Matthews will consistently get open, but the tight ends and running backs out of the backfield likely will too.
ESPN’s analysis: “Flashes of brilliant playmaking burst were countered by rookie mistakes in the preseason for this USC product. Even with a relatively small expected target share, the hope for Agholor’s fantasy upside this week lies in vertical efficiency and simply seeing the field enough to sustain relevant numbers. The Falcons, for their part, allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing receivers in 2014.”
My take: Overrated. I’d be surprised if Agholor caught more than one or two balls and got close to 50 yards, let alone exceed it. He has a big-play potential, and could get you 40 yards and a touchdown in one catch, but I doubt he’ll play enough snaps to warrant betting on that. Sit him, but hope he plays a lot of snaps because that will bode well for his fantasy future this season.
ESPN’s analysis: “Having corrected teachers and friends throughout his life, Mathews has finally attained enough fame for the public to accept the single “T” thing. While flex appeal eludes Mathews until we see just what sort of share he’ll get of the backfield work, he’s undeniably among the handful of valuable handcuff properties on the market. For those in deeper formats, it’s worth noting the Falcons allowed 22 total TDs and the third-most fantasy points to backs last season.”
My take: Underrated. Mathews rushing for 41 yards is a fair expectation, but he’ll score a touchdown. Chip Kelly won’t hesitate to put him in at the goal line after Murray carries the load to get them down the field. I expect the Eagles to make several trips into the red zone, meaning Mathews will likely have multiple attempts to get that touchdown.
ESPN’s analysis: “ESPN’s Britt McHenry reports that Ertz isn’t certain he’ll play in Week 1 as he recovers from a sports hernia injury. Even if he’s active, we’re not expecting a big role from Ertz, with as many as 13 tight ends projected above him for Week 1. The Falcons, for all of their defensive issues in 2014, allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends last year.”
My take: TBD. This all depends on Ertz’ health, and the tight end said after practice today the decision for him to play will likely come on Monday. If he does start, he’s underrated at only three catches for 33 yards and zero touchdowns. I expect Bradford to throw a touchdown to a tight end, and if Ertz is healthy, it will likely be him.
ESPN’s analysis: “Dramatically varied fantasy production defined this D/ST’s 2014, as the Eagles secured five top-two fantasy finishes, the most in the league. As a counter, the Eagles finished 25th-or-worse among fantasy defenses four times. This team claims strong sack production (tied for second in the league last year) and potent special teams, but with the week’s highest point total and a road trip to an indoor fast-track, you should be able to secure a more stable starting option this early in the season.”
My take: Underrated. They’re projected at 4.6 points in standard scoring leagues, making this slot the toughest to project for me. I expect Matt Ryan to find Julio Jones and Roddy White a lot Monday night, but I’m not confident he’ll have a lot of time to deliver good—and deep—throws. I see the Eagles’ defensive line giving the Falcons fits, so this isn’t a bad option.
ESPN’s analysis: Projected at 7.7 points in standard scoring leagues.
My take: Spot on. The Eagles will move the ball into Falcons’ territory a lot, but I expect them to finish those drives with touchdowns, not field goals. If anything, he’s a bit underrated, but less than a point separates Parkey’s projection from ESPN’s No. 3 kicker. Start him, and expect some easy points.