Fantasy Focus: Eagles Week 2 Projections
I’m pretty sure Darren Sproles reads this column.
After leaving him out of last week’s fantasy projections, the Eagles’ third running back combined for more than 125 yards through the air and on the ground in Monday night’s loss. Coincidence? I doubt it.
But will Sproles put up good fantasy numbers this week too? Let’s shift gears and forecast how valuable several Eagles will be in your lineup on Sunday. As usual, 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 each Eagle and whether they’re overrated, underrated or spot on.
ESPN’s analysis: “In his first regular-season game action in nearly two years, Bradford predictably looked rusty early in Monday night’s game, but he shook off the dust and cobwebs, completed 36 of a whopping 52 passes, and finished with 336 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. … With that type of volume, there is no doubt that Bradford will have as much upside as any fantasy quarterback most weeks, including Week 2 against the Cowboys.”
My take: Underrated. One of the biggest questions Monday night raised is whether Bradford was simply rusty in the first half or if that’s something we should expect going forward. Because it had been so long since he last played in a regular season camp, I think he’ll be fine going forward. Timing issues—where were aplenty against Atlanta—are much easier to fix than arm strength or accuracy problems. I see him bouncing back against an unimpressive passing defense and throwing for at least two touchdowns, 300 yards and no interceptions.
ESPN’s analysis: “In Murray’s debut with Philadelphia, we saw the difference between the massive workhorse role he had with the Cowboys and the multiple-back approach used by the Eagles. … Murray is going to have some big games, and his first could come in Week 2 against the Cowboys. It’s hard to imagine coach Chip Kelly won’t feed Murray the rock heavily against his former team, so long as he is performing well.”
My take: Spot on. Although Murray only had 12 touches last week, he converted two of those into touchdowns. 72 rushing yards is a fair projection, but the more important number here is one touchdown. I anticipate him getting several red zone touches and to reach the end zone on one of them.
ESPN’s analysis: “Matthews was everything fantasy owners hoped he would be in Week 1, pulling in 10 of a team-high 13 targets for 102 yards. … There isn’t much more that can be said about Matthews; a high-end talent who is going to catch a ton of balls in the Eagles’ high-paced offense. Expect him to have another big outing in Week 2 versus the Cowboys.”
My take: Underrated. I’m torn here because I’d be surprised if Matthews doesn’t surpass five receptions for 60 yards, but I’m not that confident he’ll score a touchdown. Matthews was Bradford’s favorite target Monday night and I expect that to be a season-long occurrence. He would’ve had an even bigger performance had Bradford not gotten off to a slow start, and he’ll prove to be a tough matchup for Dallas as he was for Atlanta.
ESPN’s analysis: “For those of us who were expecting the rookie to be a major part of a Monday night shootout, we were sorely disappointed to see him targeted just twice, even though QB Sam Bradford heaved 52 pass attempts on the night. Agholor ended up with a single catch for five yards in his NFL debut. Considering that inauspicious start, he will be a risky play in Week 2 against the Cowboys.”
My take: Overrated. Bradford targeted eight Eagles more than Agholor Monday night, including Miles Austin, Riley Cooper and Josh Huff. That’s why I think 46 receiving yards is a little generous for the rookie receiver. Despite his big-play ability, I doubt he’ll be targeted enough to warrant playing him this week. He’s worth keeping on the roster because he has the potential to be a good flex option down the road, but sit him for now.
ESPN’s analysis: “Aside from a goal-line score, Mathews was largely a non-factor in the season-opener, rushing for four yards on three carries and tacking on 24 yards on three receptions. DeMarco Murray is going to handle early-down work, and Darren Sproles will handle the Eagles’ plentiful passing downs, so Mathews will be left with the scraps, making him a dart-throw flex play most weeks.”
My take: Underrated. Of the Eagles’ three running backs, Mathews carried the ball the fewest times against the Falcons. I expect that number to triple and for him to score a touchdown. The Cowboys’ defensive scheme isn’t as aggressive against the run as Atlanta’s, and I don’t think Chip will abandon the run game as quickly as he did Monday night even if the inside zone isn’t working well early on. Mathews is a solid flex play this week.
ESPN’s analysis: “Not only did Ertz play through his nagging groin injury on Monday evening, but he pulled in 3 of 8 targets for 46 yards. … He played 52 snaps compared to Brent Celek’s 27, so it appears he may have finally turned the corner in the eyes of the Eagles coaching staff. He will be an intriguing play in Week 2 against a Cowboys’ defense that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2014.”
My take: Underrated. Chip really liked the matchup problem Ertz presented the Falcons, and Ertz will likely do the same against Dallas. I expect the tight end to be the second-most targeted Eagle behind Matthews. Although I think his receptions will double, I’m not that confident he’ll get many more receiving yards than 41. The upside with Ertz, however, is that he’s a good threat in the red zone.
ESPN’s analysis: “If you are in a PPR league and haven’t snagged Sproles already, then you should go do so immediately. He racked up 50 yards on five rushes and pulled in 7 of 9 passing targets for 76 yards in Week 1 versus the Falcons. We won’t be able to count on that level of yardage weekly, and scores may be sparse, so his value in standard leagues will be limited. However, it’s clear that he is going to see plenty of targets as the primary passing-down back in an Eagles offense that will throw the ball a ton of times.”
My take: Spot on. Despite his impressive performance in week one, I still don’t think he’s worth starting on Sunday. Like ESPN, I doubt he’ll score many touchdowns and he’ll have to accumulate a lot of yards to make up for that. Although it seems apparent that Chip wants to use him more out of the backfield than last year, I have to see Sproles consistently put up a lot of yards to justify playing him in standard leagues.
ESPN’s analysis: “They managed just four fantasy points in Week 1 versus the high-octane Falcons offense, and now they face the Cowboys, who can rack up points with the best of them. Of course, the Cowboys’ top rusher from last year (DeMarco Murray) is on the Eagles now, and they will take the field this week sans injured WR Dez Bryant, so Dallas doesn’t sport the same upside as they may have a year ago. There could be some sneaky upside to be gleaned here from the Eagles’ defense in Week 2.”
My take: Spot on. I thought the Eagles’ defensive line could help make up for the secondary’s weaknesses last week. I was wrong. Even though Dallas will play without Bryant, don’t start this defense. It’s possible the cornerbacks will fare much better on Sunday because they aren’t playing against Julio Jones and Roddy White, but Tony Romo will still put up a lot of passing yards.
ESPN’s analysis: The Worldwide Leader (except in Eagles coverage, of course) projects Parkey to score eight points in their standard scoring leagues.
My take: Spot on. Parkey should be able to hit 44-yard field goals from the middle of the field without a problem, and I think he can. It seems like the popular thing to do is to start panicking about the kicker, but one missed field goal isn’t going to do it for me. I expect him to make a field goal and a few extra points this week, so don’t be concerned about him just yet.