Fantasy Focus: Eagles Week 3 Projections
I know what you’re thinking.
He’s seriously doing a fantasy column this week?! After that awful performance Sunday? These guys don’t even deserve to play for the Eagles, let alone my fantasy team!
While the Eagles’ offense didn’t exactly impress against the Cowboys, there are, surprisingly, a couple of guys worth starting against the Jets (plus a couple of guys worth adding). As always, all projections are from ESPN and all decimals are rounded (DeMarco Murray, for example, is projected to run for 0.5 touchdowns). I’ll tell you what ESPN says about each Eagle and whether they’re overrated, underrated or spot on.
We’re also trying out a new section this week, in which Malcolm Jenkins gives his sleeper pick on a different team. Jenkins, the self-proclaimed fantasy expert on the Eagles, has started out 2-0 in the Eagles’ defensive backs’ league.
ESPN’s analysis: “It’s difficult to assess his performance, because the Eagles’ offensive line was blown up by the Cowboys’ defensive line on just about every play, so Bradford never really even had a chance. Things aren’t going to get any easier in Week 3, as the Eagles head to New York to battle a Jets’ defense that limited Andrew Luck Monday to nearly the same numbers Bradford had last week (250 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs).”
My take: Spot on. Although you clearly shouldn’t start Bradford, he’d be a good guy to trade for (if he’s not already available as a free agent). You probably wouldn’t have to give up more than a bench guy, and it’s hard to imagine his stock will be lower than it will be after Sunday. With Washington coming up next week, that could be a big bounce back game for him. Take advantage of how poorly the Eagles have started, because even if they don’t turn the season around in time for a chance at the playoffs, they could turn it around in time to help you in fantasy.
ESPN’s analysis: “In Week 2, he failed to score and managed just two yards on 13 carries to go with 53 yards on five catches against his old Cowboys’ team. Things can’t get much worse than that, but it likely won’t get much better this week against the Jets, who held the Colts rushers to 69 yards on the ground and 31 yards through the air on Monday night. He is a decent buy-low candidate but no more than an RB2 in Week 3.”
My take: Overrated. I’d be surprised if Murray reaches 75 combined yards Sunday. Todd Bowles is creative in how he gets penetration and with the chemistry issues the Eagles’ offensive line has had, I don’t see it being good enough against New York’s front seven. Murray could snag a touchdown, but I wouldn’t play him as anything besides your flex. It’s also unclear how healthy he’ll be.
ESPN’s analysis: “But for a relatively meaningless late-game score, Matthews’ Week 2 performance was a mess. He caught just 6 of 9 targets for 80 yards. Of course, the entire Eagles’ offense was a complete mess throughout their tilt with the Cowboys, but things aren’t going to get any easier in Week 3. The Eagles have a road tilt scheduled against the Jets, and Matthews likely will spend the game dealing with shutdown corner Darrelle Revis.”
My take: Underrated. When—if?—the Eagles reach the red zone, expect Bradford to look for Matthews. Chip Kelly has shown he won’t run the ball even if they’re close to the goal line if they’re struggling on the ground. Matthews led the team in targets in each of the first two games, and even if Bradford doesn’t complete many passes Sunday, the ones he does complete have to go somewhere.
ESPN’s analysis: “Technically, the rookie had a better outing in Week 2 than he did in his NFL debut, but the difference between one catch on two targets for five yards and three catches on six targets for 31 yards is negligible in fantasy terms. The 22-year-old will have brighter days ahead this season and remains a quality stash in all formats, but the odds of him displaying a breakout performance on the road versus the stout Jets’ defense on Sunday are slim, at best.”
My take: Spot on. I don’t think the rookie receiver will reach 40 yards, but I expect him to have several targets and a few catches. He’s still not worth starting in fantasy yet, but the percentage of leagues he’s owned in continues to drop. On ESPN, he’s owned in 71.8 percent of leagues. That number will likely drop even further after what should be a less-than-stellar performance Sunday. Take advantage of that and scoop him up if he’s available.
ESPN’s analysis: “The Cowboys’ defensive line blew up the Eagles’ offensive line on just about every play, so neither running back had a chance — although Mathews’ one touch for the game means it could literally be said he did, in fact, have ‘a’ chance. Until the Eagles prove capable of blocking and Chip Kelly gives Mathews more touches, he will be no more than a quality handcuff for Murray.”
My take: TBD. This depends solely on whether Murray plays. If he doesn’t, try Mathews as your flex if you don’t have a strong alternative. This may be a bold prediction, but Mathews would probably get more than the one carry he had against Dallas. Although his ownership number is lower than Agholor’s, I wouldn’t pick him up unless Murray’s injury is surprisingly serious.
ESPN’s analysis: “The good news is that Ertz is playing a much larger role in the Eagles’ offense this season, but that hasn’t been reflected in the stat line, other than seeing seven targets in each game thus far. Last season, the Jets’ defense allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends, but after two games this season, they have allowed a total of five fantasy points to that position.”
My take: Spot on. Through two games, Bradford has clearly defined his three favorite targets: Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles. However, that’s not enough to justify starting the tight end this week. What it does justify is picking Ertz up in free agency because after Sunday, his ownership numbers could easily drop to around 70 percent.
ESPN’s analysis: “During the Eagles’ disastrous Week 2 outing against the Cowboys, Sproles was stuffed for minus-1 yard on his lone rushing attempt and managed just 23 yards on four receptions. He will remain an intriguing upside play in PPR formats, especially in games where the Eagles likely will be playing from behind and passing a lot. This week, they face the Jets, whose offense has looked pedestrian thus far, so this may be a close game, limiting Sproles’ potential.”
My take: Spot on. I’m still not sold that Sproles is worth having on your team. Although he gets his targets, he won’t be the first or second option in the red zone. I doubt he scores many touchdowns—whether that’s on the ground or through the air—and would rather use a bench slot on a guy with more upside.
ESPN’s analysis: “The Eagles’ defense lost linebackers Kiko Alonso (knee) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) during Week 2’s tilt with the Cowboys. That would be brutal news for a group that has mustered just ten fantasy points in two weeks. After battling quality offenses in the Falcons and Cowboys, they get a tastier matchup this week against the Jets, making them a potential streaming option.”
My take: Spot on. Even while forcing four turnovers in the first two games, this unit hasn’t turned in good performances either week. However, if you’re looking in free agency for your defense/special teams this week, this is likely your best option against an uninspiring Jets offense.
ESPN’s analysis: The Worldwide Leader (except in well-produced Eagles videos, of course) projects Parkey to score eight points in their standard scoring leagues.
My take: Overrated. I don’t expect it to be as bad as Sunday, but I have a hard time seeing the Eagles moving the ball well against the Jets. That could mean the kicker has a few field goal opportunities, but they may struggle to get into plus-territory a lot.
Jenkins: “DeAngelo Williams. I think even with Le’Veon Bell coming back from suspension, he’ll get his touches and have a touchdown or two. He’s in my flex right now; I’m banking on that. The first game he rushed for like 130 [yards] and the second game he had three touchdowns. I had him on my bench both times; it was terrible. Even if his production is cut in half, that’s great production for your flex.”