Fantasy Focus: Eagles Week 4 Projections
Malcolm Jenkins wants to apologize to you.
“DeAngelo Williams was terrible [Sunday],” he said. “I lost my fantasy game, by the way, because of him. I guess I’m not the one that should be giving fantasy advice.”
Although we’ll give the Eagles safety another chance this week, we decided to listen to him and talked to rookie defensive back Denzel Rice. According to Jenkins, Rice is undefeated in the secondary’s fantasy league and has the best team “by far.” Both of their sleepers picks for this week are at the bottom.
As always, the projections for the Eagles 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.
ESPN’s analysis: “This week, he faces a Washington defense that has done a solid job against the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles and Eli Manning. However, they will be missing CB DeAngelo Hall and offer a far more promising matchup to the Eagles than they have seen of late.”
My take: Spot on. Washington has been average against the pass in many ways — including opponent passer rating and yards per pass allowed — but they also have zero interceptions. That’s the one statistic that can give you hope for Bradford, but it’s not nearly enough to consider starting him. He ranks near the bottom of the NFL in passer rating and yards per pass attempt, and has more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3).
ESPN’s analysis: “It seems fairly certain that he will return to the gridiron in Week 4 against Washington. Assuming he does suit up, it will be interesting to see how carries are split between Murray, Mathews (who racked up 128 combined yards and a touchdown in Murray’s absence) and Darren Sproles.”
My take: TBD. If the Eagles play Murray, you should too. Although the offensive line showed some improvement in run blocking against the Jets, it’s reasonable to worry about Andrew Gardner’s injury. As I detailed earlier this week, Matt Tobin was clearly worse than Gardner Sunday, and Dennis Kelly doesn’t seem like a great alternative. Still, it’s worth playing Murray at least as your flex and betting on him to reach the end zone.
ESPN’s analysis: “He has averaged ten targets over the first three games of this season and has a fairly promising matchup against a Washington defense that will be without DeAngelo Hall. He could be poised for his first real impact game of the season, especially in PPR formats.”
My take: Underrated. Bradford may be struggling, but you can always expect Matthews to get his targets. Matthews ranks 14th in the NFL in that category, and he’s been targeted at least eight times in every game so far. Start him with confidence, even if you can’t do the same with the guy throwing him the ball.
ESPN’s analysis: “For all of the hype this rookie received during the preseason, we have seen none of it come to fruition on the field. He failed to catch any of his four targets against the Jets on Sunday and has mustered just four catches for 36 yards in three NFL games. Better days are ahead, but he will be a risky dart throw until he proves he is ready to step up.”
My take: Spot on. I doubt he reaches 42 yards — his season-high is 31 — but this is a fair projection. Not only are his catches not there, but he hasn’t been targeted much either. When the offense gets going, he’s definitely a guy worth having on your roster and is someone who could be your flex. Until then, keep him on your bench.
ESPN’s analysis: “He will continue to carry plenty of upside this week if Murray is out. Of course, his value will be up in the air in a timeshare with Darren Sproles and Murray, if the latter is ready to roll in Week 4.”
My take: TBD. If Murray plays, sit him. If Murray doesn’t, start him. You’ve seen what Mathews can do when he gets the bulk of the carries, but right now, you can’t count on him scoring a touchdown or reaching 100 yards with the state of the offensive line if Murray plays.
ESPN’s analysis: “So far this season, Washington has kept opposing tight ends in check, but they were one of the worst teams in that regard last season, so there is some sneaky potential for Ertz in Week 4 despite his obviously low floor.”
My take: Spot on. Keep Ertz on your bench as long as Bradford is struggling. Although he’s been one of Bradford’s favorite targets, he hasn’t gotten enough (like Matthews has) to warrant starting. He’s a good red zone threat, but it’s dicey to bet on that as he hasn’t caught a touchdown pass yet this season.
ESPN’s analysis: “With DeMarco Murray likely to return from his hamstring injury this week and Ryan Mathews having performed well in Week 3, it’s anyone’s guess, though, exactly how the touches will be divvied up in Week 4 versus Washington.”
My take: Spot on. Sproles is the biggest question mark for me every week. He’s rarely going to get you enough yards to warrant playing him, but he’s a threat to score a touchdown on both offense and special teams. He’s not my ideal flex, but if you’re hurt this week by byes in a PPR league, you could do worse.
ESPN’s analysis: “With eight forced turnovers through their first three games, and going up against a Washington offense that has turned the ball over six times while averaging just 18.3 points per game, there is some upside for the Eagles as a potential D/ST stream in Week 4.”
My take: Spot on. This unit is projected to score nine points Sunday, which seems like a good estimation. Through three games, Philadelphia ranks in the top three in takeaways whereas Washington ranks in the bottom third in giveaways. The Eagles have forced multiple turnovers in each game, and even if the weather prevents Kirk Cousins from throwing the ball much, I expect the defense to limit how well Washington moves the ball.
ESPN’s analysis: The Worldwide Leader (except in All-22 breakdowns, of course) projects Sturgis to score seven points in their standard scoring leagues.
My take: Overrated. Stay away from Sturgis this week. Playing conditions will likely be less than ideal for kicking, and he’s also inaccurate. Last season, he ranked fourth-to-last in the NFL in field goal percentage. His rookie year? He also ranked fourth-to-last in the NFL in field goal percentage.
SLEEPERS OF THE WEEK
Jenkins: “Ted Ginn, Jr. He’s pretty much emerged as Carolina’s only receiver — him and [tight end Greg] Olsen — that they keep throwing the ball to. I’m not just hoping he has a big game, although I am rooting for my guy because he went to Ohio State, but I’m starting him in my flex. They play Tampa Bay, so he’s not going against a great secondary. He’s always the fastest guy on the field, so he’s a big-play guy.
“But put a disclaimer in your article saying I’m not responsible if your readers lose games.”
Rice: “Le’Veon Bell. Oh, I can’t pick him? I want to pick him. Alright, John Brown. He has good size and he has great football IQ. He knows where to be and how to attack coverages. He just knows how to get open. That offense is coming together. I like the Cardinals.”