The Eagles followed up their 2017 Super Bowl Championship with a playoff appearance in 2018, clinching a wild card berth after finishing second in the NFC East. The Eagles beat the Bears in the first round of the playoffs but lost to the Saints in the divisional round by six points. QB Carson Wentz is expected to begin the 2019 season fully healthy after missing the first two games of the 2018 season and getting injured again in December, which kept him sidelined for the playoffs. Wentz recently signed a hefty four-year extension that will keep him with the club through the 2024 season.
Key Departures:Nick Foles, QB; Jay Ajayi, RB; Golden Tate, WR; Jordan Hicks, LB
Key Acquisitions:Jordan Howard, RB; DeSean Jackson, WR; Miles Sanders, RB; Andre Dillard, OL; Malik Jackson, DT
Wentz has battled injury problems over the last two seasons, seeing his 2017 end due to an ACL tear and missing time both at the beginning and end of the 2018 season. Foles served as a security blanket at QB, and his excellent play won the Eagles a combined four playoff games over those two seasons. Foles’ departure means Philadelphia has less margin for error with Wentz’s injury history.
Tate, who the Eagles traded for in the middle of the 2018 season, is now with division rival New York, and the Eagles traded for Jackson to fill in a hole at WR. Jackson, who spent the first six seasons of his career in Philadelphia, gives the Eagles a deep threat they lacked in 2018. Jackson ranked second among receivers in average air yards per target in 2018, per the league’s player tracking system, which will help Wentz and the Philadelphia offense stretch the field.
Howard and Sanders’ additions are also noteworthy given the Eagles’ struggles at running back last season. Jay Ajayi started the year as the starting RB but injured his ACL, which led to a revolving door at RB, with Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood all unable to claim the primary role. Philadelphia ranked fifth worst in team rushing yards per game and third worst in rushing yards per attempt. While Howard struggled recently with the Bears, he was a Pro Bowler in 2016 and is only 24 years old. Howard was acquired in a trade with the Bears for a 2020 sixth-round pick that could become a conditional fifth-rounder, while the Eagles selected Sanders with their 2019 second-round pick.
2019 Fantasy MVP
Zach Ertz, TEErtz set the single-season record for most receptions by a tight end last season, catching 116 passes. Ertz ranked first in targets among TEs with 156 and third in receiving yards with 1,163. He ranked second in snap rate at TE, playing on 92% of Philadelphia’s offensive plays. He was also heavily targeted in the red zone, ranking first at TE in red-zone targets with 27 and third in targets among TEs inside the 10-yard line. The combination of high target volume, snap rate and red-zone targets gives him a safe floor and high ceiling at a TE position that can be difficult to find fantasy studs.
Ertz has an excellent QB throwing him the ball in Wentz, and the addition of Jackson to help stretch the field and take the top off the defense could open up more space for Ertz underneath the safeties in 2019.
2019 Fantasy LVP
Jordan Howard, RBDespite facing eight or more defenders in the box at a 14% rate, one of the lower marks among RBs, Howard averaged just 3.7 yards per carry last season, worse than the league average of 4.4 yards per carry. While Howard is expected to begin the season as the starting RB, he is also expected to receive competition for touches with a high-draft pick in Sanders, who could eventually eat into Howard’s touches as the season goes along. Corey Clement is also a candidate to get some snaps out of the backfield. Howard’s best fantasy value will likely come early in the season, and he could fade by season’s end depending on Sanders’ development.
2019 Breakout Player
Miles Sanders, RBThe Eagles think that Sanders, their 2019-second round pick out of Penn State, can eventually develop into a three-down back. While it is difficult for rookie RBs to flourish early in the season as they learn the offense and pass protection, Sanders could begin to take on more of a role later in the season and ultimately finish the year as the primary Eagles’ RB. TE Dallas Goedert is also a breakout candidate in his second season.
Final ThoughtsThe Eagles could have one of the best offenses in the league in 2019, which would create plenty of fruitful fantasy options. If Wentz can stay healthy, he has premier talent at the QB position, and the Eagles’ passing game has weapons in Alshon Jeffery, Ertz and Jackson. The running game should be improved from last season, with Howard a candidate to get the first crack at early down and red-zone carries, and Sanders a threat to take on more of a role as the season goes on.
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