Eagles

Best and worst fantasy plays of Eagles-49ers

Best and worst fantasy plays of Eagles-49ers

Carson Wentz is the No. 2 fantasy quarterback through seven weeks, trailing only Alex Smith.

So if you've got Wentz, you're 100 percent starting him this week against the hapless 49ers. The only fantasy quarterback I'd even consider starting over Wentz this week is Drew Brees, who faces the Bears at home. The Saints' home field is the offensive equivalent of Coors Field in baseball.

And yes, that means that I'd start Wentz over Tom Brady (vs. Chargers) this week. 

On to some of the tougher fantasy plays of Eagles-49ers:

WR Alshon Jeffery
We're at the point now where benching Jeffery is a legitimate option. If you're in a league that starts three wide receivers, you're probably starting Jeffery. But if you start two wide receivers and a flex, there are just so many players performing at a more consistent level than Jeffery.

Jeffery has shown rust all season. He isn't gaining separation deep down the field and he's not coming up with tough catches on jump-balls, aside from the sideline fade he caught late in Monday night's win.

Would you believe that Jeffery has now gone 18 straight games without reaching 100 receiving yards? Would you believe that he's scored just four times in his last 19 games?

With the way Wentz is spreading the ball around and heavily involving Zach Ertz on intermediate routes and in the red zone, Nelson Agholor inside the 20 and Mack Hollins on deep passes, Jeffery has become an increasingly risky start.

The 49ers are a dream matchup for any skill player. They've allowed the most fantasy points in the NFL to running backs, the second-most to quarterbacks and the 10th-most to wide receivers.

Still, temper the expectations for Alshon this week. I thought he was poised to break out against a depleted Redskins secondary and it never materialized.

I'd start Jeffery this week over Demaryius Thomas, T.Y. Hilton and DeSean Jackson.

I would not start Jeffery this week over Chris Hogan, Amari Cooper, Doug Baldwin, Kelvin Benjamin or Adam Thielen.

Projected stat line: 4 catches, 55 yards

• • •

RB LeGarrette Blount
This right here? This is a Blount game.

The forecast calls for torrential rain on Sunday, and given that Wentz is relatively inexperienced playing in those kinds of conditions, the Eagles could rely heavily on the running game against San Francisco.

The 49ers are dreadful against running backs — they've allowed 1,325 total yards and nine TDs. Granted, a lot of that was caused by Ezekiel Elliott last week and Blount isn't nearly that type of dual threat.

Still, expect a high-volume game from Blount, who gained just 29 yards on 14 carries in Week 7.

I'd start Blount this week over Carlos Hyde, Doug Martin, C.J. Anderson and all of the Patriots' running backs.

I would not start Blount ahead of Lamar Miller or Joe Mixon.

Projected stat line: 22 carries, 110 yards, TD

• • •

TE Zach Ertz
The 49ers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're a good defense vs. TEs. It's more so the byproduct of so many other skill players doing damage against them.

Ertz is matchup-proof, which he proved against the Panthers with two touchdowns against a defense that typically stifles tight ends. 

If you have Ertz, you're starting him. Let's not even waste time explaining why.

Projected stat line: 6 catches, 66 yards, TD

• • •

RB Carlos Hyde
The Eagles' run defense is on a historic stretch of limiting running backs. It could suffer a bit with Jordan Hicks out for the season, but the Eagles still have so many players who can collapse the pocket, run blitz effectively and tackle in the open field.

Hyde should accumulate some numbers this Sunday out of sheer necessity from the 49ers. I mean, C.J. Beathard is this team's starting QB. Just don't expect huge production. 

With Matt Breida getting more and more involved, the possibility exists that Hyde has a goal-line carry or two vultured away.

Projected stat line: 80 total yards

• • •

WR Pierre Garcon
Garcon is the only 49ers skill player I like this week because San Fran is expected to be behind by a lot early in the game and forced to pass. 

Garcon always plays well against the Eagles. The last eight times he's faced them, he's averaged five catches for 60 yards. He's scored four TDs in the last six meetings.

Because the Eagles limit opposing running games, it means they face more pass attempts. It seems probable that Garcon will see double-digit targets in this one.

Projected stat line: 7 catches, 86 yards, TD

• • •

WR Nelson Agholor
I've said in this space several times this season that Agholor is a risky start because he's so touchdown-dependent. The guy's averaging 3.4 catches per game, but he has five TDs. 

But at this point, with how well Agholor has caught slants and converted red-zone opportunities, he's a legit WR3. 

I'd start Agholor ahead of Mohamed Sanu, all Redskins receivers, Danny Amendola, Jordan Matthews, Paul Richardson and Ted Ginn Jr. 

Projected stat line: 4 catches, 60 yards

• • •

Other thoughts:
• The idea that the Eagles will run the ball a lot Sunday would benefit more than just Blount. It could also lead to a TD for Wendell Smallwood, but I'd advise starting Smallwood only in deep, 12-team leagues.

• The Eagles' defense is a top-3 play this week. The only two defenses I'd start ahead of them would be the Vikings (vs. Browns in London) and Chiefs (home vs. Broncos on Monday Night Football).

5 Minutes with Roob: Josh Andrews still waiting on his chance 4 years later

5 Minutes with Roob: Josh Andrews still waiting on his chance 4 years later

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles guard/center Josh Andrews:

Roob: Let's clear the air first. You're definitely not related to Shawn Andrews?

Josh Andrews: No, I'm not. No relation to Shawn Andrews at all.

Roob: So that's one positive. Do you get that a lot?

Andrews: I've got it a few times now, but no relation.

Roob: Alright well that's good to know. Now, you've got a really interesting story. You've been here four years now. Talk about when you came here in '14, were there a lot of teams trying to sign you out of Oregon State? How did that whole thing go?

Andrews: Went undrafted, about three teams tried to grab me, but felt like the best fit was for the Eagles and I've been here ever since.

Roob: It's really crazy because obviously, they like you. Obviously, Chip (Kelly) liked you. Obviously, Doug (Pederson) likes you. But you haven't had a chance to play. How do you balance being here, preparing like you're gonna play every week and not having gotten that chance yet?

Andrews: Just gotta have that mindset to get ready every week. That's how I've been since I've been here. My time is coming, I just gotta wait and do what's best for this team right now and keep us winning.

Roob: Now there was a really interesting thing on Tuesday, Jim Schwartz, without prompting, I don't know if you heard about this, he mentioned you as far as talking about how guys on the offense help the defense prepare. And he mentioned that you'll go to him and say, 'Hey we're figuring this out in running scout team.' Because you run scout team center or guard, I guess mainly center I would think. That's kind of unusual for a defensive coordinator to mention a scout team offensive lineman. What do you bring to him? What do you see from the first defense that can maybe help?

Andrews: Just blocking schemes you know, the way that they're ran. Say if (Fletcher Cox) needs help with something I'll be like 'I think this is the best way to go.' And it's been working. They've been getting home a lot this season and it's really been paying off for our defense.

Roob: How hard is it to not play?

Andrews: Man, it's tough. It's really tough. But just gotta keep going. I love playing this sport and I will continue as long as I can. 

Roob: I remember there was one game, I think it was 2015, where somebody got hurt and you ran on the field and then they didn't leave the game. 

Andrews: Oh yeah, that was against the Cowboys in 2015. Lane (Johnson) got hurt, pretty sure it was Lane. And I was about to go in and then he came back on the field. I was like, 'Ah man, that was my shot.' But, I gotta keep positive. Gotta keep that positive mindset. That's how I've been ever since I've been here.

Roob: Now you've actually been here longer than most of the team. (Jason) Kelce's a guy who's been here your whole time. What have you learned from being around him, watching him play, watching him practice?

Andrews: He's such a smart guy man. On the field, the way he just commands attention, the way he commands the offensive line is just impressive to see. I try to mimic that every time I step on the field. I've learned so much from him over these past four years and he's just a great player to learn from and be under. 

Roob: Now preseason games I guess are like your Super Bowl now, right? Cause that's your chance to play. What do those games mean to you? You're not playing a lot. A few of them you're playing a lot. But what does it mean to get out there and have a chance to play?

Andrews: It's gold man. That's everything for me right now. When I get a chance to get on that field, I give it all I got. I've done that ever since I've been here. That's just, like you said, my Super Bowl. Every time I go on that field I give it all I got. 

Roob: What's (offensive line) coach (Jeff) Stoutland meant to you? You've been around him a while now. 

Andrews: Great mentor. Great teacher. He's just been wonderful. He's really hard on us and it's for a good reason, to get us better and get us playing at a high level. That's the way he commands the player and I like that. 

Roob: What's special about this team now? You've been on some good teams and some bad teams since you've been here but you guys are rolling, 8-1, seven-game winning streak going into Dallas Sunday night. What do you like about the kind of vibe in this locker room?

Andrews: The vibe is awesome. Everyone's on the same page. Everyone's with each other. It's been really different from the past three teams I've been on. I feel like we're gonna go far with the team we got right now. 

Roob: Alright last question. Chip Kelly, do you think he's going to take the Florida job?

Andrews: Sheesh, I don't know. We'll see. That's a good question.

Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

ap-carson-wentz.jpg
USA Today Images

Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

Forget for a moment all the record-setting touchdown passes, all the dazzling third-down conversions and the highlight-reel red-zone heroics.

One of Carson Wentz's greatest accomplishments these last two years has just been playing football every Sunday. Being out there for his team without fail every week.

That alone puts him in an elite group.

Look around the league. Tyrod Taylor just got benched in Buffalo with the Bills in the playoff hunt. Trevor Siemian was benched just before the Broncos came to Philly. The 49ers benched Brian Hoyer a few weeks before facing the Eagles

Last we checked, the Browns have already benched DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan this fall.

Heck, even one-time Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco was benched by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during a loss to the Jaguars.

We've been through all of that. That quarterback carousel. It never leads anywhere.

Wentz on Sunday night will start his 26th consecutive game. Every game the Eagles have played since opening day last year. He's one of only 12 quarterbacks who's started all his team's games over the last two years.

Elite quarterback play is huge for any football team, but quarterback stability is just as important. And Wentz is finally giving this franchise something it's lacked for much of the last quarter century.

Think about it.

From 1991 through 2015, a 25-year span, the only years an Eagles quarterback started 16 games were Donovan McNabb in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008. And McNabb got benched in 2008.

From 2010 through 2015, the six years between McNabb and Wentz, the Eagles used seven different quarterbacks. Not only did the Eagles not win anything during that span, there didn't seem to be much of a future either. 

The Eagles were stuck trying to build a championship team without an elite quarterback. Which is almost impossible to do.

All of which led Howie Roseman to make the franchise-altering decision that the Eagles had to do anything possible, no matter how drastic, no matter how extreme, to get that guy and turn the franchise over to him.

That realization, that organizational decision and the series of trades that landed Wentz in Philadelphia guaranteed that the Eagles would have quarterback stability and a chance for sustained success for the foreseeable future.

Just by starting 25 games in a row, Wentz has done something no Eagles QB had done since McNabb started 31 straight from opening day 2003 through Week 15 of 2004. With the No. 1 seed locked up, he didn't play the last week of the season.

McNabb started 51 straight games from midway through 1999, when he replaced Doug Pederson, through Week 10 of 2002, when he broke his ankle against the Cards (but threw four touchdowns anyway).

And along with those two McNabb streaks and streaks by Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham, Wentz's run of 25 starts is already the Eagles' fifth-longest since Norm Van Brocklin started 36 straight from 1958 through 1960.

You've probably already picked up on the fact that the Eagles' greatest periods of success in the NFL's modern era — the 1960 championship and the 1980 and 2004 Super Bowl appearances — just happen to coincide with periods of tremendous quarterback stability.

And maybe very soon we can add another era to that list.

Just by being out there every Sunday, Wentz has separated himself from most quarterbacks in the NFL.

Of the 12 QBs who've started every game since opening day last year, only six have a career winning record. And of those six, only Wentz and Dak Prescott — both 24 — are under 28.

They'll meet for the third time Sunday night in Dallas, and whatever happens, both franchises are in good hands for the foreseeable future.

For the Eagles, these are heady days. Wentz is having an MVP season and Roseman and Joe Douglas have surrounded him with a deep and talented roster.

An entire generation of quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer — will be retiring in the next few years. And most of the young QBs lining up to replace them are unproven. Even guys like Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson will be in their mid-30s in five years.

How many NFL teams know who their quarterback will be in, let's say, 2023? The Texans with Deshaun Watson, the Rams with Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota in Tennessee and probably Jameis Winston in Tampa. And the Eagles and Cowboys. Anybody else?

Most NFL teams are in a constant search for that elite quarterback. Not around here. Not anymore.

The most important question facing almost every NFL team is one the Eagles won't have to even think about for a decade.