Eagles-Redskins should be a big fantasy game through the air

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Eagles-Redskins should be a big fantasy game through the air

Monday night's game between the Eagles and Redskins should feature a whole lot of passing.

In four-point passing TD leagues, the Eagles have allowed 17.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, 11th-most in the NFL. The Redskins have allowed 15.4 per game, but they're without their first-round defensive lineman (Jonathan Allen) and have two banged-up starting cornerbacks (Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland).

This is the last game on the Week 7 schedule but could affect plenty of fantasy matchups.

TE Zach Ertz
Ertz has been the most consistent fantasy tight end this season and legitimately looks like a second-round pick next summer. 

He has a long track record of destroying the 'Skins and there's no reason to expect that to change Monday night. With Jordan Matthews gone, Ertz has become Carson Wentz's go-to guy on third down and in the red zone. 

Ertz is on pace to finish with 91 catches, 1,080 yards and 11 TDs this season. In NFL history, the only tight ends to reach all three numbers were Jimmy Graham in 2011 and Todd Christensen in 1983.

Projected stat line: 6 catches, 78 yards, TD

QB Carson Wentz
There aren't too many quarterbacks I'd start ahead of Wentz this week ... just Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins.

Wentz is averaging 264 passing yards and has 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He should be able to throw on this Washington secondary, with the main worry being Ryan Kerrigan's pass rush.

Projected stat line: 310 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT

QB Kirk Cousins
I'd expect similar stat lines from these two quarterbacks, with Cousins perhaps compiling more yards because he has less of a running game.

The strange thing about Cousins' season so far has been that he's put up numbers without Jordan Reed or Terrelle Pryor doing much of anything. In the four games Reed has played, he's averaged 4.5 catches for 35.5 yards and hasn't scored. Pryor, aside from his 44-yard touchdown, has 15 catches for 165 yards in five games.

Jamison Crowder (121 receiving yards) hasn't made much of an impact either.

But it hasn't prevented Cousins from averaging 267 passing yards with nine TDs and two picks. Cousins also already has a career-high 103 rushing yards with a rushing TD.

Cousins' two biggest-play threats have been running back Chris Thompson and backup tight end Vernon Davis, who's had catches of 69 and 51 yards in his last two games.

For me, Cousins is the No. 5 QB of the week (excluding the Thursday night game).

Projected stat line: 330 passing yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

WR Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery has lined up nearly equally on the left and right sides this season — 46 percent on the left, 38 percent on the right. The Redskins haven't used a cornerback to shadow a particular receiver in any game this season, even when Norman has been healthy.

(Update: Norman has already been ruled out.)

So Jeffery should see some opportunities against both Breeland and Norman if they play, as well as Kendall Fuller.

In Week 1 against Washington, Jeffery caught three of seven targets for 38 yards, though you can almost throw that game out because it was the very first he played with Wentz.

With 10 days off in between Week 6 and Week 7, Wentz and Jeffery had plenty of time to work on their rapport. The Eagles had plenty of time to figure out additional ways to get Jeffery the ball downfield. The gut feeling here is you could see Wentz go deep to Jeffery on a jump-ball in the first series of the game. See if you can at least generate a pass interference call.

It seems like a matter of time until Jeffery, averaging eight targets per game, has his first huge stat line. To date, he's been a low-end WR2.

Projected stat line: 5 catches, 95 yards, TD

WR Nelson Agholor
Agholor has lined up in the slot on 88 percent of his snaps, and Fuller has done so on 87 percent of his snaps, so that's the matchup Monday night. 

Agholor is not a safe start. In Weeks 2 through 4, he had six catches combined. But he's been a big-play threat, averaging 16.1 yards per reception and scoring TDs in four different games.

I'd start Agholor this week ahead of guys like Pryor, Randall Cobb, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and any Rams receiver. 

I would not start Agholor ahead of Mohamed Sanu or DeSean Jackson.

Projected stat line: 4 catches, 62 yards

TE Jordan Reed
It's Week 7, he's already had his bye, and yet Reed admitted again this week he's still not playing at 100 percent. In the past, it hasn't mattered much because Reed has produced even when banged-up. But this season, he's been extremely disappointing to those who drafted him in the fourth or fifth round.

Reed used to swallow up massive target shares from Cousins. In his first nine games last season, he saw 8.8 targets per game. The year before, he averaged 8.1 targets in 14 games.

This season, he's had target counts of 8, 6, 5 and 5. In his best game, he had six catches for 48 yards without a TD.

The Eagles' strong work against tight ends has carried over into 2017. After allowing the second-fewest fantasy points per game to TEs last season, the Eagles have allowed the ninth-fewest this season. 

Through six weeks, the only tight end to exceed 45 yards against the Eagles was Travis Kelce (8 for 103) in Week 2. They've allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends — Kelce and Hunter Henry.

Reed is not a great start this week, but tight end is so thin that you probably have to start him if you have him. 

I'd start Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kyle Rudolph ahead of Reed this week.

Projected stat line: 5 catches, 55 yards

Other notes:
• Don't love LeGarrette Blount or Rob Kelley in this one. Wendell Smallwood will cut into Blount's carries, and Samaje Perine and Thompson will cut into Kelley's.

• I do really like Thompson in this one. Should be a fast-paced, vertical game and he's getting opportunities on more than just third down. I'd start Thompson ahead of Doug Martin, both Packers running backs, James White, Orleans Darkwa, Bilal Powell, Buck Allen, Duke Johnson and Frank Gore.

• Over the last two weeks, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has made separate comments indicating he wants to get both Crowder and Josh Doctson the ball more. Doctson has a better matchup this week than Crowder, who will line up mostly against the resurgent Patrick Robinson.

6 reasons Eagles are keeping expensive Jason Peters

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6 reasons Eagles are keeping expensive Jason Peters

When the offseason began, there was definitely a sense of unknown regarding Jason Peters.

The Eagles faced an offseason that presented tremendous salary cap challenges, Peters had just turned 36, carried a $10.7 salary cap hit in 2018 and was coming off another injury.

And his replacement, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, was much cheaper and had played very well down the stretch and during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run.

It wouldn’t have been a shock to anybody if the Eagles moved on from Peters.

Yet here we are almost two months later, and Peters remains an Eagle and at this point will almost certainly be an Eagle in 2018.

Why is Peters still here? Let’s consider some of the reasons:

1. Affect in the locker room
Peters is so respected and even beloved in the locker room. It’s no coincidence photos showed him holding the Lombardi Trophy as he slept on the flight back from Minneapolis after the Super Bowl.  

The Eagles have already lost several veterans from the Super Bowl team. LeGarrette Blount and Brent Celek were tremendous leaders, and Donnie Jones, Trey Burton, Torrey Smith, Vinny Curry and Beau Allen were all important parts.

The response in the locker room if Peters’ name was added to the list would have been monumental. There wouldn’t be a revolt, but there would be a lot of unhappy Eagles.

2. He’s really not that expensive
Peters isn’t a bargain, but he’s not that expensive. His $10.667 million cap figure is 12th highest in the league among offensive tackles, and his $6.75 million 2018 base salary is 14th highest in the league among tackles.

The Eagles would save $3,916,666 under the cap if they released him and carry $10,666,666 in dead money in 2018. That’s a significant cap saving, but not an astronomical one.

3. Reggie and Dawk
Jeff Lurie bought the Eagles just two years after Norman Braman let Reggie White leave, and Lurie has regretted the way Brian Dawkins was allowed to leave after the 2008 season.

Lurie and Peters have a strong relationship, and there is no way Lurie wants to be the owner of a franchise that cut ties with White, Dawkins and Peters, three Hall of Famers.

4. Quick healer
Peters is coming off a serious knee injury. He tore his ACL and MCL in late October vs. the Redskins.

But nobody can doubt Peters’ work ethic when it comes to rehabbing. This is a guy who suffered two torn Achilles injuries in 2012 — one that March and a second in May — leading some to speculate that his career was over.

But he was 100 percent by opening day and played that entire 2013 season, making the Pro Bowl and being named first-team All-Pro.

5. What do we really know about Big V?
Vaitai played better and better and was very good in the postseason, but he’s still a 24-year-old former fifth-round pick with 16 career starts — only nine at left tackle.

Vaitai has been good, but have we seen enough of him to feel confident that he can replace a legend?

6. He’s Jason Peters
Peters is not like other human beings who inhabit the planet Earth. Even at 35 years old, he was as dominating as ever before he got hurt, and he’s made the Pro Bowl nine straight years he’s been healthy.

He’s shown no sign of slowing down, and the Eagles clearly don’t expect him to anytime soon.

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

The Eagles have found their replacement for Torrey Smith. 

Heck, they found an upgrade. 

On Thursday, the Birds agreed to terms with veteran speedy receiver Mike Wallace on a one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

This signing makes a ton of sense for the Eagles, especially if they weren’t ready to hand Mack Hollins the starting spot Smith left. Hollins can now split time with Wallace. Even if the Eagles didn’t trade Smith, they weren’t going to keep him at his price tag, so adding Wallace gives the Eagles a veteran with speed at a cheaper cost. 

Wallace, 31, is coming off a season in which he caught 52 passes for 748 yards (14.4 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. For comparison, in 2017, Smith caught 36 passes for 430 yards (11.9) and two touchdowns. And Smith dropped seven passes, while Wallace dropped just three, according to ProFootballFocus. In fact, Wallace's numbers weren't far off from Alshon Jeffery's stats last year (57 receptions, 789 yards, 9 touchdowns). 

While Wallace isn’t coming off his best season in 2017, he went over 1,000 yards in 2016 and has averaged 15.0 yards per reception during his nine-year NFL career. The Eagles hope he'll be the deep threat they thought they were getting in Smith. 

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Wallace is second in the league in 40-yard receptions and in 50-yard receptions. He has 43 receptions of 40-plus yards (behind DeSean Jackson's 56) and 26 receptions of 50-plus yards (behind Jackson's 36). 

If that's not recent enough for you, the Eagles had seven pass plays of 50-plus yards in 2017; Wallace had three on his own. He can still stretch the field. 

The Eagles can now start Alshon Jeffery and Wallace on the outside, which will allow them to keep Nelson Agholor in the slot, where he was great last season. Then they’ll still have Hollins and Shelton Gibson (both draft picks from 2017) off the bench. Not bad. 

Wallace will turn 32 before the season starts, so the Eagles have added another veteran player, something they’ve done plenty this season. They already added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. It’s pretty clear the Eagles see the need to maximize their window of opportunity and getting players to join them is probably easier coming off a Super Bowl win. 

Signing veterans on one-year deals certainly worked well for the Eagles last season and if this one works out too, they will have found a good fit for the 2018 season.