Eagles

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

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AP Images

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.

Quite a Christmas present coming for Jordan Hicks

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USA Today Images

Quite a Christmas present coming for Jordan Hicks

It won't be a surprise, but Jordan Hicks is going to get a pretty great Christmas present this year. 

He won't find it under his tree either. 

Hicks, who has been recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and surgery, will hit another big milestone in his recovery on Dec. 25. That's the day the walking boot comes off of his right foot. 

"Real good present, right?" Hicks said. 

Hicks, 25, tore his right Achilles on the second play from scrimmage against Washington on Oct. 23. Having already torn his left Achilles in college, Hicks knew immediately that his season was over and a long recovery was ahead of him. 

But Hicks has no doubt he'll return to being the same player he was before. He thinks he'll be even better. 

"Oh there's no question about that," Hicks said on Friday, speaking to a group of reporters in the Eagles' locker room for the first time since the injury. "There's no question about that. I'll be fine. I did my left Achilles in college and came back better. I know more, the advancements are better. There's no doubt in my mind I'll be a better player when I come back."

Hicks said the normal recovery time from an Achilles rupture is six to nine months. The six-month mark will be April. He expects to be back for training camp and be completely ready for next season. 

Before suffering this Achilles tear, Hicks had been dealing with an ankle injury on his left leg. Hicks, who has been labeled as an injury-prone player since college, was very proud of playing all 16 games in 2016. So when that ankle injury popped up earlier this season, he tried to play through it. That ankle injury led to a calf injury in his right leg and then the Achilles popped. Hicks thinks overcompensating for the initial injury led to a more serious one. 

"I think a couple weeks could have helped me, but it's always easy to look back," Hicks said. "Hindsight is 20/20. I wouldn't change anything just because it's my personality. It's who I am. All I want to do is be there for my teammates. Every time I step out there, the biggest goal for me is to have my teammates know that I'm their leader and I can be accountable. For me to sit here and say I shouldn't have been out there those weeks, it's hard for me to say that because all I want to do is be out there."

Hicks lasted just a couple plays in that Washington game before his Achilles popped, which put him right back on that road to recovery. And initially, it wasn't easy. Jason Peters joined him in the locker room a quarter later with his own season-ending injury and tried to raise his spirits, but that didn't change the fact that Hicks' season was over.

And for the second time in his three-year career, he knew he would end the season on injured reserve. 

"The grief set in," he said. "For the first week or so, it was tough, but man, there's no time for that. There's no time to sit here and sulk. There's no time to think about what could have been. ... All I'm focusing on is making sure I'm better and ready next year for my guys. That's all it is. For me, it's about accountability."

While Hicks made a rare appearance in the Eagles' locker room during media time on Friday, he's been around the building plenty. He and the Eagles' other injured players have remained involved despite their injuries. In fact, every week, Hicks studies opponent film to see how they handle blitzes. And every Friday, he gets in front of the defense to present it. 

After the injury, Jim Schwartz came to him and asked him to do this. 

"It's easy to isolate yourself in situations like this," Hicks said. "For him to come up to me and ask me to do that was big. I try to keep guys' spirits up and share my perspective." 

For the last month and a half, Hicks has been around the team but has been forced to watch games on TV, which he said is really tough. He hopes that's about to end. He'll be in North Jersey this weekend for the Giants game and hopes he'll be back on the sideline. 

"It's tough," Hicks said. "It's never easy to go through something like this. It tests your patience, this tests your character. You learn a lot through these times because it is so difficult. You have to really grind through some hard times. Put your head down and I think your character is really shown through this."

Nick Foles may not have full protection vs. Giants

Nick Foles may not have full protection vs. Giants

The Eagles will have a new quarterback this weekend, but they might not be able to protect him as well as they hope. 

Starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski will officially be listed as questionable for Sunday's game because of an ankle injury. 

Wiz had to leave the Rams game in the first half and did not return. He missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday. 

"We'll see where he's at today," head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday. 

After Wisniewski came out of the Rams game, he was replaced by Chance Warmack, who was then replaced by Isaac Seumalo. 

It sounds like Warmack will have the first chance to play this weekend if Wisniewski can't go. 

"We've worked Chance at that position this week," Pederson said. "Isaac has obviously gotten some reps really at all the positions but that would be the most logical."

Seumalo actually began the season as the team's starting left guard after he won the position in the offseason. From there, Warmack got the first crack at replacing him when he was benched, but Warmack couldn't keep the job, eventually giving way to a rotation before Wisniewski simply took over. The line has been much better since Wiz took over the starting job in Week 3. 

Alshon Jeffery and Steven Means, who both missed Thursday's practice with illnesses, will be back on the practice field on Friday. Both should be fine for this weekend's game. 

The Eagles will practice outside in 28-degree weather on Friday as they prepare for Sunday's outdoor game at MetLife Stadium. 

No word on the condition of the recycling can Jason Kelce kicked inside the bubble after getting cleated on Thursday. At least the outdoor practice will give it another day of rest.