Eagles

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 5 matchup with Cardinals

There are plenty of startable fantasy players in the Eagles' Week 5 home game against the Cardinals, especially because of bye weeks for the Saints, Falcons, Broncos and Redskins.

Let's take a look at Sunday's matchup from a fantasy perspective:

WR Alshon Jeffery
If you have Jeffery, you're most likely starting him unless it's a 2-WR league and you're just super deep at wide receiver.

But temper your expectations for Jeffery this week. He'll be shadowed by Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who followed Dez Bryant all over the field in Week 3.

There are 79 cornerbacks so far this season who've played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps, and Peterson has allowed the second-fewest catches (5) and third-fewest yards (56). If you're basing your wide receiver decisions on what has happened the first four weeks, then Peterson is the top shadow corner to avoid.

No. 1 outside receivers just haven't fared well against the Cardinals. Marvin Jones had two catches for 37 yards in Week 1. T.Y. Hilton had four catches for 49 yards in Week 2. Bryant had two catches for 12 yards and a TD in Week 3, but the touchdown was a 5-yard pass over the middle that Bryant caught before morphing into beast mode and carrying tacklers into the end zone. 

The Eagles don't move Jeffery around a whole lot. He has lined up on the outside in nearly nine of every 10 snaps.

Projected Jeffery stat line: 4 catches, 45 yards

• • •

WR Larry Fitzgerald
You're obviously starting Fitzgerald this Sunday, so we're mentioning him here only to note that he could be the top wide receiver play in the NFL this week.

The ageless Fitzgerald has had just one quiet game out of four this season. He went 6-for-74 against the Lions, 3-for-21 against the Colts, 13-for-149 with a TD against the Cowboys and 4-for-32 with a game-winning TD against the 49ers.

This week, he'll face Eagles cornerbacks who will simply be overmatched. The Eagles have been burnt by enormous gains from slot receivers in back-to-back weeks. Sterling Shepard had the 77-yard TD two weeks ago. Tyrell Williams — who wasn't technically the slot receiver on the play but did line up inside the numbers — caught a 75-yard pass over the middle for a TD last week. Keenan Allen later added a 50-yard catch-and-run out of the slot.

Fitzgerald lines up all over the place and Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer get him involved early and often. Fitzgerald already has 41 targets through four games.

The Eagles are pleased with how Patrick Robinson has adjusted to the slot, but this is a journeyman going up against a Hall of Famer.

The last time the Eagles faced Fitzgerald (Dec. 20, 2015) was the first time he faced them and didn't score. In the previous seven meetings, he had 47 catches for 802 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Projected Fitzgerald stat line: 7 catches, 110 yards, 2 TD

• • •

RB Wendell Smallwood, RB LeGarrette Blount
Smallwood had an impressive day in Los Angeles with 79 total yards, four catches and a rushing touchdown. He will still cede most of the goal-line work to LeGarrette Blount, but Smallwood last Sunday got his short rushing TD after a long run by Blount and a few failed attempts by the bigger back.

Smallwood owners will like the fact that he led the Eagles' backfield in snaps in Week 4, got 10 rushing attempts and six targets in the passing game. With Darren Sproles out for the season, it looks like Smallwood will benefit the most with checkdowns, which gives him additional value in PPR leagues.

Statistically, this doesn't look like a great matchup for Smallwood or Blount. The Cardinals have allowed the eighth-fewest rushing yards and receiving yards to running backs this season. Ezekiel Elliott had 22 carries for 80 yards and a TD against them in Week 3, and Carlos Hyde had 22 touches for 95 total yards in Week 4. It seems unlikely that Smallwood or Blount will accrue 22 touches in this game.

I'd start Smallwood and Blount this week over guys like Doug Martin, Joe Mixon, Latavius Murray, Isaiah Crowell and any Seahawks running back.

Projected Smallwood stat line: 60 total yards, 4 catches

Projected Blount stat line: 55 total yards, rushing TD

• • •

TE Zach Ertz
Starting tight ends have not fared well against Arizona. Aside from Colts TE Jack Doyle's 8-catch, 79-yard performance in Week 2, tight ends have combined for five catches and 47 yards with no TDs against the Cards. That's 2-for-15 per game. Yuck.

Granted, Eric Ebron, Jason Witten and George Kittle aren't nearly as threatening as Ertz.

Ertz has been targeted between 8 and 10 times each game by Carson Wentz. He's gone 8-for-93, 5-for-97, 8-for-55 with a TD and 5-for-81. Ertz has been the most consistent option in the league at a volatile fantasy position.

With Wentz unlikely to test Peterson by targeting Jeffery often, he'll need to find his yards somewhere. That will mean more targets than usual for Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor, but it should also mean another heavy dose of Ertz.

Projected Ertz stat line: 6 catches, 66 yards

• • •

WR Jaron Brown
Jaron Brown, not John Brown, was a popular waiver-wire pickup this week because of how heavily involved he's been in Arizona's aerial attack the last three weeks. In those three games, he's drawn 29 targets and caught 14 passes for 205 yards and a TD.

With John Brown (quad) and J.J. Nelson (hamstring) banged up, Arizona's passing game isn't nearly as crowded as usual. This figures to be another high-volume game for Jaron against a shaky Eagles secondary.

Projected Brown stat line: 5 catches, 85 yards

• • •

Eagles D/ST
This is a great spot for the Eagles' fantasy defense against a bad Cardinals offensive line that has allowed 16 sacks in its last three games and a turnover-prone Palmer who already has five interceptions and a fumble.

The best way for Palmer to combat the Eagles' pass rush will be to replicate Eli Manning's method of getting the ball out ASAP. That will mean checkdowns to Andre Ellington and quick slants to Fitzgerald. But you can't do that for four full quarters, and it's pretty tough to imagine a washed-up Chris Johnson gouging the Birds on the ground to help Palmer.

I predicted a big game from the Eagles' D/ST against the Giants and it didn't happen, but the stars are all aligned in this one. Palmer is also significantly worse on the road.

Projected Eagles D/ST stat line: 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, fumble recovery, defensive TD, 17 points allowed