Eagles Year in Review
2014 Pass Attempts Rank: 5th (621)
2014 Rush Attempts Rank: 7th (474)
2014 Total Offensive Plays Rank: 1st (1,127)
2014 Yards Per Play Rank: 11th (5.6)
Check out the team-by-team fantasy preview schedule.
Projected Starting Lineup
Passing Game Outlook
Over the past two seasons in Chip Kelly's offense, Mark Sanchez, Nick Foles, and Michael Vick combined to complete 664-of-1,078 passes (61.6%) for 8,687 yards (8.06 YPA) with a 59:26 TD-to-INT ratio. They added 682 rushing yards and five touchdowns, three by cement-footed Foles. The two-year average of the Eagles' quarterback stats would've ranked as the overall fantasy QB5 in 2014 -- behind only Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Peyton Manning -- and as the QB3 in 2013 -- behind only Peyton and Drew Brees. The combined stats of Foles and Sanchez last year would've amounted to the QB8. This is in large part due to the high-volume nature of Kelly's offense; the Eagles fire off more plays than anyone, and therefore their skill-position players rack up numbers. Kelly's passing game is also high percentage, utilizing scheme to get receivers and backs free access and creating mismatches, particularly over the middle of the field. Returning from back-to-back ACL tears, Sam Bradford's health is a huge question mark. He'll rocket up my re-draft rankings if he looks improved in camp.
Sam Bradford's twice-surgically-repaired knee was balky enough during OTAs and minicamp that the Eagles' QB battle appears somewhat legitimate, with some observers predicting Mark Sanchez will start Week 1. Although he mixed some big fantasy games among his eight 2014 starts, Sanchez's performance became increasingly erratic the more he played, which is typically the case for backup-caliber quarterbacks forced into extensive spot duty. The Eagles paid handsomely for Bradford, sending St. Louis a 2015 fourth-round pick, 2016 second-round pick, and Nick Foles in exchange for the former No. 1 overall pick. Philadelphia also absorbed Bradford's $13 million salary. Those investments make Bradford a big favorite to start, but that could change depending on health. Sanchez will be a strong QB1 streamer if he gets playing time this year.
The 42nd pick in the 2014 draft, Jordan Matthews spent his rookie season as the Eagles' No. 3 receiver between Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, playing 64.9% of Philly's offensive snaps. Despite limited playing time and only 103 targets -- 41st among wide receivers -- Matthews efficiently finished as the overall fantasy WR24, ranking top 30 in PFF's catch-rate metric and top 15 in yards after catch per reception. Chip Kelly utilized Matthews as a mismatch weapon in the slot, regularly scheming Matthews into favorable matchups against linebackers, safeties, and even defensive linemen. Big (6'3/212) and fast (4.46) with huge hands (10 3/8") and a gym-rat work ethic, Matthews is a rich man's version of Marques Colston slated for a high-volume role in the NFL's highest-volume offense. "J-Matt" will be the Eagles' No. 1 receiver following Maclin's exit, offering a high-end WR2 floor with a WR1 ceiling.
Amid rumors Chip Kelly had designs on trading up for Marcus Mariota, the Eagles sat tight at the No. 20 pick on draft day, selecting USC's Nelson Agholor to succeed Jeremy Maclin at Z receiver. Very arguably the draft's second-best wideout from a route-running standpoint behind Amari Cooper, Agholor runs 4.42 with exceptional short-area quicks and burst at a Maclinian 6-foot, 198. Agholor lacks Maclin's vertical skills, but profiles as superior after the catch and can also kick inside to slot receiver, giving Kelly something of an interchangeable complement to similarly versatile Jordan Matthews. Probably the biggest concern I have with Agholor's rookie-year fantasy outlook is his snap share. Will he be eased in like Matthews was, operating in a part-time role? Will he immediately overtake blocking WR Riley Cooper in two-receiver sets? If Agholor is used as a full-time player right away, he'll be very much capable of challenging Oakland's Cooper and Breshad Perriman to be this year's top rookie wideout.
PFF rated Riley Cooper the NFL's No. 110 wide receiver out of 110 qualifiers last season, dinging Cooper for an inability to generate yards after catch, below-average catch rate, and penchant for committing penalties. Five of Cooper's 95 targets resulted in interceptions, while he managed a career-low 10.5 yards per catch. Cooper's proficient run blocking kept him on the field and may do so again in 2015, even if his passing-game role continues to be scaled back. In addition to Nelson Agholor, Cooper must hold off 2014 third-round pick Josh Huff for snaps. Although there has been buzz surrounding Huff, he seems unlikely to develop into more than a sub-package role player. Behind Agholor and Jordan Matthews, Cooper and Huff are extreme long shots to make meaningful fantasy contributions this season.
Zach Ertz has parlayed 146 career targets into a 94-1,171-7 receiving line through two NFL seasons. Last year, Ertz committed just two drops and earned a top-six run-blocking grade among 67 qualified tight ends according to PFF. Problem was, teammate Brent Celek posted a top-two run-block grade and played 68.9% of the Eagles' snaps, while Ertz managed a 50.2% snap rate. Despite playing only half of his team's downs and having 24.7% of the passes thrown to him deemed "uncatchable" by Football Outsiders, Ertz finished as a top-13 fantasy tight end. Only 24 years old, Ertz is an upper-echelon receiving tight end in the NFL on an efficiency basis, but technically remains second on the depth chart in a "multiple" offense that doesn't utilize two-tight end sets as a base formation. Multiple Eagles beat writers have predicted a jump in Ertz's 2015 playing time, which could go a long way for his fantasy value. For now, a leap of faith is needed to project Ertz as a reliable week-to-week TE1. His current ADP in season-long leagues is at the seventh-/eighth-round turn as the TE7 off the board.
Running Game Outlook
More of an all-purpose, spread-type back in college and his first four NFL seasons, DeMarco Murray made the transition to extreme-volume workhorse as a fourth-year pro. Including playoffs, Murray piled up an otherworldly 436 carries, gaining 2,043 yards. As many have chalked up Murray's performance to Dallas' line play -- and ex-teammate Joseph Randle even accused Murray of leaving "meat on the bone" -- it might have been one of the most underappreciated rushing seasons of all time. The Eagles paid top dollar to sign Murray away from Big D, finalizing a five-year, $40 million contract in an age of supposedly "devalued" running backs. In the feature back role Murray will now handle, LeSean McCoy piled up carry totals of 314 and 312 the last two years. By nature, Chip Kelly is a run-first proponent whose system functions at peak efficiency when the ground game is the offensive foundation. Murray will stay in the hunt for 300-plus carries if he stays healthy. Murray's receiving usage is something of a concern, however. Darren Sproles took a bite out of McCoy's catch total (28) in 2014, and despite running the most plays in the NFL, the Eagles only ranked 18th in running back targets. That was with their RB target total (102) up from the previous season (82).
Although the money Philadelphia invested into Ryan Mathews (three years, $11 million) was much less, his presence on the roster is a slight-if-valid concern for DeMarco Murray. An efficient and oftentimes dynamic back in his own right, 27-year-old Mathews holds a 4.40 career YPC on 923 attempts, has soft hands in the passing game, and isn't far off Murray from a run-talent standpoint. Mathews' durability has long been his Achilles' heel, but he's less likely to get injured on significantly smaller usage going from feature back in San Diego to complementary player in Philadelphia. While the Eagles will certainly try to feed Murray 20 weekly carries, this is a team that has averaged 30.4 carries per game in Chip Kelly's two-year tenure. Beat writer Sheil Kapadia recently forecasted Murray at 17 carries a game, Mathews at 9, and Darren Sproles at 2. Usually available in rounds eight and nine, Mathews has a shot at standalone flex value and could become a league-winning RB1 if Murray goes down.
Darren Sproles teased with 263 total yards and two TDs in the Eagles' first two 2014 games but was an afterthought on offense the rest of the way, utilized as a package player and special teamer in his first season with Chip Kelly. Although Sproles was effective on the field, from a fantasy standpoint he served more to chip away at LeSean McCoy's receiving usage than establish standalone flex value. Sproles also missed time with an MCL sprain. Sproles is a 32-year-old scatback with two bellcow types ahead of him on the depth chart. Sproles might have a big game here or there, but they'll be impossible to predict. He's a PPR RB4/5.
Vegas Win Total
The Eagles have won ten games in each of Chip Kelly's two seasons on the job. As Kelly commandeered personnel control this offseason, Philadelphia took an aggressive approach to roster modification and enters camp with a ton of moving parts. Their Vegas Win Total is 9.5, tied with Baltimore and Dallas for sixth highest in the league. I'm going to take the under on Philly's Win Total, not because I think they'll suddenly become a bad team, but because I don't feel confident enough in their outlook either way to bet on the Eagles reaching double-digit wins. While I fully expect the offense to continue racking up fantasy numbers and the Eagles to contend for the NFC East title, I have enough concerns with the quarterback situation, offensive line, and back seven on defense to guess Philly finishes at 8-8 or 9-7.