Fantasy football Week 8 advice: Which Eagles running back is worth starting?

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Fantasy football Week 8 advice: Which Eagles running back is worth starting?

You better not be starting Blake Bortles or any Jaguars receiver this Sunday. If you are, don't even continue reading, you're not making the fantasy playoffs anyway.

The only fantasy-relevant Jags in this game are T.J. Yeldon and the Jacksonville defense/special teams. Even Yeldon's production could suffer with Carlos Hyde now in the mix. Keep in mind, the Eagles have allowed the fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL (55.3) and just two rushing TDs in seven weeks. Neither Yeldon nor Hyde would be a comfortable start.

Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery are obvious must-starts. Jeffery has looked even better and healthier this season than he did last. Ertz is the most consistent fantasy tight end right now, ahead of even Travis Kelce.

On to the borderline guys, with the obligatory reminder to set your lineup by tonight with the 9:30 a.m. ET game Sunday:

Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement

Unless you absolutely have to, I'd stay away from the Eagles' running backs this week. You're likely going to need a touchdown for either Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood to be productive and how would you ever know which one is going to get those goal-line touches?

Since Jay Ajayi went down for the season, Smallwood has gotten seven carries inside the 20-yard line. On those carries, Smallwood has gained 0, 1, 2, 3, 3, 6 and -2 yards. He hasn't gotten a carry inside the 9-yard line.

During that same period, Clement has gotten just two carries inside the 20. One was a 1-yard touchdown. The other was a 14-yard gain that set up a 1st-and-Goal from the 1.

Just a muddy situation. Clement is the better start because he should catch a few passes, but neither is a safe bet for double-digit points.

WR Nelson Agholor

It bodes well for Agholor that the Jags' weakest performance all season came against the Cowboys and slot receiver Cole Beasley. Otherwise, Jacksonville has shut receivers down. Even DeAndre Hopkins, who went 3-50-TD against them last week, did so on eight targets.

Agholor is having one of the strangest years ever for a wide receiver, catching almost exclusively short passes. 

Is this the week the Eagles let his routes develop a bit more? You'd figure that with all the recent emphasis on Ertz and Jeffery, the Jags will try their best to take those two away.

I could see Agholor going 7-for-77 in this game, decent WR3 numbers.

Play Agholor over: Sterling Shepard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Will Fuller, Marvin Jones, Jordy Nelson, Larry Fitzgerald

QB Carson Wentz

Most weeks, Wentz is a must-start. But the Jaguars, despite their massive drop-off from last year, are still stingy against quarterbacks. They've held opposing QBs to 195 passing yards with just 6 TDs and 3 interceptions.

They have, however, allowed the third-most rushing yards to opposing QBs. This could be a game in which Wentz scrambles once or twice for a big gain.

The only way you don't start Wentz this week is if you have one of the following QBs: Pat Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff.

I'd still go with Wentz over Cam Newton, DeShaun Watson, Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton.

Just keep in mind that no team has been better against opposing receivers and tight ends than the Jaguars. An A.J. Bouye absence would help the Eagles' cause, but Jalen Ramsey will likely blanket Jeffery.

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11 trade targets for Eagles as NFL trade deadline approaches

11 trade targets for Eagles as NFL trade deadline approaches

The NFL trade deadline is a week away. Things are heating up and prices aren’t cheap. 

The Texans traded a third-round pick to the Raiders for cornerback Gareon Conley and the Patriots traded a second-round pick to the Falcons for WR Mohamed Sanu. 

So if the Eagles are going to make a trade by the deadline of 4 p.m. on Oct. 29, it might be expensive. And with so many needs, it’s fair to ask whether or not it’s even worth bringing in one player. 

But Roseman has traditionally been an aggressive GM and he has brought in a player at the deadline in each of the last two seasons. The Eagles were 4-4 when they brought in Golden Tate last season and if they win on Sunday, they’d be 4-4 just before the deadline again. 

So if Roseman does want to pull off a trade, here are 11 players who would make some sense: 

Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson

We’re not going to have this story without Peterson, who is always in these conversations. Even after Jalen Mills came back and with Ronald Darby and Cre’Von LeBlanc nearing returns, Peterson would still be a great improvement. He’s an eight-time Pro Bowler who would immediately make a difference. It would likely take a first-round pick to get him from the Cardinals. 

Broncos CB Chris Harris

The 30-year-old from Denver likely wouldn’t be as expensive, but if Conley brought back a third-round pick, maybe Harris would be more expensive than we thought. Harris is at his best in the nickel corner role but could really play anywhere. 

Falcons CB Desmond Trufant

After trading Sanu, we know the Falcons are willing to sell. They got a second-rounder from New England, but we all kind of understand that’s probably going to be the last or second-to-last pick in the round. The Falcons will want a first-round pick for Trufant, which is steep, but maybe they’ll be eager to dump his salary for a second. 

Bengals DT Geno Atkins

It seems like the Bengals don’t want to sell, but they stink and Atkins is 31. After losing Malik Jackson and then Tim Jernigan, the Eagles have really been lacking interior pass rush next to Fletcher Cox. Atkins has a few more expensive years left on his deal but would make an immediate impact. 

Jets DT Leonard Williams

The Jets have said they don’t want to trade Williams, but he’s in the final year of his contract (a fifth-year option season) and he was a first-round pick of a previous GM. The Eagles also obviously have a pretty close relationship with the Jets' current GM, Joe Douglas. Williams wants big money, which might be a problem since the Eagles already have big money committed to Cox. Maybe he’d be too expensive as a rental, but it’s worth a call. 

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders

He’s 32, so we’re not talking about a building block for the future, but Sanders would help a receiving corps in Philly that has been mostly awful. Maybe a fourth-round pick would get it done. 

Jets WR Robby Anderson

The 26-year-old is on that sinking ship in New York and has plenty of downfield speed. The Eagles have missed the deep threat DeSean Jackson was supposed to provide. 

Dolphins WR DeVante Parker

The Dolphins have seemingly traded everyone else, so why not Parker? He could definitely use a change of scenery and is still on a pretty team-friendly deal for two years. He isn’t having a great year but is averaging 15.8 yards per catch. 

Bengals WR A.J. Green

I don’t know what it would cost and Green is 31 and coming off an ankle injury, but it’s worth a call. He isn’t expected to return until after the trade deadline, which makes things tricky. 

Broncos EDGE Von Miller

Miller was at the Eagles-Cowboys game in Dallas on Sunday, so unfortunately he watched that butt-whooping. I’d put this in the “worth a call” category. 

Bengals EDGE Carlos Dunlap

The Bengals should really be selling and the Eagles need more pass rush. He’s 30 and signed through 2021.

Trying to hold Eagles together, Doug Pederson taking lessons from 2015 Chiefs

Trying to hold Eagles together, Doug Pederson taking lessons from 2015 Chiefs

Doug Pederson thinks the Eagles will rebound from adversity because he has seen one of his teams do it before. 

After back-to-back blowout losses, the Eagles are now 3-4 with nine games left to play, but Pederson has seen an even worse situation get turned around. 

Back in 2015, when he was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, the Chiefs began the season with a 1-5 record, but then won 10 straight games to make the playoffs. Pederson brought up the comparison on his own Monday. 

I see a lot of the same similarities kind of where we are. We're only 3-4, and we're still a game out of first place in our division here with a lot of football left.

“Obviously, a sense of urgency has to pick up from the standpoint of each week becomes a little more important. But we have the guys in the locker room, I have the coaches on this staff to get it done, and that's what we're going to do.

Basically, Pederson’s message on Monday is that the season isn’t over and he’s right; the Eagles are still just one game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East. It’s just not going to be easy. With the current playoff system (since 1990), there have been 192 teams to start the season with a 3-4 record; 34 of them (17.7 percent) have made the playoffs.

If the Eagles lose to Buffalo, their odds to make the playoffs obviously drop. Just 8.8 percent of teams starting with a 3-5 record have made it to the postseason since 1990. 

Pederson referenced that 2015 Chiefs team, but are there really similarities? 

“I think, No. 1, it starts with me,” he said. “My messaging to the team. And then the leaders of the football team. I think about back then, the guys that we had in that locker room and keeping it together, and that's the type of men we have here in this locker room; they are not going to let one game define the season or a couple games define our season. 

“They are going to get better, learn from it. And that's what we did back then and so we are going to carry that over to this year.”

Take a look at the the starts for the 2015 Chiefs and the 2019 Eagles: 

After the Chiefs lost to Minnesota in Week 6 of 2015, they won their next two games before their bye week. The Eagles have two more games until their bye week in 2019, so maybe this is an appropriate time for the comparison. 

I found an interesting column from Terez A. Paylor, then of the the Kansas City Star, from Jan. 8, 2016, listing the 10 things that led to the Chiefs’ 10-game winning streak and a playoff berth. One of them was that the Chiefs had a much easier schedule down the stretch: Their opponents had a winning percentage of .604 in the first six, compared to .419 in the last 10. The Eagles aren’t getting that type of drop-off. In fact, they’re about to face a tougher schedule: .436 to .483.  

So not all of the reasons apply to the Eagles — these are different teams — but a few of them from the column definitely caught my attention: 

1. The offensive line’s improvement 

The Eagles could definitely benefit from their offensive line play improving. The Chiefs were in a much worse position with their O-line in 2015, being forced to play seven different combinations. The Eagles, meanwhile, were expected to have one of the best offensive lines in the league and they haven’t. Sure, Andre Dillard is playing left tackle now, but that unit should be better and could turn things around. 

2. Quarterback Alex Smith’s running ability 

Basically, Smith started making plays with his legs and bought himself more time. We’ve seen Wentz do that in 2019, but he has the ability to take over games and he needs to do it now. 

4. Finding an offensive identity 

The Chiefs lost their identity when Jamaal Charles went down in Week 5 but the Chiefs stuck with the run, using Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. The Eagles don’t really have an identity on offense right now either, but for different reasons. Finding it could go a long way. This is on Pederson. 

7. The rebirth of Pro Bowlers 

In 2015, several key defensive players for the Chiefs started playing like it during their run. Guys like Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry all played much better down the stretch. The Eagles need Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins and their other top defensive players to pick up the slack. 

8. Andy Reid’s steady hand 

Read this excerpt from Paylor: 

“When the Chiefs were 1-5, Reid was asked a variety of questions about his process. Would he consider handing over the offensive play calling? Would he consider making staff changes? Would he make any other drastic changes? 

“The answer each time? Nope. Reid took responsibility for all his team’s failures, but expressed confidence in his staff and players’ ability to turn it around. Multiple players have said that Reid’s steadiness during this time of unease — even with chairman Clark Hunt’s vote of confidence in November — instilled a sense of belief in their abilities.” 

That sounds exactly like what Pederson is trying to do now. 

9. A good locker room 

In 2015, Reid leaned on his locker room and the family culture he created in Kansas City. 

Pederson on Monday mentioned he needs his leaders to step up and help keep the football team together. He has mentioned several times how much he leans on his players committee. There’s a reason the Eagles worry about culture so much. 

Maybe these lessons from the Chiefs will help the Eagles or maybe they won’t. We’ll find out soon enough if the Eagles are able to turn things around like the Chiefs did in 2015 or if the season will end up being a complete disaster. 

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