SLOW YOUR ROLL?

Why ESPN fantasy expert Berry isn't sold on Miles Sanders

SLOW YOUR ROLL?

When football analysts and fans reach a consensus, it's healthy to challenge whatever idea they're all agreeing on.

On Wednesday, ESPN's Matthew Berry decided to be the person to speak up amid what has been a largely pro-Miles Sanders offseason and suggest that, just maybe, we're overrating the Eagles' starting running back a bit.

Berry released his "Love/Hate" column for the 2020 season this week, and Sanders surprisingly appeared in the "Hate" category for running backs. The long-time ESPN fantasy analyst began by saying he thinks Sanders is good, and will have a good season - but he won't be picking him in fantasy.

Here's some of the explanation:

If we assume much better health for all the Eagles' skill-position players, I'm not convinced Sanders gets [a huge] workload. Oh, he'll get work. But consider that Doug Pederson has been the head coach of the Eagles for 64 regular-season games. Only nine times in those 64 games has a single running back gotten more than 20 touches in a game.

[...]

You're dealing with a six-game sample. If we are in on using small samples, why is Austin Ekeler, who was all-world in four games last season in the same situation he will be in for this entire season, going after Sanders? Why is Sanders going before Kenyan Drake, who was all-world for eight games? Sanders is going before Aaron Jones, who was all-world for a full season. He is being drafted ahead of Josh Jacobs, who also has no competition and has a full-year sample size of being a rock star.

 

It sounds more like Berry thinks Sanders is over-valued than he "hates" Sanders in 2020, but he's the one who writes the column, not me.

After his excellent rookie year, Sanders seems to have a head of steam in the football discourse. Earlier this offseason, himself Sanders proclaimed 2020 his "MVP year", setting a lofty goal for his second season.

But it's not just Sanders tooting his own horn.

In early August, former Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew put Sanders on "breakout" watch this season, predicting 1,500 yards from scrimmage for Boobie.

And just a week ago, NFL Network's Nate Burleson predicted that Sanders would out-rush Saquon Barkley in 2020, a bold prediction considering Barkley has racked up 2,310 yards through his first two seasons with the Giants.

It is important, of course, to remember that Berry is talking about fantasy football and not real football. You can have a great season in actual football without becoming a fantasy darling.

But, outside of quarterbacks, the two are often related. If Sanders has the 2020 season most people expect him to, he'll probably also be a top-notch fantasy option, thanks to his dual-threat potential to be the Eagles' best pass-catching rusher since Brian Westbrook.

We'll see what 2020 holds for Sanders. I think it's going to be good.

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