With Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz, Eagles offer mix of ascending talent and trusted veterans

Scott Pianowski, Matt Harmon and Liz Loza
·8-min read

The Yahoo Fantasy analysts will preview all 32 NFL teams between now and the eventual start of the 2020 draft season. Here, we’ll tackle pressing fantasy questions, #FantasyHotTaeks, and team win totals. Next up, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Miles Sanders’s current ADP is right at the top of the third round. Is this a wishful draft spot, or are you willing to select him at this spot?

Scott: The Eagles usually love their backfield platoons, so I still live in fear that they’re going to add a curious veteran. They were linked to Carlos Hyde, though that eventually didn’t happen. In recent years, Philadelphia was the surprising harbor for Jordan Howard, Jay Ajayi, and LeGarrette Blount. If you can still run without your knees popping, ring the Eagles.

But upside is a gigantic part of fantasy football (obviously not a new concept), and Sanders offers that. And his current Yahoo ADP (22) is a giveaway if you consider at the global market; Sanders has an ADP of 9.79 over the last month of NFFC drafting. Eventually, this discussion will morph into “Do you dare take Sanders around the 1-2 turn?” But for now, he’s priced favorably and enthusiastically approved. Play to win, gamers.

Matt: I’m all-in at that cost. The Eagles have always used a committee approach under Doug Pederson. Sure, that’s true, but honestly, I don’t blame him for not deploying LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, or any of the other middling options that hung around the depth chart in previous years. I just don’t think that’s a useful anecdote considering we’ve never seen a player with Miles Sanders’ combination ability, youth, and draft capital spent on the Eagles roster in the Pederson era. This same Philadelphia coaching staff trusted Sanders with a heavy workload to end 2019, as he averaged over 19 touches per game to close his rookie season. If he sees that volume as the lead man this season, he’s an easy bet to meet or beat his ADP.

Liz: After Jordan Howard suffered a shoulder injury in Week 9 of last year, Sanders averaged 19 touches per contest. Given the current state of Philly’s backfield, with Howard now in Miami and Darren Sproles enjoying retirement, the Penn State product figures to see a similar volume in 2020. Sure, creative wrinkles and gadget work from the talents of Jalen Reagor and Jalen Hurts could siphon away some of Sanders’ opportunities … but that’s going to take a minute. Figuring he manages a 300-touch season, there’s no reason he can’t be a top-12 producer. For context, I like him after Josh Jacobs, but ahead of Austin Ekler.

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2019 was the third-straight season Zach Ertz finished as a top-5 tight end, and his ADP reflects that (46.9). Do you think he delivers again, or is his draft cost too high?

Liz: Last summer there was a lot of discussion about Ertz being over-drafted because his target volume was likely to dwindle with various receivers back to health, and the additions of DeSean Jackson and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. We all know how that worked out.

The same argument could be used again this year. It’s possible that both of the Eagles’ 30-plus-year-old WRs stay on the field. Or that JJAWs breaks out and Jalen Reagor shines. All of which could take away from Ertz’s opportunities. Ultimately, however, Ertz is a proven key to Philly’s success. Per PFF, he’s not only gained the fifth-most yards from the slot by a TE in a single season since 2015 but he’s also ranked one of the five most valuable Eagles over the past decade.

He’s a proven stud at a volatile position … so his floor demands early-round capital. He’s the Yahoo consensus TE4.

Matt: Zach Ertz has averaged just over five catches per game in four of the last five seasons, with 2018 being the lone outlier. He hit 7.3 that season. It’s clear that was the outlier campaign. We watched as his targets dropped from 156 in 16 games in 2018 to 135 in 15 games last year. All that said, you have to rank him as a top-five tight end. So few players at the position are locked into 120-plus looks while tethered to a stable quarterback at the head of a good offense. Whether you feel compelled to take him is dependent on your roster construction and how you like the RB/WR options on the board around his ADP. But he’s a fine option this year, as usual.

Scott: I say this regretfully, because Ertz is one of my all-time favorites, and he has a special mind-meld with Carson Wentz. But Ertz quietly had a modest opportunity dip last year despite the Philadelphia wideouts morphing into Spinal Tap drummers. Forget if the Philly wideouts can play; if they can simply stay on the field (most of them), Ertz is a tricky bet into his age-30 season. With a juicy upside pool of tight ends (and some studs at the top of the queue), Ertz is essentially left in no-man’s land. I’ll root from afar in 2020, save for the occasional DFS punch.

The Eagles were a mess at wide receiver last season. Is there anyone among Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside you see as a bargain in 2020?

Matt: No. There isn’t a single Eagles wide receiver I will make a priority target in drafts this year. Alshon Jeffery isn’t a lock to start the season healthy. DeSean Jackson is well into the back-nine of his career. JJ Arcega-Whiteside had “one of these things doesn’t look like the other” intrigue in a receiver corps of small speedsters, but showed exactly nothing as a rookie. In a normal offseason, Jalen Reagor would be interesting but he needs work to develop and that time will be short in this COVID-adjusted world. I’ll just wait to see what happens here and won’t be invested.

Scott: Jeffery keeps leaking oil, losing efficiency, and having trouble staying on the field. Jackson enters his age-34 season and hasn’t gone the 16-game route since 2013. JJAW showed nothing last year, and Reagor is a rookie at a curious time for an onboard (to be fair, several rookies popped in 2011, amid circumstances that were also unusual). I suspect the depth of Philly’s pass-catchers could lead me to an affordable Carson Wentz ticket, and I’m sure there’s wideout profit here, somewhere. But none of these receivers are proactive picks for me, not right now anyway.

[2020 Draft Rankings: Overall | QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | DST | Kickers]

Liz: I’m admittedly high on Reagor. His craftiness paired with his speed is certainly intriguing. However, I’m interested to see what JJAWS does this season. The second-round selection from a year ago spent much of his rookie campaign banged up. Battling a severe lower-body injury for most of the season, the former Cardinal wasn’t able to showcase his top-notch ball-tracking ability or his contested catch prowess. If he can stay healthy and earn enough reps to build chemistry with Wentz, he could surpass Alshon (who’s dealing with an injured foot and some spilled tea) as the team’s X receiver. Attached to an ascending QB and part of a prolific offense, there’s sleeper potential there for sure.

Philadelphia Eagles 2020 projected lineup
Philadelphia Eagles 2020 projected lineup


Matt: Miles Sanders beats or meets the optimism his ADP suggests and Boston Scott finishes as a top-40 RB in PPR formats. I truly believe this offense will once again run through its tight ends and running backs in the pass game this season. It wouldn’t shock me to see Sanders and Scott combine for over 110 catches. Scott was a positive presence on the team to end last year, catching 23 passes over the final four weeks. I don’t think he loses his role. The lack of reliable slot options in this offense makes him a good option to see snaps as a short area receiver.

OVER/UNDER on 9.5 Win Total from BetMGM

Scott: It’s a fair number and a centered one; you get the under at even money, and only pay the slight -120 bump on the over. I’m going to give a slight UNDER lean for a few reasons; I like Dallas’s roster better inside the NFC East, and I’m not thrilled about the AFC North and NFC West full-division draws. The Eagles fell short of this number in three of the four Wentz seasons, though that other year was certainly worth it. The Eagles may or may not have full ascent this year, but Flags Fly Forever.

Follow Matt: @MattHarmon_BYB

Follow Scott: @scott_pianowski

Follow Liz: @LizLoza_FF

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