There’s nothing quite like the Free Agency. In a matter of minutes, a team in need at key positions becomes a contender, months before the season even begins. The roster changes and us, fantasy geeks start speculating if a certain move will pay off or will just frustrate fantasy owners.
One of the most interesting teams so far in this offseason has been the Philadelphia Eagles. After a lackluster season by pretty much all wide receivers on the roster, the team has signed two names that will definitely impact their offensive game plan: Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. Alongside Jordan Matthews and the tight end Zach Ertz, Carson Wentz sure has a lot of targets to pass to. How do these moves change the value of each of these players?
The Positive Effects
Firstly, Carson Wentz becomes a viable fantasy starter. Smith, Jeffery, and Matthews by themselves are powerful tools because they can basically create matchup nightmares for the defense. Torrey Smith can stretch the field, creating room for short and medium routes. Jordan Matthews can return to his role in the slot and be extremely effective underneath, while Jeffery can be moved around almost freely on each formation: in chess, Jeffery would be the Queen. Then, we have Zach Ertz, another piece on the board that can thrive on short routes in the middle of the field and the red-zone.
With that in mind, Carson Wentz had 607 attempts on his rookie season – a number only smaller than four other quarterbacks. The volume for this offense is there, and now they have two explosive playmakers that can turn a slant route into a touchdown. I wouldn’t draft Wentz before the 11th, 12th round – I honestly think he’ll go undrafted in many leagues – but he looks like the kind of player that will provide great value for the quarterback position.
Pederson, being the Reid’s pupil he is, loves screens, short and medium passes to the inside receivers and heavy sets, their offense should rely on the tight end and running backs in the passing game. Having Darren Sproles is a blessing; he’s the explosive player they want on the backfield. I must say I’m not going too deep on their RB situation right now; they might land Christian McCaffrey in the Draft, or sign an available veteran.
The biggest question lies with the receiving corp. Which of these tools will have the biggest impact on fantasy football and which one provides the greatest value? Well, let’s take a brief look at the current situation.
As last year, I still consider Torrey Smith to be an unreliable asset. His hands were off in 2016, and the same might happen now. This isn’t the main reason for distrusting Smith, though. He will play a very specific role as a deep threat, and those 70-yard bombs don’t come that often. If we consider Doug Pederson’s offensive tendencies – which are pretty similar to Andy Reid’s -, he might not see that long ball that often to be a starting wide receiver for your fantasy team. He’s that good old boom or bust kind of guy, leaning towards bust.
That will naturally take some targets away from Jordan Matthews. While I do expect him to be more efficient with his share of the passing game, I’m not sure he’ll receive tons of targets per game that would make him a nice flex play. I do think he has that quick pass touchdown inside the five value, but when you also have Jeffery and Ertz on the field, that value dissolves a bit.
Finally, there’s Alshon Jeffery. Arguably the most talented receiver on the Philadelphia Eagles, Jeffery is in a great position to beat smaller defenders on the outside, create physical feuds with linebackers over the middle and be a very tall target in the red zone. As previously said, he can be used in a very versatile way. If we combine Jeffery’s physical and technical skills with Carson Wentz’s to extend plays and put the ball in small windows, this quarterback-receiver duo will be a hard one to stop for defensive coordinators.
Zach Ertz is in a great position. If the other receivers will draw the attention of the defense, the tight end will have a lot of opportunities in the short passing game, which is especially valuable in PPR formats.
The New Philadelphia Eagles
While the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense has definitely improved with this Free Agency moves, there’s still a lot of questions hovering over Philadelphia. Considering all the variables in this offense, I’d bet on Carson Wentz, Zach Ertz, and Alshon Jeffery this year. I wouldn’t pick them early – honestly, Jeffery will probably be picked on the 2nd or 3rd, which might be a little too high, but their value in mid-to-late rounds are great.