Eagles Fantasy Beat with Chris McPherson
Mike Clay has taken to the airwaves to host a Pro Football Focus fantasy football show on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio (10 am ET weekdays – Sirius 210 & XM 87). In addition to his strategy and insight, Clay has had the opportunity to bring in beat writers around the nation to provide an insider fantasy spin on the teams they cover.
This week he had the chance to speak with beat writer Chris McPherson of PhiladelphiaEagles.com. You can find Chris on Twitter @cmaceagles
Getting Back To The Run
The Eagles are built to run the football under Chip Kelly. Mike asked McPherson if the Eagles would take a more run-heavy approach in 2015.
“I certainly expect it,” McPherson said. “In short yardage and in the red zone, the Eagles weren’t able to run the ball effectively with [LeSean] McCoy. If you look at McCoy’s east-west style, Chip Kelly said, ‘Look, I need guys that can get me 3 yards when the time is needed.’ I feel like he has that with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. [Eagles offensive lineman] Jason Peters said the moves they made are to ground and pound this season and reduce the turnovers. They led the league with 36 after setting franchise record for fewest in 2013 with 19.”
Don’t Count Out Sproles
“I don’t feel like Chip got the opportunity to use [Darren] Sproles the way he wanted to (in 2014),” McPherson added. “I expected him to get 60 to 65 catches but he only got 40. Chip had to ease up on Sproles’ touches because he knew he had to rely on him as the No. 2 guy.”
If Kelly can find a way to get enough snaps for Sproles to get up to 60-65 catches, he will be a valuable asset in PPR leagues at his current ADP.
Here’s How The Split Works Out
Mike moved on to a topic on the top of every fantasy footballers mind – the Eagles’ backfield distribution. Mike expects a 53 – 30 – 17 split, but asked Chris to make his own prediction.
“I would give a little more to Mathews, but you’re right in the ballpark,” McPherson said. “I think the high teens (carries) is where you want to have Murray. But Ryan Mathews has embraced the sports science and he feels better. They’re in situations where they don’t have to be ‘the guy.’ No question, Murray is the lead guy, but Ryan Mathews is being undersold and undervalued.”
It looks like Mathews will have a bigger role in the offense than some anticipate, but it might be difficult to project his week-to-week production. This makes him an excellent target in best-ball leagues at his current ADP.
Is The Zach Ertz Breakout Finally Here?
This offseason, Ertz focused on improving his blocking and even met up with Tony Gonzalez to get some tips. The hype is back in full force, and he’s moving up the ADP ranks fast. Mike asked McPherson if this will finally be the season where Ertz becomes an elite fantasy tight end.
“I do believe that this is the year and I was conservative with him last year,” McPherson said. “You have to replace Jeremy Maclin’s production. I think with the offseason Ertz has had, if his blocking has improved, Ertz is primed to take the next step. I think he can be a top five fantasy tight end. I think he will have a more consistent role – it won’t all come in one week. I am bullish. The Eagles realize how much of a playmaker he is. With Maclin’s 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns, Ertz will get a piece of that.”
Ertz played 50 percent of the team’s snaps in 2014, while starter Brent Celek saw 69 percent. If Ertz can prove that his blocking is at the next level, he could carve into Celek’s snaps. It will be difficult to envision the Eagles using less 11 personnel packages to get both Celek and Ertz on the field at the same time.
Not So Fast On Nelson Agholor
No one is denying that one day rookie Nelson Agholor will have a major role in the Eagles’ offense. However, it’s harder to say when that day will come. The Eagles’ depth chart at wide receiver is murky heading into training camp, so Mike wanted to know – if it’s 3rd and 7, who is the QB and who are the three wide receivers?
“Bradford, and for the WRs I’m saying Josh Huff,” McPherson said. “He ran with the ones all spring practices. I think Huff flashed some talent that I don’t even know if Jordan Matthews has. He has a spark and juice. He has a running back build and that’s how he plays with the ball in the open field. He wasn’t able to be consistent enough in his rookie season. Agholor has all the talent, but Riley Cooper is the guy with the first team offense. The coaches appreciated what Cooper brings to the table. I’m going Huff, Cooper, Matthews.”
The last nugget was arguably the most intriguing of the entire interview. Upgrade Josh Huff immediately as a priority late-round flier.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy and he covers the NFC East beat for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL. You can also add him to your network on Google+ to find all of his past material.