Eagles Sign Ryan Mathews
Following a bizarre sequence of events that began with Frank Gore reneging on his verbal agreement with the Eagles on Sunday and Ryan Mathews flapping in the wind after his own verbal agreement was put on hold during the courting of DeMarco Murray, Mathews has finally signed his three-year deal with the Eagles and will now join a suddenly crowded backfield in the city of brotherly love.
It’s tough to spin this in any sort of positive light for Mathews’ fantasy value. He is going to be much more valuable to the Eagles as a Murray insurance policy than he will be to fantasy owners. PFF’s own forecasting guru Mike Clay has Mathews seeing 141 touches in 2015 compared to Murray’s 310 in his initial projections.
At his career average of 4.84 yards per touch, that would give Mathews 682 total yards, well below his career averages of 214 touches for 1,034 total yards. That is not to mention the fact that Murray is an excellent goal line back and will most likely be Chip Kelly’s preferred option in the red area, and that Darren Sproles is sure to steal the bulk of third down passing game work.
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In redraft leagues, Mathews will make for interesting mid-to late round flier as he is sure to see more work than just about any other “back up” running back in the league in Kelly’s high volume rushing attack. Murray has an extensive injury history (as does Mathews) and if the former Cowboy were to miss any time, Mathews would be a plug-and-play RB1.
For dynasty, this is a death knell to his already decreasing market value. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with him as anything more than my RB4, even in deeper leagues. Even a late second round rookie pick would be enough to pry him away from me if I owned him, but you are probably better off waiting to move him until the season starts and Murray potentially misses time if you want to maximize his value. He has a current dynasty ADP of 123 overall (37th running back). At that low price, I would be holding for the time being.
I don’t think this affects my valuation of Murray that much short or long term. I was wary of being too invested in him anyway after Dallas ran him into the ground with 392 carries entering unrestricted free agency, but that wariness appears to already have been baked into his dynasty ADP of 29th overall (7th running back). While I personally agree with it, that ADP seems relatively low for the leading point-getter at the position this past year. The Eagles run enough plays and specifically rushing plays that Murray is still going to get his; as always with him it will be a question of health.
Being spelled by Mathews could actually be a positive in this regard. Sharing a marginal part of his workload could increase his longevity. While I would be holding him for now and looking to sell in-season, I wouldn’t blame someone for looking to cash out now that he has a good landing spot and his value has stabilized in the eyes of the dynasty community. Similarly, I don’t see Sproles very-specific passing game and occasional red zone role changing that much. He will still be a useful bye-week PPR fill in; nothing more, nothing less.
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