Why the Eagles' fantasy QBs and WRs hit a 10-year low in 2016
(“Today’s Crazy Fantasy Stat” is an occasional offseason offering from PFF that highlights something that catches our eye and aids in our preparation for the 2017 fantasy season.)
If the Packers have a wide receiver finish in the top five at the position in fantasy points, it isn’t really a story. If the 49ers do it, though, we won’t shut up about it. Established standards of performance matter.
To that end, Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz didn’t have a bad rookie season by any means. He was the 21st-graded quarterback — below-average but ahead of names like Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and drafted-ahead-of-him Jared Goff. Ask football people if his rookie campaign was a success or failure, and you’ll generally get “success.” (I would know, because I did this.) And he certainly didn’t get much in the way of help from his wide receivers. But based on the established performance of his franchise, Wentz had the worst fantasy season of any regular starting quarterback in 2016.
That probably needs some explanation. Over the last 10 years entering 2016, the Eagles were one of only four teams (along with the Patriots, Saints and Steelers) with at least 200 fantasy points out of the quarterback position every season. Between Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and the exploits of Chip Kelly, “Eagles quarterback” has been a successful position. So, while Wentz did crack the 200-point threshold in 2016 (he had 214 fantasy points), his performance was 80.6 points worse than the team’s average over that timeframe. Compare that to the Rams, who had the league’s worst quarterback situation in 2016, but with a 10-year average of 183 fantasy points, their 170-point 2016 was only 13 points below the norm.
Only seven teams finished below their 10-year average at the position in 2016, and only the Eagles and Broncos (50.3 points below average) were 50-plus points subpar. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Eagles receivers were also the worst relative to average of any team last year, putting up 234 combined fantasy points, 135.7 points below their 10-year average and almost 70 below the next-worst number in that timeframe.
Wentz started the season well — he hovered around the top-10 fantasy QBs in points per game through Week 5 — but faded, and was only the 28th-best in fantasy points per game from Week 6 onward. Throwing to a wide receiver grouping led by Jordan Matthews didn’t help — Matthews had the best grade of any Eagles receiver, at 73.7. That was the worst grade for any team’s leading receiver, and the average grade of the team’s top three receivers (Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham and Nelson Agholor) was a league-worst 56.5.
This is an important offseason for the Eagles. The team had PFF’s ninth-graded overall defense in 2016, with our No. 2 pass rush. But the receiving corps was anemic. This is no secret, as rumors have had the Eagles linked to everyone from Alshon Jeffery to DeSean Jackson to Kenny Stills to Mike Williams. It would be a big surprise if the team didn’t add someone in the offseason to help Wentz out as he enters his sophomore campaign. But given the poor fantasy season Wentz offered in 2016 (only the Rams, Jets, Texans and Bears got fewer fantasy points from quarterbacks, and he had the fewest fantasy points of any quarterback who played all 16 games), there’s going to need to be a lot of improvement before he is anything for fantasy other than a two-QB league fill-in.