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With Chip Kelly riding off into the sunset – or more accurately, the 49ers’ new Santa Clara Levi’s Stadium – the Eagles are free to start over once again, with offensive coordinator Doug Pederson being promoted to head coach.
Despite the fire sale Kelly seemed to have before his departure, there are still a number of fantasy relevant players in Philadelphia. Rookie QB Carson Wentz will eventually make his way into the starting lineup to take over for QB Sam Bradford, who wasn’t bad last season: his receivers dropped almost 8% of their passes in 2015, which was good for the most drops in the NFL. Given the circumstances, the Eagles could do much worse…though it is a pity one cannot simply combine ‘Philadelphia QB’ into one person, since there will almost definitely be a QB competition this season.
WR Jordan Matthews is easily the most prolific receiver on the team, though the coaches have said that he will be playing primarily at slot receiver this coming season. He will likely be moved around as needed, but that definitely drops him in the overall WR rankings. Fellow WR Nelson Agholor will likely be used more on the perimeter, but he is far from a sure thing.
At the tight end position, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz hold down the fort, and Ertz has been a predicted breakout candidate every year since he was drafted in 2013. While he has not lived up to that reputation, he is still a viable candidate some weeks. If Celek were to ever leave or retire, I would be more confident in Ertz, but until that happens, he needs to bust out in a very big way to make the Eagles’ coordinators forget about Celek’s presence.
It also remains to be seen how effective the running game will be in 2016, but one thing is certain: the primary role will be given to Ryan Mathews after the Eagles traded RB DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans this offseason. Mathews has been oft-injured over his career, both with the Chargers and Eagles, but it is hard to deny his talent. With Darren Sproles carrying the load from a pass-catching/3rd down back standpoint (his value also increases in leagues with kickoff/punt return yards, keep in mind), perhaps Mathews will be able to finish a full 16-game season for the first time in his career.
Finally, the D/ST unit. While the Philly defence was brutalized often last season, what kept them fantasy relevant was their special teams. That alone kept the Eagles D/ST near the top of the rankings all season long, led by Sproles and the punt return unit. That kind of thing is hard to predict, and even harder to count on, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
QB Sam Bradford; QB Carson Wentz; WR Jordan Matthews; WR Nelson Agholor; TE Brent Celek; TE Zach Ertz; RB Ryan Mathews; RB Darren Sproles; Eagles D/ST