From 1988 to 2016, the Eagles made the playoffs 16 times with a Super Bowl appearance in 2004. After missing the postseason for three straight years, Philly gave their fans a magical ride in 2017 for their first Super Bowl title with a 13-3 record in the regular season. Doug Pederson moved to the upper echelon in the coaching world with his win. Pederson has 20-12 record over two seasons at the head coach in Philadelphia. Over the previous three seasons, Doug was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. He worked under Reid for eight years in Philadelphia and Kansas City.
The Eagles moved to third in points scored (457) and seventh in offensive yards gained, which was a vast improvement over 2016 in both areas (16th) and (22nd). They scored 90 more points than 2016 (367). With success in 2017, Philly lost their offensive coordinator (Frank Reich) who will be replaced by Mike Groh. Groh has five seasons of experience in the NFL coaching with most coming as a wide receiver’s coach, which was the position Mike held for the Eagles last year.
The defense improved dramatically in the two seasons under Jim Schwartz. Philadelphia allowed 430 points in 2015 with Chip Kelly running an uptick offense. They lowered their points allowed to 331 in 2016 and 295 in 2017, which moved their ranking in this area form 28th, 12th, and 4th. The same path was followed by their yards allowed on defense (30th, 13th, and 4th). Schwartz will run the defense for the third straight season after taking a year off from the NFL in 2015. Over five seasons as a head coach for the Lions, Jim went 29-51 with one playoff berth. He has 11 years of experience as a defensive coordinator.
As expected after winning a Super Bowl, the Eagles only signed two free agents.
They signed WR Mike Wallace to replace Torrey Smith who was traded to the Panthers in March. Wallace offers big play ability along with value in TDs at the goal line. The change to Philly’s offense should be a big win for him.
The other player added the offseason was DT Haloti Ngata who has a long resume of success in the NFL, but he missed 11 games in 2017 with a torn biceps injury. He projects more as a rotational run stopper with some value rushing the QB while starting the year at age 34.
Philly moved on from RB LeGarrette Blount and K Caleb Sturgis. Both positions have better options in-house.
Both DT Beau Allen and DE Vinny Curry signed with the Buccaneers. Curry had his best season in the NFL at age 29 while setting a career high in tackles (42) with three sacks. He was an asset on against the run as well. Allen is only a rotational player against the run with no upside rushing the QB.
The Eagles lost CB Patrick Robinson and CB Jaylen Watkins. Robinson played great in coverage after failing to live up to expectation in his previous seven seasons after getting drafted in the first round in 2010. He may have found his niche as CB3. Watkins was only a low-value bench player in the secondary.
TE Trey Burton proved to be more than a backup player when given an opportunity to start for the Eagles. He flew the coop to gain more playing time with the Bears.
Help via the draft was minimal in 2018 for Philadelphia. They only have five draft picks with none in the first and third rounds.
In a way, the Eagles almost tried to cock block the Cowboys in the second round with TE Dallas Goedert after Jason Witten retired. Goedert gives Philly a second pass catching TE, but he may need time to develop after playing at a small school (South Dakota St.). He’ll threaten the defense in all area while offering strength and strong hands. His route running and blocking skills need development while needing to prove he can beat better defenders.
CB Avonte Maddox and DE Josh Sweat were the choices in the fourth round.
Maddox is an undersized corner (5’9 and 184 lbs.) with explosive speed (4.39) and quickness. He plays with toughness in his game while needing to add more strength and bulk to handle bigger WRs in the NFL. His next step in his development will come in more aggression in press coverage and better discipline in his reads of pass routes and ball fakes.
Sweat has a disrupter skill set thanks to his speed (4.53) and quickness. His hands offer an edge, but Josh needs a better plan and more strength to defeat stronger offensive linemen in the pass rush. His first step is a negative off the snap, which pushes him more off the line of the scrimmage in his pass rush. Health and motivation are concerns with his long-term value for the Eagles.
With their last two selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, Philly added a pair of offensive linemen – T Matt Pryor and T Jordan Mailata.
Pryor is a mountain of a man (6’7” and 332 lbs.) who will need to battle his weight to offer starting value in the NFL. He’ll be a beast in a quick hitting power run game. His technique and game plan off the snap needs work. Matt has upside for sure with enough lower half to handle the pass rush if he keeps in game shape.
Mailata is a beast of a man as well (6’8” and 346 Lbs.), but he has no football experience after earning his stripes to the NFL as a rugby player in Australia. He comes with questions with his upper body strength and short area quickness.
The Eagles finished 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards (2,115), but they only scored nine rushing TDs. They averaged 4.5 yards per carry while leading the league in runs over 20 yards (9). Philly did lead the NFL in fumbles (11) in 2017, which is an area they need to clean up going forward.
Philadelphia led the NFL in passing TDs (38) while doing an excellent job minimizing the damage in interceptions (9). They ranked 13th in passing yards (3,737) while gaining only 7.0 yards per pass attempt. Their offensive line allowed 36 sacks and 107 QB hits.
LT Jason Peters has been a steady force on the left side of this line over the last decade with his best play coming over the previous six seasons. He’ll enter 2017 at age 36. Peters was at his best last year in pass protection while ranking highly in run blocking, but he did miss the last nine games of the season with a knee injury that required surgery. Philly will try to squeeze one more year out of him.
LG Stefan Wisniewski has been a neutral player in his NFL career. He struggled in pass protection last year while ranking well as a run blocker. He missed four games last year while battling an ankle issue that led to some missed time in the Super Bowl.
C Jason Kelce was the best player at his position last year, but he did have risk in pass protection. His high grade came from his dominating value in run blocking. Kelce is a former sixth-round draft pick (2011) with five other strong seasons on his resume.
RG Brandon Brooks played exceptionally well over the last two seasons in all areas. Brooks offered an edge in four of his previous five years in the league after getting drafted in the third round in 2012.
RT Lane Johnson played well in each of the last four seasons, but he was suspended for 10-games in 2016. Lane has strength in run blocking while his pass protection showed growth last year. Johnson is a former first-round pick (2013).
Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled in all areas as the top bench option on the offensive line in 2017.
Last season was the year of the Eagles, which started with some play on the offensive line followed by growth in Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. The right side of the offensive line has talent while Jason Peters may not be the same player at age 36 after a significant knee injury. Philly allowed plenty of pressure on the QB, which may end up being more of a problem in 2018. Talent wise, the Eagles have a top-eight line in the NFL with the key being the success at left tackle.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).
This information is based on 2017, which will work as our starting point for 2018. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2017 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2017.
2017 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.
2017 Adjustment is based on the 2017 league average and the 2017 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.
Philly has three games (TEN, MIN, and CAR) against teams that played well vs. the run in 2017. Their rushing attack will have the most upside in two games against the Redskins.
Their pass schedule ranks at the league average with two tough games (MIN and JAC). They have five contests (TB, IND, TEN, and NYG X 2) with below par success defending the pass. The Giants have enough talent in the secondary to be improved against WRs in 2018.
With the Eagles playing from the league in most games in 2017, they ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing attempts (473) while being one of the best teams in the league breaking long runs. Even with success in passing TDs (3), they were only league average in passing attempts (35.2 per game). This offense will be balanced again in 2018, but they may be better running in TDs in the red zone.
QB Carson Wentz – Over two seasons in the NFL, Wentz has an 18-11 record with a fair completion rate (61.5). His best area of growth in his sophomore season was his game management skills. Carson posted 33 TDs over 13 games while being on pace to lead the NFL in TDs. He cut his interceptions (7) in half from 2016 (14) while adding more length to his yards per attempts (7.5). Over an eight-game strength from Week 2 to Week 11, Wentz never had over 32 passing attempts. Carson had six games with three TDs or more and four games with over 300 yards passing. Despite growth as a runner (64/299), he didn’t score a rushing TD in 2017. His torn ACL came on a rushing play at the goal line. The Eagles expect him to be ready for the start of the regular season. In 2018, Wentz has three strong WRs plus an elite TE. When you add in passing catching talent at RB, and upside second TE, Carson has all the tools to continues his path to a top QB in the NFL. His next step is 4,500 combined yards with 35+ TDs. The biggest threat to his downside will be an uptick in rushing TDs.
QB Nick Foles – As a relief QB over the last three games of the 2017 regular season and playoffs, Foles led the Eagles to five wins in six games with his best success coming in the NFC Championship game (352/2) and Super Bowl (373/3). Over his three games in the playoffs, Nick had a 72.6 percent completion rate while gaining 9.2 yards per pass attempt leading to 971 yards and six TDs. Foles has a 17-10 record in his career while proving he has the talent to offer winning upside if needed to start for the Eagles.
Other Options: Nate Sudfeld, Joe Callahan
RB Jay Ajayi – After a breakthrough season in 2016 with the Dolphins, Ajayi fell out of favor with Miami’s coaching staff after a slow start to the year (532 combined yards with no TDs and seven catches). His game was much improved with the Eagles (5.8 yards per rush and 9.1 yards per catch). With Miami, Jay averaged 21.7 touches per game compared to 11.4 with Philadelphia. Over his last three games with the Eagles, Ajayi gained 242 combined yards with five catches and one TD on 46 touches plus 254 combined yards in three games in the playoffs with 16 touches per game. In 2018, the RBs on Philly combined for 2,287 yards with 13 TDs and 53 catches. In 2018, Jay will be the early down back with minimal chances in the passing game. A fair starting point would be 250 touches for 1,200 yards with a chance at double-digit TDs. Ajayi will have the most value in games when Philly plays from the lead. Mid-tier RB2 in PPR leagues.
RB Corey Clement – As a part-time player buried on the depth chart, Clement gained 444 combined yards with six TDs and ten catches in his rookie season after signing with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent. His best game in the regular season came in Week 9 (67 combined yards with three TDs and one catch. Corey came up big as well in the Super Bowl (108 combined yards with one TD and three catches). Sneaky backup player in 2018 as he could be one injury away from a top 20 opportunity.
RB Wendell Smallwood – Over three years with West Virginia, Smallwood rushed for 2,462 yards on 425 carries with 12 rushing TDs. He also caught 68 passes for 618 yards with no receiving TDs. His value moved onto the NFL map after his junior season (238/1519/6 with 26 catches for 160 yards). His resume won’t blow you away, and his game doesn’t look to be explosive. In his last season in college, he ran many of his plays out of the shotgun where he delivered 59 runs of 10 yards or more. He needs to prove he can run through tight quarters in the NFL while handing his duties in pass protection. His style of play warrants volume of touches, but it could produce short results at times. Wendell has some talent as a pass catcher. Over two seasons in the NFL, Smallwood gained 644 combined yards with two TDs and 19 catches. An early season knee injury cost him a better than expected opportunity after the Eagles lost Darren Sproles for the season.
RB Darren Sproles – Sproles missed 13 games last year after breaking his right arm and tearing his ACL in his right knee in after three games. At age 35, Darren has a lot to overcome to regain any playable value in the Fantasy market. Last year Philly only completed 53 balls to the running back position, which set a boring picture for Darren in 2018. From 2014 and 2016, Sproles averaged 8.3 touches per game with 147 catches for 1,202 yards and 14 combined TDs. Wrong kind of Fantasy bet even with a low price on draft day.
Other Options: Donnel Pumphrey, Matt Jones, Josh Adams
WR Alshon Jeffery – Jeffery played a full season in 2017 for the only the second time in his career. He averaged 7.5 targets per game while coming up short in his catch rate (47.5). His best value came in TDs (9). Alshon played well in Week 2 (7/92/1) while delivering the most consistency from Week 9 to Week 14 (28/36/6) when Jeffery caught at least four passes per game. In the playoffs, he caught 12 of his 18 targets for 219 yards and three TDs. Overall, Alshon did fit well in the Eagles’ game plan. He flashed a high ceiling in 2013 (89/1421/7) with the Bears. He still owns the skill set to be a top WR in the game, but Jeffery doesn’t have a WR1 opportunity plus he’ll have plenty of competitions for targets again in 2018. I like how he developed over the course of the season, which points to 70+ catches for 1,000+ yards and possibly double digit TDs.
Update: 7/27/18 > Alshon Jeffery had right shoulder surgery in late February to repair a tear in his rotator cuff. His recovery window should be about six-month, which puts him on track to be ready for the start of the regular season. The Eagles put him on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) at the start of training camp. His lack of health in early August should lead to some fade in his draft value.
WR Nelson Agholor – After taking some baby steps in his first two seasons in the league after getting drafted in the first round in 2015, Agholor stated to look the part of a top NFL WR last year. He caught 62 of his 95 targets for 768 yards and eight TDs, which was more than his first two seasons combined. Nelson scored five TDs in his first seven games while being more active from Week 13 to Week 15 (22/264/2 on 32 targets). He played his best game in the playoffs in the Super Bowl (9/84). Last year the WRs on the Eagles caught 178 passes for 2,269 yards and 20 TDs on 312 targets. This season the WR3 in Philly’s offense is much stronger than 2017, which make it tough believe in a jump in opportunity. I’d draft him as WR3 while expecting about 65 catches for 800+ yards and about seven TDs.
WR Mike Wallace – In his eight seasons in the NFL, Wallace has six seasons with 60 catches or more and three years with over 1,000 yards receiving. He scored 41 TDs in his first 79 games in the NFL, but only ten TDs in his last 47 games. After playing well for the Ravens in 2016 (72/1017/4), Mike struggled to make an impact and plays last year (52/748/4). He had two games with over 100 yards receiving (3/133) and 5/116) in 2017 while playing his best over his last five games (23/377/1 on 42 targets). His skill set should work well in the Eagles. I expect him to stretch the defense while being a threat to score in the red zone. His chances would be helped by higher completion rate by Carson Wentz to WR. Possible 60+ catches for 750+ yards with a handful of TDs, which makes him 40 percent better than Torrey Smith (36/430/2) in 2017.
Other Options: Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Markus Wheaton, Marquess Wilson, Rashard Davis
TE Zach Ertz – Over the last three seasons, Ertz averaged 109 targets per seasons while missing five games. He has over 70 catches in each of these seasons leading to 800+ yards and 14 combined TD. Zach showed growth in TDs (8) in 2017. Ertz scored seven of his TDs in 12 games with Carson Wentz behind center. He had seven games with five catches or more while receiving double-digit targets in five games. Last season Philly completed 110 of 163 passes to the TE position for 1,202 yards and 13 TDs, which was actually a downtick for 2016 (129/1298/5). We know two things for sure in this offense. Ertz has talent and upside, but he needs to stay healthy for 16 games. Second, the Eagles like to throw to the TE. Zach is the top receiving threat in this offense with developing value in TDs. With a full season of action, I could see 90+ catches for 1,000+ yards and a run at double-digit TDs.
TE Dallas Goedert – Over the last two seasons, Goedert caught 164 passes for 2,404 yards and 8 TDs with his best success coming in 2016 (9/1293/11). Philly doesn’t need to rush Dallas with Zach Ertz on the roster. This year he’ll take over the Trey Burton opportunity in this offense, which worked out pretty well over the last two seasons (60/565/6 on 91 targets). Upside second TE in Philly with possible developing value as the season progresses in 2018. Viable flier in a draft champions type league.
Other Options: Richard Rodgers, Billy Brown, Adam Zaruba, Joshua Perkins
K Jake Elliott – An injury to Caleb Sturgis led to Elliott stealing the starting kicking job for the Eagles. In his first season in the NFL, Jake made 26 of his 31 field goals (83.9 percent) while showing upside form long range (5-for-6). He missed three of his 42 extra point tries, which is an area he’ll need to improve going forward. Last year Philly scored 53 TDs while creating 34 field goal chances. The Eagles high scoring offense will score plenty of TDs especially with improvement in the run game in the red zone. Elliott will finish as a top 10 kicker, but he may end up kicking many extra points in multiple games.
The Eagles’ defense has a tough stretch midseason where they face four straight teams (CAR, JAC, DAL, and NO) with success running the ball in 2017. They have a second matchup against vs. the Cowboys later in the year with Todd Gurley also on the schedule. Their best success will come against Tampa Bay and two games vs. Washington.
Philly has two games (TB and NO) against opponents that threw the ball well last year. Their defense will have an edge in five other games (IND, TEN, CAR, and DAL X 2).
The Eagles had the best rushing defense in 2017 (1,267 yards). Game score led to a league-low 21.1 rushing attempts per game. They allowed 3.8 yards per rush with seven TDs and 11 runs over 20 yards.
Philly ranked 17th in passing yards allowed (3,637) while allowing 6.5 yards per pass attempt. QBs tossed 24 TDs and 19 Ints while being sacked 38 times. The Eagles did allow ten completions over 40 yards.
The defensive line of the Eagles was their strength in 2017. They shut down the run game plus attacked the QB.
DE Brandon Graham set a career high in sacks (9.5) with 47 tackles. Graham had surgery on his right ankle in May, which will keep him on the sidelines much of the summer. Brandon was an edge defender vs. the run. DE Chris Long added five sacks off the bench with just below league average success against the run. The Seahawks traded DE Michael Bennett to Philly in March to add depth to their defensive line. Bennett had 8.5 sacks in 2017 while offering upside defending the run. He’ll start the year at age 32 with 48 sacks over his last 91 games.
Even with the talent at defensive end, Philadelphia has DE Derek Barnett waiting in the wings after selecting him in the first round in 2017. In a part-time role last year, Barnett had five sacks and 21 tackles. Derek projects to have value against the run with solid vision and hands to pressure the QB. His first step quickness and speed won’t offer an edge, so Barnett will try to cheat the snap to create an early win off the ball, but this can lead to mental mistakes and penalties. Derek is still a thinker, which lead to a lost step if he’s late dissecting the developing play. Barnett loses value when asked to make a big change of direction moves.
DT Fletcher Cox looked to have decline in his game after setting a career low in tackles (26), which was well below his peak season in 2015 (71). He picked up 5.5 sacks while missing two games, which was lower than his success over his previous 32 games (16 sacks). Even with trailing stats, Cox was still one of the better all-around players at his position last year. DT Tim Jernigan played the best ball of his career in 2017, which may have been helped by few snaps to keep his motor fresh. His sack (2.5) and tackle (29) totals were below his previous two seasons. Jernigan will miss the start of the season after having back surgery in April. DT Haloti Ngata provides veteran experience off the bench with his best value coming against the run.
LB Nigel Bradham posted 88 tackles, one sack, and eight defended passes in 2017. Last year struggled against the run while being an edge in coverage. After a great season in his second year in the NFL in 2016 (85 tackles, one sack, 11 defended passes, and five Ints), LB Jordan Hicks missed nine games last year due to an Achilles injury. Hicks didn’t play well in any area in 2017. The third starting linebacking slot for the Eagles will be an area of weakness. The best option appears to be LB Corey Nelson who missed all but two games for the Broncos in 2017. The previous year Nelson had 68 tackles and five defended passes as a rotational player. Rookie Josh Sweat will offer pass rushing value at linebacker if Philly decides to move him off the defensive line.
S Malcolm Jenkins had been one of the better players at his position over the last four years. He adds value in run support while offering upside in pass coverage. Last year he had 76 tackles, one sack, eight defended passes, and two Ints. Malcolm has two or more Ints in each of his last five seasons while grading highly in both tackles and defended passes. S Rodney McLeod struggled against the run last year leading to a career-low 54 tackles. He handles himself well in coverage while picking up 13 combined defended passes and six Ints over the last two seasons.
CB Ronald Darby missed eight games early in the season with a bad ankle injury. His final stats (34 tackles, nine defended passes, and three Ints) fell in line with his high level of success over the two previous years with the Bills. He’s a former second-round draft pick (2015) with his best skill set coming in coverage. CB Jalen Mills showed growth in his second year in the NFL. He doubled his defended passes (14) while picking up three Ints and one Int. Mills has the most risk when asked to cover deep speed over the long field. His physical style gains value in the red zone.
Philly has a pair of young CBs as well in the secondary. They drafted Sidney Jones (2nd) and Rasul Douglas (3rd) in 2016. Jones missed all but Week 17 with an Achilles injury. T
Sidney doesn’t have the size (6’0” and 186 lbs.) to defeat the top WRs in the pros at the line of scrimmage even with a winning skill set and technique. He needs to get stronger plus add more bulk without losing any speed. His value in deep coverage has some risk. Jones slid in the draft due to a torn Achilles leading only one game played in 2017 (Week 17).
Douglas comes from the complete opposite mold at CB. He has size (6’2” and 209 lbs.) with below par speed for his position. He’ll struggle in man coverage if he’s beaten off the line. Rasul gains back an edge with his vision and instincts helping him be a playmaker when the ball enters his area of the field. His best success will be in press coverage against second-tier WRs while working off the ball coming forward. His game will gain value in the red zone where speed receivers don’t have enough real estate to make him pay. Douglas played in 14 games in 2017 where he added 25 tackles, 11 defended passes, and two Ints.
The Eagles have a top ten Fantasy defense for sure. They play well vs. the run, and they have a good offense, which will force teams to be one dimensional leading to sacks and turnovers. The interior of their defensive line may take a step back, and the teams will attack the side of the field with their weak linebacker. Their secondary will be a strength with developing talent coming at the cornerback position. If Philly found a huge upgrade in the pass rush, they could be the top Fantasy defense in 2018.
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