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Player Outlooks (2021)
QB Jalen Hurts: Not everyone is a believer in Hurts, but he thrived last year in a tough situation for a rookie, and we are very optimistic about him in 2021. The main thing that gives us slight pause about Hurts—the rare young quarterback ranked higher in redraft than dynasty leagues—is the Eagles deciding to go for Deshaun Watson, which we believe would be a mistake. Assuming last year’s second-round pick is the starter in Philadelphia, though, he should put up big overall numbers as a dual-threat passer throwing to explosive playmakers led by former college teammate DeVonta Smith.
RB Miles Sanders: Sanders is a player that fantasy owners have been disappointed in largely due to him not fully being unleashed, but the new coaching staff—one that used a committee for stud runner Jonathan Taylor in Indy—doesn’t inspire confidence in that changing. That big-play ability and upside will make Sanders a guy you want to believe in, but we have him ranked as more of a risky RB2, and he could again settle in as a frustrating FLEX option.
RB Kerryon Johnson: A promising start to Johnson’s career was undone by injuries, but he just turned 24 at the end of June, and a backfield committee for the Eagles gives him a great shot at rebuilding his value. Especially because of his all-around skillset—including as a receiver, pass blocker, and possible goal-line back—Johnson could have a bigger role than most are expecting.
RB Kenneth Gainwell: The Eagles drafted Gainwell to be their primary pass-catcher out of the backfield, but might he have too limited of a role to carry Year 1 value? Sanders and Johnson are both very capable options in the passing game, and there are questions about just how many underneath targets will be available considering Jalen Hurts’ ability as a runner. Even in full PPR leagues, we have Gainwell ranked outside the top 60 at the position.
RB Boston Scott: Scott’s stock took a big dip with the team drafting Gainwell and claiming Kerryon Johnson, but he shouldn’t be ignored as a player that has flashed when given the opportunity over the past couple of seasons. In games with at least ten carries, Scott had gone for yardage totals (including as a receiver) of 128, 138, 92, 79, and 79.
RB Jordan Howard: Howard was frank when discussing his future after re-signing with the Eagles by saying he had basically no interest from other teams, which is unfortunate for a player that started his career as one of the game’s best backs. In a different era, Howard would still likely be at least a strong RB2 option for fantasy purposes, but now his best shot at relevancy is earning his way onto the 53-man roster and getting short-yardage carries in a committee.
WR DeVonta Smith: Smith will immediately be the No. 1 option in Philadelphia’s offense, and he possesses major upside for a first-year player. Aside from catching passes from a familiar quarterback in Jalen Hurts, the reigning Heisman winner should also have plenty of time to get downfield (assuming the offensive line can stay healthy), and the schedule doesn’t really include a top-tier cornerback until late November. Ideally, the buzz will stay contained in August to get Smith at a heavy discount.
WR Jalen Reagor: Had the Eagles not taken Smith in April’s draft, Reagor was set to be a definite leap candidate in Year 2, but now the path is a little more difficult. Still, last year’s first-rounder finally started to flash when Jalen Hurts took over at quarterback, and more snaps in the slot (plus more manufactured touches) should make things easier on him. Reagor can still be an upside FLEX.
WR Travis Fulgham: Former head coach Doug Pederson indicated that practice habits were reason for Fulgham fell off last year after a scorching start to his Eagles career, so hopefully he’s focused in a competition to earn the No. 3 role (and it’s worth noting that seeing DeVonta Smith work should lift everyone up). The size of Fulgham makes him a quality complementary weapon, and being a factor in the red zone is his best shot at solid value.
WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: Arcega-Whiteside followed up a disappointing rookie campaign by catching just four passes in eight games last year, but perhaps a fresh start under Nick Sirianni will allow him to regain some of the promise shown at Stanford. We’d like to Arcega-Whiteside used more inside and given some jump-ball opportunities in the red zone.
WR Greg Ward: As stated, it sounds like Jalen Reagor will get a lot of action in the slot, and that would leave Ward as more of a depth piece despite being the starter there in 2020. After seeing 79 targets last season, Ward is almost certainly going to see a substantial drop in production, and it’d take more injuries for Philly to have him back on the FLEX radar.
WRs Quez Watkins and John Hightower: Watkins and Hightower are both vertical threats entering their second season, and the former showed more promise—particularly when it comes to twitchiness/explosiveness—despite trailing in targets (29 to 13). Both are worth monitoring with the No. 3 job looking fairly open.
TE Dallas Goedert: Goedert unfortunately missed five games last season when he had a chance to overtake Zach Ertz, but the runway is now clear (assuming Ertz is indeed traded/released), so it’s up to him to take advantage in a contract year. It’s worth noting that Goedert saw 14 targets across two healthy games with Jalen Hurts, and the touchdown potential is what gives him the best shot at settling in as a midrange TE1 behind the elite options.
TE Zach Ertz: The Bills have been the team most connected to Ertz, but it’s all just rumors at this point, so slotting him in the rankings is difficult. It might take an injury around the league for a perfect role (with high volume) to come to fruition, and Ertz notably has not aged quite as gracefully compared to peers like Travis Kelce. The sooner a move is made, though, the better Ertz’s chances of somehow returning to the TE1 ranks.
TE Richard Rodgers: There is reason to be skeptical of too much of a reliance on tight ends if no one steps up, but Rodgers is the leading candidate to slide in behind Goedert. Last year, the veteran caught 24 passes for 345 yards and two scores on just 31 targets.
TE Hakeem Butler: Butler didn’t catch a pass in two games last season, but his transition to tight end will take time, and we are high on his long-term talent as a player that can win above the rim and get vertical at six-foot-five. Entering his age-25 season, Butler should be considered a dynasty stash.
Best 2021 value: WR DeVonta Smith (FantasyPros ECR: WR39)
The ECR and ADP are steadily climbing for Smith, but—barring a dominant preseason—he’s still set to be a value deep into the summer. Anyone who seriously questioned Smith’s NFL outlook based on his size clearly didn’t watch his game closely enough coming out of Alabama, and this will be the only time you’re able to snag him outside the top 30 at wide receiver.
Best dynasty investment: WR DeVonta Smith
We ranked Smith as the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, and you can read his full scouting report here to get an idea about the kind of player you’ll be investing in.
Exclusively in 2021 draft guide.
Stat to know
Exclusively in 2021 draft guide.
Great great stuff
But will Hurts hit Devonta enough?
Hurts will either be boom or bust