Heading into 2015, Bradford is entering what seems like his third consecutive make or break year. Just this time it’s in Philadelphia as an Eagle. Here’s to hoping that he leaves his lengthy injury history (25 missed games over the past two years and 31 missed games over his five-year career) behind in St. Louis. That seems like wishful thinking but if Bradford somehow stays upright for 16 games, he has the potential to top 4,500 passing yards with between 25 and 30 touchdowns and that is mid-tier QB1 territory. Of course, he will need to enter the season fully recovered from the ACL tears that ended both his 2013 and 2014 seasons. A mobile quarterback coming out of Oklahoma, Bradford will likely suffer a loss of agility as a result of his injuries but he is a smart passer who has shown an ability to avoid turnovers and that should serve him well in Philadelphia. However, he will have to increase his risk appetite somewhat in order to fit into head coach Chip Kelly’s offensive system. While the Eagles have lost some key playmakers over the past two seasons, their offensive weapons remain more impressive that what Bradford worked with during his days as a Ram. He rates as a mid to lower tier QB2 with major upside that can only happen if he is somehow able to stay healthy for 16 games.
After posting league highs with 1,845 rushing yards and 2,261 total yards behind the Cowboys solid offensive line in 2014, Murray takes his talents to Philadelphia for the 2015 season. While Murray has proven to be one of the league’s most dynamic running backs over the past two seasons, he faces an uncertain future as an Eagle for several reasons. First off, their offensive line might be solid but it doesn’t compare to the line Murray ran behind in Dallas. Second, Murray will fight with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles for touches, a pair of players far superior to Murray’s backups last season in Dallas. Third, it is premature to completely write off his history of injuries. Fourth, players coming off 450 touch seasons have not fared well in the following season. Add it all up and Murray lands as a mid to lower RB1 in 2015.
Mathews goes from being the top dog in San Diego’s offense (when healthy, at least) to a reserve role in Philadelphia behind DeMarco Murray. In fact, he may not out-produce Darren Sproles, who figures to handle the majority of the pass catching out of the Eagles backfield. While the party line is that Murray and Matthews will split the workload on obvious rushing downs, it’s worth noting that Murray received a five-year, $42-million contract while the Eagles are paying Mathews $11.5-million over three years. Although Mathews should earn close to 10 touches per game in Philly’s offense, he likely won’t handle the goal line duties, rendering him little more than a low end flex option barring a Murray injury. He does rate as a key handcuff for Murray owners.
After a pair of solid fantasy seasons in 2011 and 2012, Sproles has seen his fantasy value decline over the past two years as he failed to top 1,000 total yards in either 2013 or 2014. Last season, he averaged 7.1 PPG but was aided by a career-high six rushing touchdowns (his previous high was three). More noteworthy were his yardage total of 716 and his touches of 97, lowest since the 2009 season. At 32 years of age on opening day, Sproles isn’t getting any younger and the competition for touches in the Eagles backfield is getting tougher due to the presence of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Sproles isn’t worth drafting in standard scoring leagues and rates as a low end flex option in PPR formats.
In 2013, DeSean Jackson posted career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns as the Eagles leading wide receiver. In 2014, Jeremy Maclin posted career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns as the Eagles leading wide receiver. In 2015, Jordan Matthews is projected to be the Eagles leading wide receiver. It’s not hard to connect the dots on this one, folks. Matthews is in line for close to 140 targets, over 80 receptions, between 1,100 and 1,300 yards and 8-10 touchdowns. The 6’3″, 209 pound Vanderbilt product possesses solid speed and uses his size well, traits that helped propel him to a 67 reception, 872 yard, eight touchdown season as a rookie. We have little doubt regarding his ability to handle a leading role in 2015. Provided the quarterback situation holds up, consider Matthews a high end WR2 with upside and an outstanding dynasty league prospect.
Taken by the Eagles in the 1st round of this year’s draft, Agholor possesses solid yet not outstanding speed and lacks ideal size at 6’1″ and 190 pounds. In Philadelphia, he will compete with veteran journeyman Riley Cooper and 2nd year player Josh Huff for a spot in the starting line-up. While Agholor can line up outside, he often lined up in the slot at USC, where Jordan Matthews played the majority of his snaps last year for the Eagles. Given Matthews heavy workload during his rookie season, we don’t foresee head coach Chip Kelly having any reservations about handing Agholor a key role as a rookie. However, Kelly drafted Cooper for his blocking ability, Matthews is the team’s leading wide receiver and the team is clearly going to lean heavily on its trio of outstanding running backs. That limits Agholor’s upside during his rookie season. We consider him a WR5 in redraft formats and an excellent dynasty league prospect.
After a breakout season in 2013 when he caught 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns (all career highs which earned him a five-year, $25-million contract), Cooper crash landed last year, catching 55 passes for 577 yards and just three touchdowns. Truth be told, Cooper is a marginal talent who would be relegated to a backup role in most offenses but he earns plenty of snaps in Philadelphia’s heavily run based offense due to his blocking ability. Since we expect another 500-600 yards season with 4-5 touchdowns, don’t bother looking Cooper’s way on draft day.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly selected Josh Huff from his alma mater in the 3rd round of last year’s NFL Draft and Huff proceeded to disappoint as a rookie, catching just eight of his 18 targets for 98 yards. Possessing good but not outstanding speed and less than ideal size at 5’11” and 206 pounds, Huff will attempt to earn a starting role in his sophomore season, a possibility only due to the departure of Jeremy Maclin. However, we expect Riley Cooper and Nelson Agholor to earn the starting spot opposite Jordan Matthews, with Huff once again relegated to a minor role. He is worth monitoring in the preseason but unless Huff shows some playmaking ability, he is best left on the waiver wire.
Austin produced a bit of a bounce back season in his only year in Cleveland, catching 47 passes for 568 yards and a pair of scores in 12 games before finishing the season on injured reserve. While subpar quarterback play contributed to his marginal production, the truth is that Austin is little more than a backup at this point in his career with injuries having robbed him of his explosiveness. Signed by the Eagles in the offseason, he figures to enter training camp 5th on the depth chart although it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Riley Cooper, rookie 1st round pick Nelson Agholor and disappointing 2nd year player Josh Huff struggle somewhat in 2015. Consider Austin as a potential waiver wire pickup if he somehow leapfrogs his way into the Eagles starting line-up.
Entering his 2nd season in the league last year, Ertz generated a fair amount of buzz in the fantasy community but he failed to produce TE1 production, finishing the season as the 13th ranked tight end despite relegating Brent Celek to a backup role. While Ertz’s role in Chip Kelly’s offense helped generate the buzz, it was Kelly’s strong reliance on running the football coupled with Brent Celek’s superior blocking ability that helped keep Ertz nailed to the bench far more than most expected entering the season. His overall numbers looked decent with 58 receptions for 702 yards and three touchdowns but he was targeted more than six times in just two games and caught 15 of his receptions in one week. Since Celek remains on the roster to handle the bulk of the blocking duties, we don’t expect a breakout season from Ertz, although his skill set as well as the departure of Jeremy Maclin certainly makes it possible. Consider him a lower tier TE1 with a high ceiling and a high floor.