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USATSI

The Eagles are going to give Jalen Hurts every opportunity to prove he can be the long-term answer at QB after the addition of A.J. Brown this offseason. Whether that signals a change in offensive philosophy remains to be seen, because this was the most run-heavy offense in football a year ago. 

2021 Review

Record: 9-8 (13)
PPG: 26.1 (12)
YPG: 359.9 (14)
Pass YPG: 200.2 (25)
Rush YPG: 159.7 (1)
PAPG: 29.1 (32)
RAPG: 32.4 (2)

2021 Fantasy finishes

QB: Jalen Hurts QB10
RB: Kenneth Gainwell RB40, Miles Sanders RB46
WR: DeVonta Smith WR29
TE: Dallas Goedert TE10

Number to know: 25.1

That's how many passes the Eagles attempted per game starting in Week 8, when they switched over to the smash-mouth approach that helped turn their season around. They went 6-2 in that stretch with Jalen Hurts starting after opening the season 2-5, so it's fair to think they'll probably lean on the running game yet again. When you have Hurts and his rushing ability plus this line's ability to open holes, it only makes sense to lean on your strengths.

Of course, that doesn't mean I think they're only going to throw 430 times this season. I don't think you go out and add A.J. Brown a year after using a first-round pick on Devonta Smith if you're just going to sit on the ball. It reminds me a lot of when Buffalo traded for Stefon Diggs and went from one of the most run-heavy teams in the league to a pass-first offense because their personnel allowed them to.

Is Hurts going to be Josh Allen? Not necessarily, though I do think he has that kind of upside as a Fantasy player thanks to his rushing ability. But I do think the Eagles are going to be closer to an average pass volume offense in 2022 than they were last season, and Brown's ability to make big plays in the passing game both down the field and with the ball in his hands on shorter plays dramatically increases Hurts' value. If you're worried about Brown's viability in this offense, I think it's worth remembering that what made him stand out in Tennessee wasn't massive volume, but outrageous efficiency. We've seen him be one of the best Fantasy WRs on one of the lowest pass-volume offenses in the league. Don't overthink it. 

2021 Offseason

Draft Picks 

1. (13) Jordan Davis, DT
2. (51) Cameron Jurgens, OL
3. (83) Nakobe Dean, LB
6. (181) Kyron Johnson, DE
6. (198) Grant Calcaterra, TE

Additions

WR A.J. Brown, DE Haason Reddick, CB James Bradberry, LB Kyzir White, WR Zach Pascal

Key Departures

CB Steven Nelson, S Rodney McLeod, DL Hassan Ridgeway

Available Opportunity 

86 carries, 2 RB targets, 0 WR targets, 0 TE targets 

2022 Preview

Rankings

Award
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Jamey Eisenberg
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Dave Richard
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Heath Cummings
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Chris Towers
Jalen Hurts4856
Miles Sanders25292524
Kenneth Gainwell44414735
A.J. Brown10111313
Devonta Smith35364038
Dallas Goedert9878

Chris Towers' projections

QBJalen HurtsPA: 524, YD: 3827, TD: 23, INT: 10; RUSH -- ATT: 129, YD: 712, TD: 5
RBMiles SandersCAR: 217, YD: 979, TD: 8, TAR: 42, REC: 33, YD: 248, TD: 1
RBKenneth GainwellCAR: 145, YD: 580, TD: 6, TAR: 47, REC: 35, YD: 298, TD: 1
WRA.J. BrownTAR: 136, REC: 86, YD: 11559, TD: 8
WRDeVonta SmithTAR: 107, REC: 62, YD: 840, TD: 6
WRQuez WatkinsTAR: 71, REC: 39, YD: 535, TD: 3
TEDallas GoedertTAR: 105, REC: 70, YD: 808, TD: 5

Biggest Question

Do the Eagles look to pass the ball more?

The Eagles attempted the fewest passes in the league last season at 494, and even that overstates how likely they were to throw the ball. After starting the season 2-5 and attempting 35 passes per game, Hurts averaged just 24 attempts per game over his final eight games while the Eagles went 6-2. Would they go away from a strategy that worked? The addition of A.J. Brown alongside Devonta Smith suggests they'll be more pass-happy, but if not, it's going to be hard for Brown and Smith to thrive for Fantasy. I'm betting they'll pass less than just about any other team, but more than they did a year ago.  

One sleeper, one breakout and one bust

Sleeper
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
2021 Stats
RUYDS
291
REC
33
REYDS
253
TD
6
FPTS/G
7.7

Gainwell often ran third or even fourth on the Eagles depth chart at running back, but they showed an unusual amount of faith in him near the goal line -- he had eight carries and four targets inside of the 10-yard line, more opportunities than ostensible starter Sanders. Gainwell had a solid passing game role last season with 50 targets, so it's clear the team already trusts him more than Sanders in that respect. If he can start to cut into Sanders' early-down role, Gainwell could fairly easily be the team's most useful Fantasy option at the position. In fact, he might have even more upside than Sanders if Sanders can't earn back trust in the passing game. 

Breakout
PHI Philadelphia • #11
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
2021 Stats
REC
63
TAR
105
REYDS
869
TD
5
FPTS/G
13.9

This is more of a bounce back than a breakout, but I do want to further highlight that Brown's upside is probably higher than you think even on a low-volume pass offense. He has 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 14 targets in 2020, but those numbers dipped to 869 yards and five touchdowns on 105 targets last season. The question is whether Hurts can be as effective and efficient in targeting Brown as Ryan Tannehill was at his best. What makes me believe in Brown is that he has a rare ability to make plays down the field as well as with the ball in his hands on shorter targets, and it was the latter that was limited last season (career-low 3.9 yards after catch per reception), perhaps due to injuries. If Brown can stay healthy and Hurts can get him the ball effectively, there's still 1,200-plus yard, 10-touchdown upside here. 

Bust
CAR Carolina • #6
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
2021 Stats
RUYDS
754
REC
26
REYDS
158
TD
0
FPTS/G
9.8

On the one hand, Sanders is a pretty obvious regression candidate after failing to find the end zone on 137 carries. However, it wasn't just bad luck that kept him out of the end zone -- he was fourth among the team's running backs in touches inside of the 10-yard line. Between that and his limited passing game role, Sanders has the look of a between-the-20s rusher in a timeshare. That's not his fate forever, of course. He's talented enough that he could certainly end up earning those high-value touches. However, that's no guarantee, and with Sanders heading into the final year of his rookie deal, if he doesn't impress, his role doesn't seem at all guaranteed. Sanders has the look, if you ask me, but the Eagles just don't seem to be believers, so I'm not sure I should be either.