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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Philadelphia Eagles

Senior Fantasy Writer
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There was a lot of uncertainty with the Eagles last year heading into training camp.

Would Chip Kelly's offense work in the NFL? Who would be the starting quarterback between Michael Vick and Nick Foles? Would LeSean McCoy lose playing time to Bryce Brown?

We now know it all worked out great for Kelly, Foles, McCoy and the Eagles, and they are ready for an encore this season. The biggest question now is how the Eagles will overcome the loss of DeSean Jackson in the passing game.

Philadelphia didn't add a deep threat to replace Jackson, but the hope is the addition of Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews, as well as getting Jeremy Maclin back from last year's torn ACL, will keep this offense flying high. Zach Ertz is also a breakout candidate at tight end, and Riley Cooper signed an extension to stay with the team.

All these moves should help, and this rushing attack is the best in the NFL. But Foles might suffer without Jackson, and it's something to keep in mind on Draft Day.

Good, but not great ... Nick Foles

I was skeptical of Foles heading into 2014 when the Eagles released Jackson, and he was in my early busts column in April. But the Eagles have done a good job to revamp their receiving corps, and I think Foles will be fine.

He just won't be an elite Fantasy quarterback, and you shouldn't overrate him on Draft Day. If you put Foles in the same category of quarterbacks to wait for with a mid-round pick -- Tony Romo, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler or Cam Newton -- then you'll be OK. But if you're like my colleague Dave Richard, who has Foles ranked ahead of quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck, I think that's a bit of a stretch.

What Foles did in 2013 was amazing. He finished the season with 2,891 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions and 56 carries for 225 yards and three touchdowns in just 13 appearances and 10 starts. He finished as the No. 11 quarterback in standard leagues, but if you project his stats over 16 games he would have been No. 3 behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

I think a regression is coming, because Jackson's loss will be hard to overcome. Foles targeted him more than any other receiver (70 times), and he completed 71.4 percent of those passes to Jackson. Additionally, Foles threw just two interceptions last year, and that number will rise.

You can definitely draft Foles as a starter, but don't reach for him. If he does regress, he could cost you unless you add the right backup with a late-round pick.

Philly's best WR ... Jeremy Maclin

Maclin missed all the fun in Philadelphia last season with a torn ACL. Had he played, he likely would have been a Top 24 Fantasy receiver instead of Cooper, who was No. 22 in Fantasy points.

In two of the previous three seasons, Maclin was the best receiver for the Eagles, finishing with more Fantasy points than Jackson in 2010 -- he was No. 12 that year -- and 2012. He should be back on top this year.

Cooper will start opposite Maclin, but he should struggle to repeat his stat line of 47 catches, 835 yards and eight touchdowns. Maclin has never had more than 70 catches or 965 yards in a season, but he could best those marks this year. And he once scored 10 touchdowns in 2010, with 22 touchdowns from 2010-11, so he knows how to find the end zone.

Don't think that Maclin is going to replace Jackson as a deep threat, but he's a good route runner and receiver, which should help Foles. He's a sleeper on Draft Day, and he's someone I plan to target as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues.

Draft Day sleeper ... Zach Ertz

2013 Touches Leaders
810 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
LeSean McCoy 366 (314 car., 52 rec.) 45.2%
DeSean Jackson 85 (3 car., 82 rec.) 10.5%
Bryce Brown 83 (75 car., 8 rec.) 10.2%
Riley Cooper 47 rec. 5.8%
Jason Avant 38 rec. 4.7%
All Others 191 23.6%

One way the Eagles could help replace Jackson is by using Ertz more. Sure, Maclin, Sproles and Matthews will pick up a lot of the slack, but increasing Ertz's role will definitely improve the offense.

He had a secondary role as a rookie in 2013 with 36 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns, and he played behind Brent Celek. While Celek could remain the starter, Ertz has a much higher ceiling as a receiver, and we think he could be a Top 10 Fantasy tight end this year.

If you look at the way Ertz closed the season with 25 catches for 290 yards and five touchdowns over his final nine games -- including the playoff loss to the Saints -- you can see his potential. If you project that over 16 games he would have finished with 44 catches for 516 yards and nine touchdowns for 115 Fantasy points. That would have made him the No. 9 tight end in standard leagues.

Ertz should be drafted with a late-round pick in all leagues. Once the third-tier tight ends are drafted -- the group of Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph and Jordan Cameron -- then plan to take Ertz. I like him better than Eric Ebron, Martellus Bennett, Heath Miller and Ladarius Green, and I expect Ertz to outperform his draft value if things go his way.

Schedule analysis

There aren't many trouble spots on the schedule heading into the season. The Eagles face the NFC West this year, and they have back-to-back games against the 49ers and Rams, starting in Week 4, which could be tough. The start of the Fantasy playoffs in Week 14 is against Seattle, which could be problematic, and don't be surprised if the Jaguars in Week 1 slow down Kelly's attack. But the Eagles, barring a disaster, should be able to navigate this schedule without much trouble.

Training camp battles

Who's the starting tight end? Celek should open the season No. 1 on the depth chart, but don't pay much attention to that listing. He's the better blocker than Ertz, but Ertz has the higher ceiling for Fantasy owners. We'd like to see the Eagles use Ertz more as a receiver, which would allow both tight ends to play a lot, but the targets should favor Ertz. He's worth drafting with a late-round pick, and Celek should be left on waivers.

What's the pecking order at receiver? The Eagles don't have a true No. 1 receiver, but Maclin and Cooper will be the starters. Matthews should be No. 3, and he's someone to monitor during the season in re-draft leagues. There is some potential for rookie Josh Huff, but the only three receivers to consider on Draft Day are Maclin, Cooper and Matthews. And we like Maclin the best based on his upside.

Bold prediction

Last year, Fantasy owners wondered if Brown would impact McCoy based on how they finished in 2012. Well, McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013, Brown was just a backup and he was traded to Buffalo this offseason since his services were no longer needed.

This year, the question surrounding McCoy is the addition of Sproles. We know Sproles isn't going to hurt McCoy's rushing numbers, but he will be a significant part of the passing game with at least 70 catches and 600 receiving yards the past three seasons. By comparison, McCoy has at least 52 catches in three of the past four years, with 500-plus receiving yards in two of those campaigns.

I'm not worried about Sproles hurting McCoy's stats, and I still expect him to get 2,000 total yards for the second year in a row. He will repeat as the No. 2 Fantasy running back overall behind Jamaal Charles, and you should draft him after Charles in all formats.

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Player News
Report: Late December the best case for Eagles' Nick Foles
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is hoping to return in late December, according to philly.com.

Foles has yet to have a follow-up on his broken collarbone, but is expected to go next week. He was initially slated to miss 6-8 weeks due to the issue, but that could be optimistic. The best case scenario for Foles is a possible Week 16 return against Washington. Foles has been preparing as though he's going to return again this season, according to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. "He's involved in every single meeting," Shurmur said. "He's out there on the field. He's throwing and running."

Foles has already missed three games due to the injury.


Report: Texans RB Arian Foster likely to start on Sunday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Texans running back Arian Foster is likely to start Week 13 against the Titans, according to the Houston Chronicle

Foster "looked pretty good" in practice, according to coach Bill O'Brien. Barring a setback, it's believed Foster will return to the starting lineup. He missed the last two games due to a groin injury. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo probable for Thursday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is probable heading into Thursday's game against the Eagles.

Romo was listed with a back injury, but was able to practice in full on both Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Josh Brent, Tyrone Crawford, Doug Free, Nick Hayden, Rolando McClain and Terrance Williams were also listed as probable, and should play.

The team did not list any players as questionable, though Jeff Heath was listed as doubtful.

Jack Crawford, Tyler Patmon and Dekoda Watson were all ruled out prior to Thursday. 


Bears list Week 13 injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Bears have listed their Week 13 injury report prior to Thursday's game.

Wideout Brandon Marshall has been listed as probable with an ankle injury. He's been limited in practice throughout the week, but should play. Eben Britton, Jordan Mills and Brock Vereen were also listed as probable.

First-round pick Kyle Fuller will come into the contest as a game-time decision. He's questionable due to a knee injury. Both Jeremiah Ratliff and Trevor Scott will be listed as doubtful.

Lance Briggs, Darryl Sharpton, Chris Williams and Brian De La Puente have already been ruled out. 


Seahawks list Week 13 injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Seahawks have released their Week 13 injury report.

Marshawn Lynch is listed as probable due to a back injury. He was able to put in full practice on Wednesday. Jermaine Kearse, Marcus Burley and James Carpenter have also been ruled probable. 

Demarcus Dobbs and Jeremy Lane are listed as questionable. Dobbs is dealing with a knee injury. Lane has a glute issue.

Finally, Max Unger, Cooper Helfet and Kevin Pierre-Louis have been ruled out. None of the three were able to practice during the week. 


Raiders' Latavius Murray 'feeling better every day'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Raiders running back Latavius Murray is "feeling better every day," according to CSN.

Murray was able to return to practice on Wednesday, but has not been cleared to return from his concussion just yet. Despite that, Murray seems optimistic about his status. "I’ve felt fine, and I’m feeling better each day," Murray said. "With these kind of things you have to take it one day at a time and follow the right procedures." Murray was on his way to a huge game before leaving with the injury Week 12. 


Seahawks' Cooper Helfet to miss Thursday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet will miss Thursday's game against the 49ers.

Helfet is dealing with an ankle injury. He was not able to take part in practice during the week, and is already listed as out.


Vikings OL Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Vikings offensive lineman Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for training camp.

Loadholt will have season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle soon. The team placed him on IR, meaning he won't be back this season. 


Ravens sign Emmanuel Ogbuehi to practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Ravens have signed tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi to the practice squad on Wednesday.

Ogbuehi had been on the practice squad earlier in the season, but was cut in September. The team placed tight end Konrad Reuland on the practice squad injured list, making room for Ogbuehi to return. 


Rams wideout Damian Williams clears waivers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Rams wideout Damian Williams cleared waivers on Wednesday.

Williams was released by the club on Tuesday, and was not picked up by a club on waivers. He's now free to sign with any team. 


 
 
 
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