Doug Pederson Brings Fantasy Hope Back To Philly

Continuing my coverage of how the 2016 coaching changes will affect fantasy football, today let’s take a look at changes to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles name former Kansas City Chiefs OC, Doug Pederson head coach:

The best news for not just Eagles’ fans but for fantasy players is that Pederson is probably as close to Andy Reid as the organization can get to put this team back on track.

What I feel the Eagles’ players need more than anything is a likeable head coach. I don’t feel they need to coddled, but certainly the heavy hand of Chip Kelly wasn’t working in Philly. Even as a Dallas fan what happened to the Eagles in the 2015 season was difficult to watch.

Change is great and changing back to a familiar coaching scheme is also something that is great. If a head coach that is able to work with the front office and maintain a good relationship with players and media, then former Eagles quarterback Doug Pederson is just their guy.

Pederson comes into the head coaching position not just as former player, but pretty much as Andy Reid’s trusted partner. Not only did Pederson work with Reid in Philly as the offensive quality control coordinator and later as the quaterbacks coach, Reid also brought him along when he moved to coach in Kansas City as his Offensive Coordinator. I sincerely love what Pederson can bring back to the Eagles this year.

As expected Pederson referred to his coaching scheme as “West Coastish” that’s what we saw Reid do in Philly. However, I think we can expect him to want to win games on the ground. Reid took a much more run approach game to KC, and that is something I think Pederson should take note of in Philly. Philly has an injury prone starting quarterback and a talented young rookie quarterback who will benefit the Eagles most with at least a year of learning as a backup. That can make me raise an eyebrow and flare my nostrils a little, but what Pederson does have is a decent running back core.

Anyone who has ever tuned into my radio show is probably scratching their heads right now, as yes, it is true, I have never been able to fully put all my eggs into the Ryan Matthews basket.  However even splitting carries last year under Kelly’s debauchery, he posted 539 rushing yards, 6 rushing TDs and 20 receptions for 146 yards and a receiving TD. Despite his 3 fumbles last year in PPR leagues his value does go up under Pederson’s offense. I expect Pederson to heavily involve his running backs in the passing game. Something we saw in the offense he oversaw in Kansas City.

Darren Sproles also becomes a lot more intriguing to me this year. Last year while his 83 carries for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns may not sound appealing to any fantasy owner, his receiving numbers are 55 receptions for 388 yards and receiving TD, now that is what PPR fantasy owners should take note of. Sproles is quick and once he gets open he can move the chains. He should fit in very nicely into Pederson’s West Coastish offense. Splitting carries is something any fantasy owner hates to hear but Matthews is injury prone my friends, he may be worth the late round pick up.

We also need to take note that the Eagles drafted Wendell Smallwood in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Smallwood is well-rounded back who can pass protect and catch the ball.  I’m not saying anyone should think about drafting him but guys if Smallwood adapts easily to the NFL Pederson will surely find use for him in the rotation. Should Matthews or Sproles have a problem holding onto the ball or get injured, Smallwood may be on everyone’s waiver list at some point this season. He is the Eagle guy to watch closely in Pre-season. Frank Reich has also joined the Eagle’s this year as their offensive coordinator, let’s not forget how Reich brought Danny Woodhead back into the PPR fantasy mix last year as OC in San Diego.

I still suspect Matthews will maintain the bulk of the carries when the ball will stay on the ground. We will probably see Pederson want to run the ball up the middle a lot like we saw Andy Reid do last year. This will work well for the Eagles as last season the converted 84 percent of their short yardage plays. The Eagles run-blocking line had success with it.  So there is no reason in my eyes why Doug Pederson and Frank Reich would not commit to the run.

As for the Eagles receiving court, I would like to think Jordan Matthews’ good and bad game roller coaster from last year will change. On paper his numbers were just shy of 1000 yards but the problem for fantasy owners was that we didn’t have consistently good games from him all season. In my mind Matthews is still the most talented receiver in Philly however both Pederson and Reich come from previous offenses where the tight ends are used a lot. Not just to distract coverage form receivers but also in the red zone. We saw fantasy value out of Brent Celek while Andy Reid was with the Eagles. Could it be time for Zach Ertz to be utilized like Travis Kelce or Antonio Gates?  Last year Ertz finished with 75 receptions for 853 and only 2 touchdowns, I’d like to see his TDs go up to 5 this year.

Now here are my thoughts on Sam Bradford. Despite Pederson claiming Bradford was perfect for his offense, I’m not able to trust my fantasy team to him. Not before I see him have one solid consistent season. I would love nothing more for the sake of all Jordan Mathews fantasy owners that Bradford will be able to take charge of this offense but in such a pass heavy game, like most NFL teams are, I need 300 plus passing yards per game from my starting guy. Unless something changes for him this year, Bradford is still just a bye week plug and play guy on my roster.

Overall as long as the Eagles nail their clock management this year and make quick plays I am liking the potential fantasy value Philadelphia has to offer.

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