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The Eagles Youth Movement Continues with the 2017 Draft

Brandon Murchison Staff Writer April 18, 2017 10:21AM EDT

The NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series : Cleveland – Chicago – San Francisco – Jacksonville – LA Rams – Tennessee – Jets – Chargers – Panthers – Bengals – BillsVikings – Cardinals – Saints

Team Needs: CB, RB, DE

Projected Top Three Picks:

First Round- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Second Round- Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

Third Round- Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State

Coming into the draft, you could have said the Eagles would need help at receiver and across the board defensively, but the additions of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, they have shored up at wideout.

With their first pick, the Eagles go with the hottest player on the draft board in McCaffrey. As he has gone through this draft process, McCaffrey’s stock has risen fast enough that many believe that he could sneak into the Top 10. This coaching staff could use McCaffrey in a way similar to that of former Chiefs All-Pro Jamal Charles by getting him the ball in space on stretch runs and in a variety of ways as a receiver while also vaulting Ryan Mathews as the lead back in the rotation. His skill set would seem to fit this offense perfectly, and if Carson Wentz continues to improve as a passer, McCaffrey could have quite the rookie campaign. Will he get the workload of a lead back like an Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell? No, but you could see a player that would get you around 800 yards rushing, and add 40 receptions with at least seven touchdowns. This would solidly make McCaffrey a guy you can plug in as a lower-tier RB2, especially if you go WR-heavy early in drafts. Don’t be surprised to see other owners jump on him early as I would not be shocked to see him come off the board by the end of round six.

Will Carson Wentz build upon a strong rookie campaign in 2017? (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Will Carson Wentz build upon a strong rookie campaign in 2017? (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The following two selections made have them going the defensive route to shore up a unit that was abysmal at times in 2016. In an NFC East highlighted by high-scoring offenses, the Eagles must get better on defense to expect to compete. Moreau will slide into the CB2 spot for this team right away, but expect some growing pains as he learns how to adjust to the next level. He should turn into a solid corner as the season progresses. Rivers projects out to be a rotational DE, and plays better against the run than he does versus the pass. You’ll likely see him get early-down work. The Eagles need use the majority of their picks on the defensive side of the ball and if they can become an average unit, things could be looking up.

Wentz had a respectable rookie season, coming out of the gates hot and being picked up on numerous Fantasy waiver wires. But as the season moved along, he began to hit the rookie wall as teams gathered footage on how to defend him. With a season under his belt, he must show more improvement, especially an increase from the 16 TDs he threw. With a legit WR1 on the outside in Jeffrey to take pressure off of Jordan Matthews, and a respectable TE in Zach Ertz, Wentz has all the tools in the cabinet to get things done. He will be drafted in most leagues, but no more than a late QB2 with upside. He’s the type of QB you roster if you have a rock solid QB1; look to trade if he performs well enough.

Jeffrey comes to Philly on a one-year Prove It deal, and he will be out there to do just that. If (which is the key word) he can manage to stay on the field, you will find a player that is can produce WR1 numbers. But as is always the case, injuries will play a role with Jeffrey and will bring his value back to the level of a WR2. He will get drafted as a high-end WR2, but be prepared to quickly follow up his selection with another WR just to cover yourself. Matthews now finds himself falling down the draft board with the loss of targets, but his value should still not be ignored. Ertz, on the other hand, is my guy. He has all the talent to finish inside the Top five at the position, and if he can put it together for entire year, and not just the Fantasy playoff run, he can do just that. Ertz should push for 10 TDs, and based on where he will be drafted, he could be the type of player that helps win you a title. If he can last until round 10, you’re getting a steal.

This running game will hinge on whether or not the Eagles do select McCaffrey. If they pass on him, or if he is already off the board, Philly will use the committee type approach with Mathews, Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood all seeing touches each week. This will be a Fantasy nightmare for owners if it is the case, because you won’t know who to play on a weekly basis. Mathews will see a bulk of the early-down work and goal line looks, but don’t be shocked to see the hot hand played from series to series. As it stands now, Mathews should be drafted as a low-tier RB3, and Sproles as a RB4/5 in PPR formats late. But unless McCaffrey gets the call, this is a running game that I’ll be avoiding in many drafts.

Team Ranks:

Passing Offense- 224.1 YPG (24th)

Running Offense- 113.3 YPG (11th)

Points Per Game- 22.9 PPG (16th)

Top Fantasy Performers:

QB- Carson Wentz, 202 points

RB- Ryan Mathews, 125 points

WR- Jordan Mathews, 91 points


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