By Nick Falana
At this point in the pre-season, the Eagles are a very interesting team from an IDP perspective. Yes, they have a completely rebuilt secondary but they also have a partially rebuilt LB corps which is very much up in the air right now. It could potentially remain so throughout training camp.
Let’s start with those LBs since that’s where this team is most interesting.
The IDP stud of this team is unquestionably Kiko Alonso who notched 16 fantasy ppg as a rookie in 2013. Prior to missing 2014 with an ACL, his 241 points in Buffalo in 2013 were 7th among LB and 32nd overall among fantasy scorers. Given Philly’s uptempo attack and his role in the defense, he could continue to move up the ranks of LB as he develops and
bounces back from his injury.
There a couple things that could slow him down. First, there’s chatter that he could play some OLB. Setting the edge instead of flowing from the middle could potentially lower some of his stats. Second, there’s the presence of both Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans.
Kendricks posted 153.75 fantasy points, good for 13.9 ppg and the #10 LB slot. If Kendricks and Alonso saw the field together, they would obviously form a ridiculous tackling machine — and possibly eat into one another’s stats.
Before being injured, DeMeco Ryans posted 86.75 fantasy points in 2014 which equates to 10.8 ppg and a top flex guy in 12 team leagues that start 3 LB and a flex.
The tricky thing here is, where do all these guys fit? Chip Kelly just traded for Alonso and re-upped Ryans’s contract so, crazy as it sounds, Kendricks might just be the odd guy out riding the bench. A Kendricks trade still makes the most sense from both a football and fantasy football perspective.
Some analysts are pointing to Trent Cole’s departure and hyping Alonso as a possible outside backer. These people must not know about Brandon Graham. The former #1 pick and natural DE has adapted well enough to Billy Davis’s 3-4 DEF that Philly just rewarded him with a major new contract. Finally getting the chance to be a full time starter, Graham is a big
certifiable IDP breakout candidate for 2015.
Graham posted 116.75 fantasy points good for 7.7 ppg in part time action last year. He won’t automatically add Cole’s 117.75 total points, good for 8.4 per game, on top of his own stats but adding just half of Cole’s output would put him at 12 ppg and make him fantasy relevant.
With 184.5 total fantasy points at 12.3 ppg, Connor Barwin is a legit LB2. He should continue production for at least a couple more years. Last year’s #1 pick Marcus Smith and this year’s 3rd rounder Jordan Hicks are both young guys who will still need to show something before garnering much value but both should be on your radar for if/when their playing time
gets upped, or in the case of injury.
The Philly D-Line is solid if unspectacular in real life and their fantasy stats reflect that. Bennie Logan was the #12 DT in 2014 with 89.25 total fantasy points and 5.9 ppg. He was in the same range as bigger name guys like Haloti Ngata and Dontari Poe and will likely continue to develop as he enters his third full NFL season.
The big name on this squad is All-Pro Fletcher Cox. Whether your team starts two DE or just two DL, he’s a solid #2 guy there with 8.5 fantasy points per game in 2014. With an improved D behind him, hopefully he finds his way to the QB a couple more times and continues to move up the DE ranks. With 128.25 total fantasy points in 2014, he could easily turn into a DE1 in 2015.
Vinny Curry and Cedric Thornton rotate at the other DE position for Philly and their numbers reflect it. Curry notched 95.5 total fantasy points in 2014 and Thornton brought in 95.25, both averaging 6.3 pg to be high end DE3’s or DL4’s.
Curry is the one to own as he could see a huge breakout in his numbers if he goes to a team wanting to make better use of his outside rushing skills when he’s a free agent in 2016. If Curry did leave, Thornton would likely see a reasonable bump in his numbers. But there’s no doubt that Curry is a major proven pass rushing threat whose skills are not being fully utilized
As predictable as Philly’s D-Line is and as maddening as the LB corps is, the defensive backfield is simply very, very intriguing.
Malcolm Jenkins is the one returning starter and we can likely pencil him in to repeat his DB3 stats of 151 total fantasy points and 10 ppg. The rest of the backfield is a huge question mark but nonetheless should be watched.
Second round pick Eric Rowe has the look and athleticism to be a playmaker and will likely end up at Safety. However, due to Philly’s DB troubles, right now he’s practically a lock to start at corner, and Chip Kelly has said as much. As a rookie playing across from new free agent acquisition Byron Maxwell he’d got a ton of attention and thus likely a fair amount of points.
Byron Maxwell’s 85.75 total fantasy points in 2015 (7.1 ppg) put him well off the fantasy radar, even if your team starts two CB. Given the differences between Philly’s offense and Seattle’s, it’s possible he sees some bump in those numbers. However, historically, he’s never been a big
fantasy guy and his perch as the #1 DB in Philly means he’ll likely see little attention.
CB’s Walter Thurmond and Brandon Boykin will see the field but few fantasy opportunities, although Boykin is a certified playmaker who snagged 6 INT’s in 2013. Perhaps someday, somewhere, he’ll get the opportunity to start.
Former Dolphin Nolan Carroll and Sammy’s half-brother, Jaylen Watkins, are both hybrid candidates. Neither have shown major playmaking ability but both will compete with Thurmond and Rowe to start at corner as well as getting time at safety with a chance to beat out third year safety Earl Wolfe.
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