Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
As the entire NFL is on hiatus before training camp begins, it is time to prepare for your fantasy football draft. The Philadelphia Eagles strongest and most intriguing position is at running back. They had the best ground attack in football, with the top ball carrier across the NFL leading the way. Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy will now be joined by jack-of-all-trades back Darren Sproles, as well as the return of Chris Polk. The backfield looked crowded before the 2014 NFL Draft, where the Eagles traded off backup running back Bryce Brown to the Buffalo Bills for a fifth round pick.
Now let’s look at each back for the Philadelphia Eagles and their fantasy implications in the 2014-15 season:
McCoy is highly regarded around the league as one of the best running backs in the NFL and around fantasy circles. He puts up big yardage on the ground, while being a legit end zone threat and pass-catcher out of the backfield. But it seems he does not garner nearly enough praise for how dominant he really has been. He was the top fantasy back two of the past three seasons, where he led the league in touchdowns in 2011-12 and yards from scrimmage in 2013-14.
McCoy should absolutely be considered for the top pick in any fantasy draft and should fall no later than third overall. But with his biggest running competition, Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson, hitting the 30 year old mark (notoriously the downfall for most ball-carriers) and Kansas City Chief Jamaal Charles playing on a depleted offense (after losing several offensive starters this off season), McCoy should once again reign supreme.
With the presence of Sproles, he may lose out on some touches, but Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly loves to build his offense around the ground game. Expect him to keep up a similar pace he saw last season, with chances at more touchdowns, as the entire team is more comfortable with the offense.
Prediction: 1,573 rushing yards, 453 receiving yards, 14 total touchdowns
Sproles has been utilized in many different aspects throughout his entire career, but never was a lead back with his time for the San Diego Chargers or New Orleans Saints. With his diminutive stature, he was always considered a change-of-pace back that utilized his speed on the edges. Chip Kelly will find creative ways within his scheme to give Sproles a chance to make plays while in space.
He will spell McCoy at times, but his real fantasy value comes as a pass-catcher, especially in PPR leagues. Sproles should be a high volume receiver as a running back and his production will be more determined by the other slot receivers on the roster, rather than McCoy’s workload. Expect to see him split out all over the field and catch many screen many passes in the Philadelphia Eagles high-tempo offense.
As a bonus, Sproles will provide some return yardage as well, if your league awards such points. He is not a natural handcuff running back but will provide depth at the position, whether you own McCoy or not.
Prediction: 563 rushing yards, 722 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns
Polk is the biggest back on the team and will see a likely increase in usage in his third season. His greatest value would come if McCoy were to go down to injury, as he will probably be the lead back ahead of Sproles in that case. Polk has shown flashes of production over the past couple seasons but has not seen consistent carries to prove his worth.
He does have the possibility of becoming a touchdown vulture on the goal-line due to his size and power. Also, with good hands out of the backfield, do not be surprised to see Polk in some formations along with McCoy and Sproles. He may not be worthy of a roster spot on your fantasy team, but keep an eye out on his workload throughout the season, especially in deeper leagues.
Prediction: 324 rushing yards, 178 receiving yards, 5 total touchdowns.