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That Eagles Jawn: Week 1 Edition

Sam Bradford (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Sam Bradford (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

If you’re anything like me, summer can be a rough time of year when it comes to sports. Nothing against baseball and… whatever other sports are on TV during that time of year. But there’s just something infectious about those first couple of weeks each September, when autumn approaches and America hunkers down with a big ol’ tank pumped full of the commercialized oxygen we call the NFL, and securely fastens the mask around its nose and mouth – and does so before assisting others. Maybe that sounds cynical, but hey, I’m drinking the Kool Aid just like everyone else.

And what is it that draws us to professional football so? These days, our sports – and the NFL especially – are delivered to us in unwavering forms of mass media and entertainment. We really need look no further than the simple fact that ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is owned by Disney. Remember that fuzzy, just-sucked-on-a-balloon head-high you got as a kid when you walked into Magic Kingdom for the first time? To many, this buzz now comes in the form of hours upon hours of NFL Live, Sundays with your Bud Lights and Tostitos, and the vast plains of Al Michaels’ giant head.

But let’s focus on one particular aspect of pro football that I find to be particularly intriguing – and when I say “intriguing,” I really mean, “truly deserving of gambling my hard-earned income on.” Yes, I’m talking about Fantasy Football.

That said… HOW DOES YOUR ROSTER LOOK?! I can’t remember a season in recent years with so many question marks! This summer offered one of the most mind-boggling offseasons in memory. We had quarterback shuffles that, for one particular organization, resulted in a starter’s broken jaw. We had suspensions that may affect possible-contenders (Bell and Bryant in Pittsburgh) and suspensions that SHOULD HAVE affected possible-contenders (He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named in Six-State-Region-of-US-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named). We had major names at the running back position move teams, like Frank Gore to Indianapolis, LeSean McCoy to Buffalo, and the intradivisional acquisition of DeMarco Murray by Chip Kelly and Philadelphia.

And with the most number of these so-surprising-it’s-not-surprising moves going down in the City of Brotherly Love, it’s fair to argue that the Eagles have had one of the most interesting offseasons in a long time. These moves came to a head in the trade of long-time starting RB LeSean McCoy, and the trade for former Rams QB Sam Bradford. In the event that I need remind you why these moves are significant… you need to read a book.

Yes, yes, I can hear your collective eye-rolling, these roster moves are old news by now! True enough. But let’s focus on the Eagles roster through a different lense: that of the shrewd and possibly desperate fantasy owner.

It’s not every day that you can say your team traded away Shady McCoy but still upgraded at running back, yet this is the situation in Philly. In the signing of DeMarco Murray, the Eagles added the league’s premier workhorse. Murray not only rushed for 1,845 yards with Dallas last year – almost 500 yards more than Steelers RB Le’veon Bell in second – but also carried the rock exactly 80 more times than 2014’s second most active ball-handler in (guess who?) Shady McCoy. As if it’s necessary to add anything else to this stat line, Murray added 416 yards on 57 receptions.

Murray is without question your best fantasy option in the whole of the Eagles’ offense – and arguably in the NFL. In 2014, he ranked number one among RBs with 294.10 points, according to It’s worth noting that Chip Kelly recently made some noise and warranted some snickering when he claimed that RB Ryan Mathews (another free-agent addition to the backfield) would split carries with Murray for the year. Yeah, right! And monkeys might fly outta my butt!

Listen, Mathews is a more than capable running back. He spent five years in San Diego as the on-again, off-again starter, notching a Pro Bowl selection as a replacement in just his second season. But Mathews has struggled mightily with injuries throughout his career, having once broken both his right and left clavicle in the same season, as well as dealing with knee issues. It is for this reason that Mathews provides only a handcuff pick-up alongside Murray. Should Murray go down for some reason, Mathews will be the number one in the backfield. It’s at that point that I question his durability, and, to me, seems risky overall.

One particular position in Philly has me particularly intrigued, and that’s the receiving corps. Last year saw the emergence of WR Jeremy Maclin, who recorded career highs across the board. But shortly after the Shady trade, Maclin signed a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, who infamously threw exactly ZERO touchdowns to wide receivers last year. This departure should likely bolster the fantasy value of Eagles WR Jordan Matthews, who, as a rookie in 2014, also experienced an emergence in vying for the number two spot. He caught an impressive 67 passes on 103 targets, 54.5 yards per game, and eight touchdowns. These are no slouchy rookie numbers, and with Maclin out of the picture, there’s no reason to doubt that Matthews will see increased targets.

That leaves the Eagles most fascinating offensive position: the QB. I think if the preseason proved anything, it’s that Chip Kelly might have been on to something in trading for Bradford. In his final preseason outing, Bradford tossed a perfect 10-of-10 with three touchdowns and a buck-twenty-one in yards. Given this performance, I’d almost expected Bradford to experience a boost in his fantasy value, perhaps making him a high QB2. This didn’t seem to be the case. In Yahoo Leagues, Bradford was drafted with the 117th pick on average, putting him between Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater and perennial Chargers QB Philip Rivers. I believe that at the end of the season, we’ll see that Bradford has more value than either of these guys, with the benefit of Philly’s up-tempo offense. That said, Bradford has obviously got to stay on the field – he hasn’t played a regular season game since 2013 – and if he can, he’s poised for a successful 2015 campaign.


WEEK 1 BREAKDOWN: @ Atlanta Falcons


If we’re using 2014 as any indicator, you might say that this would be a cake-walk for da Green Birds. Atlanta – finishing third in a division whose winner went 7-9 – ranked in the bottom third in run defense and dead last in both passing and total defense, while Philly was top-ten in all of those offensive categories. And if we’re using the 2015 preseason as any indicator, the Eagles seem to already have the ball rolling on offense – they finished tops in total offense, points per game, and rush yards per game. Just so, they’re three-point favorites on the road.

With a 55-point over/under and two teams that typically score a lot of points, you can surely expect big days from Murray and Matthews. While the Falcons might be kind of slow on D out of the gate against a quick-paced Philadelphia team, playing in the Georgia Dome will surely help, and Falcons QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones are undoubtedly one of best offensive duos in the league – if not the best. With the potential for big plays across the board in this game, the ball is going to change hands a lot and spread the wealth at the offensive positions. Big days all in this matchup.


Next week, we’ll break down the Week 2 divisional matchup with Dallas – presumably the 1-and-2 in the NFC East, and wonder shamelessly if we’ll miss Tim Tebow at any point in the season. Probably not.

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