Philadelphia Eagles Team Preview

  • The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best rushing attacks in football once again this year. Newly added Saquon Barkley gives stability to a team that has not had a true number-one running back since LeSean McCoy, so look for him to be an early first round lock in your fantasy drafts. It is important to note that this is the best offensive line by far Barkley has had in front of him in his career. As for the rest of the offense, Jalen Hurts should be one of the first QBs taken in any fantasy draft given his consistent dual-threat ability and tendency to put up top-five fantasy numbers for the position every year. Pair that with the long-term extensions given to wide receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, and you have yourself an elite offense on paper and the field this season.

    The easiest way to describe the Eagles 2023-24 season is simply put, forgettable. It started off quite well, with the birds sitting comfortably at 10-1 and in firm control of both the NFC East and the NFC as a whole. Things then spiraled out of control with the changing of defensive coordinators from Sean Desai to Matt Patricia, the inability of Brian Johnson and Nick Sirianni to create an effective offensive game plan each week, and reports of disharmony among players and staff in the locker room. They were 1-5 in their last six games, lost the number-one seed in the NFC to the Niners, gave away the NFC East to the Dallas Cowboys, and were pummeled by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round. Soon after, team captains and future Hall of Famers Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox announced their retirements, closing a storied chapter in the history of the franchise.

    Perhaps nobody on this team had it worse than Jalen Hurts. He went from being an MVP frontrunner to bottoming out completely after the team struggled mightily and the injuries to both his left knee and throwing hand hampered his play down the stretch for a second straight season. Facing the media with his usual stoic demeanor, each week he tried to convince them that they were fixing the mistakes and “keeping the main thing the main thing.” By that point, it was too late and clearly noticeable that they were all going down with a sinking ship. There was nothing left to do but look towards the upcoming season.  Whether there will be ramifications from last season’s collapse remains to be seen, but on paper this is clearly one of the most dominant teams in the league.

    However, just like the title of the show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the gray skies surrounding the team would not last long. General Manager Howie Roseman quickly re-signed key players Brandon Graham, Landon Dickerson, DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Jake Elliott, and Reed Blankenship to contract extensions. Roseman then swung for the fences and brought in Saquon Barkley, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and Bryce Huff each on three-year deals. He gave the quarterback position some backup by signing former Steelers starter Kenny Pickett. It’s safe to say the front office really had themselves a stellar offseason in free agency.

    The biggest splashes, however, came by way of the draft. In the first two rounds, the birds selected arguably the top two corners in this class in Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell and Iowa’s Cooper DeJean, hopefully solidifying a major weakness over the last two seasons. The real steals of their draft came in the 4th and 5th rounds where they took two Clemson products, running back Will Shipley, whose game is similar to Christian McCaffrey, and linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. If that last name rings a “Liberty Bell” for fans, Trotter Jr. is the son of former Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, a franchise legend in his own right. These four picks address the areas in which the team struggled the most last year, but they do so by adding brand names who should make an impact right away as rookies.

    From a strictly fantasy perspective, all of the fresh faces and current cornerstones of this roster should have stellar seasons. Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown are almost assuredly top-five at their respective positions this season, with Hurts finishing as high as QB2 on most draft platforms and Brown as high as WR6 in 2023. Brown has consistently hovered close to the top-five, first tier territory, but he is more than capable of reaching that mark this year. Smith, who is the WR2 on this team, is a constant lower end WR1 option in fantasy and a great flex option. Saquon Barkley is undoubtedly a top-five running back when healthy, which was hard to do as the bell cow behind a constantly abysmal Giants’ offensive line. Now, he gets to run behind a perennially dominant offensive line that features potential Hall of Fame left tackle Lane Johnson, two-time pro bowl guard Landon Dickerson, Kelce’s hand-picked replacement Cam Jurgens, and underrated left tackle Jordan Mailata. If he stays healthy, Barkley could shatter all of his previous accolades and numbers this year and is a threat for the RB1 spot in fantasy.

    On the defensive side, the Eagles defense was near the bottom of the league by the end of the season in takeaways and points last year. Bringing back Gardner-Johnson, who spent last year with the Detroit Lions, is a huge deal for this defense. He led this Eagles defense and the league in interceptions in 2022 as part of a defense that was at top of the league in takeaways and sacks as a whole that year. DeJean and Mitchell are extremely athletic, technically sound rookies who should start immediately and add to a defense that looks to be much better in 2024. The fantasy upside for this defense is tremendous.

    Writer’s Prediction: 13-4


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