RB Countdown: No. 37 LeGarrette Blount
What can you expect from Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount in 2017?
At RotoViz, our motto is Seeing is believing. Our team leverages various internal apps and external resources to make that motto come to fruition This series will provide you a fantasy outlook on our top-40 running backs according to projected points in PPR formats. My intent is to provide you a line of sight on the pros, cons, and projections for these running backs to empower you to make educated decisions on draft day.
Blount finished 2016 as the RB9 last season in PPR formats with 306 touches, 1,199 yards, and 18 touchdowns. He handled 74 percent of the Patriots rushing attempts while only playing 47 percent of the offensive snaps. Blount produced 96.8 percent of his total yards on the ground. He finished fifth in the NFL with 741 yards after contact last season and forced 42 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Blount set career highs in carries, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns.
Blount signed a one-year contract worth $1.25 million with the Eagles back on May 17th. What offensive role will he have with the Eagles in 2017? Can he be fantasy relevant outside the comfy confines of New England? I will answer these questions and also provide a line of sight on the pros and cons of Blount’s landing spot with the Eagles.
The Eagles offensive line is one of the top units in the NFL. Tackle Jason Peters, guard Brandon Brooks, and tackle Lane Johnson all graded out according to Pro Football Focus within the top 10 of their respective positions. This Eagles offensive line also ranked sixth in second level yards via Football Outsiders. This metric boils down to yards which the team’s RBs earn between five to 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, divided by total carries. This offensive line will be better equipped to handle any injuries given their depth at various positions. Blount will have an opportunity to thrive behind this unit in 2017, and he is relatively cheap.
Blount will be placed in a position outperform his current ADP. Blount is the only back on the roster that has the physicality to handle running in between the tackles and in short yardage situation.
Darren Sproles should continue to dominate as the receiving back, while Wendell Smallwood will operate as a change of pace option. The probability is high that the Eagles release Ryan Mathews. Blount, in my opinion, was one of the most criminally underrated free agency signings. Was he a product of the Patriots explosive offense? The reality is that Blount is a RB over 30 who has 46 receptions over the last seven seasons. Teams may have typecast him, but the RB similarity app suggests that Blount can still be productive. This app provides a visual of the results of what the similar players did after they had a season that was comparable to his 2016.
For a power back, Blount has been very durable. He has an injury probability of 49 percent according to Sports Injury Predictor, with zero projected games missed. The website has created an algorithm that generates a player’s statistical probability for injury and projected games missed. Here is what the website said about Blount:
Blount has held up reasonably well for a guy who dishes out (and takes) a lot of contact. He’s missed 7 career games with injury over his 7 NFL seasons — and 4 of those were due to a hip injury that ended his 2015 campaign.
Blount will be able to help an Eagles offense that ranked 24th in touchdown efficiency last season. He was a dynamo inside the 10-yard line in 2016, which accounted for 83 percent of his rushing touchdowns. The Eagles offense will look completely different in 2017, which brings me to some cons you should be aware of.
The Eagles offense is nowhere near the caliber of the Patriots offense. The Patriots offense has consistently ranked in the top eight in fantasy point production for more than a decade and had the second highest DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) last season. The Eagles ranked 26th. DVOA, as described by Football Outsiders, measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent. The Eagles offense ranked 16th with 1.85 points per drive, while the Patriots ranked fifth with 2.42 points per drive last season.
Blount is unlikely to approach the number of carries he had in 2016 with the Patriots. The Eagles averaged 27.3 rushing attempts per game last season, which ranked 10th in the NFL. I anticipate this number to decrease in 2017. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had 607 attempts in 2017.
The team’s group of wide receivers was another area of opportunity that was addressed in free agency with the signings of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Last season Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, and Dorial Green-Beckham were inconsistent and unreliable for fantasy owners. When Reich was the offensive coordinator with the Chargers, the team ranked fifth in passing yards with 8,869, and third in completions with 822, when you combine the statistics from the 2014 and 2015 season.
Reich was also very inconsistent in the number of touches he gave the Eagles RBs last season. There were only three games that an Eagles RB was given 20 or more touches. Negative game scripts could impact Blount’s fantasy value, despite the Eagles excellent offensive line, but the upgrades on the defensive side of the ball could result in more neutral game scripts.
Blount is a tremendous addition to the Eagles offense due to his size, success rate in short-yardage, and red zone situations. He should have a stranglehold on the team’s early down and goal line carries. Blount can be viewed as an RB3 in PPR formats. Sproles is the better value in PPR formats given his ADP and projected for the most points based on our staff projections.
The next installment of this series will provide readers a fantasy outlook on Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard.
This article is part of a series providing readers a Fantasy Outlook on RotoViz’s top-40 running backs according to projected points in PPR formats. What was most useful for you? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out to me via Twitter @EricNMoody. Be on the lookout for the next article in the series.