2017 Projections: Darren Sproles and the Philadelphia Eagles
In this series, I use an internal version of the Projection Machine to explore likely outcomes for offensive players on all 32 NFL teams.
The Projection Machine employs a top-down approach that builds on team-wide assumptions to develop expectations of offensive output. I will use staff averages to help guide the inputs underlying the projections. Check out this article for further information on the process used by the RotoViz team. All 2017 Philadelphia Eagles projections are based on PPR scoring.
The Eagles won seven games in 2016 and are expected to win eight or nine in 2017. As a result, the staff anticipates an improvement in scoring margin. This will allow the team to lower its pace and continue to run a balanced attack. Based on these assumptions, the Projection Machine forecasts 582 passes and 434 rushes.
|Scoring Margin||Pass Tendency||Pace Tendency|
|League 75th percentile||1.00||0.02||0.85|
|League 50th percentile||-1.25||-0.01||-0.85|
|League 25th percentile||-3.75||-0.04||-2.70|
|Eagles 2017 (Projection)||-1.00||0.01||1.50|
Sproles is a Value
The Eagles were 10th in rushing attempts last season with 438. Darren Sproles, who accounted for only 94 of these attempts, was the team’s highest-scoring running back. The RotoViz staff expects a similar outcome in 2017. Yet, Sproles is being drafted 20 RBs after LeGarrette Blount. Blount scored 18 times as a Patriot last season and earned 299 attempts. As an Eagle, his volume and efficiency will decrease significantly. In fact, 200 rushing attempts would be a great outcome for him, given his projected rushing share.
The staff is unsure of his fit in the Philadelphia offense and projects him with 44 percent of attempts and 50th percentile efficiency. Sproles will remain a fixture in the passing game with 11 percent of targets. His projection assumes average efficiency and includes 20 percent of carries. Wendell Smallwood projects as the team’s third RB option but isn’t expected to play a significant role.
The staff average projects Blount with 133 points. With a standard deviation of 20, per the RotoViz Draft Lab, his range of likely outcomes is between 113 and 153 fantasy points. Sproles is projected with 153 points and a standard deviation of 23. The staff views Sproles as an RB3 and Blount an RB4.
Not Much Behind Jeffery
Philadelphia’s receiving corps will have a new look in 2017. Alshon Jeffery is the clear WR1 and is the only member of the unit that’s expected to be a major fantasy player. Jeffery has struggled to remain healthy, missing 21 percent of games during his five-year career. He turned in a disappointing 2016, scoring just 11 points per game. In the three seasons prior, he’d averaged over 17 points per contest. A contributing factor to this decline in production may have been the absence of Jay Cutler.
Though we’re dealing with a small sample, Jeffery’s points per game fell by two when playing without Cutler. Of course, his production was below his historical averages across the entire season. For 2017, the staff projects him with a target share of 23 percent and average efficiency for a WR1. He’s being drafted as a fantasy WR2 and this seems fair given the prognostications of the staff.
Nelson Agholor is projected with 17 percent of targets and below-average efficiency. Torrey Smith can expect a target share of 12 percent with modest efficiency. The two are not expected to play significant roles in 2017 fantasy leagues.
With an average projection of 227 points and standard deviation of 24, Jeffery is expected to score between 203 and 251 fantasy points.
Agholor is pegged for 128 points and a standard deviation of 24. Smith is expected to accrue 120 points with a standard deviation of 26.
Ertz is a Safe Pick
Zach Ertz has improved every season; finishing as TE23 in 2013 and TE6 last season. He’s become a significant part of the Eagles offense and should be second in team targets. His projection assumes solid efficiency and a target share of 18 percent. The RotoViz staff believes his ADP of TE9 is spot on.
The staff average projects Ertz with 177 fantasy points and a standard deviation of 9. He’s a safe bet to finish as a starting TE.
Wentz is Fine in 2QB Leagues
Carson Wentz won’t be winning fantasy leagues in 2017, but he could be useful as a QB2. He was okay in his rookie season and could benefit from increased usage in the run game. Of course, if Alshon Jeffery misses time, he won’t have many weapons to target. Nonetheless, he has a concentrated range of outcomes as his ceiling is limited.
The presented projection aligns with the staff average 253 fantasy points and standard deviation of nine.