The Eagles had enough of the Chip Kelly era and enough of mediocre quarterback play. So this season, they went back to a formula that worked in Philadelphia for nearly a decade. Or so they hope.
Doug Pederson, an Andy Reid disciple as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, was hired to replace Kelly as the new head coach. And the first power move during Pederson's tenure was to trade with Cleveland to move up in the NFL Draft for North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz at No. 2 overall.
The Eagles are hoping Pederson is the new Reid and Wentz is the new Donovan McNabb, who was drafted No. 2 overall in 1999. Reid helped the Eagles dominate the NFC East with five division titles, eight playoff appearances, five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl, with McNabb leading his offense during that run.
And now it's up to Pederson and Wentz to do the same. But it might be a little messy to start since Sam Bradford was signed to a two-year contract extension worth $36 million, including $22 million guaranteed. Bradford is expected to open the season as the starter, but he's upset with the addition of Wentz, who is clearly the quarterback of the future.
We'll have to see how this quarterback drama plays out in training camp, but neither passer has promising Fantasy value coming into the year. There are plenty of other options on offense worth considering, however.
One of the many moves the Eagles made to move on from Kelly was trade DeMarco Murray to the Titans. No one of significance was brought in as a replacement, so Ryan Mathews steps into the starting role and should be considered a No. 2 Fantasy running back. He's worth drafting in Round 5 in the majority of leagues.
Jordan Matthews was inconsistent in his second year in 2015, but he still has upside heading into his third year. Matthews is worth drafting with a mid-round pick as a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver.
And Zach Ertz finally started playing at a high level toward the end of last season. If that carries over to this year, which is what we expect, he's a breakout candidate worth drafting with a mid-round pick as a Top 10 Fantasy tight end.
Along with Nelson Agholor, Rueben Randle and Darren Sproles, this can still be a highly-productive offense. But first the Eagles have to settle on a quarterback, whether it's the veteran placeholder in Bradford or the future starter in Wentz.
Of course, the Eagles could always go a different route and start journeyman backup Chase Daniel, who followed Pederson from Kansas City. But that would be a huge stretch, and it would definitely deviate from what made the Eagles successful when they paired Reid and McNabb together in 1999.
Murray was a bust last season, but he still finished as the No. 18 Fantasy running back in standard leagues with 193 carries for 702 yards and six touchdowns along with 44 catches for 322 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 3.6 yards per carry and was outplayed by Mathews, who, as usual, struggled with injuries and underwent groin surgery in January. Mathews had 107 carries for 539 yards and six touchdowns and 20 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Just because he was a better fit in Kelly's system than Murray doesn't mean he'll do well this season, and he's dealt with a litany of injuries during his career. But Mathews once upon a time had a couple of good seasons with the Chargers, including 2013 when he appeared in 16 games and had 1,255 rushing yards and six touchdowns and 26 catches for 189 yards and one touchdown. That's what he's capable of if he starts and plays a full season, which makes him intriguing as a Fantasy option this year. We like him as a No. 2 Fantasy running back, worth drafting as early as Round 5 in most leagues.
In the final four games of last season, Ertz had 35 catches for 450 yards and a touchdown. If you project that over 16 games, he would have finished with 140 catches for 1,800 yards and four touchdowns. Now, the only thing realistic about that stat line are the touchdowns, because there's no way Ertz will come close to the catches and yards. But he does have the chance to post huge numbers this season. His final stats in 2015 were 75 catches for 853 yards and two touchdowns, with the catches and yards career-high marks, and he was the No. 10 tight end in standard leagues. The reception total was sixth-best among tight ends, and the yards were No. 7. We hope he scores more than four touchdowns, and the Eagles are counting on him after he was signed to a five-year contract extension worth $42.5 million, including $20 million guaranteed. Every tight end ahead of Ertz last season scored at least five touchdowns, and if he did that he would have finished No. 7 in Fantasy points. That's a safe range for him this season. He's worth drafting with a mid-round pick in all formats.
Matthews finished as the No. 20 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues last season, but his production was somewhat deceiving. He had 85 catches for 997 yards and eight touchdowns, but plenty of his stats came in garbage time of several games, which made him hard to trust. Now, there are some positives from his performance in 2015, which hopefully will carry over to this year. He improved from his rookie year (67 catches, 872 yards and eight touchdowns) to his second year, and hopefully there's a breakout coming in his third season. He also had 128 targets in 2015 and should again lead the team in targets this year, especially since he should move around the offense more after being relegated mostly to the slot a year ago. The good news is also where you can draft Matthews this year compared to last season, when he was likely selected in Round 4. It's doubtful Matthews will be drafted before Round 6 this year, making him a solid selection as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in the majority of leagues.