The Eagles are making a change at quarterback, with Jalen Hurts replacing Carson Wentz for Week 14 against the Saints. Coach Doug Pederson announced the move Tuesday, after benching Wentz for Hurts in the second half of Week 13's loss to the Packers. It's been a deeply disappointing season for Wentz, who has struggled with accuracy and decision making playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football.
Can Hurts fare better and be a Fantasy contributor down the stretch? And will he be better for the Eagles skill players? Those are two very different questions, with only a bit of overlap -- see the Saints offense since Taysom Hill entered the starting lineup. Hill has been a top-five Fantasy QB over his three starts, despite being bad news for pretty much every player in New Orleans' offense. Will we see the same in Philadelphia? Possibly.
Does Jalen Hurts matter for Fantasy?
Of course! Rushing quarterbacks always matter for Fantasy -- Jeff Driskel was a viable starter when he averaged 22.0 points per game in three starts last season. How much he matters really all depends on how effective he can be as a runner. He was incredible in college, rushing for 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns in his lone year at Oklahoma, besting Kyler Murray's 1,001 yards and 12 touchdowns in the same number of games. Hurts ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at 6'1", 222 pounds at the combine, so he's got the size and speed to do it in the NFL. And the Eagles under Pederson have long incorporated option elements in their offense, letting Wentz use his athleticism to make plays.
You have to figure Hurts will be given the opportunity to make plays with his legs, though the question will be whether that will look more like Hill's usage -- 10 or more carries in all three starts with 176 rushing yards -- or whether it will look more like Wentz's usage -- 4.3 carries per game for the season. If he runs like Hill has, the bar for how good he has to be as a passer is much lower, as Hill is averaging 23.1 Fantasy points per start despite averaging just 181 yards and less than a touchdown per game in his starts.
That's probably an unfair expectation for Hurts, but it does hint at his upside, especially if he can be a more effective passer. The problem is, the Eagles offensive line woes haven't been solved and their passing-game weapons remain the same, so the same things that have hampered Wentz may still limit Hurts. You're hoping Hurts' ability to escape pressure and extend plays will allow him to overcome some of those issues -- and it's worth acknowledging that Wentz's play has exacerbated those issues in very real ways, as well. He wasn't just a victim of circumstance.
Still, it's not an ideal situation, and Hurts also gets a pretty tough landing spot in Week 14, as he'll be making his first start against a Saints defense that hasn't allowed 20 Fantasy points to an opposing QB since Week 8. To be fair, they haven't faced one with Hurts' dual-threat abilities, so maybe he can expose something in them, but this is no easy ask for the rookie.
Something like 220 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception seems like a safe expectation for Hurts, with 45 rushing yards and the chance for a touchdown on top of it. That wouldn't win you your matchup, but it's not like there are a ton of sure things on the waiver-wire either -- Philip Rivers is Jamey Eisenberg's top waiver-wire target for Week 14, followed by Mitchell Trubisky and Baker Mayfield. If you're looking for upside as an underdog in your matchup, Hurts might have higher potential than the guys available in your league, even if he's no sure thing. He's a boom-or-bust streamer this week.
Does Hurts help the rest of the Eagles?
This one is a lot harder to answer in the affirmative. For the pass catchers, you probably have to assume it's a downgrade to Hurts, even with how much Wentz has struggled this season. The Eagles are likely going to try to simplify their offense and play a more conservative style with Hurts, focus on quick reads and a lot of running.
That could be good news for Miles Sanders, who has just 16 carries over the past two weeks. Rushing quarterbacks often help their running back's efficiency, especially in the option game, where you have to defend 11 players instead of 10 with the QB a threat to keep it and take off. Hurts could open up additional holes for Sanders, and we know he's got the big-play ability to hit a hole and take one to the house at any point. However, Sanders has been ceding playing time lately, and his role in the passing game has really been hit hard. Hurts may not be much help there, because nearly all of Sanders' targets since his return from injury in Week 10 have been of the dump-off variety, and Hurts' scrambling ability could make those opportunities harder to come by.
Sanders is still in the starting RB discussion for Fantasy, and I imagine this change helps him more than it hurts. He's not the must-start guy we once saw him as -- and the matchup against the Saints is a really tough one -- but he's a potential No. 2 RB.
It's harder to find positive things to say about the rest of the offense. Hurts will likely have fewer opportunities to pass than Wentz did, and we don't really have any idea which receivers he is likely to target most. He targeted six players on his 12 attempts in relief of Wentz in Week 13, and Greg Ward was the only player to earn more than two targets. But that sample size is too small to mean much.
The safest bet is to assume a similar hierarchy to before, with Dallas Goedert at the top and a mess after him. With fewer overall opportunities expected, that makes it hard to trust anyone except Goedert; Zach Ertz might be the only other receiving option I would consider in Week 14.
It's entirely possible this move sparks the Eagles offense and they go on a run, but you can't really bank on it until you see it.
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 14 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big-time last season.