The Philadelphia Eagles traded Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2021 third-round draft pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick that would become a first-round pick if Wentz reaches 75% playtime this season or 70% of snaps and Colts make the playoffs. From a Fantasy standpoint, the trade clears up a logjam in Philadelphia for Jalen Hurts and gives the Colts their starting quarterback for 2021. The Fantasy ramifications, while uncertain, could be enormous.
Wentz was miserable in 12 games in 2020, setting career lows in completion percentage (57.4%), yards per attempt (6.0), and passer rating (72.8). He was also intercepted on a career-high 3.7% of his passes. The only saving grace for Fantasy purposes was his rushing production. His 23 yards per game and five rushing touchdowns were both career highs.
When a drop-off this significant happens in what should be the prime of a quarterback's career, it's worth asking if it was all his fault. In Wentz's case it most certainly wasn't. The offensive line was never fully healthy, which led to Wentz being pressured on 29.7% of his dropbacks. For reference, Philip Rivers' pressure rate in 2020 was the fourth-best at 16.5%.
It wasn't just Wentz's offensive line that let him down either. The drop rate among Wentz's receivers was 5.5%, which was the fifth-highest mark in the league. While there are a lot of questions surrounding the Colts pass-catchers in 2021, Rivers only saw 3.2% of his passes dropped in 2020.
With Wentz's personal history and the extraneous factors that went into his struggles, you should expect some sort of bounce back. How much will determine whether he can be a low-end No. 1 quarterback again. His experience with head coach Frank Reich and his offensive system should certainly help. The addition of a true No. 1 receiver, or at least a better tight end, would as well.
The first run at Wentz's projections have him as a solid No. 2 Fantasy quarterback projected for around 3,800 yards and 25 touchdowns through the air and another 200 yards and two scores on the ground. With the right offseason, it's not difficult to see him sneaking into the top 15.
The far more interesting quarterback from a Fantasy perspective is Jalen Hurts. He was the No. 9 quarterback in Fantasy in the final four weeks of 2020 despite the fact that he was pulled early in Week 17. Hurts was below average as a passer, completing just 52% of his passes and turning the ball over five times in four games. But we generally expect quarterbacks to improve in the offseason after their rookie year, and Hurts' 68 rushing yards per game can cover up a lot of flaws in the passing game -- at least in Fantasy.
There is still some risk the Eagles take a quarterback in the NFL Draft, but assuming they don't, he's going to project very well. In my very first projection, he came out at QB7, ahead of fellow second-year quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. Although, there are plenty of questions that need to be answered before I would want to draft Hurts that high.
First, we need to clear April and make sure the Eagles don't draft a quarterback. Second, it would be great to get more information on how Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen plan to design the offense around Hurts. And like Wentz, it would be great to see Hurts get a new No. 1 receiver, though with the Eagles cap situation that would almost certainly have to come through the draft.
As for the rest of the Eagles, Miles Sanders was the No. 7 back in Fantasy the three weeks he played with Hurts, so I'd view this as a positive, though not enough to change his projection. The rest of the Eagles pass catchers are a little more concerning, especially the short area targets. Dallas Goedert really needs Zach Ertz to leave, and Hurts' accuracy to improve, to be a top-five tight end in 2021.
For now, view Hurts as a low-end No. 1 quarterback with easy top-five upside and Wentz as a middling No. 2 quarterback with top-12 upside if everything goes right. The next few months could still change a lot for both of them.