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August 25, 2023

Fantasy football: Expectations for Jalen Hurts, Eagles RBs, WRs and more

Which Eagles do you need to draft in your fantasy league? Here's our cheat sheet when it comes to Jalen Hurts, Kenny Gainwell, D'Andre Swift, DeVonta Smith and more.

After seeing all of the Eagles' training camp practices in 2023 and looking back at their electric 2022 performance, I know what you can expect from the Birds' skill players when it comes to your fantasy football team. Here's a position-by-position guide to the team's fantasy outlook...


There is no safer play in fantasy football than Jalen Hurts. There is no bigger league-winning swing in fantasy football than Jalen Hurts. Hurts' running capabilities mixed with his passing efficiency give him the upside of being the best fantasy football QB out there and I'm expecting a top-three QB finish alongside Patrick Mahomes and Justin Fields.

Hurts was fantasy football's third highest-rated QB in 2022 and his 378 points were the 12th most of any player regardless of position. Hurts threw for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns while rushing for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

Will those numbers be repeated in 2023?

I'm expecting a slight uptick in passing yards and a bit of a drop-off when it comes to rushing yards. Between the 20s, I'd figure there will be fewer designed runs for Hurts to protect his long-term health and standing as a franchise QB. That will lead, in turn, to Hurts airing it out more. 

What about those touchdown numbers though?

Hurts' 13 rushing TDs were the second most ever by a QB following Cam Newton's 14-touchdown performance in 2011. There have been just a dozen seasons in league history where a QB rushed for double-digit touchdowns. It won't be a record-breaking performance, but a 10-touchdown total is still definitely in play. 

There's a give-and-take when it comes to Hurts' rushing usage. I see fewer designed runs in normal situations, but taking the ball out of his hand at the goal line removes his most elite skill. Why pay him all that money if you're not going to have him do the one thing he does better than anyone else in the NFL? 

I'm envisioning 4,000+ passing yards, 25-ish passing TDs, 600-ish rushing yards and nine or 10 rushing TDs. 


Running Back

The most debated part of the Eagles' roster this summer is how their running back room will shake out after Miles Sanders' departure this offseason. 

Kenny Gainwell received the majority of the first-team reps and more touches in training camp than any other back on the roster. D'Andre Swift figures to be a threat in the passing game. Swift was seen split out wide at times in camp and it appears that the Birds will be dialing up wheel routes for him as well. Free agent signee Rashaad Penny surprisingly didn't get much run in camp. Is the team saving him for the regular season with his lengthy injury history? Or is he potentially down as far as fourth on the depth chart behind Gainwell, Swift and Boston Scott?

I'd be wary of using any high picks on an Eagles back. They certainly do not have a fantasy RB1 here. Gainwell, who I expect to lead the team in carries, might be a borderline RB2 considering those potential touches and the fact that he has 56 catches over his first two seasons even in a reserve role. 

If you're an Eagles fan drafting with other Eagles fans, these guys are all going to get overdrafted. I ultimately like Gainwell the most of the bunch for fantasy purposes, but be prepared for irregular usage that makes it difficult for him to be an every-week starter. I'd take a late-round flier on Swift. Penny is a wait-and-see waiver-wire guy. Scoop up Scott, the noted Giant Killer, ahead of the Eagles' matchups with New York in Week 16 if you're dying for help come the fantasy postseason. 



Penny: PASS


Wide Receiver 

A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith had the two best training camps of any Eagle on the roster. They are going to put up monster numbers. Brown finished as the overall WR4 in 2022. Another top-five finish is on the table. Smith finished as WR10. He might actually improve on that. Don't overthink things. These two could carry you to the fantasy playoffs. 

If you're in a deeper league, I'd look elsewhere for depth when it comes to Quez Watkins. Watkins has a definitive role as a field-stretcher in the Eagles' offense, but when it comes to the fantasy football world, he's likely the fifth option in the passing game behind Brown, Smith, Dallas Goedert and one of their pass-catching backs. 



Watkins: PASS

Tight End

Dallas Goedert, in a tier slightly behind Brown and Smith, has had the third-best camp of any Eagle on either side of the ball. Goedert finished as the TE10 in 2022. His talent and game-by-game production go well beyond that, but he struggles with injuries annually. He missed five games last season. 

Goedert's play style adds to that injury factory. He has tons of chunk pickups because of his run-after-the-catch ability, but that comes with him bruising his way through linebackers and safeties. That's great when you're getting a 15-point game out of him, but you reap what you sow when you're scrambling trying to start David Nojku for the umpteenth time in the last half-dozen years when he's inevitably out of the lineup. 

Still, the guy is damn good. Here's how his 2022 yards-per-game mark stacks up against the best fantasy tight ends:

Player Games Played  YPG
Travis Kelce17 78.7
Dallas Goedert 12 58.0 
 Mark Andrews15 56.5 
T.J. Hockenson 17 53.8 
George Kittle 15 51.0 

Those numbers come with him playing in the same offense as Brown and Smith. He'd be the clear-cut TE2 behind Travis Kelce if he was in an offense with lesser talent around him like Andrews in Baltimore. That's great in theory and a credit to Goedert's skill, but what goes in the box score is all that matters in the fantasy realm. I'd say his upside is TE3 behind Kelce and Andrews. Goedert is not a huge red zone target given Hurts' ability as a runner and the presence of that elite wideout duo, but he could settle around TE5. 



The Eagles score a lot of points. Jake Elliott is a fine option. 



If you're not streaming defenses every week in 2023, I don't know what you're doing. 

I'm expecting a step back from the Eagles' defense this season and 2022's gaudy total of 70 sacks (15 more than the next closest team!) is statistically improbable to be replicated. I do, however, like the Eagles as a Week 1 option against Mac Jones and an inept Patriots offense. It's a favorable start to the schedule overall. If you want to roster the Birds to start your season, they're a great option against four of their first five opponents: New England, Tampa Bay, Washington and Los Angeles with a Week 2 matchup with Minnesota sprinkled in there. Things get tricky from there though.


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