The Philadelphia Eagles are a team in transition. They moved on from Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson, and a whole mess of wide receivers. When you end your season by firing your head coach, things generally didn’t go the way you wanted. That’s the story of the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles. Doug Pederson took a dive in week seventeen to guarantee a better draft pick for the Eagles, and bar the Giants from the playoffs. So that’s it after five years? So long, good luck? The Eagles hired Nick Sirianni, who spent the last three years as the Colts’ offensive coordinator.
The Philadelphia Eagles took two fantasy football-relevant players in the 2021 NFL Draft, but will DeVonta Smith and Kenneth Gainwell matter in fantasy football leagues in their rookie years?
FULL PHILADELPHIA EAGLES DRAFT RESULTS
|3||73||Milton Williams||DT||Louisiana Tech|
|4||123||Zech McPhearson||CB||Texas Tech|
|6||191||Tarron Jackson||DE||Coastal Carolina|
Round 1, Pick 10: DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver, Alabama (6’1” 174 pounds)
WR1: DeVonta Smith
WR2: Jalen Reagor
WR3: Travis Fulgham
WR4: Quez Watkins
WR5: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
Fantasy football twitter turns into BMI Twitter when it comes to DeVonta Smith. He’s a string bean. I don’t care. Smith is incredible with the ball in his hands and is so wiggly and fast on the football field, and may or may not be related to the X-Man, Nightcrawler, given how he just appears open at times. He is always ready for YAC and just made opposing defensive backs look silly.
Smith won’t make a man miss in a phone booth, but he will run right past that phone booth with his speed and route-running skills. Smith’s 174 pounds do him good as he seems to float at the top of his leaps at times, and it’s easier to get body control of a svelte frame than anything else. I keep bringing up his weight because I have to remind you: I don’t care. BMI Twitter is inventing reasons to not like one of the top-tier wide receivers in this class.
Once the Philadelphia Eagles finally trade Zach Ertz, they’ll have Dallas Goedert and Travis Fulgham returning as the only two guys who had any sort of significant targets in 2020 (and no, I didn’t forget Jalen Reagor). The door is wide open for Smith to become Jalen Hurts’ WR1, which would open him up to 100+ targets right off the bat. Target volume might be a problem, as it stands with most rushing quarterbacks. Hurts started four games last year and failed to top 30 pass attempts in two of them. I don’t know if he can support a lot of guys, but he can certainly support DeVonta Smith.
2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
DeVonta Smith was my favorite wide receiver in this draft class, ahead of just Ja’Marr Chase. The two have flip-flopped for their rookie years, but I still really like Smith. He’s extremely talented and has a CeeDee Lamb 2020 in his range of outcomes, and the odds of that happening are much higher than they would seem. Take him in the middle rounds of your draft and enjoy the ride, he has as much upside his rookie year as anyone not named Justin Jefferson over the last four-or-five drafts. I will have a lot of DeVonta Smith on my rosters this year.
Round 5, Pick 150 Overall: Kenneth Gainwell, Running Back, Memphis (5’8” 194 pounds)
RB1: Miles Sanders
RB2: Kenneth Gainwell
RB3: Boston Scott
RB4: Kerryon Johnson
RB5: Jordan Howard
Gainwell is slippery, versatile, and explosive. He is a little, but shifty RB, who would serve Philly well in the short side of the platoon. Gainwell knows he doesn’t have the strength to go between the tackles, constantly bouncing it outside. He also frequently flares out or runs into the flat for dump offs. Gainwell is a smart player, running out the clock after gaining first down with a bunch of grass ahead of him to win the game. Gainwell is a danger in the open field with the ball, thanks to his slippery nature and his above-average field vision and anticipation. In the end, Gainwell is electric, but limited, as he gets obliterated any time he is tasked with going between the tackles. NFL comparison is probably… Justin Jackson? It’s not good. But his upside is Tarik Cohen, which is very good.
The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot to sort out this season in their running back room. We aren’t sure if Miles Sanders is good yet. Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Howard have both already flamed out three and five years into their careers, respectively. Boston Scott is what he is, and what he is, is a downgraded version of Gainwell. There’s a path forward to a Nyheim Hines role for Gainwell in 2021. After all, Nick Sirianni saw what Hines could do in Indy, and Gainwell ticks a lot of the same boxes. He likely starts off slow or starts off getting eight targets. It feels like there won’t be an in-between.
2021 FANTASY FOOTBALL OUTLOOK
That means you probably want to stash Gainwell in deeper leagues and keep a watchful eye on him in shallower leagues. He’s not the best running back in this class, but you don’t need to be the best running back to produce fantasy football value. All you need, in the end, is the opportunity. A path to opportunity exists here for Gainwell, he just needs to reach out and grab it. You can monitor him from afar or slap him into your last bench slot, up to you. Just don’t ignore Gainwell, as he could be a flex play in PPR leagues.