Philadelphia Eagles 2022 Fantasy Football Sleeper, Breakout & Bust

2021 Jalen Hurts Philadelphia Eagles

Every summer, we take a deep dive into the fantasy football average draft position (ADP) of players on each real-life NFL team. We do this so that we can determine which guys are undervalued, overvalued, or valued just right. As we Goldilocks this ADP, our draft board forms based on our opinions of players and where they go in fantasy football drafts. Since drafters draft (mostly) by site algorithms, site algorithms drive ADP on that site. So, we use FantasyPros’ aggregate average draft position data in order to smooth out those edges. To really smooth out the edges, I will use half-PPR average draft position, which you can find here.

The Philadelphia Eagles made the splashiest move of the 2022 NFL Draft, and one of the splashiest moves not only of the offseason but in recent memory, when they traded for—and then extended—A.J. Brown to lead their wide receiver room. Other than that and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside converting to tight end, the Eagles mostly stood pat on the offensive side of the ball. But, even though we already know pretty much what should happen, we can still find some market inefficiencies in their offense for fantasy football. Who are the 2022 fantasy football sleeper, breakout, and bust for the Philadelphia Eagles?

Sleeper: DeVonta Smith, Wide Receiver (WR33, 74 OVR)

The hate has gone too far with DeVonta Smith, and I know it has to do with the Eagles adding A.J. Brown to their wide receiver room. That’s fine, we can doubt DeVonta Smith’s upside with a better wide receiver in the room. But, that didn’t suddenly make DeVonta Smith not good. Smith earned over 100 targets last season, which he turned into 64 catches for 916 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. In the end, he finished in a virtual tie with Jaylen Waddle for the rookie wide receiver who accounted for the highest percentage of his team’s yardage last season. Despite that, he still ranks in the top ten in unrealized air yards, thanks to the league’s sixth-deepest average depth of target, meaning there was still room to grow for him. He was, in all respects, exactly what the Eagles wanted.

But now, since he’s been relegated to the WR2 role, he’s gotten dashed down the ranks. What happened to targets being earned? People love to talk about how good players earn their targets and they will maintain their relative target load. So, with A.J. Brown in tow, we dismiss DeVonta Smith? I don’t think so. Smith falls in the “WR3 you can get for cheap” in salary cap drafts range, and he’s the perfect guy to come back on after you’ve strayed from wide receiver to grab a running back or two in standard snake drafts. He’s the forgotten man in Philadelphia thanks to A.J. Brown’s arrival, but everyone needs to have some Simple Minds about this because don’t you forget about him.

Breakout: Jalen Hurts, Quarterback (QB8, 75 OVR)

It’s weird to call the QB8 a breakout, but I currently have his projections with him as the QB5 on the season. That might seem like a distinction without a difference, it means that I will take him over guys like Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, and Dak Prescott. In fact, here’s the list I’d take over him: Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar Jackson. That’s it. Hurts is one of the best running QBs in the league, rushing for 784 yards and ten touchdowns, on 139 attempts. The attempts should stay very high, and I am excited for him to turn his non-DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders targets into A.J. Brown. And really, that’s the crux of this issue.

The main knock on Jalen Hurts is that he struggles to throw a good football. And with A.J. Brown, who cares? He’s one of the best wide receivers in the league with the ball in his hands, and he can take any given pass to the house. So, Jalen Hurts can let A.J. Brown do the hard part for him; Jalen Hurts gets the fantasy points either way. I see Hurts keeping his rushing floor in 2022, and adding a massive ceiling by capping an iffy receiving corps (that he rode to the sixth-most fantasy points per game last season) with one of the best receivers in the league.

Bust: A.J. Brown, Wide Receiver (WR9, 25 OVR)

It absolutely breaks my heart to put A.J. Brown down on this list, but the ADP necessitates it. While I have no doubt about A.J. Brown’s talent, let’s break down the math a little bit to figure out if he can even get enough targets to justify this ADP. First, he went from the Tennessee Titans, where he was by far the best passing weapon. All respect to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and all disrespect to fully broken-down Julio Jones there with that statement. He now moves to the Eagles, where he has to contend with not only DeVonta Smith, but also Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders for targets. So, he has to chop up the pie into more slices.

Second, the pie is a lot smaller in Philadelphia, thanks to Jalen Hurts’ best skill being running the football. While the Titans did not throw the ball a lot (531 times, the seventh-lowest amount), the Eagles would need to add 39 pass attempts to their ledger to reach that amount. The Eagles’ QBs threw the ball just 492 times last year, which means that A.J. Brown gets a lot smaller pie to work with.

So, none of this really has anything to do with A.J. Brown. It has to do with suddenly sharing a roster with DeVonta Smith, who had a 22% target share, Dallas Goedert, who had a 19% target share, and Miles Sanders, who had a 10% target share. While I assume targets will come from guys like Quez Watkins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, it’s hard to get excited about taking A.J. Brown as my WR1 when he is going to one of the lowest pass attempt teams in the league with multiple established solid-to-good pass catchers. Ultimately, I believe we’ve properly accounted for this with DeVonta Smith’s ADP, but not A.J. Brown’s.

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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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