Shark Bites

One of the biggest Eagles questions facing fantasy owners is just how much work we can expect RB Jay Ajayi to get. Well, he spoke to that a bit this week. “I’m excited,” Ajayi said Tuesday, per USA Today's Eagles Wire. “Obviously things have gotten a little bit shaken up in our room, and I’m excited to get into that lead role, do what’s needed of me and just go ball." Ajayi averaged just 11.2 carries per game over 10 contests (playoffs included) after joining the Eagles last year. But that climbed to 13.8 over the final 6 games, including 4 weeks of 14+ rushes. Philly coaches haven't specifically addressed backfield roles yet, and the backfield remains crowded. Corey Clement should continue to see a significant role. And Darren Sproles -- who opened last year as the team leader in RB snaps before a Week 3 injury -- returns. Matt Jones, Donnel Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood and undrafted free agent Josh Adams are also fighting for roles. The "lead role" Ajayi refers to doesn't necessarily mean workhorse-level touches, and we're not projecting that for him. But a lead job in what should again rank among the league's top offenses will undoubtedly carry fantasy upside. Ajayi could particularly bring a high TD ceiling, given his size vs. the remaining backfield competition. He's a decent value at current ADP, and we'll continue to monitor the Eagles backfield as we move into summer.

Eagles QB Carson Wentz was on the field and throwing at Tuesday's OTA session, a little more than 5 months after tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee. "It's always an exciting time ... any time you're rehabbing from any injury you have to be careful," Wentz said. "I'll be involved in a handful of things (at OTAs) ... the mental aspect is just as important as the physical. I'm just learning how to trust it. Trust the knee, trust the movement. Every day gets a little bit better. I feel like I've made really good strides both mentally or physically." Wentz's rehab has gone smoothly by all accounts. He's seemingly on track to be cleared in time for Week 1. We'll continue to track his progress throughout the summer.

Eagles DE Brandon Graham "recently" had surgery on his right ankle, according to ESPN's Tim McManus. Doctors operated to promote faster healing on a high ankle sprain Graham suffered in Week 16. He played through the injury in the playoffs but has obviously struggled with it this offseason. Graham's seems likely to miss spring workouts. We'll see if the issue lingers beyond that.

Eagles HC Doug Pederson said Friday that he's "highly encouraged" by QB Carson Wentz's progress as he rehabs last year's torn ACL and LCL. "He's making progress each day, and we just continue that process, and he continues to throw and get stronger," Pederson said. "It's a fine line, too, this time of year, of maybe trying to do too much, too soon. But our guys are on top of it, he's on top of it, he's managing it extremely well." Wentz has been throwing to teammates on the practice field but hasn't yet been medically cleared to do more than that. He's aiming for a Week 1 return, although Pederson isn't making any promises. "I'm not going to rush him out there. I'm not going to expose him," Pederson said. "He'll be ready when he's ready, and when we feel he's ready. Right now, we're encouraged with the progress he's making."

Eagles QB Carson Wentz said Monday that his "goal is to be ready Week 1" as he recovers from last December's torn ACL and LCL in his left knee. "Rehab has been great," he added. "It's quite the process. So far everything is going well." Even without setbacks, Wentz is right up against it with the 2018 campaign kicking off just about 9 months after his injury. He won't do much in training camp, is unlikely to get any preseason reps and shouldn't be considered a lock to be out there for the opener. Wentz is coming off the board as QB5 in the middle of the 8th round in recent best-ball drafts.

NJ.com's Zack Rosenblatt believes RB Corey Clement could push his way into the "1b" role alongside Jay Ajayi in the Eagles' backfield. "He might push his way up into co-starter territory with Ajayi and it wouldn't be surprising if, on some weeks, Clement leads the team in snaps," Rosenblatt writes. "With Aijayi set to be a free agent in 2019, Clement is the future of Eagles' backfield." As an undrafted rookie last year, Clement averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 74 attempts and posted a 10-123-2 receiving line during the regular season. He caught another 10 balls in 3 playoffs games, including a big 4-100-1 line in the Super Bowl. The Eagles' backfield is certainly looking like a committee attack, especially after they re-signed Darren Sproles over the weekend. Clement as the 52nd RB off the board looks like the better early value pick vs. Ajayi as the 22nd RB.

Undrafted free agent RB Josh Adams signed with the Eagles. After sharing the backfield during his first 2 seasons at Notre Dame, Adams broke out as the Irish’s lead back this past year. He carried 206 times for 1,430 yards (6.9 YPC) and 9 scores. Adams averaged a whopping 5.2 yards after contact per attempt — easily the best among draft-eligible backs — and earned Pro Football Focus’ 2nd-best Elusive Rating. The 6’2, 213-pounder showed well in the pre-draft process, earning a 64th percentile SPARQ score. We didn’t love the tape, though. Adams is a straight-line, somewhat stiff runner who needs a wide alley to really get going. He also comes with a worrisome injury history that includes a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in high school and nagging knee and ankle trouble throughout his time at Notre Dame. There’s some committee-back potential here, although going undrafted certainly puts a damper on his fantasy football outlook. Adams is a long shot for 2018 fantasy value in a crowded Eagles backfield. But note that RB Jay Ajayi is set to hit free agency next offseason.

The Eagles announced Saturday that they have agree to terms with RB Darren Sproles for 2018. Sproles missed the final 13 games last season after suffering a broken arm and torn ACL on the same play. He'll rejoin a backfield that now includes Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Donnell Pumphrey. The 2017 rookie, Pumphrey, looks like the worst bet to stick on the 2018 roster after a wholly disappointing debut. Smallwood's roster spot could be challenged as well, given that Philly also added RB Josh Adams as an undrafted free agent. Sproles' return also challenges the target availability for Clement. Overall, the Eagles backfield looks like a committee again, with Ajayi headed for primary ball-carrying duties, Sproles the best bet to lead the group in targets and the rest of the touches likely spread around liberally.

The Eagles used the 49th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert. Goedert dominated in college (which you’d expect from a 2nd-rounder coming from the Missouri Valley Conference.) He posted a 92-1,293-11 line in 2016 and a 72-1,111-7 this past year. Goedert goes 6’5, 256 pounds and showed well at his Pro Day, testing in the 72nd percentile or better in the vertical, broad, 3-cone, 20-yard shuttle and bench press. He flashes dominant ball skills and is 1 of the better blockers among this year’s rookie TE crop. This isn’t an ideal landing spot, though, behind Zach Ertz. Philly uses a lot of 2-TE sets, but Goedert will struggle for enough targets to be a fantasy factor in the near term.

The Eagles have signed TE Richard Rodgers to a 1-year deal. The former Packer posted a 58-510-8 line back in 2015 but has totaled just 42 catches across the past 2 seasons. Rodgers owns a career 9.7 yards-per-catch average and doesn't offer much play-making ability. He'll slide in as Philly's #2 TE and will need a Zach Ertz injury to have a shot at fantasy relevance.

The Eagles signed WR Mike Wallace to a 1-year deal Thursday, according to NFL Network. Wallace is an upgrade over Torrey Smith on the outside, opposite Alshon Jeffery. He should compete with 2nd-year WR Mack Hollins for that role. The biggest fantasy question, though, is available target volume. Smith averaged just 4.2 per game last season, topping 5 targets just 3 times in the regular season. Wallace is no more than a late-round flier for current best-ball drafting.

Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn rotator cuff, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Jeffery reportedly suffered the injury in training camp but ended up playing all 16 regular-season games for just the 3rd time in his 6-year career. After a slowish start, Jeffery scored 10 times over his final 12 games (including playoffs). We'll keep an eye on his rehab, but it shouldn't impact his availability for the start of the 2018 campaign.

Eagles QB Carson Wentz revealed on Friday that, in addition to the ACL, he also tore the LCL in his left knee. He had both ligaments surgically repaired on December 13 -- 3 days after going down vs. the Rams. Wentz said that the 2nd ligament tear doesn't impact his recovery timeline and that he expects to be ready for the start of the 2018 campaign. "I feel very confident, I truly believe, my goal is to be ready for Week 1," he said. "I’m going to push and do everything I can to be ready, and I’m confident in that."

For today's game against the Cowboys, Eagles DE Brandon Graham, DE Derek Barnett, CB Jalen Mills, LB Nigel Bradham, S Rodney McLeod and DT Timmy Jernigan are all inactive. Graham was ruled out early with an ankle sprain he suffered last week. Mills was questionable. But this list clearly points to Philly's plan to rest key players and anyone dealing with any physical malady for their meaningless finale.

11:12am EST 12/31/17

Eagles RB Jay Ajayi is a healthy scratch for today's meaningless finale against the Cowboys. That leaves Philly's backfield to LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood. How touches will be divvied between those 4 is completely uncertain.

ESPN's Adam Caplan expects Eagles QB Nick Foles to play 3-4 series in today's game against the Cowboys. QB Nate Sudfeld will take over the rest of the way. Philly's top skill-position guys also figure to be pulled early today. It's a situation to avoid in Week 17 fantasy lineups.

The Eagles have ruled DE Brandon Graham (ankle) out for Sunday's finale against the Cowboys. CB Jalen Mills (ankle) is questionable with the same issue that rendered him questionable a week ago. Mills played through it then, but there's no reason for him to this time. Even if he starts, we'd be surprised if Philly leaves the starting corner in the whole game.

Eagles HC Doug Pederson said Friday that his starters will play against the Cowboys on Sunday -- but indicated that they won't play the entire game. "I want all the starters to play," Pederson said. "... I want to make sure that they stay in the moment, but at the same time be smart with how much they play, how long they play, and go from there." It's unclear exactly how much Philly's skill-position guys will play, but anything less than a full game makes them hands-off in Week 17 fantasy lineups.

Eagles DE Brandon Graham left in the 4th quarter of Monday night's win over the Raiders with a right ankle injury. We have yet to see any further details on the issue, which originally left him "questionable" to return. After locking up the NFC's #1 seed, though, Philly will have no reason to play Graham in Week 17. That's good news for a struggling Cowboys offense. Expect more playing time for DEs Chris Long and Vinny Curry in the regular-season finale.

Eagles OLB Mychal Kendricks (foot) and CB Jalen Mills (ankle) are active for tonight's game against the Raiders after entering the day questionable. Each is a lower-level IDP option.

 
 
 

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