Preseason Player Analysis
What You Need to Know:
- Hurts started Weeks 14 through 17 last season. He scored the 7th-most fantasy points across positions over that span (depending on your format), ranking 3rd among QBs. Hurts, of course, played only half of his 4th start before HC Doug Pederson inserted Nate Sudfeld.
- Hurts ranked 11th among all players in total rushing yards over that span, trailing only Lamar Jackson among QBs.
- Hurts also played most of the 2nd half in Week 13, after Carson Wentz got yanked from a loss at Green Bay. If we take that outing, his half-game in Week 17 and the 3 full starts, call it 4 games and extrapolate his numbers over a full 16, we get:
- 4,112 passing
- 24 TDs
- 16 INTs
- 1,204 rushing yards (on 204 carries)
- 12 rushing TDs
- 8 fumbles lost
- That stat line would have given Hurts the most fantasy points at the position -- and 1 of the biggest fantasy totals ever.
- Hurts did not fare well as a passer in his debut. His 79.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade for the relief appearance against the Packers was his highest single-game grade all year. That would have ranked just 16th among QBs as a full-season grade.
- His grades for the 4 games he started: 48.5, 56.9, 49.3, 68.4.
- Hurts posted poor passer ratings and on-target pass rates in nearly all situations, according to PFF. He particularly struggled throwing downfield. Hurts finished 1.9 percentage points ahead of the league average for accuracy rate on throws behind the line of scrimmage and 0.4 points ahead on throws 0-9 yards. He checked in 12.1 points below average on throws 10-19 yards downfield and 7.9 points below on throws of 20+.
- Hurts proved much more accurate in college. Beyond his 69.5% completion rate as a senior at Oklahoma, Hurts ranked 7th nationally in PFF accuracy rate on throws 10+ yards downfield. He ranked 2nd only to Joe Burrow in overall grade that season.
- In his study of Power 5 college QBs from 2011-19, Josh Hermsmeyer found that Hurts’ 2019 registered the 4th-best completion percent over expectation. The top 3: Russell Wilson’s 2011, Burrow’s 2019 and Justin Fields’ 2019.
- Philly has changed over from the staff of HC Doug Pederson to 1st-time HC Nick Sirianni, who spent the past 3 years as Colts OC under Frank Reich.
- Sirianni has spent 12 years as an offensive coach in the NFL across 3 staffs: 4 years in Kansas City (before Andy Reid), 5 with the Chargers, and 3 with Indy. Those offenses have averaged a 56.45% passing share. That would have been the 11th most run-heavy offense in the league last year.
- The closest Sirianni has come to working with a QB as mobile as Jalen Hurts was Jacoby Brissett as Colts starter in 2019. (Brissett carried just 56 times in 15 games, averaging 4.1 yards per rush.)
- The Eagles added WR DeVonta Smith with the 10th pick of the NFL Draft. The next most significant receiving addition was (arguably?) Round 5 RB Kenneth Gainwell.
- Greg Ward led the 2020 Eagles in targets. Jalen Reagor (19) led Philly in targets over Hurts’ 3 full outings.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
We obviously can’t just take the 4-game extrapolation mentioned above and call it a 2021 projection. That would be lazy and absurd. That stretch did show us the per-game ceiling we’re working with here, though. Hurts was a top-scoring fantasy QB in an offense that spent most of last season struggling, with a crappy crew of pass-catchers and despite performing poorly as a passer. His college days showed us that he has at least some passing upside beyond what he showed last year -- perhaps much more. The rushing is the big selling point here, though. Before his limited run last year, Hurts spent 2019 as the leading rusher in an Oklahoma backfield that sported Trey Sermon, Rhamondre Stevenson and Kennedy Brooks (who ran ahead of both those NFL-drafted RBs.) HC Nick Sirianni says Hurts will need to compete for the starting job, but Philly imported only Joe Flacco to compete. If they didn’t believe in Hurts, then the Eagles could have drafted Justin Fields -- and/or competed for a stronger veteran QB in an abnormally strong free-agent market. Hurts doesn’t need to be terrific as a real-life QB to present big fantasy upside this season.
Even with an ADP just inside the top 10, Hurts can still outscore his draft position. He’s not quite a strong draft value at QB8-9, but he should be in play for you on draft day.