Philadephia Eagles - QB - Carson Wentz
Rookie Quarterbacks have been the talk of the league so far this season and they continued to impress in Week 3. Dak Prescott ran and threw for a score as he led the Cowboys to a win on Sunday Night Football. The Jacoby Brissett led Patriots stunned the Houston Texans 27-0 on Thursday Night Football. Heck, even Cody Kessler fared quite well. Kessler threw for 244 yards and didn't turn the ball over as the Browns fell in OT to the Dolphins. The best performance by a rookie QB in Week 3 was turned in by Carson Wentz, who has been as close to perfect as you can be through 3 starts. Wentz threw for 302 yards and 2 TD's in a romp of the Steelers 34-3. On the year he has a 103.8 QB Rating to go along with a 64.7 Completion Percentage, 769 Yards Passing, 5 TD's and most importantly 0 INT's.
What is the Eagles recipe for success on offense? Is Wentz for real? Should we have seen this coming? How should we value Wentz going forward from a fantasy perspective?
The Eagles offensive design has been beautiful so far and all the credit goes to Head Coach, Doug Pederson, and his staff who have implemented a simple YAC (Yards After Catch) based passing offense. It's similar to what we've seen Alex Smith and Andy Reid run the past few seasons. Below is Wentz's passing chart from their Week 3 match-up vs the Steelers. You'll see that over half of Wentz's completions are at or before the LOS (Line Of Scrimmage).
I don't mean to point this out to discredit Wentz's success but some of his numbers are the product of his offenses design. To Wentz's credit he's got the ball out quick, on time and with pinpoint accuracy and ball placement. I hope we can all come to our senses and understand that we can say that the Eagles passing game is pretty simple and Wentz has played well without it being a dig. Pro Bowl talents like Matthew Stafford and Eli Manning have become more efficient and effective passers when their team shifted over to shorter passing attacks in recent years too.
What has been most impressive about Wentz through three games is his improvisation in the passing game and deep ball accuracy. These we're legitimate concerns with Wentz coming out of North Dakota State and in just a few months he's seemingly rectified all of the concerns many had on him, myself included. These aren't relatively easy fixes and considering the raw physical tools that he's been blessed with his ceiling is scary.
Per Pro Football Focus, Wentz was 12 for 40 on deep passes as a Senior. When you include in 3 drops his accuracy percentage raises to 37.5% Still well below other big names like Jared Goff (50%), Paxton Lynch (51.8%) & Dak Prescott (50%) to name a few. Fast forward a few months and Wentz has thrown some of the most beautiful deeps balls we've seen this year.
Wentz is an exceptional athlete but that ability didn't always translate to being comfortable maneuvering within a muddy pocket. Again, per Pro Football Focus, Wentz's accuracy percentage under pressure was 56%. Goff came in at 64.7% and Lynch at 70.3%. Wentz also only attempted 8 passes when breaking the pocket.
Now we're seeing plays like this from Sunday where Wentz escapes pressure, keeps his eyes down field and throws with perfect touch on the move. Darren Sproles does the rest of the work. Whoever worked with Carson on his footwork deserves a round of applause.
Here is another instance where Wentz climbs the pocket and displays perfect touch on an intermediate throw.
Through 3 games Wentz has done everything that has been asked of him and more. He's completed the simple tasks and has sprinkled in a few impressive plays each game. I've seen him use his mobility to create throwing windows to hit wide receivers. He's hung in the pocket and delivered lasers knowing he's going to take a beating. He's been so poised and has shown a sharp mental clock to keep every play on schedule.
How should we value Wentz going forward? Well, I think he's a really nice streaming option following their BYE this week. The Eagles play Detroit and Washington before facing a Minnesota D that has put the clamps on Green Bay and Carolina the past two weeks.
We also should acknowledge the ideal conditions that Wentz has had so far. The Eagles have the #1 scoring defense through 3 weeks, giving up a total of 20 points (27 if you include Eddie Royal's Punt Return for a TD). Philadelphia is also 1st in starting field position which is aided by the Eagles lights out defense and the dynamic Darren Sproles flipping field position as a punt returner. The Eagles offensive line has been exceptional too as Wentz has had great pockets to throw from the majority of the time. Also, all 3 of the Eagles' opponents so far rank in the bottom 8 in defensive pressure percentage. They've had it pretty easy thus far.
Defenses will surely make their adjustments to Philadelphia's offensive attack and there might be a rough patch here and there but I will no longer question Pederson's and Wentz's ability to adapt and adjust on the fly.
Week 4 BYE: Green Bay & Philadelphia
Week 3 Thoughts: Joe Flacco had a disappointing outing versus a struggling Jaguars team but I'm still keeping faith in him as streaming option in Week 4. He faces an Oakland team that has given up 340 yards per game in the air this year... I assume Philip Rivers is owned but if not he's the top streamer this week as he faces a New Orleans team at home that has given up 32 PPG... The Seahawks and Saints are on BYE in Week 5 so if you're a Drew Brees or Russell Wilson owner you might want to pick up Carson Wentz a week ahead of time. He faces a Detroit D in Week 5 that is banged up and just gave up 4 TD's to Aaron Rodgers in the 1st half.
Dak Prescott - Dallas Cowboys
I swear talking up another rookie QB wasn't intentional here but Prescott has a juicy match up versus the San Francisco 49ers. Prescott was outstanding on Sunday night and what I love about his game so far is that he knows his limitations. Prescott has thrown for over 225 yards every game and should be able to provide some points on the ground this week. Cam Newton ran for almost 40 yards vs the 49ers in Week 2. The 49ers have given up over 300 yards and multiple TD passes the past two weeks.
Week 3 Thoughts: I'm going to try my best to highlight new people every week in the section below so with that being said I'll just say to go and pick up Dwayne Washington if he is out there since I covered him last week. I think his piece of the pie will continue to grow in the running game. Theo Riddick is an awesome player but he's essentially a WR playing RB...Sell Latavius Murray while you can still get a valuable piece back. His market share of touches is decreasing by week as the Raiders hand over more duties to rookies Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Murray is being propped up by his 3 TD's at this point...It sounds like Kenneth Dixon will be getting back on the practice field this week. He'll need a week or so to recondition but go ahead and scoop him up as it won't take much for him to take over the Ravens starting RB job. He's a 3-down back talent...Monitor Paul Perkins role now with Shane Vereen being put on IR. Rashad Jennings and Orleans Darkwa are likely still above him on the depth chart but Perkins is a talented all-purpose back in the mold of Devonta Freeman...Also keep your eye on Eagles rookie Wendell Smallwood in coming weeks. He looked impressive last week and might work his way into a role even if Mathews is healthy coming out of the BYE...Update on the Carolina backfield with Jonathan Stewart out. It looks like Cameron Artis-Payne is rusher and Fozzy Whittaker is more of the receiver. of the two.
Jordan Howard - Chicago Bears
Jordan Howard is the big waiver wire ticket this week. With Jeremy Langford out 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain and Kadeem Carey still nursing a hamstring injury Howard will be the lead back in Chicago. Howard is a nice blend of speed and power. He doesn't have exceptional lateral quickness or long distance speed but he's a smart and powerful runner that's always willing to dish out some punishment to pick up additional yards. Howard looked pretty good as a receiver out of the backfield in the 2nd half of Sunday nights game and in the long run is talented enough to hold off Langford and Carey when they return. Because of the volume that he should receive I see Howard as decent RB2 or Flex from here on out. Howard faces a Detroit defense this week that is giving up a league leading 5.3 YPC.
SLEEPER RUNNING BACK
Kenyan Drake - Miami Dolphins
With Arian Foster still sidelined with a hamstring injury the Dolphins decided to go to a 4-way committee approach. Drake led all backs in snaps (27) and touches (11) but it was Damian Williams and Jay Ajayi who scored the TD's. Isaiah Pead is the last member of the backfield and had just 5 carries in Week 3. Drake is a tremendous athlete and is a dynamic player in space but isn't really fit to be a lead back. We'll still want to monitor Drake though because Foster doesn't often recover quickly from soft tissue injuries and Ajayi's is in the doghouse one day and out the next. There could eventually be opportunity here so it's good to know what you're working with.
Week 3 Thoughts: Although he's banged up Tyler Lockett played just 23 of 70 snaps in Week 3. With Graham getting healthier by the week and Doug Baldwin the clear top target in the passing game Lockett isn't an essential hold any more. Paul RIchardson has played more snaps than Lockett the last two weeks...John Brown had 6 receptions for 70 yards on 11 targets vs the Bills. Glad to see him get going this year. He looks to be a nice buy low target. ...Mike Evans is off to a hot start and has already matched his 2015 TD total (3) Evans is being targeted an incredible amount. Similar to what we saw from DeAndre Hopkins last season...Rookie Michael Thomas surprisingly leads all Saints in receptions. He looked great on Monday night being thrust into a larger role with Willie Snead out... You can drop people like Vincent Jackson, Devin Funchess, Tajae Sharpe, Pierre Garcon, Markus Wheaton without worry.
Terrelle Pryor - Cleveland Browns
How about Terrelle Pryor, folks?! Pryor has been targeted like a WR1 so far this season due to negative game scripts, Josh Gordon's suspension and Corey Coleman's hand injury. Pryor had his best game as a pro last week hauling in 8 receptions for 144 yards, 4 rushes for 21 yards and a TD and completing 3 of 5 passes for 35 yards. Pryor has true breakout potential as he's one of the best athletes in all the NFL but I think Josh Gordon's return should temper your expectations a bit. I will say that as long as Cody Kessler is filling in I wouldn't be surprised to see him receive some looks at QB and possibly even as a runner near the goal line. I think he's a legit WR3/Flex play these days due to that possibility.
For fun lets just check how Pryor was used last week. He's such a fun talent. He also played a snap at safety.
Play #1 - Pryor Wildcat
Play #2 - Pryor Pass To Barnidge
Play #3 - Pryor the Wideout
Cole Beasley - Dallas Cowboys
Beasley's been around for a few years so most are familiar with his game. The slippery slot wide receiver is Dak Prescott's favorite target and has registered at least 5 receptions and 65 yards in every game this season. I think he has value as long as Dez is banged up and Dak is the QB.
WIDE RECEIVER SLEEPER
Adam Humphries - Tampa Bay
Much like Beasley, Humphries has been busier than expected in the passing game. With Vincent Jackson fading into the distance after a great career Humphries has become the #2 target in the offense. His yardage and catch totals have slowly grown the first 3 weeks: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 34 yards in Week 1, 8-6-67 in Week 2 and 12-9-100 in Week 3. With the Tampa Bay secondary being torched every week the Bucs may need to play catch-up the next couple of weeks vs Carolina and Denver before their BYE. That's good news for Humphries owners who might become a real WR3 in PPR leagues. You can probably get him for cheap since he isn't a big name.
Week 3 Thoughts: I think it's a rule that I need to talk about Coby Fleener on here every week. At least I have something positive to say this time. Fleener had some disgusting drops but at least him and Brees got on the same page this week as they connect for some big plays down the seam. If you held onto him you were rewarded. Pick him up if he was dropped...Kyle Rudolph should be owned in all 10-team formats now. He's been targeted 18 times in the 2 games with Sam Bradford as the starter...Zach Miller, who caught 2 TD's last week, is facing a Detroit Lions team that has already given up 5 TD's to TE's this year...I can't believe I'm actually saying this but Jack Doyle is actually a legit fantasy TE. With Moncrief out the Colts are going to more 2 TE sets and Doyle is essentially Andrew Luck's security blanket. Outside of Hilton there isn't much...Stay patient with Jordan Reed. The touchdowns should be coming. He's still playing the same number of snaps and receiving the same number of targets per game as last year.
Jimmy Graham - Seattle Seahawks
I was guilty of not expecting much, if anything, from Jimmy Graham the first half of the season coming of a patellar tendon tear. Graham has played nearly 50 snaps the past two weeks and broke out in a big way vs the 49ers this past week going for 6 receptions, 100 yards and a TD. Graham plays the Jets this week before the Seahawks head into their BYE. With a proven talent like Graham you're going to need to be a week early picking him up. The Seahawks play ATL, AZ and NO coming out of the BYE. Graham could be a difference maker as you attempt to make your playoff push.
Hunter Henry - San Diego Chargers
Henry had a rough final series of the game (false start & fumble) but he did quite well in his first NFL start. The rookie out of Arkansas hauled in all 5 of his targets for 71 yards and has another great opportunity to build on that this week vs an embarrassing Saints defense. As of now it looks like Antonio Gates will need to sit this one out. If that's the case Henry is the top streamer this week. For a tight end he's a nice blend of size and speed.
SLEEPER TIGHT END
Cameron Brate - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Austin Seferian-Jenkins finally out of town Brate stepped into the starting TE role and was fed generously. He racked up 10 targets for 5 receptions, 47 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brate received rave reviews this offseason and has the trust of Jameis Winston. Brate will likely be a common streamer the rest of the season with Tampa Bay likely playing from behind in plenty of games. We're months away from this but his Week 14 and 16 matchups vs the Saints in the fantasy playoffs look juicy.