|By Shawn Childs, Monday, August 28, 2023|
2023 Philadelphia Eagles Outlook
Nick Sirianni went 23-11 over his first two seasons as the head coach of the Eagles. Philadelphia had a dynamic run in 2022, leading to a trip to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they lost by three points to the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent the previous three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Colts while having 14 years of coaching experience in the NFL.
Philadelphia jumped to 3rd in points scored (477 – an increase of 33 points from 2021) while improving from 14th to 3rd in offensive yards.
Brian Johnson takes over as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. He earned his way to the NFL via 11 years of coaching in college. In 2021, Philadelphia gave him their quarterback's coach job, leading to his promotion in 2023. Johnson turned 36 in February.
Philly also lost their defensive coordinator after their great season. They awarded the job to Sean Desai this season. He held the same position in 2021 for the Chicago Bears while working as the Seattle Seahawks' associated head coach and defensive assistant last year. Desai had been coaching in the NFL for 10 seasons.
The Eagles allowed 344 points (8th) last year, an improvement of 74 points from 2020 and 41 points from 2021. Their defense did show more growth in yards allowed (2nd – 10th in 2021), thanks to a league-high 70 sacks.
Philadelphia lost DT Javon Hargrove to the 49ers in the offseason after they rewarded him with an $84 million contract ($40 million guaranteed). Last season, he set a career-high in sacks (11) with 60 tackles.
Their defense also moved on from S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (DET), LB T.J. Edwards (CHI), LB Kyzir White (ARI), S Marcus Epps (LV), and DE Robert Quinn (FA). The Eagles added S Terrell Edmunds and LB Nicholas Morrow via free agency.
G Isaac Seumalo signed with the Steelers, and G Andre Dillard found a new home with the Titans.
Offensively, RB Miles Sanders landed in Carolina while Philadelphia replaced him with RB Rashaad Penny. They brought in QB Marcus Mariota to cover the loss of QB Gardner Minshew (IND). The only other addition was WR Olamide Zaccheaus.
After an excellent season, the Eagles still had two first-round picks (DT Jalen Carter and LB Nolan Smith) in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Carter instantly gives Philadelphia an impact interior lineman who will attack the quarterback and control the run game. He gets off the line with a plan creating wins with quickness, hands, and strength. His motor may need some gas late in games when facing bulky, power offensive linemen. Carter's next step is personal growth in his maturity to keep him on point in the weekly battles in the trenches.
Thanks to his speed (4.39 40-yard dash), vision, and team mentality, Smith brings a high foundation in his ability to support the run. His pass pushing has room to grow while needing more defined moves when stalemated in his attack. He had his 2022 college season cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle.
Philly added T Tyler Steen in the third round. Early in his career, he projects higher in pass protection due to his vision and coverage area. His technique and attack angle need some work to increase his range and balance when moving forward. Steen must add patience to his plan to improve his chance of slowing down a delayed rusher.
The Eagles added three more defensive players (S Sydney Brown, CB Kelee Ringo, and DT Moro Ojomo) over the back half of this year's draft.
Brown is at his best when attacking the line of scrimmage in run support, but he does miss some tackles. When asked to downshift and change directions, his defense has a step back in value. Brown stays connected to tight ends in coverage, but better route runners will give him problems.
Ringo is the third player added to Philadelphia's defense who played his college ball at Georgia. He offers blazing speed (4.36 40-yard dash) with the size (6'2" and 205 lbs.) to handle press coverage. Ringo adds value against the run, but lacks the movements and anticipation to fire on time against throws over the short areas of the field. Penalties were an issue last year, and he needs to find a balance between watching the quarterback and staying connected to his assignment.
Ojomo comes to the NFL as a tweener defensive lineman. His strength is the key to his wins, but he doesn't have the lateral quickness to be a difference-maker on the edge or between defenders on the inside with his feet. Ojomo plays hard with an eye for the ball.
Philadelphia invested in QB Tanner McKee in the sixth round. His skill set is miles away from Jalen Hurts, requiring the Eagles to run a different offense when he is behind center. McKee does his work from the pocket with an NFL arm. His delivery needs to be cleaned up to increase his accuracy. McKee loses value when asked to throw on the move, and his pocket presence isn't high enough to extend the passing window when looking for his secondary receiving options.
The Eagles fell to fourth in rushing yards (2,509) with 32 rushing touchdowns. They averaged 4.6 yards per carry (down from 4.9 in 2021) while gaining over 20 yards per rush in 17 runs.
Philadelphia jumped to eighth in passing yards (4,364) while gaining 8.1 yards per pass attempt. They finished with 25 passing touchdowns and nine interceptions while seeing their quarterbacks sacked 44 times (31 fewer than 2021).
LT Jordan Mailata played at an elite level over the final four games in 2022, with three of those showings coming in the postseason. His run blocking has been exceptional in back-to-back years. He allowed some pressure on the quarterback, but most attacks fell short of hitting the mark.
LG Landon Dickerson progressed in his second year after the Eagles drafted him in the second round in 2021. His run blocking ranks better than the league average while minimizing the damage in sacks.
C Jason Kelce was a beast in front of Jalen Hurts, leading to no sacks and minimal pressure. He continues to be one of the best players in the NFL in run blocking.
RG Tyler Steen should slide into the starting lineup in his rookie season while transitioning from left tackle to right guard. The change in position should work well, helping his learning curve on the field.
RT Lane Johnson is the second player on the Eagles' offensive line who didn't allow a sack or hit on the quarterback in 2022. He has a long career of being a top pass protector and adding positive value in run blocking.
The Philly has one of the best offensive lines in the league, even with Cam Jurgens (second-round pick in 2022) waiting for an opportunity to start. This year, they should allow fewer sacks with top-tier play in the run game.
QB Jalen Hurts - Stud (low risk)
A left ankle injury that required surgery after the season led to two missed games for Hurts over the Eagles' final five matchups in 2021. Over his last four games (including the playoffs), he ran the ball 25 times for 128 yards and two scores. His opportunity as a runner was much higher over his 12 starts (122/695/8 – 5.7 yards per carry). However, over his final 11 starts, Hurts offered minimal value in the passing game (2,037 yards and 10 touchdowns – 185 yards per game). When forced to throw the ball, he produced three games of value (264/3, 326/2, and 387/2). Hurts finished 9th in quarterback scoring (354.60) in four-point passing touchdowns leagues with four impact games (31.40, 32.05, 32.25, and 32.60 fantasy points) plus six other weeks with at least 20.00 fantasy points.
Hurts continues to be a beast in the run game, highlighted by his stats in 2022 (165/760/13) despite missing two weeks. The improvement in his receiving options last year led to career-highs in completions (306), pass attempts (460), passing yards (3,701), passing touchdowns (22), yards per pass attempts (8.0), and completion rate (66.5). He passed for 300 yards or more in five matchups (333/1, 340/3, 380/3, 315/0, and 301/1), lifting him to third in quarterback scoring (423.05) in four-point passing touchdown formats.
Fantasy Outlook: Hurts has four exceptional receiving options (D'Andre Swift, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert), giving him the weapons to push even higher in the passing rankings. His downside comes from the Eagles' ability to run the ball well, especially in the red zone for touchdowns. His next step appears to be 5,000 combined yards with 40 touchdowns. To accomplish this feat, Philadelphia must improve its passing output by 13 yards per game (based on their passing stats in 2022 with Hurts in the starting lineup). In the early draft season, Hurts is the third quarterback off the board in the high-stakes market. Based on his offensive line, skill players, and rushing ability, I expect him to be the best quarterback in the land in 2023.
QB Marcus Mariota - Not Draft Worthy
The Titans selected Mariota with the second overall pick in 2015. He went 27-28 over the next four seasons, with one playoff appearance (2017). Mariota gained 3,875 combined yards in his best season (2016), with 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His yards per pass attempt (7.5) graded with Tennessee while also offering help as a runner (242/1,399/11). Over two years in a backup role for the Raiders, he completed 18 of his 30 passes for 405 combined yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
The Falcons gave Mariota 13 games last year to prove his starting worth. He went 5-8 while completing 61.3% of his passes for 2,219 yards with 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He aided their run game (85/438/4) while averaging only 23.1 passes per game.
Fantasy Outlook: His running ability allows the Eagles to run the same offense if Jalen Hurts is injured. With Mariota behind center, Philly would surely taper back some of their passing chances. He is only a handcuff quarterback in the fantasy market in 2023.
Other Options: Ian Book, Tanner McKee
RB D'Andre Swift - Bust (overvalued)
Over his three seasons with the Lions, Swift has 11 missed games.
In 2021, he was on pace for 1,398 yards with nine touchdowns and 81 catches (274.8 fantasy points in PPR leagues). His missed time came from a shoulder injury while also having minimal snaps in Week 12 (three catches for nine yards). When at his best, Swift gained over 100 combined yards in six matchups. The Lions gave him 19 touches per game over his first 10 starts. Detroit had him over the field for 73% of their plays. His consistency rating comes from his high floor in catches (six games with five catches or more).
Swift appeared to kick down the fantasy door in Week 1 (15/144/1 with three catches for 31 yards) of 2022. Unfortunately, Detroit only gave him 17 touches over the following two games, leading to 133 combined yards with one score and five catches. A shoulder issue cost him three weeks plus a shallow role over the next five matchups (23/61/2 with 16 catches for 109 yards and one touchdown). Swift gained 453 yards with three touchdowns and 24 catches on 73 touches over his final six games. He finished the year ranked 21st in running back scoring (191.10) in PPR formats.
Fantasy Outlook: Swift should be an excellent fit for Philadelphia in 2023. They won't work him too hard, but he upgrades their passing game, especially on third downs. In addition, Swift has the wheels to score over the long field. I'll set his bar at 10 touches a game, with three coming via the pass, leading to about 900 combined yards with six to eight touchdowns. The Lions only had him on the field for 34.7% of their plays in 2022, which invites a higher ceiling with a higher role and a healthy season.
RB Rashaad Penny - Gamble (high risk)
Penny blew out his ACL in his left knee early in December of 2019, leading to a slow recovery and empty stats (11/34) the following season. Over his first 24 games in the league, Penny gained 947 combined yards with six touchdowns and 17 catches while gaining 5.3 yards per rush.
In 2021, calf and hamstring issues led to minimal chances (17/43) and seven missed games over the first 12 weeks. Penny finished with four explosive showings (16/137/2, 17/135/1, 25/170/2, and 23/190/1) in the run game over the final five weeks. Seattle gave him only eight targets all year (six catches for 48 yards). He gained 20 yards or more on 11 of his 119 rushes, leading to 6.3 yards per carry.
Last season, Penny struggled in Week 2 (6/15) and left Week 5 (8/54) with an ankle injury that led to 12 more missed starts. His best showing came in Week 4 (17/151/2 with one catch for six yards).
Fantasy Outlook: With 40 missed games over his first five seasons in the NFL, Penny has low mileage while bringing an explosive style in the run game. The Eagles try to squeeze a year out of him as their early down runner. Possible 15 rushes a game, making Penny a risk/reward player as the 36th running back drafted in 2023 in the high-stakes market.
RB Kenneth Gainwell - Sleeper (undervalued)
In his rookie season, Gainwell struggled to get consistent snaps from game to game. As a result, he finished with starting fantasy value in six contests (12.30, 20.90, 15.10, 19.70, 18.70, and 16.50 fantasy points in PPR leagues). Over his other 12 games, Gainwell only had 27 rushes for 71 yards and one touchdown, plus 12 catches for 115 yards. He finished 2021 with 544 combined yards with six touchdowns and 33 catches.
With the Eagles' abandoning the running back position in the passing game last season, Gainwell finished with 409 combined yards with four touchdowns and 23 catches. His only fantasy game of value (12/112/1 with one catch for nine yards) came in the first round of the postseason.
Fantasy Outlook: Philadelphia will use Gainwell as a decoy in the passing game at the goal line. By doing so, he has surprised defenses by scoring nine rushing touchdowns over his short career. His pass-catching takes a back seat to D'Andre Swift, but there is always the chance that the Eagles want to keep a pass-catching back option on the field for many downs in 2023. Gainwell appears to be only a handcuff to Swift this draft season.
Other Options: Boston Scott, Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks
UPDATE: Gainwell saw plenty of run with the first team throughout the summer. We don't know if this is for real or just a way for the Eagles to not tip their hand with D'Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny. Either way, Gainwell is a sleeper we want to target on draft day.
WR A.J. Brown - Stud (low risk)
Brown failed to meet his draft expectations in his third season in the NFL in 2021. He caught 63 of his 105 targets for 869 yards and five touchdowns while missing close to five games with hamstring, knee, chest, and calf issues. Brown flashed beast upside in four matchups (8/133/1, 10/155/1, 11/145/1, and 5/142/1), with the latter coming in the postseason. On his down days, he scored fewer than 10.00 fantasy points in PPR leagues in six matchups. His yards per catch (13.8) came in at a three-year low.
Brown played in 43 games with the Titans, leading to 185 catches for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns on 295 targets. However, his opportunity in his career (6.9 targets per game) is well below the top wide receivers in the game.
The Eagles threw the ball 81 more times than I expected to their wide receivers in 2022, giving Brown a much better opportunity. He finished with career-highs in catches (88), receiving yards (1,496), and targets (145) while scoring 11 touchdowns and gaining an impressive 17.0 yards per catch. Brown gained 20 or more yards on 26.1% of his catches. His best output came in five games (10/155, 6/156/3, 8/119/2, 9/181, and 6/103). He averaged 8.5 targets last year.
Fantasy Outlook: The progression of the Eagles' offense and passing game put Brown on a higher path this year in catches. The trick for him is repeating his value in long receptions. In mid-June, he is the seventh wide receiver selected with an early second-round ADP. Possible 100 catches for 1,500 yards with a dozen scores.
WR DeVonta Smith - Solid/Safe Pick
In his rookie season, Smith operated as the Eagles' WR1, leading to 64 catches for 916 years and five touchdowns on 104 targets. His catch rate (61.5) needed work while delivering his best two games in receiving yards at home (7/122 and 5/116/1). He finished with three other playable outings (6/71/1, 7/77, 4/66/2, and 5/80/1). Smith finished with 11 starts with six targets or fewer.
Last year, Smith saw his opportunity grow by over 30%, leading to an exceptional year (95/1,196/7 on 136 targets). He caught 69.9% of his chances while being an impact player from Week 15 to Week 17 (5/126, 8/113/2, and 9/115) when fantasy championships were on the line. He gained more than 100 yards in three other matchups (8/169/1, 5/102/1, and 7/100). His season started with a goose egg on four targets, with emptiness in three other contests (3/17, 5/23, 2/22, and 2/36). Over his final 12 starts (including the postseason), Smith had 70 catches for 951 yards and six touchdowns on 105 targets.
Fantasy Outlook: Smith finished 9th in wide receiver scoring (255.60) in PPR formats. Last year, the Eagles used him closer to the line of scrimmage on more plays, highlighted by his drop in yards per catch (12.6 – 14.3 in 2020 and 16.9 in college). His success moved him to 11th at wide receiver in June. His next step in 2023 should be longer catches and a bump in scoring. Let's set his bar at 100 catches for 1,350 yards with nine touchdowns.
WR Olamide Zaccheaus - Deep-league Only
In his best year at Virginia, Zaccheaus caught 93 passes for 1,058 yards and nine touchdowns on 136 targets.
The Falcons gave Zaccheaus WR3 snaps in four games in 2020, leading to two productive games (8/86 and 4/103/1). He finished the season with 20 catches for 274 yards and one score on 32 targets. A toe injury ended his season in early December.
In 2021, he set career-highs in catches (31), receiving yards (406), touchdowns (3), and targets (53) while having the second-most snaps (610) in Atlanta. His only game of value came in Week 9 (3/58/2).
Last season, Zaccheaus pushed his stats higher in all areas (40/533/3 on 61 targets) despite the Falcons turning into a high-volume run team. He finished with the second-most wide receiver snaps (737) and four games with more than 10.00 fantasy points (2/21/1, 2/39/1, 5/91, and 4/37/1) in PPR formats.
Fantasy Outlook: His quickness puts him more in the mix for snaps on the outside. He'll have minimal chances in his first year in Philadelphia.
Other Options: Devon Allen, Tyrie Cleveland, Greg Ward, Britain Covey
WR Quez Watkins - Deep-league Only
Over his final two years at Southern Miss, he caught 136 catches for 2,067 yards and 15 touchdowns on 213 targets.
After a minimal rookie season (7/106/1 on 13 targets), Watkins finished 61st in wide receiver scoring (116.00 fantasy points – 43/643/1 on 62 targets). Watkins only had two games (4/33 and 5/84/1) with more than two catches while gaining over 100 yards in Week 2 (2/117).
Last season, the WR3 in the Eagles' offense had a decline in value, with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith commanding so many balls. Watkins was on the field for 787 plays (56.3%), but he only caught 34 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns on 54 targets over 20 games. Most of his success came midseason over four weeks (4/80, 2/31/1, 3/35/1, and 5/37).
Fantasy Outlook: Philadelphia used him closer to the line of scrimmage last season, leading to only 10.7 yards per catch (15.0 in 2021). He offers no fantasy value unless one of the top two Eagles' wideouts is injured.
TE Dallas Goedert - Solid/Safe Pick
In his first season with the lead tight end role for the Eagles in 2021, Goedert caught 56 of his 76 targets for 830 yards and four touchdowns while missing two games (concussion and Covid-19). Despite averaging only 5.1 targets, he ranked eighth in tight end scoring (165.00) in PPR formats. Goedert gained over 100 yards in two matchups (6/105/2 and 7/135).
The Eagles started to give Goedert a higher opportunity from Week 4 to Week 9 in 2022 over his five games (5/72, 8/95, 2/22, 6/64, and 8/100/1 on 36 targets). Unfortunately, he came out of Week 10 with a shoulder injury, costing him five weeks of action. Philadelphia looked his way 31 times over his final five starts, leading to 25 catches for 232 yards and one touchdown with one winning game (5/58/1).
Fantasy Outlook: Goedert averaged 5.8 targets over his 15 matchups while posting a stellar catch rate (81.6). He can't reach his ceiling without playing 17 games. In the early draft season, Goedert is the seventh tight end selected while on a path to catch 70 passes for 900 yards and five touchdowns.
Other Options: Dan Arnold, Jack Stoll, Tyreek Jackson
PK Jake Elliott - Solid/Safe Pick
Over the past two seasons, Elliott had his most success kicking the ball. He came 89.3% of his 55 field goals while missing two of his 97 extra points. In addition, his leg played better from 50 yards or more (8-for-9). On the downside, Philadelphia created only 25 field goals in 2022 while delivering 59 touchdowns.
Fantasy Outlook: Elliott has one top-10 kicking season on his six-year NFL resume. He plays for one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, creating matchup value at times. Elliott ranks 11th in the early draft season.
Philadelphia - Solid/Safe Pick
The Eagles slipped to 16th in rushing yards allowed (2,068 yards), with opponents averaging 26.2 rushes. They allowed 4.6 yards per carry with 15 touchdowns.
Philly led the NFL in passing yards allowed (3,057) while allowing 6.4 yards per pass attempt. Quarterbacks tossed 22 touchdowns with 17 interceptions while leading the league in sacks (70 – 29 in 2021).
The tandem of DE Brandon Graham and LB Haason Reddick combined for 27 sacks with plenty of other pressure on the quarterback. Graham played well vs. the run, but he'll start the year at age 35. DE Josh Sweat also delivered a career-high in sacks (11) with a new top in tackles (48). His run defense moved to an elite area. Philadelphia played without LB Derek Barnett for 16 games, a former first-round draft pick. In his best two seasons, he added value to the pass rush in 2017 and 2019.
DT Jordan Davis upgraded the run defense in his rookie season after getting drafted 13th overall in 2022. On the downside, he only saw the field for 270 plays with minimal pressure on the quarterback. Incoming rookie DT Jalen Carter is another high-profile player added to this defense in this year's draft (ninth overall). Philly expects him to hit the ground running with help in all areas. DT Fletcher Cox provides veteran experience rushing the quarterback, but he lost momentum in run support over the past two seasons.
LB Nakobe Dean and LB Nolan Smith are the two upside linebackers with the best chance to start this year. Both players came out of the Georgia Bulldog program.
CB Darius Slay continues to be a top player in coverage while offering sliding value in the run support. CB James Bradberry held receivers to a low catch rate, and most receptions went for short yards and minimal damage in scoring. The Eagles brought in Greedy Williams for depth at cornerback. S Terrell Edmunds gives Philly veteran experience and sure tackling. He tends to be a league-average player for his position. The Eagles hope CB Sydney Brown can handle a starting job in his rookie season.
The first two levels of the Eagles' defense have star power, depth, and upside. They need a couple of young players to emerge to help their off-season losses. Their pass rush helps close the passing window for their talented cornerbacks. Philadelphia has questions at safety and potentially one linebacking spot.
In the fantasy market, their defense ranks second behind the 49ers. If they can repeat this pass rush, the Eagles' defense could be even better in 2023.