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Sleeper Spotlight: Philadelphia Eagles

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Marvin McNutt, WR PHI
Age: 23 (7/4/89)

The Eagles are a team filled with young talent at the skill positions. Michael Vick leads the charge and guys like LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin are there as well. This talent is proven and locked securely into their roles leaving little room for someone to emerge unless there is a major injury.  While guys like Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are very intriguing for various reasons, they aren’t going to beat out McCoy. On the entire offense, the only position that really seems to be up for competition is the role of the third wide receiver, which brings us to rookie Marvin McNutt.

McNutt spent his college years in Iowa as a three year starter before being drafted #194 overall in the 2012 NFL draft. He posted 82 receptions for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns during his senior year. He is a big bodied wide receiver checking in at 6’3” and 215 pounds and possesses natural hands with a great catch radius. At the combine he had a very respectable vertical jump of 37”, an okay broad jump of 122”, and a rather disappointing 40 yard dash time of 4.54 seconds. The 40 time hints at why he was still around in the later rounds of the draft.

McNutt has the size and skills to be a solid receiver in the NFL, but he lacks the long speed to be a deep threat in the league. The good news is that he does have the change of direction and burst required to gain separation on defenders. That means he fits very nicely into the possession receiver role in the NFL. The bad news is McNutt showed a bit of hesitation when it came to routes over the middle of the field. This is definitely something he will need to get over if he is going to grab a significant role in the NFL.

The Eagles are a great fit for McNutt. Both of the primary wide receivers, Maclin and Jackson, are smaller wide receivers creating a need for a big bodied possession receiver and red zone threat – McNutt can fill that role. The third wide receiver for the Eagles over the last few years was Jason Avant. While Avant has had the role, he is very much an average NFL wide receiver. The other major competition for the role is Riley Cooper, a third year wide receiver that has struggled to produce at the NFL level. Not only has Cooper struggled to develop but he recently broke his collarbone and will miss several weeks of training camp – that leaves the door wide open for McNutt to step up and seize the third wide receiver role. He has the talent to surpass Cooper and Avant for the role if he can routinely create separation in the NFL. If he does crack the lineup, expect Jackson to slide into the slot with McNutt and Maclin on the outside.

All of this sounds great, but we must exercise a little caution with McNutt’s upside. Vick only passes for a little over 3,000 yards a season. With McCoy, Jackson, Maclin, and Brent Celek all coming before the third wide receiver, there isn’t a whole lot left. Without an injury, the upside of the role is only about 50 catches for 600 or 700 yards and a handful of touchdowns. McNutt’s true value comes in the case of injury or down the road. Jackson was recently given a big extension, but Maclin’s contract expires after the 2013 season. If McNutt is progressing over the next year or two, it is very possible that the cap strapped Eagles could let Maclin walk and allow McNutt to step into his role. Again, that is a few years out, but in leagues with larger rosters he is worthy of a stash with the injury or long term upside of a solid WR2.

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