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Summer Sleeper: Philadelphia Eagles

EAGLES

With fantasy season right around the corner, we’re continuing our annual series focusing on a few sleepers from all 32 teams in the NFL. You can find all of the Summer Sleeper articles here.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about here in the Premium Content section. 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 never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” which include such such dynasty mainstay names as Toby Gerhart, Christine Michael or Cordarrelle Patterson. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, there’s more value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and either or re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league or 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.

Feel free to add your own comments about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own!

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Josh Huff, WR PHI

He was a quiet, non-flashy star who played his final two college years with arguably the best quarterback in the nation in Marcus Mariota for a prolific Oregon offense, leaving him overlooked in the NFL and dynasty community. I have said before that Josh Huff may be a better NFL player and teammate than fantasy player, but at WR86 in the July ADP data. I’m willing to bet that he will outperform that position and be a solid dynasty investment.

A Little Background

There is a common theme in my writing/tweeting – ‘football players’ over measurables. Yes, it is subjective; but so is the way that we interpret height, weight and speed when applying them to the football field. At 5’11” and 211 pounds, Huff could be considered an undersized receiver, but when I watch him I see a great all-round football player who is build to last in this league.

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His college statistics show a clear improvement over four years, but his added 242 rushing yards and 988 kick return yards for the Ducks further illustrate his ability to ‘do-it-all.’ Chip Kelly said this after drafting Huff:

“Great position versatility with him. Josh played every position when we were at Oregon, so he’s been an outside receiver, an inside receiver. He played a little bit of running back early in his career. He’s returned kicks. He’s an outstanding special teams player.”

Huff will spend a lot of time on the field in Kelly’s no-huddle offense because of this versatility, but also because he is a strong, aggressive blocker – and his stocky build allows him to break tackles with the ball in his hands (something which he will be better at than the other Eagles receivers). However, one of Huff’s biggest problems has been his concentration and focus when catching the ball – an aspect of his game he must improve on to gain the trust of Kelly and Nick Foles.

The Chip Kelly Fantasy Effect

The immediate impact of Kelly’s offensive genius on his players in fantasy football last year (PPR RB2, WR10, WR24 and two top 20 TEs) was just the start of things to come. I took a look at the average receiving statistics of the Eagles top skill-position players throughout their careers and compared it with what they accomplished under Kelly.

 

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Evidently, Kelly was able to get the best from his players – specifically the wide receivers who saw a significant increase in receptions, yards and touchdowns (and most importantly; fantasy points). With Jackson out, there is no clear WR1, so I expect the points to be shared around and Huff should benefit.

Why Huff?

The main reason for my endorsement of Huff in the dynasty space is not that I think he will ‘blow up,’ but it is my expectations of what the Eagles receivers will produce versus where they are currently being drafted/valued. Ultimately, that is how I believe we should judge each dynasty player – if they will not justify their draft position or price (whether through production or an increased value down the road), then why acquire them? If you expect them to exceed what you pay for them, then they are worth buying. So, how are the Eagles receivers being valued?

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While we may not see any of these Eagles put up DeSean Jackson-like numbers, the Eagles WR1 in 2014 is probably being undervalued (we just don’t know who it is yet). I expect Maclin to be the top receiver who scores the most points (before his injury he was WR27, WR31 and WR13 in three previous years) and even as one of Jordan Matthews’ biggest supporters, it will be extremely difficult for him to live up to the hype immediately. Cooper could be a WR2/3 again in 2014, but Josh Huff’s value is so low that if he plays any significant amount of time he will have a fantasy impact. If you can acquire a player this late who may contribute early and will be playing and producing for a number of years, then don’t pass up that opportunity. Huff has the lasting power, and when we talk about this receiving class a few years down the road, I believe he will be one of the players still consistently producing at a high level.

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James Simpson
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. George Kritikos

    August 6, 2014 at 8:56 am

    I like the Huff recommendation. I’m not sold on Cooper and Maclin is on a one year “prove it” deal so there is a clear path to be impactful, whether that’s in the slot or like Marcus Wheaton, get a shot due to WR shuffling in the offseason.

    Great stuff!

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