Summer Sleeper: Philadelphia Eagles

Mike Valverde

We continue our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.

To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:

  • Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
  • Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
  • Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.

Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers like Jay Ajayi or Isaiah Crowell, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Alfred Morris is going to spring up. Feel free to add your thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.

[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]

Looking through the depth chart of the Philadelphia Eagles, one will notice that there is depth, but all the depth could be close in talent. For instance at quarterback there is Sam Bradford, Carson Wentz and Chase Daniel. You may say that Bradford, Wentz, Daniel is the right order at this time, but by the end of the season it could be Daniel, Wentz, Bradford or any other combination of names.

At the running back position there are clear starters in Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, but hiding behind them are Wendell Smallwood and Byron Marshall. By the end of the season, the winners could easily trade places with the bottom two either through inefficiency, injury, or by simply being outplayed. In dynasty startups it is worth considering neither Mathews nor Sproles are going to be around to make a dent.

It appears the Eagles are a lock at wide receivers with Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Rueben Randle, and Josh Huff. The question is – will there be room for another to step up, especially if Agholor plays as poorly as he did last season? However, Mike Clay has noted, “Agholor faced one of the toughest wide receiver schedules in the league, drawing the opposing top corner on over 80% of his snaps.”  At tight end there is a similar situation with Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. Therefore, what is the value of both Chris Pantale and Trey Burton? Is there value? Under a Doug Pederson system, the answer is no.

Pederson is the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator who likes the safe play. This is what made Alex Smith who he is today, and what Sam Bradford will bring. Short passes to mainly one receiver (Jordan Matthews) and the option back (Darren Sproles). Jimmy Kempski from the Voice mentions that Ryan Mathews is not a good fit for the system.

Wendall Smallwood, RB

Category: Deep Sleeper

[youtube id=”-Qo3lO6pCb4″ align=”center” maxwidth=”1000″]

Wendell Smallwood is aptly named as he is too small to be an every-down back standing at 5’11” and weighing in at just 202 pounds. He is a yardage eater however, at Virginia he galloped for 1,519 yards in 2015. He is simply a Darren Sproles clone. Smallwood is someone the Eagles are going to want to get the ball to so he can blow by the defense on his way to the end zone. Defenses are going to have troubles corralling him because he is fast enough to erase pursuit angles and has the patience and vision to set up blocks.

Smallwood has all the juke moves any player can ask for, and with experience in kickoff returns he can be an asset there as well. His size of course is what teams had a hard time gauging. He is stuck in the “tweener” role as he is too small to be the full-time back, but not big enough to play wide receiver. He won’t be able to push the pile and running inside won’t get him very far. He isn’t a blocking back that can handle the rush, so he may be limited to how he is on the field. The quicker he learns the better off he will be.

Byron Marshall, RB

Category: Super Deep Sleeper

[youtube id=”3Cx2wYRul0Q” align=”center” maxwidth=”1000″]

Byron Marshall (5’9” 201) was the starting running back until Royce Freeman came to Oregon. With Freeman being the outright winner at the running back job as a freshman, it forced Marshall to move over to wide receiver. Now it appears as though Marshall is going to be taking someone’s job away from him and that’s Kenyon Barner. The Eagles want Marshall back at his original position of the ball carrier. He finished his career as a Duck with a 307-1,877-19 (6.1 YPC) rushing and 97-1,293-8 (13.3 YPR) receiving. He also could be available in the slot, or as a satellite receiver.

Marshall has dominating speed and can get up the field in a flash. He can control his body and when in high gear Marshall is strong enough to beat the press. He hurt his ankle in late September impacting his draft status, as he missed the combine, but ran a 4.54 at his Pro-Day. He is extremely inexperienced as a route runner and will rely on his athleticism instead of his knowledge base to move defenders away in the open field. He needs to learn better technique when entering the zone.

The Philadelphia Eagles will most likely use Marshall as a third down back in several different areas. Since he has experience at both wideout and running back, Philadelphia can use him wherever the advantage is. As a runner, look for him on draw plays or a situation where the defense does not load the box. He is also a good kick returner and can help the Eagles there.


mike valverde
Latest posts by Mike Valverde (see all)