The Eagles have addressed their glaring need at running back today by agreeing with free agent LeGarrette Blount on a one-year deal. The Patriots took care of the running back position with the additions of Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead earlier in the off-season, so Blount became available and the Eagles finally gave him a home. It’s a little unusual for a mid-May free agent signing to have significant impact in dynasty leagues but this one surely will. Let’s examine the players whose values have been affected by the move.
LeGarrette Blount, RB PHI
The 30-year old Blount had a career year last year with New England by setting career highs in carries (299), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (18). While the touchdown numbers are going to be difficult (if not impossible) to repeat, Blount is clearly going to step into the early down role for Philadelphia and should get virtually all the short yardage and touchdown chances. The Eagles have a solid offensive line and Blount is in a great spot to have a nice season. With his age and short term contract, he represents a perfect “sell” candidate for a dynasty team in rebuilding mode and concurrently makes for a nice “buy” candidate for contenders looking for another running back for their dynasty rotation. Blount’s ADP will surely be on the way back up now. This signing may also shine some truth on the rumor the Eagles were, in fact, looking to trade up to get Dalvin Cook in round two before the Vikings beat them to it. Regardless, it’s clear they weren’t happy with their current running back corps and Blount was easily the best free agent remaining in the player pool.
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Ryan Mathews, RB PHI
Remember back in 2010 when Ryan Mathews was the consensus 1.01 as the running back poised to take over for LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego? Yep, me neither. Mathews has seen his value nose dive over the past few years and it sounds as if the Eagles will release him when he recovers fully from his neck injury. Mathews has been relatively effective, though he’s managed to play in all sixteen games in a season just one time in his seven year career. He’ll surely get another chance with a team looking to bolster the running back position but Mathews will turn 30 in October as well and he won’t be asked to shoulder the load wherever he lands. In short, his best seasons are clearly behind him and those years were simply nothing like many dynasty owners expected from him when he entered the league.
Wendell Smallwood, RB PHI
That collective groan you heard after the Blount signing was from owners who had shares of Smallwood in dynasty leagues. Had the Eagles failed to sign Blount and still released Mathews as expected, Smallwood was set to see quite a bit of action in a committee with Darren Sproles and rookie Donnel Pumphrey – that dream is now extinguished with Blount in the fold. If you still believe in Smallwood, you can surely get him at a premium now. What the Eagles do next season is completely up in the air, so it’s a calculated risk. They could re-sign Blount, promote Smallwood or even draft a player like Saquon Barkley or Derrius Guice to be the long-term answer at the position. It’s really anyone’s guess but the addition of Blount isn’t good news for Smallwood’s dynasty value and his ADP is going to suffer.
Darren Sproles, RB PHI
I don’t believe this move really affects Sproles’ value much at all. Realistically, he was never going to be a back who was going to carry the mail each and every week, regardless of who else was on the roster. This is said to be his last season and the Eagles will do what they always do – find ways to get him in space and utilize his talent. I’d expect a season with around 75 rushing attempts and around 50 catches from Sproles, making him a boom or bust player mostly used during bye weeks.
Donnel Pumphrey, RB PHI
Pumphrey should have little trouble cracking the roster after the Eagles spent pick #132 overall on him in last month’s draft. However, his contributions are likely going to be very limited this year. The best case scenario for him is taking this season to learn from Sproles then taking over that spot in the pecking order next year as the second part of a committee with a running back to be named later.
Corey Clement, RB PHI
My immediate reaction to the Blount signing was a rather large sigh because Corey Clement was at the top of my rookie super sleeper list this year after he went undrafted and signed with the Eagles right after the completion of the draft. He was in a prime spot to make the roster and even compete for time but that’s going to be very difficult now. Unless he really shows something special over the next few months and in the preseason, Clement is likely going to be spending the year on someone’s practice squad. Such is life with deep rookie sleepers, I guess.