As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2017 in my IDP Projection Marking series.
Congratulations to all Eagles fans for winning the city’s first Super Bowl! It’s been a while so I just wanted to remind you of that night.
However, it’s important to remember that the big game was pretty devoid of defense. The Eagles defense allowed a 500-yard passer in the biggest game of the season, That’s not just worrying – it’s an indictment.
Of course, facing Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Tom Brady in January is no easy task but this is a defense that does need some improvement – and handful of biggish moves have been made.
Fletcher Cox is probably the best player on this defense. He’s insistent, disruptive and productive. He’s firmly in that elite five-or-six-deep tier of tackles and should be treated like a weekly advantage over at least half of your league mates.
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The Eagles won the Super Bowl on the back of innovative offensive game-planning (hello, Philly Special!) and a nasty pass rush. They had the deepest edge rusher rotation in the league last year and it paid off.
This year, a couple of players left but the team managed to restock by signing Michel Bennett and drafting Josh Sweat. It should be a very good group again.
Brandon Graham is the centerpiece but has never really put together a huge sack season. Given the rotation, that’s not likely to happen in 2018 but he’s still a viable weekly start. Derek Barnett should step up the rankings a little bit. He was impressive in limited time in 2017. He does need to show a more rounded skill set to be on the field more though.
Michael Bennett and Chris Long have both been great players over the years but the days of them being defensive centerpieces are probably gone. They’ll both have some big weeks but double-digit sacks are probably a pipe dream. And lastly, Josh Sweat is a talented player but a project. Expect limited playing time or even a redshirt IR season unless one of the veterans picks up an injury.
Jordan Hicks missed a large part of 2017 with injury but will walk straight back into his productive role. He’s a solid player but also unlikely to be a star given the strength of the line in front of him. That being said, he’s been going extremely late in drafts and is a great target for those of you willing to wait on LB and take advantage of how deep the position is.
Nigel Bradham will own the other three-down role again. He will likely again line up on the strong side in base downs which limits his efficiency. He’s a good depth player on your IDP roster but not an ideal weekly starter.
Behind the main two, Nate Gerry (college safety) and Kamu Grugier-Hill (special teamer) currently are vying for Mychal Kendricks’ old job. Gerry should win that battle but neither have much value unless Hicks or Bradham gets hurt, Technically whoever wins the job will be the Will but it’s a good example that shows designation does not always mean a full playing time workload or IDP value.
Corner was a very productive position for the Eagles last year in IDP terms. Depending on league scoring, it could well be again. Ronald Darby excels in man coverage and can make plays on the ball. Jalen Mills has shown his ability to be OK as a cover player but able to be a solid tackler. Sidney Jones is full of promise but will likely face heavy targets in his first real season (he played about 30 snaps in the 2017 regular season). You can pick your poison out of those three for a good IDP target.
The supporting cast looks pretty rough as things stand but this time last year, Darby was still a Bill. Things can change quickly at cornerback. Really it’s unlikely any of these players are great IDPs. Mills is again probably the best bet but he’s not a star.
Malcolm Jenkins still has a great reputation but he hasn’t managed to hit 9% tackle efficiency since 2013. In that period, he’s only had over 65 solo tackles once and in that season (2015) he played 1,212 defensive snaps under Chip Kelly. Jenkins is a bench option in IDP in normal-sized leagues. Rodney McLeod is even less of an IDP threat to rack up high tackle numbers and should mostly be avoided.
Fletcher Cox. Interior pressure is so rare and valuable and Cox is one of the better sources of it in the league. Defensive tackle is a bit like tight end in positional distribution. There are only a handful of top options. You don’t have to go after any of them and streaming is viable but if you invest in one of them, you have an advantage most weeks.
Michael Bennett. He’ll still have a role and will likely again be an influential player. But the days of him being an elite rusher are likely gone. Bennett has averaged about eight sacks a year since 2014 and that’s only likely to drop in a heavy rotation. His value is probably higher to the Eagles than us at this point.
Jordan Hicks. Hicks has only played 1,689 snaps over the past three seasons. That’s far from ideal but when he’s been on the field, he’s shown an excellent nose for the ball. Plenty of your league mates will have forgotten about him since his injury last season and he’s a fine deep option at linebacker.
Not much has really changed since last year. Regardless of winning the Super Bowl. The Eagles have a fearsome defensive line, solid linebackers and safeties and pretty average corners. They’re going to struggle to create massive IDP value because of rotation but this is still collectively a championship-level defense (literally).
Thanks for reading.