It’s surprising that LeGarrette Blount signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. After all, the Eagles already have Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood and rookie Donnel Pumphrey on the roster.
But if you look at the move a little more, it actually makes a ton of sense. The Eagles have not had a strong lead back since the departure of LeSean McCoy in 2014. The combo of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews didn’t work in 2015, and Mathews hasn’t played in a 16-game season since 2013.
Sproles will be a 34-year old back in June, so the addition of Blount is just extra security, and it also means the Eagles won’t have to rely on Mathews. He’s expected to be cut soon, and Smallwood and Pumphrey are now buried further down on the depth chart.
Of course, Fantasy players are not concerned about Mathews, Smallwood, or Humphrey now. They want to know if Blount can repeat his 18-touchdown season from 2016.
Let’s take a look at what to expect…
LeGarrette Blount Fantasy Outlook
What to expect from LeGarrette Blount in 2017
On 299 carries for the New England Patriots in 2016, Blount rushed for 1,161 yards and scored 18 rushing touchdowns. He had 69 red-zone rushing attempts, and 16 of his touchdowns came from his red-zone carries.
To judge if he can repeat his stats from last year, I first looked at the rushing attempts in the red zone for the Eagle in 2016.
Mathews, Sproles, and Smallwood combined for 61 red-zone rushing attempts. Mathews had the bulk of the carries (38), but let’s just assume he’s getting cut and those are going to Blount. Now, Sproles had 18 carries last season, and that should be reduced with Blount in the lineup. However, Sproles still had 11 red-zone carries in 2015 with Murray and Mathews in the lineup.
At the low end, I’d project Sproles has five carries in the red zone in 2017. On the high end, let’s say he has 10 carries. Smallwood had seven carries in the red zone in 2016, so I’ll project those are reduced roughly in half to four carries.
Those numbers could be higher based on Blount’s health, but I’m assuming right now he will play in a 16-game season.
Kenjon Barner, Terrell Watson, and Byron Marshall also combined for 10 rushing attempts, and I would feel comfortable saying those would have gone to Blount last year if he was on the team. So if the Eagles rush the ball in the red zone 71 times (not including quarterback runs), Blount could touch the ball between 57 and 62 times in the red zone based on the potential touches from Sproles and Smallwood.
I know that’s a lot of conjecture, but the point is to see if he would have a similar workload in Philadelphia as New England. The answer is yes but not quite. And because he’s not a dual-threat back, his value is completely tied to his rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
Fewer rushing touchdowns means a drop in Fantasy production.
Now, the next thing to look at is the offensive as a whole and how Blount will fit in.
LeGarrette Blount and the Philadelphia Eagles
According to Pro Football Focus, the offensive line for the Eagles ranked eighth in 2016. In comparison, the offensive line for the Patriots ranked 10th. In general, the strength of the line will be what Blount was accustomed to last year.
Now in terms of the quarterback position, that’s a different story…
In his rookie year, Carson Wentz paired 16 touchdown passes with 14 interceptions. Granted, some of that was because he needed better receivers to target. Fortunately for Wentz, the Eagles went out this offseason and gave him exactly what he needs to develop. Philadelphia signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, and Wentz still has Jordan Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz to target.
If Wentz can limit his turnovers, he can help drive the offense to the red zone more often. He finished with the fifth-most passing attempts last season, so we know the coaching staff trusts his arm. In theory, Wentz throwing the ball more would limit Blount’s value.
However, it’s still promising the trio of Mathews, Sproles, and Smallwood finished with 61 red-zone rushing attempts in spite of Wentz’s large amount of passing attempts. Even if the Eagles throw the ball more and Wentz is more effective, Blount still should have enough red-zone carries to be Fantasy relevant.
Now, that brings us to the most important question…
Should I Draft LeGarrette Blount in 2017?
On FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Blount is being drafted in Round 6.
As of right now, he’s a bit overvalued. He won’t finish with 18 rushing touchdowns in 2017, and he may fall short of 1,000 rushing yards. Keep in mind he only recorded a 3.9 YPC average last year, and he may not get anywhere close to 299 carries. Sproles has averaged 88.5 carries over the past two seasons, and he will handle the bulk of the work as a receiver in the backfield.
And like I mentioned earlier, Blount provides no value as a receiver. If I had to make a projection on what to expect from him, I would predict he finishes with 250 carries, 970 rushing yards, and 10 rushing touchdowns.
So if you’re waiting to draft a running back and think you’re getting a steal with Blount in Round 6, think again. Last year was special, as the 30-year old back scored a touchdown in every game except for three. The truth is that he won’t provide the same type of value in season long leagues as he did last year, and I think most Fantasy players know that.
Now, I do think Blount is worth drafting in MFL10s in or around that round. His big games could be sporadic, but if he’s handling the goal-line work, Blount is always capable of a three-touchdown performance.
Compared to other backs being drafted in Round 6 like Jeremy Hill, I would much rather have the newest running back for the Eagles on my roster.
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