Why Miles Sanders is a Fantasy Beast

History Of Doug Pederson Backs

Ryan Matthews, Legarrete Blount, Josh Adams, these backs have one thing in common; they were never fantasy-relevant under Doug Pederson. The lead back in the coach’s famous committee approach never crossed 161 touches – until now. Miles Sanders will break tradition and cement himself as the 300 touch workhorse in this backfield and be fantastic value in the second round.

2019-2020 Season

Last year fantasy experts persisted about Miles Sanders, projecting the breakout I see him having this season. Eventually, his ADP rose to the early sixth round, thirteen spots from where the experts valued him. The blatant optimism quickly crushed as through weeks 1-9 Miles Sanders was the RB27, returning low-end flex value in half PPR leagues. While Jordan Howard, whom experts ranked five rounds lower than Sanders, was enjoying a stretch that saw him ranked as the RB15. Doug Pederson gave 53.2% of all carries to a used and worn down Jordan Howard compared to his new 2nd round toy who only played on 38% of Philly’s snaps (average).

Failure Of Expectaions

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It’s mind-blowing. Furthermore, in three out of those nine weeks, the former Penn State product was given less rushing work than Boston Scott, and to clarify Boston Scott was a 6th round pick (higher draft capital usually get more work). Doug Pederson’s use of running backs was questionable. Things took a turn as the fantasy gods listened, and Jordan Howard injured his shoulder. This injury limited his involvement and eventually led to the eagles shipping him to Miami for a 5th rounder – yikes. This is where Miles Sanders showed his true upside, with only Boston Scott (yes the 6th rounder) to compete with and Wentz’s only passing option behind Ertz.

The Potential

In weeks 9-16 (not including his injured game) Miles Sanders played on 71.4% of all snaps and had the stat line of 94 rushing attempts for 430 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns along with 25 receptions for 205 yards plus a pair of TDS through the air. In that six-game sample size, Miles Sanders was the RB4 in half ppr formats. These stats extrapolated on a 16 game scale become 251 rushing attempts 1,147 rushing yards with 5 TDS and 67 receptions 547 yards along with 5 TDS in the receiving game; last year Sander’s paced out stats would make him the RB6 (tied with Ekeler) in half ppr.

Other Factors

Talented halfbacks don’t always produce. Factors such as game script, offensive line, offensive ranking, and receiving work play a huge role in your production – only exceptions being CMAC and Barkley. Miles Sanders’s situation is unheard of from a second-round pick. The former Lombardi winners haven’t made any significant moves defensively guaranteeing the same -2 game script they had in 2019, meaning that Miles Sanders will get involved throughout the entire game. The Eagles, even without star Brandon Brooks, are a top 5 run-blocking unit that will help Miles Sander’s efficiency. Also, the Eagles added the rookie Jalen Rageor who will help the former number 13 offense. And finally, Miles Sanders will get adequate receiving work (50+ receptions) even with a healthier Eagles wide receiver core this year. Historically, factors such as these almost guarantee fantasy producers. As Zeke and Kamara both are in situations with the mentioned conditions.

Top 5 Rbs along with their factors half-ppr in 2019

RankNameOline RankOffence RankCatches Passes (45<)
1C. McCaffery1920Yes
2A. Jones614Yes
3D. Henry88No
4E. Elliot46Yes
5D. Cook1811Yes

Arguments against Sanders and why they’re obsolete

The consensus experts seem to believe that Doug Pederson won’t give the lions share of the backfield to Sanders. His failure to capitalize early in the season explains this narrative. But, the experts fail to realize that this year Sanders doesn’t have any competition from viable backs. Boston Scott will get worked it but even when he had significant volume last year, Sanders still got more touches. The only other back available is Devonta Freeman who would compete with Boston Scott to be the compliment to Sanders. There is no scenario where Sanders isn’t the lead back and doesn’t get at least 275 touches.

Projections

The rushing attempt numbers should stay constant with his six-game sample size with positive touchdown regression. Sadly he probably won’t receive the same amount of targets he did last season because of the new additions the Eagles made.

Projected Stat Line: 250 carries 1,175 yards, 7 TDS, 49 receptions, 493 yards 3TDS- 251 points (half-ppr) RB7

Conclusion

Miles Sanders is a stud who will break Doug Pederson RBBC policy. He forms a fantastic combination along side running backs without much receiving work like Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb because of his receptions (safe floor). Getting him as mid to late first-round pick isn’t a reach and is fair. But, getting him to complement one of those top backs is a dream scenario and a formula to challenge for the fantasy chip.

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