The Eagles have agreed to trade Carson Wentz to the Colts in exchange for a third round for 2021 and a conditional second round for 2022. The last pick will be a first-rounder if Wentz plays 75% of the snaps, or 70% and the team makes the playoffs.
It’s certainly not the return the Eagles were reportedly hoping for, but this is as close to a best-case scenario for Wentz from a field perspective as possible. Everything Wentz did the last time he worked with new coach Frank Reich was one of the best QBs in the league:
- PFF passing grade: 86.4 (No. 4 of 45 QB’s with at least 100 dropbacks in 2017)
- Yards per attempt: 7.5 (# 13)
- QB Rating: 101.9 (# 5)
- Long throw: 0.06% (No. 3)
- Fantasy Points Per Game: 21.7 (No. 2)
Wentz has clearly deteriorated over the past three seasons; just realize he wasn’t the only problem in Philly. This was especially true in 2020, when major contributors such as Miles Sanders (12 games), Jalen Reagor (11), Dallas Goedert (11), Zach Ertz (11), Alshon Jeffery (7) and DeSean Jackson (5) all severely limited by injuries.
Yes, Wentz led the league in turnover-worthy games in 2020. Also yes, no one had dropped a higher percentage of their passes than Wentz (6.8%).
I get it: Wentz really was one of the leagues’ lowest 10 signal callers in 2020. Just realize that the supporting cast around him was comically bad at times.
Carson Wentz played a lot better on Sunday than those numbers indicate pic.twitter.com/u0kvmKKOVL
Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 19, 2020
Undoubtedly, the biggest problem surrounding the Eagles’ attack in 2020 was their failure to control the line of scrimmage. This hole was exposed in Week 1 when Wentz took an absurd eight sacks against the Washington Football Teams’ ferocious front. Overall, only the Giants (39.7% pressure) and Jets (44.9%) delivered more pressure than the Eagles (39.3%) on a per-snap basis.
Pressure is more a charge against the QB than a line of attack. In 2017, PFF blamed Wentz with just one sack compared to 11 in 2020. Still, it’s quite clear that Wentz was under constant pressure no matter how long he held the ball, as the Eagles were in 22nd place in terms of pressure percentage during the season and also 22nd. when the ball was released in less than 2.5 seconds after the snap.
We watched Wentz play at the NFL level for five years. He is ranked 20th in PFF passing rank among 67 QBs with at least 300 dropbacks during this period 18th if you want to be friendly and remove his rookie season.
This is probably what we can expect from the Colts: an average to above average QB. We’ve only seen one season of Wentz looking like a bona fide world beater, and we’ve also only seen one (non-rookie) campaign where he looked like a really awful player.
Lost in Wentz’s gruesome 2020 season was the reality that he wasn’t * that * bad at fantasy land thanks to his renewed willingness to take off and run. The former No. 2 overall pick has consistently functioned as an upward fantasy QB2 for most of his career.
- 2016: 13.3 Fantasy Points per game (# 27 of QBs with at least eight games)
- 2017: 21.7 (No. 2)
- 2018: 17.5 (tied for No. 17)
- 2019: 17.2 (No. 14)
- 2020: 16.5 (No. 20)
Sometimes Wentz’s tendency to hold the ball and create a big game leads to pockets or an unwillingness to distance more easily. Other times it produces big plays that only a handful of other signalers can make. The talent capacity here should not be in question: Wentz can make pretty much every throw on the field, and we’ve seen some instances of off-script goodness in 2019.
Carson Wentz’s No. 1 career recipient has been a TE with 2 broken tackles. The only season he had any semblance of field stretching talent, he played at MVP level. Still delivered fantasy QB1 goodness even with all this meh.
Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) June 30, 2020
The Colts’ seventh line of attack in the blockage degree is a noticeable upgrade to the Eagles-blown unit. Still, wide receivers TY Hilton and Zach Pascal join as free agents, Trey Burton and Mo Alie-Cox.
Both the Colts and Eagles currently have the bottom five receiver chambers, but the Colts have some idea of a more stable coaching staff and offensive line. It’s a bit too early to project Michael Pittman or Parris Campbell for big seasons; we need to see how free agency and design change this depth chart. The same goes for the tight finishing position: The Colts were one of the few teams to consistently use not one, not two, but three inline talent throughout the 2021 season.
In fantasy football, nine times out of ten, the volume tends to trump the talent. This passing game seems to be another trend towards a game that will be distributed and quite difficult to predict. Both Pittman’s and Campbell’s stock has gone up with the addition of Wentz in that it is a more proven commodity than Jacoby Brissett or a rookie; just realize that the Reichs transgression is unlikely to force any recipient. I’m fine with targeting Pittman and Campbell as upward WR3 and WR4 options respectively, but anything beyond that is a bit of a range with 1) volume issues and 2) Wentz’s volatile nature.
Wentz should not be a priority in single QB fantasy competitions. He is also not a primary target in leagues two-QB as he enters a run-first offense that doesn’t exactly overflow with skill-position talent. The good news is that Reich and Colts’ line of attack offers Wentz a great opportunity to get back to his 2017 form. The bad news is that it has been more than three years since we saw that player.
Wentz presents more perks than your typical QB2 fantasy, because your typical QB2 hasn’t been a legit MVP candidate in the past half-decade; just don’t get carried away by a player we’ve seen average to above average for most of his career.
As for Jalen Hurts? We looked at a legit fantasy QB1. Maybe the Eagles will add one more option below the middle; just realize that the proven dual threat of the Hurts game is about as fantasy-friendly as we could hope. The man largely did nothing but play hell from a fantasy perspective in his three complete starts:
- Week 14: fantasy QB10
- Week 15: QB1
- Week 16: QB16
Losing Wentz is a slight downgrade for the likes of Reagor and Goedert, who will be the top-two target pigs of the fouls by 2021. Still, Hurts managed to clear 300 passing yards in two of his three full games; it is not as if the man is unable to move the offense through the air.
Perhaps the Eagles’ biggest loser is Miles Sanders. Immersive QBs not good for fantasy RBs because they generally 1) steal the rushing volume and 2) scramble instead of dumping the ball down in passing play. We’ve already seen a general reluctance from the Eagles to fully show Sanders as a three-down back, and Meow has to deal with a new signal caller and coaching staff.
Hurts could very well be this year’s best QB option if the Eagles refuse to invest other serious resources in the position. I’m also inclined to shoot Reagor around the WR3 boundary and Goedert as a legit top-10 option on the tight end. Think of Sanders more like a boom-or-bust RB2 as opposed to the three-down RB1 that his skills suggest he is capable of.
Off-season NFL madness in February. You love to see it.
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