In a Backfield Breakdown, we will look at a team's running backs from all angles. Is there a bell-cow back on the roster? How about sleepers? What roles do we foresee from the running backs? Let's find out about the Eagles right now.
Gone are some big names: Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles, and Jay Ajayi. The biggest name left is Miles Sanders. Is this backfield primarily his? Or can Boston Scott carve out a real role? Will the Eagles bring in another veteran? Is another young back ready to step in and get notable touches? How does this backfield shake out in 2020?
It's easy to view the Philadelphia ground game as a two-name backfield, Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. However, Mike Warren, or perhaps a veteran signing, may have a bigger role than we think. At 5'9, 226 pounds, Warren has the size and frame to handle short-yardage situations and potentially, goal-line carries. Warren is an undrafted rookie free agent, so his path to a role may take some time and confidence. Elijah Holyfield is also an option, but he was released by Carolina in his attempt to make the team last year. Could he have better luck with Philadelphia? Possibly, but not likely.
Another option is a veteran signing, such as Devonta Freeman, Lamar Miller, or even a reunion with LeSean McCoy. The likelihood that the Eagles stick with two main running back options seems low. This invites an opportunity for a veteran to come in and play a complementary role.
The other option, which currently looks like it might be the primary strategy, is that Miles Sanders becomes the team's three-down back with additional support from Boston Scott, especially as a receiving threat. At 5'11, 215 pounds, Sanders has a prototypical frame for a capable and successful running back in the league. As a rookie, Sanders averaged 4.6 yards on 179 carries in 16 games with an additional 50 receptions for 509 yards. Looking at projecting only his rushing stats by increasing carries and keeping the same yards-per-carry metric, Sanders jumps to 920 yards on 200 carries, 1,150 yards on 250 carries, and 1,380 yards on 300 carries. It's easy to project over 1,500 yards from scrimmage for the second-year pro. Even if Philadelphia signs another back to boost the depth chart, Sanders still stands to receive the bulk of the team's carries and is the best option for the Eagles at running back this season. The game film has shown that Sanders can struggle to find the right gap to run through at times, but there is no doubting his athleticism and versatility. If his volume of carries increases in 2020 as expected, Sanders can be a top 10 fantasy running back, and perhaps higher if more touchdowns follow his production.
Miles Sanders came in last year as a rookie, and Philadelphia wanted to make sure that they kept him fresh. That was not easy after Jordan Howard was injured and a playoff push fell in their laps, so a lot of last-leg veterans (Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles) and a fresh face (Boston Scott) had to step up and provide some relief for Sanders.
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