It isn’t too often an player posts his best statistical season to date — leading the NFL in rushing TDs — and struggles to find a job the next season. It was the perfect storm for LeGarrette Blount after his 1,161-yard, 18-touchdown season in New England last year.
The 30-year-old (31 in December) entered free agency with practically no attention and waited until mid-May before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. Being such a one-dimensional back, and quickly approaching the end of his career, Blount was relegated to find a committee situation in need of a battering ram.
The Eagles may have the messiest backfield in America after this signing. At least each player’s role should become compartmentalized, and it looks like the potential for a three-pronged attack is quite realistic.
In a nutshell, this move is smart for the real-life Eagles but troubling for fantasy purposes. Ryan Mathews’ is the biggest loser, as his only real value came around the goal line. Now, he’s probably the primary guy between the 20-yard lines, and that’s about it. Darren Sproles has the third-down and obvious aerial situations on lockdown. Blount becomes the “goal-to-go” guy for any ground work.
It removes any speculative value from second-year back Wendell Smallwood, although such an argument could have been made after the fourth-round selection of San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey.
Fantasy football spin
The Eagles’ backfield is a mine field for fantasy purposes. Accurately assessing each player on a weekly matchup basis will be a nightmare. The passing-game personnel was improved over the offseason, which suggests Philly may throw more and run less than last year (10th most rushing attempts).
Sproles is the safest of the trio — and that says something given he enters an age-34 season. Like Mathews, Blount is injury-prone and comes with ample risk. Should Mathews go down long term, Blount has a major uptick in opportunities awaiting. This scenario alone makes Blount worthy of a late-round add in standard scoring, but his value depreciates significantly in point-per-reception setups.
Someone will own each of these players in 2017, and it is fine if that person happens to be you. Don’t be overly aggressive in drafting or expecting anything remotely close to last year’s production from Blount.
The rough-cut verdict: Blount is an RB4 with matchup worthiness and upside if Mathews is shelved. Sproles is an RB3 in PPR and a safer fourth choice, while Mathews is merely an upside-free body for depth in the RB4 territory.