Fantasy football outlook: WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles

Fantasy football outlook: WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles

Fantasy football player analysis tips and advice

Fantasy football outlook: WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles

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As a rookie last season, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith had the tale of two seasons. He finished the year with 64 catches for 916 yards and five touchdowns – leading Eagles receivers in each category. However, his numbers from the first half of the season were a stark contrast to the second half.

The Eagles started the year as the team looked to have balance between the pass and run. In his first seven games, quarterback Jalen Hurts threw 34 or more passes in five of them. Over the final eight games Hurts played, the Eagles threw more than 30 passes just once and averaged fewer than 24 throws a game. That change in offensive philosophy brought down what started as very strong numbers for Smith.

In those first seven games, Smith caught more than five passes in three of them and was targeted more than seven times in four games. In the final 10 games, he was never targeted more than seven times — in half of those games he was targeted five times or less.

The Eagles finished 2021 with the league’s top-ranked rushing offense, which led to success from the team perspective (they went 7-3 in the final 10 games). This hurt the receiving corps in the fantasy realm because, aside from Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert, Philly didn’t have a legitimate receiving threat to take the pressure off them. That changed in a big way this offseason.

When Tennessee failed to get star receiver A.J. Brown signed to a long-term deal, he was traded for Philadelphia’s first-round draft pick. The arrival of Brown brings a much-heralded player to the Eagles offense and will give Hurts an elite weapon to go along with Smith and Goedert.

Many have theorized Smith’s production will suffer as a result of Brown coming on board. While that may be true in terms of target share, it doesn’t mean that Smith’s fantasy value will plummet. As is often the case, when an elite receiver joins a team, defensive attention is heightened for that player. Linebackers drop in coverage on his side of the field to take away throwing lanes and safeties roll over the top to provide double coverage.

Last year that sort of defensive pressure was applied to Smith. This year, it will be Brown more times than not, which will leave Smith single-covered much more often and likely drawing the No. 2 cornerback from an opposing defense as opposed to the No. 1 guy he faced so often in 2021.

Fantasy football outlook

Note: Smith has recently missed practices with a minor groin injury, but it currently shouldn’t be of much concern in fantasy.

The arrival of Brown definitely impacts Smith’s fantasy ranking, but it doesn’t drop him too far because of the potential for more impact plays he could produce by playing with greater efficiency. View Brown as a high-end WR2 because of his ability to win 50/50 balls, especially in the red zone. Smith is a midrange to low-end WR3 who could post numbers as good or better than last season because the opportunity to have mismatches with single coverage. Brown’s arrival doesn’t help Smith’s fantasy value, but it doesn’t kill it, either.

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