Game Overview ::
By HILOW >>
- The Eagles D/ST is one of the top on-paper defenses for Week 4’s main slate.
- Sam Howell has targeted his tight ends (Logan Thomas, John Bates, and Cole Turner) on 32 percent of his pass attempts this season.
- The Philadelphia defense has one soft spot in coverage – opposing tight ends over the middle of the field.
- The Eagles started the season playing almost exclusively from nickel defensive alignments but had to adjust following the loss of Avonte Maddox – still, Josh Jobe stepped into the starting lineup in Week 3 and played 57 percent of the defensive snaps.
- The Commanders could struggle to sustain drives with little ability shown to attack downfield in their present state, meaning the Eagles defense is likely to have numerous opportunities to rack up the sacks and disrupt drives in this spot.
How WASHINGTON Will Try To Win ::
The Commanders currently hold the league’s fifth-highest pass rate over expectation (PROE) but are still averaging just 33 pass attempts per game through three weeks of play. A lot of that is likely skewed by opening games against the Cardinals and Broncos, two teams that should end the season near the bottom of the league in record. Furthermore, Washington ran just 54 offensive plays in its Week 3 dismantling at the hands of the Bills, which managed a ridiculous nine sacks and five turnovers against the spotty offensive line of the Commanders. In truth, we don’t have a very clear picture of how this offense is likely to run throughout the remainder of the season, considering the new offensive coordinator in Eric Bieniemy and what we have seen to this point in the season. I loosely expect them to continue in a pass-heavy offense mostly looking to attack the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, as quarterback Howell currently sports a modest 6.7 IAY/PA (Intended Air Yards/Pass Attempt) (29th in the league). The bulk of the offense has run through the running backs, tight ends, and slot wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Samuel has led the team in receiving in two of the Commanders’ three games so far, but that doesn’t say much considering his modest 54-yard outputs in those two contests. Either way, it appears as if the schemed-usage, gadget-type role from Bieniemy’s time in Kansas City has translated to Samuel in the change of scenery.
Lead back Brian Robinson saw a massive hit in usage against the Bills in Week 2 after seeing 42 combined opportunities through two weeks, each of which were played in competitive game environments. Considering the opponent, the matchup, and the expected game environment, we have to think Robinson might see another reduced role in this one. His snap rate fell all the way to 37 percent against the Bills and he managed just 10 running back opportunities. That argument strengthens when we consider the fact the Eagles have forced the fifth-highest PROE against this season. Teams simply cannot run effectively against them, which forces a shift to a more pass-heavy approach to move the ball. While change-of-pace back Antonio Gibson saw his highest snap rate of the season against the Bills at 61 percent, that only translated to two carries and five targets, meaning this backfield is more of a stay-away unit than anything in this spot. Touchdowns can obviously still flow somewhere should the Commanders find some level of offensive success, but it’s a pretty thin bet in this spot.
As mentioned above, Commanders tight ends have accounted for 32 percent of quarterback Howell’s targets this season. Thomas started the season with a massive 80 percent snap rate share before leaving Week 2 early with a concussion and missing Week 3 entirely. Expect him back in the lineup this week coming off his concussion, which shouldn’t dent his expected snap rate like some other injuries would. Thomas saw 11 targets in just under six quarters of play as the starter before being injured. Unfortunately for Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson, Howell holds a tiny IAY/PA value of 6.7 in an offense that has been forced to largely string together drives as opposed to hunting for splash plays. It just so happens that the matchup against the Eagles primarily aligns with that plan of attack, as their linebacking corps is much more ferocious in the pass rush as compared to how they perform in coverage. The Eagles have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends this season, getting shredded in Week 1 by Hunter Henry and in Week 2 by T.J. Hockenson. Expect Curtis Samuel to once again see the schemed short-area usage in a spot that is more difficult than in previous weeks, considering the heavy nickel utilization from the Eagles defense.