XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT
Week 2 begins with the Vikings visiting the Eagles and this should be a fun one, with both teams packing strong offenses (despite what we saw in Week 1). The game currently has a healthy 48.5 total with Philly favored by 7, and broadly speaking that feels right to me. Both teams have good offenses, Minnesota has made some defensive upgrades but looks “decent” rather than “great,” while the Eagles defense is probably a top 5 unit in the league.
We’ll start with the Eagles where the surprise (at least to me) was Kenneth Gainwell operating as the RB1. Gainwell played 62% of the snaps and handled 18 touches (including four targets), while recently arrived D’Andre Swift played just 29% of the snaps with three touches (two targets). The Eagles other recent acquisition, Rashaad Penny, was a healthy scratch, leaving Boston Scott in his normal RB3 role. I’m confused as hell by this. I don’t understand why the Eagles would acquire Swift and Penny just to not use them, but I’m not an NFL coach. What I will say is that the cautious approach is to play Gainwell as the RB1, as that’s what we’ve seen from the Eagles, but just recognize we only have one week of data and there could have been something opponent specific as to why they preferred Gainwell in that matchup, or possibly Swift had a minor injury that wasn’t on the injury report, or even some disciplinary reason. Who knows. The point is, when we only have one week’s worth of data, we don’t want to overreact and assume that player usage for the rest of the season will follow what happened in Week 1. So, Gainwell is the “safe” play (home favorite RB, passing game role, high team total, etc.). Eagles head coach Nick Siranni did note that he “didn’t ever want to come out of a game where D’Andre Swift has only two touches,” so we could bet on roles flipping (or at least production flipping). I view Gainwell as the conservative play, Swift as the more volatile play, and Scott as a dart throw (assuming Penny is inactive again – if Penny is active he can join the dart throw category and I would rank him above Scott for dart throw attractiveness). I’m going to let ownership dictate my strategy here. If Swift projects to be significantly overlooked, I will want an overweight position.
Injury update: Kenneth Gainwell was ruled out on Wednesday
- I expect Rashaad Penny will be active after being a healthy scratch last week, giving Philly a backfield of Swift, Penny, and Boston Scott.
- This is a tough one to suss out. Penny best fits the physical profile of a between-the-tackles two-down grinder but the Eagles disliked him so much that they didn’t even play him in Week 1, so it’s hard for me to see them suddenly giving him 15+ carries (which is weird because Penny has always been good when healthy so maybe they surprise me here).
- They seem to view Swift similarly to how the Lions did, as a low-touch, explosive upside kind of guy. He’ll certainly see more touches than he did last week (which would have been the case regardless of Gainwell), but he’s probably like a 10-12 touch guy.
- Scott probably stays in the same RB3 role, but there’s volatility here . . . he could play ahead of Penny. We just don’t really know.
- The other issue is that all three of these guys are wildly cheap, with Swift the most expensive at $4k. I don’t think any of them are likely to get enough volume to have much chance of being optimal without a touchdown (Swift a possible exception if he gets 3-4 targets) and I’d be wary of having too much exposure to these cheap, super obvious value plays.
- Swift’s my favorite, then Penny, then Scott, but I want to limit how much Penny and Scott I have paired together on the same roster because their workloads are clearly inversely correlated, whereas Swift will get some work no matter what.
- Finally, I think the biggest impact is that Philly is now likely to attack more through the air. Against the Vikings’ blitz-happy defense, I think the biggest boost here is to the aerial game, with my favorite play being A.J. Brown against what should be a lot of loose Cover 1 defense.
Ownership updates automatically
In the passing game, the Eagles do us the favor of being one of the more condensed passing offenses in the league (not one of those “all 6 WRs get snaps!” teams like the Chiefs). Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, and Quez Watkins are the WRs, Dallas Goedert is the TE, and the backups barely play. Watkins also barely gets any volume (two targets in Week 1, 51 targets in 16 games last year for an average of just over three per game), so we can immediately move him to the dart throw category, leaving us just three real pass catchers for serious consideration. Brown and Smith are very similar. Last year, Brown had slightly more target volume (10 targets over the course of the season), but higher yards per catch led to 300 more total yards (and three more touchdowns), but AJB is also $1,600 more expensive than Smith. They’re both great plays with AJB the slight favorite if salary weren’t a factor. Dallas Goedert goose-egged in Week 1 with just one target (yikes), but that caused his price to drop to $5,800 . . . that’s too cheap for Goedert, and I expect to see him as one of the most popular plays on the slate. Also working in Goedert’s favor is his lower-ADOT role, which against Minnesota’s new-look more aggressive defense, could lead to additional target volume if the pass rush is able to get to Hurts. He’s a very strong on-paper play, and he could get some squeaky wheel narrative after being ignored last week, but if his ownership starts pushing into the 50% range, that personally makes me nervous (any TE not named Travis Kelce at 50% ownership is scary in Showdown). Olamide Zaccheaus, Jack Stoll, and Grant Calcaterra were the only other WR/TEs to see offensive snaps in Week 1 and can be considered as MME punt options.