Philadelphia Eagles (2-5, 3-4 ATS) at Detroit Lions (0-7, 4-3), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Eagles Stats and Trends
The Eagles have failed to cover in four straight games as a road favorite.
Jalen Hurts opened the season completing 66.2% of his passes while averaging 291.8 passing yards per game and 8.1 YPA in his first four games. Over his last three contests, he’s completing just 53.6% of his passes while averaging 183.0 passing yards per game and 5.7 YPA. Even with his recent downturn, he’s still posted 21+ FP in every game thanks to garbage-time production the last two weeks. The Lions have given up three TD passes to Matthew Stafford and Joe Burrow the last two weeks.
DeVonta Smith has 11+ FP and 5+ catches in three of his last four games, but he’s also finished below six FP three times overall and he hasn’t scored a touchdown since the season opener. Robert Woods posted 6/70 receiving in this matchup last week, and the Lions are giving up 15.6 YPR to WRs this season.
Dallas Goedert posted season-highs in targets (5), yards (70), and snap share (93%) in his first game without Zach Ertz this season. He’s now averaging 4.0 catches, 55.8 yards, and 6.3 targets per game with two total TDs in his six career games without Ertz. Tyler Higbee produced 5/46 receiving on eight targets in this matchup last week.
Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott will take over the backfield with Miles Sanders (ankle) out for at least the next week. Gainwell scored the first touchdown of the game before Sanders even left the game, and he finished with 4/41/1 receiving on eight targets and 5/20 rushing on 50% of the snaps against the Raiders. Scott played just four offensive snaps with no carries through the first six weeks of the season, but he stepped in and posted 7/24/1 rushing and 1/5 receiving on two targets on 34% of the snaps. Scott is likely to lead this backfield in carries but Gainwell is going to get a healthy dose of carries next to Scott while also being the top receiver in this backfield. The Lions are giving up the fourth-most FPG (28.9) to RBs this season.
Brolley’s Lions Stats and Trends
The Lions have played under the total in five straight games.
Jared Goff owns an 0-14 record without Sean McVay as his head coach.
D’Andre Swift has played 73% of the snaps or more in four straight games, and he’s coming off his best fantasy performance of the year with 8/96/1 receiving and 13/48 rushing against the Rams. Jamaal Williams saw a season-low 29% snap share last week, but he averaged a six-week best 4.8 YPC with 12/57 rushing. The Eagles are giving up the second-most rushing yards per game (117.1) and 4.5 YPC to RBs this season. Kenyan Drake (17/79/1 scrimmage) and Josh Jacobs (9/68/1) combined 32.7 FP against the Eagles last week.
Jared Goff has failed to reach 20+ FP in five straight games after doing it twice to open the season. He completed 22/36 passes for 268 yards (7.4 YPA), one TD, and two INTs in his #RevengeGame against the Rams in Week 7. Goff owns the lowest aDOT at 6.6 yards and the Eagles’ secondary plays deep to prevent big plays, giving up a league-high 74.4% completion percentage. Derek Carr carved them up for 323/2 passing while completing 91.2% of his passes.
T.J. Hockenson is back to posting double-digit FP the last two weeks after a knee injury slowed him down in Weeks 3-5. He’s posted 14/122 receiving on 20 targets for 16.2 FP over the last two weeks. Foster Moreau came off the bench for 6/606/1 receiving against the Eagles last week after O.J. Howard ripped them for 6/49/1 the previous week.
Kalif Raymond has 12+ FP and 6+ targets in three of his last five games, and he stepped up with 6/115 receiving on eight targets against the Rams. The Eagles are giving up the fifth-fewest FPG (31.2) to WRs, and they limited Henry Ruggs to 4/24 receiving on seven targets last week
Amon-Ra St. Brown saw zero targets on 62% of the snaps in Week 7 after seeing 22 targets in Weeks 4-6. Hunter Renfrow posted 7/58 receiving in this matchup last week.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.1 (2nd)
Plays per game: 63.1 (27th)
Pass: 62.6% (15th) | Run: 37.4% (18th)
Pace: 29.5 (24th)
Plays per game: 69.1 (11th)
Pass: 65.4% (7th) | Run: 34.6% (26th)
Watching the Eagles this year has been very, very hard. Jalen Hurts continues to get there for fantasy, but he has been held down by an unimaginative coaching staff and a defense that has constantly put the offense in bad situations. Philadelphia has given up 28 or more points in four of their last 5 games and last week’s loss was a microcosm of their problems. After a great opening drive where HC Nick Sirriani actually ran the ball 5 times on 8 plays, he saw enough of that on the Eagles ensuing drive. Hurts dropped back to pass on 7-of-8 plays on the Eagles second drive, they ended up punting, and then allowed the Raiders to score 30 unanswered points on their next five drives. The Eagles had a chance to get back into the game down 14-7 in the two-minute drill to end the first half, but Gainwell lost a fumble on the first play and that was that. Then, on their first play of the first drive of the second-half, Hurts had an explosive run called back due to a penalty by one of his linemen and they ended up punting again. Hurts is still just 11 starts into his career and simply needs way more structure (ahem, a commitment to the run game) to sustain offense. Hopefully they get right in the ultimate “get right” spot against a Lions defense that is giving up a score on 48.6% of their drives faced (fifth-highest rate).
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
D’Andre Swift has been fed with at least 20 touches in back-to-back games. With that volume, a productive game is assured when facing the appropriate opponents. Judging by the coverage algorithm projecting Swift for the third-highest RB output, the matchup appears appropriate. The Eagles are relinquishing the third-most FPG to RBs (30.5), the fourth-most on the ground (17.7), and 10th-most through the air (12.8). Philadelphia is also forking over the seventh-most red zone touches/game to backs (5.0).
Jamaal Williams may be splitting the carries with Swift, but the receiving role is entirely on Swift’s plate. With recent comments from HC Dan Campbell stating he simply cannot get the ball into Swift’s hands enough, perhaps we’ll see his role taken to another level above his current 18.3 touches/game (11th). With Swift providing the fifth-most FPs/touch (1.07), a further boost in touches could skyrocket the weekly output from the former Georgia Bulldog.
When Miles Sanders was injured, Boston Scott took one more carry than ‘21 fifth-rounder Kenneth Gainwell. But it was the rookie that doubled up Scott in routes and saw 88% of the backfield targets. The Lions are yielding 28.7 FPG to RBs (fourth-most), 13.3 through the air (fifth).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Let’s just put it this way — if the Eagles lose this game, which is very possible given the way they’ve been playing, then there’s virtually nothing off the table.
They’re getting creamed in the local media (fairly and unfairly, which is usually the case), and it’s making folks wonder if QB Jalen Hurts is going to get benched, coach Nick Sirianni is one-and-done, and GM Howie Roseman — the eternal survivor in Philly — is finally going to get the hook. But if the Eagles win and move to 3-5, they could very easily point to a brutal early schedule for the majority of their struggles.
Let’s start with Hurts, who has been fantastic for fantasy but was thrown into the spotlight this week when the Eagles traded backup Joe Flacco to the Jets, elevating Gardner Minshew to the QB2.
He is the overall QB2 in fantasy points — behind only Tom Brady — and he’s the overall QB3 in FPG (adding Josh Allen to the mix). His 361 rushing yards trail only Lamar Jackson at the position, and his 5 rushing TD are tied with Sam Darnold (!) for most among QBs. He’s done a generally good job avoiding turnovers, with 5 through seven games. But the problem is that Hurts isn’t passing the eye test for a lot of the action, and while his coaching staff isn’t helping, it is alarming that a huge chunk of Hurts’ fantasy production has come late in games, just as it did in Week 7’s loss to the Raiders. That production matters all the same from a boxscore standpoint, but if Hurts doesn’t step up his game earlier in contests and Philly keeps losing, there’s a chance the Eagles make a change to Minshew to see what they have at some point. Keep in mind that Philly currently has three very high first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. The best outcome for them would be Hurts playing well and using those picks to build around him, but it’s also a reminder that the Eagles are in no way beholden to Hurts as their starter, and his leash is running short. You have to start him in a matchup with the Lions’ decimated secondary, but if he looks bad this week… whew.
Jalen Hurts’ fantasy points by quarter:— John Daigle (@notJDaigle) October 25, 2021
It feels like this matchup is one that calls for starting both DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert, as well. Goedert got a massive role with Zach Ertz now out in the desert. Goedert ran a route on a massive 88% of Eagles pass plays — Darren Waller is first among TEs in that category at 90%.
In the backfield, Philly will be without Miles Sanders (ankle) this week and two more, as he was put on IR. The predominant back will likely be Kenny Gainwell, at least from a fantasy perspective because of his receiving ability, but Boston Scott was Philly’s goal-line back last week after Sanders went down. The Eagles could also elevate Jordan Howard from the practice squad. As a feather in Gainwell’s cap, the Lions have given up 6 receiving TD to RBs this year.
Now, let’s get to the Eagles’ defense, which has mostly been the object of the Philly media’s scorn this week.
In the Eagles' first 1,285 games, they allowed 8 quarterbacks to complete 80 percent of their passes.— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 24, 2021
In the Eagles' last 5 games, they've allowed 4 quarterbacks to complete 80 percent of their passes.
The NFL record for Comp pct in a season is 74.4 (Drew Brees in 2018).— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) October 25, 2021
The Eagles are allowing a Comp pct of 74.4 this season.
The philosophy for DC Jonathan Gannon is clearly to prevent big plays. And indeed, per SIS, that’s working — the Eagles have allowed just 6 completions of 20 or more air yards this year, which is third-fewest in the entire league. The problem is Philly is allowing a staggering 79.6% of throws of fewer than 20 air yards to be completed, the highest in the NFL. Removing Sam Darnold’s awful Week 5 performance from that equation, and the number rises to 83.2%. For reference, the average NBA free throw percentage last year was 77.8%. So a throw of under 20 yards against the Eagles’ defense is more likely to be completed than an undefended shot at a basket.
Why is that important this week? Well, Jared Goff has never seen a checkdown he doesn’t like — his 6.3 aDOT is the lowest among starting QBs this year. I hope Gannon has been watching film on D’Andre Swift and TJ Hockenson, because he’ll be seeing a ton of ‘em this week.