It appears there are still a lot of questions hanging over Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders.
Much like he was the talk of the offseason in 2020 after passing both DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy to become the franchise’s top rookie when it comes to all-purpose and rushing yards by a first-year player, he’s a regular feature this summer too.
Miles Sanders rushed for 115 yards and 2 TDs vs Saints in 2020. Their defense had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 55 straight games until that game.
— Thomas R. Petersen (@thomasrp93) July 1, 2021
Despite the above, NFL experts aren’t all that high on the player. Pennsylvania sportsbooks have the Eagles at 2.45 to beat the Atlanta Falcons on opening day – Sanders, meanwhile, is being pointed to as a player to avoid when it comes to the setting up of one’s fantasy team.
According to Pro Football Network’s Tony Garrett, Sanders is one of the top nine fantasy busts for next season, which is sort of confusing based on the fact that the Philadelphia RB is one of the best dual backs in the league.
Garrett, though, focused on volume and workload in his assessment, some of which you could read right below.
“I really want to buy in and love Miles Sanders as some, but everything the Eagles have done screams timeshare,” he wrote.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@AMG_Eagles) July 5, 2021
“Sanders has averaged just 15 total touches per game in a relatively low volume role through two seasons. He averaged 3.1 receptions per game in 2019, but that number fell to just 2.3 per game in 2020. Due to this, Sanders has been a somewhat inconsistent fantasy scorer — producing RB2 or better numbers in just 14 of 28 games.”
“From Weeks 14 through 16, while Jalen Hurts was the starter, Sanders carried the ball 46 times. Hurts, meanwhile, had 38 rushes,” he added. “Sanders will never be a three-down back, and missing games for three separate injuries makes a case for the Eagles to rely on him even less in 2021.
“The Eagles now have Kerryon Johnson, Jordan Howard, and drafted arguably the best pass catcher in Kenneth Gainwell. Throw in Hurts’ prolific rushing ability, and even as the “leading” back, Sanders’ touches are drastically reduced. Sanders going anywhere inside the second round has him firmly inside bust territory for fantasy in 2021.”
Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports shares similar concerns, saying he hoped the player would have had a better second season but had to deal with injuries, as well as fumbles and dropped passes. The coaching staff has to shoulder some of the blame too, the way he sees it.
“The hope was that Sanders would take a huge jump in Year 2 but that didn’t happen as he struggled with injuries, fumbles, and dropped passes,” Zangaro wrote. “He was actually a more efficient runner in 2020 but wasn’t the same pass-catcher… But there’s no doubt that he’s a talented runner and the new coaching staff ought to be able to get more out of him than Doug Pederson did. Expect Sanders to get more carries in 2021 but also to be better utilized in the passing game.”
Can Miles Sanders become a top-10 running back?
Let's take a look: https://t.co/CWaQp7jzo9
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) July 1, 2021
The NFL Network’s Maurice Jones-Drew also recently ranked Sanders at 27 among starting running backs of the league’s 32.
“Sanders has shown flashes of being a really good player in both the run and pass games over his first two seasons,” he opined. “He was more productive as a runner in 2020, averaging 5.3 yards per carry but wasn’t the pass-catching threat he was in his rookie season. Sanders must show up and have a Saquon Barkley-esque impact on the offense to help alleviate pressure from second-year QB Jalen Hurts. I’m looking for more consistency here.”
We don’t imagine Philly fans would share the same sentiments, although the criticism makes sense. Running backs are prone to taking lots of punishment given that linebackers are typically towering players who can cover lots of ground in very little time. Increasing Sanders’ workload could end up being detrimental to his career.
While it’s all well and good to get the bragging rights where one’s fantasy team is concerned, there’s a lot more pleasure to be had watching players impact the game on the field, where it really counts. The Eagles are keen on reaching the Super Bowl again and having a healthy Sanders will be key to their ambitions.