Blount was the most prominent RB still available in free agency, adding to the list of weapons Wentz will have in 2017.The Philadelphia Eagles have had one of the splashiest off-seasons in the NFL, surrounding young QB Carson Wentz with plenty of weaponry, after his promising rookie season went awry about midway through. Wentz dealt with arguably the NFL’s worst receiving corps, and the suspension of star RT Lane Johnson seemed to prove a trap from which Philly’s offense couldn’t totally escape.

Following the signings of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, everyone expected the Eagles to add a true go-to running back in the NFL Draft, but it appeared they kept getting goosed on their true targets, most notably Dalvin Cook in the second round and Samaje Perine in the fourth round. So their only addition was the tough but tiny Donnel Pumphrey, who profiles more as a Darren Sproles type down the road.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Eagles plucked the feathers on former Oregon Duck LeGarrette Blount this week, signing him to a one-year deal, as Blount was the most prominent RB still available in free agency.

A Look at Blount

Once inconsistent for fantasy on a pretty regular basis, Blount absolutely crushed his dirt-cheap ADP last year with New England.

Blount had never scored double-digit rushing TDs in his first six seasons, so of course he crushed Curtis Martin’s Patriot record (14) with a whopping 18 scores. In all, Blount had the most rushing TDs in a season since Adrian Peterson scored 18 times back in 2009. He was the king of scoring from on top of the goal line, with 11 of his scores coming from a yard away and his average score came from 7.3 yards away – his average was greatly aided by 41- and 43-yard TDs.

Blount scored TDs in all but three of his games and he topped 10+ FP in all but four games. He finished the year with 299/1161/18 rushing (3.9 YPC) and 7/38/0 receiving on 8 targets (87.5% catch rate, 5.4 YPR) in 16 games. Blount averaged 14.8 FPG, ranking 13th at the position behind Latavius Murray. He played on 47% of the Patriots’ snaps and had 39.79% of the team’s touches. So despite his fantasy dominance, he was essentially a part-time player.

On film, Blount has always been a little bit more complicated. At times, we feel like he doesn’t use his size the way we’d like. He has really light feet for a big back, but sometimes it appears he takes a little bit too long to get up to speed, which robs him of that natural power. Though he’s generally been very effective in short-yardage situations, he’s actually far more impressive in the open field, when his speed, size, and light feet make him a tough guy to bring down (hence the longer runs). He’s also a back who has generally gotten better as games wear on.

The Fit in Philly

The good news for Blount’s fantasy upside is that, assuming the Eagles cut the injured Ryan Mathews to save $4 million in cap space (which is one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL), Philadelphia has one of the juiciest slices of pie left behind in any NFL backfield this off-season, with the 4th-highest percentage of available opportunities.

Team

Available Opportunities

% Of 2016 Opp. Available

% of RZ Att. Available

PHI

195

43.5%

54.5%

In 2016, Blount led the NFL in red-zone rushes (71), red-zone rush TDs (16), goal-line rushes (29), and goal-line rush TDs (13). In that way, he’s a perfect fit for what Philly needs.

While Blount is used to running behind a fullback, he'll have a great Philly OL to help him out.And believe it or not, despite the Eagles trying to put together a functional offense last year, their motley crew of RBs actually was one of the most run-heavy sets in the entire league in 2016 in key TD situations.

One thing to note on Blount is that he got very used to running behind top blocking FB James Develin in New England, and New England values Develin so much that they re-signed him this off-season and kicked Blount – who scored a team-record 18 rushing TDs a season ago – to the curb. As of now, the Eagles don’t even have a fullback on their roster, though they were one of the NFL’s leaders in multi-TE sets a year ago (they have a top trio in Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, and Trey Burton). Barring the Eagles using Celek or Burton as an H-back or fullback on a good percentage of Blount’s runs, he’s going to have to adjust to a different style of play.

But on the flip side, where there is some good news for Blount? The Eagles have one of the NFL’s deepest and most effective offensive lines, should Johnson keep himself out of trouble this year. Even without Johnson for 10 games, Philly was in the top half of the NFL in not allowing run plays to be stuffed behind the line of scrimmage. As we’ve already noted, Blount is a more dangerous open-field runner than you would expect, and Philly’s line should be able to spring him.

The Fantasy Bottom Line

It would be downright foolish to expect Blount to replicate his career year from last season. Even if the Eagles are as vastly improved as they appear to be on paper, they won’t be as well-oiled a machine as the Super Bowl Champion Patriots. Blount has just two seasons of 200 or more carries on his resume, including last year, and it’d be prudent to project him in the 170-190 department in Philly. Moreover, Blount is a total zero in the passing game, and the Eagles have multiple backs who excel in that department.

Fortunately, Blount excels as a vacuum cleaner around the goal line, and that is where Mathews, in theory, would be missed the most. The call here is Blount reverts back to his inconsistent fantasy days, in which he scores 8-10 rushing TDs, but spreads them out far more than he did a season ago. That makes him more appealing in best-ball formats, like MFL10s.

Nonetheless, we expect him to be the first Eagle RB taken in drafts this summer, rising from his current ADP of RB53 to somewhere in the 25-30 range. This landing spot is great news for those who have already invested a blind pick into Blount, since his value is going to skyrocket.