Eagles Sign LeGarrette Blount
Michael Nazarek - 5/17/2017
The big hammer finally dropped for free-agent RB LeGarrette Blount when he decided to sign a one-year contract worth up to $2.8 million with the Philadelphia Eagles today. Why did it take a guy whom scored a whopping 18 times in 2016 so long to find a new home? Simply put, the New England Patriots played hardball with him, hoping that due to a lack of interest, they would retain his right under a seldom-used special tender offered on May 9th. The Eagles ended that wish today by signing Blount.
What does this signing mean in fantasy terms? First, it likely signals the end of the road for RB Ryan Mathews in Philadelphia. He should be released at some point before training camp. Since he's still rehabbing, the Eagles may wait until he's healthy to cut him loose, but that's already a forgone conclusion. As for the Eagles running game, HC Doug Pederson says veteran RB Darren Sproles returns as the lead tailback, but that was before the Blount signing. However, don't be surprised if Sproles remains the lead back, while the Eagles use the bigger Blount as a battering ram early and later in games, as well as near the goal. You don't sign an 18-TD guy and don't use him near the goal. That said, the Eagles won't provide nearly as many scoring opportunities for Blount that the Patriots did due to a weaker offensive line. However, I'd expect Blount to score 6-8 times and likely rush for around 500 yards with just a few catches in 2017. With the first cut of the 2017 FFMastermind premium rankings with projections (Masters List & EDM) due for release within a week, that barely places Blount in the top 50 RBs in non-PPR leagues. Why so low?
Remember, beyond Sproles, the Eagles also have second-year RB Wendell Smallwood on their roster, a guy whom showed some promise when he saw limited duty in 2016. Smallwood managed 312 rushing yards on 77 carries for a 4.1 yards per carry average and one score. Look for Philadelphia to mix and match their tailbacks, as Sproles is likely to start, while Blount and Smallwood are worked into the game plan. There could be some big Blount-heavy games here and there, but don't be surprised if Smallwood carves out a bigger role than just the #3 RB if he produces well when given the chance. RB Ryan Mathews fantasy owners got that rude awakening under HC Doug Pederson last season. For long stretches at a time, a productive Mathews was ignored for seemingly little-to-no reason at all. And then there is also 4th-round draft pick RB Donnel Pumphrey to consider. All of these backs makes this situation one to watch in the coming months.
Any way you slice it, the Eagles running game just got more complicated, and assuming Blount will score double-digit TDs again just because he did it in 2016 would probably be a big mistake! Just like A.P., I find the words "DON'T OVERREACH" come to mind when you consider drafting Blount in 2017.
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