Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders is one of the most intriguing second-year players in the league. Sanders finished 2019 on a high note and appears to have full control of the backfield following the free-agent departure of Jordan Howard. Will Sanders take over a full three-down role, or will he fall short of expectations?
Note: All scoring and ranking information is given for PPR formats
2020 Fantasy Football Profile: Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders started his rookie season in a timeshare with Jordan Howard. Despite the relative hype for his skill set, Sanders actually began his career as the clear second-fiddle to Howard. Through the first nine games of the season, Sanders averaged just under 11 touches per game and only eclipsed a 50% snap count on one occasion.
However, something changed over the final seven games of the season. Howard suffered an injury, allowing Sanders to take complete control of the backfield. Sanders was the RB3 from Weeks 11-16, averaging 18.8 fantasy points per game while recording 20 touches per game. It’s worth noting that Week 17 isn’t included in this sample because the Eagles got out to an early lead and pulled Sanders to ensure his health for the playoffs.
Volume is key for fantasy football success, but Sanders made the most of his opportunity. During this six-game stretch, Sanders recorded 4.57 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per reception. He’s clearly an NFL-caliber back and earned the starting job with this strong performance.
As of this posting, all signs point towards Sanders being a major part of this offense. While there have been rumors of signing Devonta Freeman, as of now he remains a free agent. Sanders (and, to a lesser extent, Boston Scott) will be the top running backs in what should be one of the better offenses in the league.
However, there is reason to believe Sanders won’t maintain his late-2019 pace. Sanders averaged just over five targets per game to end the season, and that number is going to go down. The 2019 Eagles were basically a glorified MASH unit and had to turn to guys like Greg Ward down the stretch. DeSean Jackson should be back on the field, as well as newcomers in Jalen Reagor and Marquise Goodwin. There is an outside chance Alshon Jeffery is back on the field, although he currently does not have a timetable to return. This isn’t to say that Sanders won’t be a part of the passing game, but his role will be somewhat diminished.
Historically, head coach Doug Pederson tends to use a running back by committee. However, that might be due to the lack of three-down options during his time in Philadelphia. Sanders is the first guy with a three-down skill set, and Pederson has publicly said that he is “comfortable” and “excited” about what Sanders can do as the lead back. Boston Scott will probably see a few more touches than you’d like, but this should be Sanders’ show, for the most part.
Miles Sanders Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Data currently has Miles Sanders as the 16th player off the board. This makes him the 11th running back off the board and puts him in the same tier as guys like Josh Jacobs, Nick Chubb, and Austin Ekeler.
Personally, I’d take Sanders over all of those guys. As discussed in the respective profiles for Josh Jacobs and Nick Chubb, both players might not get the passing volume to justify such an early pick. Ekeler should receive a good amount of passing work, but his target share and his overall scoring opportunities will go down without Philip Rivers throwing the ball.
Miles Sanders won’t be challenging Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley for running back supremacy, but he has a path to a top-five finish at the position. Sanders has an established rapport with the quarterback, the trust of the coaching staff, and plays in what should be a good offense. Boston Scott will steal some of his touches, but he should have more than enough talent to be a locked and loaded RB1.
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