Eagles @ Cardinals
“Boomer, Sooner, O-K-U!” The battle of the Oklahoma quarterbacks (and the real FOX Game of the Week) was a wild one from start to finish, with safeties, fumbles, missed extra points, and even a fake punt pass. Ultimately, it came down to the final minutes of the fourth, with DeAndre Hopkins making a heroic effort to muscle his way into the end zone and make it 33-26 (which would end up being the final score) with 7:17 remaining. The Eagles couldn’t find the end zone on their final two drives, as the Cardinals’ defense held up enough to keep them in the playoff race for now. The Eagles are technically still in the playoff race, needing to win both of their remaining games and getting some help elsewhere, while the Cardinals are hanging onto the 7th seed in the NFC.
Jalen Hurts: 24/44, 338 yards, 3 TD, 6 sacks | 11 carries, 63 yards, 1 TD
It looks like last week wasn’t a mirage with Jalen Hurts, as he helped lift the Eagles’ offense to their highest point output since October 18. Unfortunately, Hurts was very often running from pressure put on by the Cardinals’ front seven. Had Hurts not been able to use his game-changing speed to evade the Cardinals, that number could have been doubled. It’s a small wonder Hurts was able to throw for that many yards and keep the game so close despite facing that kind of pressure; his accuracy and completion percentage suffered as a result. 24/44 looks ugly, but Hurts was asked to do a whole lot today. Despite all of that, he was able to keep the Eagles within striking distance, finding receivers time and again for chunk gains downfield and even muscled in a rushing TD on a bruising 7-yard carry (below). He gets a Dallas defense that is allowing a league-worst 30.8 points per game next week. Start him with confidence.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) December 20, 2020
Miles Sanders: 17 carries, 64 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 26 yards
This marks the second consecutive week that Miles Sanders has seen at least 14 carries, which is promising news moving forward, especially with no other running back receiving a single handoff. He’s reached 14 carries in just 6 games this season, so his workload can be quite inconsistent. He wasn’t able to find a ton of running room today, with the Eagles starting yet another new combination of offensive linemen. The revolving door up front — in addition to the constant pressure from the Cardinals’ front seven — is no help to Sanders or Hurts. To be fair, Sanders did get a handful of red zone and goal line carries in the first half (he was also the choice for a two-point conversion run that ultimately failed) but wasn’t able to convert on any of them. It appears that Sanders is going to be a larger part of the game plan moving forward, but Hurts’ presence and the offensive line struggles are going to make it hard for Sanders to consistently perform up to expectations.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Zach Ertz: 7 targets, 2 receptions, 69 yards
Alshon Jeffery: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 63 yards
Jalen Reagor: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 49 yards | 1 carry, -10 yards
Quez Watkins: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD
Dallas Goedert: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 39 yards
Greg Ward: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 15 yards, 2 TDs
Reader, I’m going to be completely honest with you here — there really doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the way the ball has been distributed during The Jalen Hurts Experience (TM). Hurts has spread the ball around fairly well in the two games he’s been under center, with no receiver hauling in more than 5 receptions in those games. If you forced me to pick the top target in any given week, it looks like Dallas Goedert would be your best bet. He saw 8 targets today, including a near-touchdown in one fourth quarter drive and maybe could have caught the final pass of the game (below), and has seen 6+ targets in each game Hurts has truly been under center.
More weirdness: Zach Ertz hasn’t had this many targets since October, against the Ravens. Alshon Jeffery had 1 target, 1 reception, and a TD last week. Yet, both of these players either beat or nearly tied their season highs in yardage. Jeffery has acted as a big-bodied possession receiver in the past (2017, 2018), so Coach Pederson may be looking to Jeffery to fill that role once again for Hurts. Jalen Reagor saw a season-high 8 targets, double his amount from last week. Additionally, Reagor has now carried the ball in three consecutive games, so Pederson may look to utilize Reagor’s speed and incorporate more runs for him in the future.
Weirdly enough, Greg Ward appears to be Jalen Hurts’ favorite end-zone target, as he has now picked up 3 TDs over the 2-ish games Hurts has played. Ward’s targets have stayed steady at 5 per game since Hurts took over, so he may be someone to keep an eye on for next season, assuming his role stays the same. Most of these receivers — maybe aside from Goedert — appear to be dart throws at best.
If Dallas Goedert dives, this is a TD… pic.twitter.com/ZvZih4hShv
— Derek Shuman (@DerekShuman_) December 21, 2020
Kyler Murray: 27/36, 406 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 1 sack, 1 fumble lost | 8 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD
Kyler “Do it all” Murray had quite the day today. The Eagles, who have a fairly strong front seven, weren’t able to get much pressure on Murray. They picked up just the one sack and added a single QB hit, which enabled Murray to rarely miss on passes and find DeAndre Hopkins (among others) with ease. He really started to stall out in the second half, as the Cardinals put up a meager 7 points across the final two quarters. The interesting part is that Murray could have had an even better day, as a Hopkins’ fumble on the Eagles’ 4-yard line wiped a potential TD off the board and Murray tossed an interception in the end zone in the third quarter. Regardless of the what-ifs and technicalities, Murray feasted on an injured Eagles defense and especially rewarded fantasy owners who had the Murray/Hopkins stack. Murray and the Cardinals get the 49ers next week, a unit that held Murray to 230 passing yards and 1 TD (although he also racked up 91 rush yards and another TD).
Chase Edmonds: 11 carries, 47 yards | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards, 1 TD
Kenyan Drake: 10 carries, 26 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards
It looks like we’re headed for one of the worst situations for fantasy running backs — the RBBC! Chase Edmonds looks like the more explosive back and had the average YPC to match, tacking on yet another game in which his average YPC has climbed above 4. He also added a handful of short targets and a TD, showing that he can in fact do it all if called upon. The problem is that Kliff Kingsbury wants to incorporate both running backs into the game, with neither of them getting an advantage in one particular part of the game. Both Kenyan Drake and Edmonds were given the ball in short-yardage situations and saw some receiving targets. They were both incorporated into the game in interesting ways, with Drake receiving a direct snap (ultimately sniffed out by the Eagles’ defensive linemen). Edmonds’ receiving targets appear relatively stable, with this being the fourth consecutive game in which he’s seen 5 targets. The Cardinals are still in the playoff chase, so unless something dramatic changes or one of the two RBs is out for the day, Edmonds and Drake appear to be stuck in a timeshare.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DeAndre Hopkins: 11 targets, 9 receptions, 169 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble lost
Dan Arnold: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 54 yards
Larry Fitzgerald: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 35 yards, 1 TD
Christian Kirk: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 33 yards
There was no chance the Eagles were going to contain DeAndre Hopkins today. Down Darius Slay, Hopkins feasted on a weak Eagles secondary to deliver yet another elite performance. His fumble in the red zone on the very first drive of the game hurt what could have been an even bigger game, but I doubt fantasy managers came away disappointed. His latest contested-catch (below) and the TD in the fourth quarter (also below) illustrate what he was able to do today and continues to do week in and week out. Outside of Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald may be the only other “reliable” receiver, seeing a steady 3+ targets in every game, with today being no different. The issue is that Fitzgerald’s targets are relatively low value for fantasy, with most of them coming within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. When looking to pass, Hopkins is Murray’s first and second target, with the handful of remaining targets going to running backs, tight end Dan Arnold, or Fitzgerald generally. No other receiver besides Hopkins is going to be a reliable starter in fantasy for the final two games of the season. The Cardinals’ receiving corps face a more challenging matchup with the 49ers’ defense next week.
— QB List (@TheQBlist) December 20, 2020
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) December 21, 2020
— Adam Sloate (@MrAdster99)