Draft or Pass: Eagles RB Miles Sanders Will Soar to Sophomore Success

The Philadelphia Eagles enjoyed quite a rookie year from RB Miles Sanders in 2019. SI Fantasy analyst Ben Heisler breaks down what his draft value and potential are entering Year 2.
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It's never too early to start your fantasy football research, and we at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts. Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?

Today's video focuses on Philadelphia Eagles second-year running back Miles Sanders.

Draft or Pass at current ADP (average draft position): 19 (RB11)

Sanders was the average RB29 coming off the board ahead of his season in 2019. Right at the tail end of the fifth round.

For the first five weeks of the season, fantasy owners were fuming. Here was a second-round pick out of Penn State with enormous potential in both the running and passing game not being maximized to his potential.

In the first half of the season, there didn’t seem to be any plan for the running game. Sanders averaged just under 11 carries the first five weeks, then carried the ball a total of 12 times from Weeks 6-8. He also only saw up to five targets once from Weeks 1-11.

Jordan Howard started four games and took six touchdowns off the board from Sanders, with five of the six scored from inside the 5-yard line. If that doesn’t stress the importance of RB opportunities to get carries from inside the five-yard line, Howard vulturing six touchdowns could have multiplied Sanders’ input as a rusher by three-fold!

But in the final quarter of the season, Sanders became the lead back and took off with his newfound responsibilities.

Over Weeks 12-16, Sanders averaged 16.6 carries for 78.4 yards for a total of 392 yards. He also caught 23 passes on 27 targets for 196 yards. Sanders also became the lead back for red zone carries and receptions, adding up four touchdowns as well. He helped fantasy owners win a championship with 35.2 and 26.6 fantasy points in key divisional battles against Washington and Dallas in Weeks 15 and 16.

Even in the sports betting market, there’s a consensus that Sanders will continue his dual-threat prowess in Year 2. DraftKings Sportsbook has Sanders set for 1,375.5 total yards for 2020:

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Head coach Doug Pederson has a history of using running back committees, but with the emergence of Miles Sanders, as well as Boston Scott down the stretch, is there any further concern about the Eagles bringing in another veteran back?

Back on June 16, Pederson told reporters they’re not done looking for other names at the position:

“We’re going to continue to look and see if we can add value, add depth, add competition to that room... But we are very comfortable, and excited about Miles, what he did in his rookie season, what he can do now moving forward.”

Adding another back into the mix would certainly drop Sanders’ ADP down, but the numbers don’t lie on his level of success. Ed Kracz over at EagleMaven put a list together of Sanders’ rookie accomplishments, and it is impressive.

  • Led rookies in all-purpose yards (1,641), ahead of Mecole Hardman (1,426) & Josh Jacobs (1,316).
  • Led rookies in scrimmage yards (1,327), ahead of Jacobs (1,316) & A.J. Brown (1,111).
  • Set Eagles rookie record for rushing yards (818), surpassing the previous mark (637) set by LeSean McCoy in 2009, and scrimmage yards (1,327), breaking the previous record (DeSean Jackson, 1,008 in 2008).

In a 12-team PPR, Sanders’ ADP comes in at 19, right in the mid-section of the second round. I’m comfortable taking Sanders as the No. 11 back on the board, and would even be willing to move him up ahead of Kenyan Drake in Arizona at No. 10.