The excitement level for the rookie running back out of Penn State is off the chain. Miles Sanders is supposed to be the next everyone: LeSean McCoy, Saquon Barkley, you name it.
Of course, he only wants to be the first Miles Sanders. Now the electrifying back gets ready for his NFL debut in a Philadelphia Eagles uniform in front of 70,000 crazed fans at Lincoln Financial Field. Sanders is going to be nervous, but he’s going to get the ball. The question is how many touches and whether he’s worth starting in fantasy football leagues. Remember, Sanders is stuck in a backfield-by-committee situation with veteran Jordan Howard.
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Miles Sanders Fantasy Outlook vs. Washington Redskins
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has never been one to run the ball down people’s throats. His version of the West Coast offense is hyper pass-happy and he prefers to get creative on down-and-distance by using a variety of running backs. In last year’s season opener against Atlanta, three different rushers touched the ball and totaled 25 carries combined. Not a ton.
However, it’s arguable that Pederson has never had a back like Sanders. His combination of speed and power — plus pass-catching ability out of the backfield — makes him a dangerous weapon. He’ll certainly see the field and gives the Eagles that home-run threat they have lacked since LeSean McCoy left town.
The Eagles would be foolish not to use him against the Redskins, a team that finished right in the middle of the pack in terms of rushing defense in 2018. Washington allowed the 16th-most yards to opposing running backs at 116.2 yards per game. They also surrendered 12 touchdowns on the ground.
The Evolution of the Eagles Backfield
How much will Miles Sanders play in Week 1? That is going to be decided on a week-to-week basis, according to offensive coordinator Mike Groh.
“We know that we want to get everybody involved. We got a lot of capable guys in the running back room,” Groh told reporters. “It will be a little bit of an evolution, but we want to try to get those guys involved in the game, just like we’ve done over the last several years.”
Sanders generally went in the fifth round of fantasy drafts and is projected to have around 800 all-purpose yards, plus six touchdowns. The expectation is that he steals the starting job from Jordan Howard before the end of the season.
Should You Start or Sit Miles Sanders in Week 1?
It really depends on the quality of your other running backs and the number of flex positions in your lineup. Miles Sanders is a risky play in Week 1, but one that brings unlimited upside. He has franchise back potential. I am starting him in two fantasy leagues in my flex spot with confidence. The Eagles should put a crooked number on the board against Washington, and they’ll likely be playing with a big lead all day. That could translate into a ton of touches for the rookie. Don’t be surprised if he breaks off a 30-yard run for a touchdown.