The reigning NFC champion Eagles signed talented but oft-injured running back Rashaad Penny on Tuesday. Miles Sanders is a free agent and tweeted his gratitude toward the city of Philadelphia, likely indicating his time as an Eagle is over.
To the city of Philadelphia Thank You from the bottom of my heart. 🏾
— Miles Sanders (@BoobieMilesXXIV) March 14, 2023
The Eagles also re-signed Boston Scott and still have playoff hero Kenneth Gainwell on the roster. Let’s dig into Penny’s outlook with his new team and speculate on Sanders.
Old projection: 69.6 carries for 359.1 yards and 2.2 TDs, 10.2 catches on 13.4 targets for 78.1 yards and 0.3 TDs
New projection: 134.1 carries for 699.4 yards and 4.6 TDs, 13.2 catches on 17.7 targets for 102.5 yards and 0.5 TDs
- Penny is a case where his base case may appear low projection-wise, but he’ll be higher in our rankings (assuming they don’t add anyone else) because he has a wide range of outcomes. We are also still baking in the possibility they add another back.
- It’s a significant upgrade for Penny, who would have been stuck behind ascending star Kenneth Walker if he’d returned to Seattle. With the Eagles, Penny will have a chance to earn a significant role, particularly near the goal line. Sanders had 26 carries inside the 10-yard line in 2022 (third most in the NFL). Philly uses all four ball carriers in close, but Penny is a big back with multi-TD spike-week potential in best ball. Penny also averaged 5.7 yards per carry behind an alright offensive line in Seattle; now, he gets to run behind arguably the league’s best trench group. It’s easy to imagine a sky-high efficiency ceiling for the former first-round pick.
- With that being said, there’s a long way to go in the offseason and Penny’s injury history isn’t exactly a secret. He’s never had more than 119 carries or 12 targets in a single NFL season. Gainwell should handle clear passing situations on a team that already threw just 12.1% of attempts to the RB position (worst in the NFL). Penny is likely a near-zero in the passing game, meaning he’ll need to rely on rushing efficiency to return value at ADP.
- The Eagles’ analytics-oriented front office seems unlikely to spend an early draft pick on an RB — especially after signing Penny — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done adding backfield contributors (Penny’s contract could be telling in terms of how they view his 2023 role). Gainwell also earned a larger role during the playoffs, which could carry over into the 2023 season. There are paths to Penny finishing as a fantasy RB2 (or better, if everything breaks right), but his role is likely fragile and his injury history can’t be ignored.
- Sanders is likely to land as a committee back somewhere and contribute immediately. Wherever he goes will almost certainly be a downgrade from the Eagles — where he was running behind an elite offensive line on one of the most potent and run-heavy offenses in the league — but he can still be useful getting low double-digit carries and ~2 targets per game elsewhere. We’ll see where he lands, when he signs, and how much he gets paid.