The Winners and Losers of the Carson Wentz Trade
By Charlie Friar and Ralph Martinez
It happened, it finally happened. Carson Wentz is out of Philly. No need to get into ‘who won/lost’ this trade when it comes to real-life because the reality is both teams did what needed to be done to better their respective organizations. It was well-known that Carson Wentz wanted out of Philly and Indy needed a QB with Phillip Rivers’s retirement. The bigger shock in all of this; is what the Eagles got in return (2021 3rd round pick & a 2022 2nd round conditional pick). It would’ve been nice for Philly to get another 2nd rounder or something of equal value for the former MVP runner-up.
If you’re a Colts fan, you have some high hopes in 2021. First you didn’t have to give up a 1st round pick or a 2nd round pick this year. Well done Chris Ballard. Secondly, Carson Wentz’s best season came under the guidance of Frank Reich (more on that below). Since Reich’s departure from Philly, Wentz hasn’t been able to recapture his ‘glory days’ of 2017 and ultimately hit rock-bottom in 2020. If Wentz can get back just half of his potential the Colts are and should be in the Super Bowl conversation.
This trade is historic too! With the deal the Eagles now take on the largest dead money cap hit in the history of the NFL at $33.8 million. So, congrats Eagles fans! History made in Philadelphia once again! #America
Let’s look at the ‘Post-Wentz Eagles’ and the ‘Wentz Era in Indy’ and see who the winners/losers are in this trade when it comes to the fantasy football world.
Of course Hurts is a winner in this one. He’s now QB1. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everything is good and well with his fantasy value... just yet. The Eagles offensive line was decimated by injuries in 2021. PFF reports that eleven different offensive linemen played at least 50 snaps for Philly in 2020, but they were still, somehow, able to be good enough to be ranked the 19th best offensive line at the end of the year.
So what does all that mean for Hurts in fantasy? It means he should have more time in the pocket and improve his 64.9% clean-pocket completion rate. The throwing concern for Hurts though comes from Hurts himself. In his 3 full games in 2020 he threw for 330+ yards twice. But he needed a lot of attempts to get there (44, 39), because his completion percentage was under 55% in both games. However, Hurts' running ability makes him a BUY in fantasy. In his 4 starts in 2020 he was able to finish the year 8th in carries and rush yards, and he scored 3 rushing touchdowns.
Be ready to draft Hurts, but have a backup plan.
Sanders is a winner for now because I’m just not ready to put him in the ‘loser’ category. So back off! Overall, Sanders had a disappointing fantasy season in 2020. There was hope he would be a PPR hero and he wasn’t. But don’t think Jalen ‘Hurts’ Sanders fantasy value (sorry, had to do it).
Let’s look at what Sanders was able to do while on the field with Hurts in Weeks 14-16.
Sanders scored 3 touchdowns in those 3 weeks, matching his total touchdowns in his previous 9 weeks. Also, Sanders recorded 4 receptions twice - a number he hadn’t hit since week 3.
His rushing attempts and targets weren’t too different from when Wentz was in the game. Both numbers aren’t anything to get excited about as a fantasy owner either. Sanders’ season-high in carries was 20 and that came in Week 2. His season high in targets was 8 and that came in Week 3.
Sanders’ yards per attempt were low in his final two games of the year after his outstanding performance in Week 14 against the Saints. He recorded his 4th and 5th worst Y/A in Weeks 15 and 16 which were against the Cardinals and Cowboys (3.76 & 3.80). Those two teams allowed, respectively, 4.6 and 5.0 Y/A.
Ultimately, we have no clue what Nick Sirianni will do with Sanders, but it can’t be worse than how Pederson handled the RB.
ALL EAGLES RECEIVERS
As previously mentioned, Hurts’ completion percentage is ugly. From every angle. His Red Zone Completion rate and Deep Ball Completion rate are both under 42% and his pressured completion rate was 29.6%. Another unfortunate aspect for his receivers is Hurts didn’t show any favorites through his three full games. Here’s a recap of the fantasy-relevant WR’s in Hurts’ games:
Jalen Reagor - 2/46, 5/49, 3/20
Greg Ward - 2/20, 4/15/2, 2/27
Travis Fulgham - 0/0, 2/30, 2/27
Dallas Goedert - 4/43, 4/39, 3/38
No part of me can sit here and tell you to even consider drafting an Eagles receiver. So proceed with A LOT of caution. Hurts has to improve his accuracy; he’s also a threat to run immediately. Both of those factors don’t bode well for fantasy managers when looking to draft a wide receiver. We can only hope one of these receivers will put up Hollywood Brown-type numbers.
There’s no denying the winning culture that Frank Reich has established in Indy since his arrival from Philly. In his first 3 seasons with the Colts, he’s had a 28-20 record, with 2 playoff appearances. Despite Luck’s unexpected retirement, he was forced to go with Jacoby Brissett in 2019, and a 38 year old Phillip Rivers in 2020. In 2021, Reich is now reunited with Wentz, whom he coached to his best statistical season in 2017. Wentz put up MVP-like numbers (3296 yds/33 TD/7 INTS) through 12 games before tearing his ACL. Reich has done a phenomenal job in building a top ranked defense in Indy, and will now attempt to build a top ranked offense. Acquiring Carson Wentz was part one. Can Reich bring him back to his MVP-like form in Indy? I believe so.
We mentioned Frank Reich as a winner from this trade, but can we take a step back and acknowledge that Wentz is now going to be behind one of the best offensive lines in the game? In 2020, Philip Rivers was sacked 19 times (tied for 28th fewest in the NFL) and hit 32 times (21st fewest) through the 16 regular season games. This offensive line is the anchor of that offense, and will give Wentz time to throw the ball. Not to mention, Wentz will have something he didn't have much of in Philly and that's a run game. Jonathan Taylor ended the year as a strong RB1 and showed defenses they have plenty to be afraid of. Nyhiem Hines is an electrifying change of pace back that can add a lot of complexity to that offense. Lastly, Wentz has been given an opportunity to work with a coach who he has worked with, and seen success. Something tells me Indy may be in for a nice 2021.
One of the first tweets out of Indy this morning was from Pittman where he stated “Congrats to my new teammate, @cj_wentz cant wait to get to work.'' This should excite all Colts fans. The 2020 2nd Round pick saw limited time on the field, but like other rookies saw his snap% increase as the season went on. Pittman ended his rookie campaign with a 40/503/1TD statline, but with a year under his belt and a new quarterback, I anticipate those numbers increase significantly. Additionally, with the potential departure of Ty Hilton, the WR1 position is up for the taking in Indy, and Pittman is the man to take it.
Jacob Eason drew some early attention in the 2020 draft, and was eventually taken in the 4th round by the Colts. Eason was with Georgia in his first two years of college and eventually transferred to Washington where he put up a respectable 3132 yds/23 TDs/ 8 INTs, before declaring for the draft. There was little preseason chatter around Eason after the draft, which unfortunately carried over to the regular season. Eason was not activated during the regular season, and sat as the Colts QB3 behind Brissett the entire year. There were rumors that he would take over once Rivers retired, however that seems to be a thing of the past. Eason will be at best, Wentz’s backup. If you have room for a stash in your dynasty roster, he may be worth rostering just in case Wentz gets hurt (or gets benched again) but other than that… Dont get your hopes up.
We all know Phillip Rivers loved his check downs and screens! From 2018 - 2020, Phillip Rivers completed 10.8% of checkdowns (2nd to Derek Carr at 11.1%) and Nyhiem Hines was able to benefit from that last year. Hines tied a career high in receptions (63) and had the most receiving TDs (4) in his career with Rivers under center. From 2018-2020, Wentz was on the different end of the spectrum, completing a stunted 4.2% of checkdowns. Throw in the 380 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns that Hines contributed to the Indy rushing attack, and he was able to finish his 2020 campaign as RB#15. With Taylor in complete control of that backfield, and Wentz under center, we may see Hines’s production diminish in 2021.
“Lobo” aka Ralph Martinez has over 15 years of Fantasy football experience and 28 years of humor. Whether you’re looking to win your fantasy league, have any questions on dynasty or redraft strategies, Lobo is here to help. He is extremely active on twitter, and always willing to just chat if necessary. He hosts over 5 charity leagues every year, in which he primarily focuses a lot on the Mental Health community. Unfortunately born into a Dallas Cowboys household, but you’d never guess it. Feel free to reach out to him if you ever need anything!