Fantasy Impact: Eagles Fire Chip Kelly
In 2013, Chip Kelly joined the Philadelphia Eagles as their head coach. Kelly was a decorated, championship-winning collegiate coach of the Oregon Ducks, who left to try his fortune at the professional level. Kelly joined an Eagles’ team coming off a 4-12 season and who recently parted ways with long-tenured head coach Andy Reid. In his first season with the Eagles, Kelly had the fourth-ranked offense and led the team to the playoffs. Although losing in the first round to the New Orleans Saints, there were high aspirations heading into the future.
The next season would be the beginning of a downward spiral for Kelly and the Eagles. Philadelphia finished with the third-ranked offense and a 10-6 record but sputtered down the stretch to miss the playoffs in 2014, which lead to a power struggle in the front office. Last offseason, Kelly gained control of player personnel over Howie Roseman, who was Philadelphia’s general manager for five years up until that point.
Since 2014, Kelly would dismantle Philadelphia’s roster by making a plethora of personnel changes. He parted ways with players like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin while trading away Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford among others. Perhaps the biggest shock of them all was when Kelly traded Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, who played under Kelly in Oregon. Kelly would replace McCoy with 2014’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray and the injury-prone Ryan Matthews.
The 2015 season would be the beginning of the end for Kelly’s tenure in Philadelphia. He led the Eagles to a 6-9 record causing them to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year. His offense is ranked 17th through 15 games, dropping 14 spots from a year ago. On the following Tuesday after Week 16’s blowout loss to the Washington Redskins, Kelly was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles by team owner Jeffery Lurie in a move that sent shock waves around the NFL. Pat Shurmur will take over as interim head coach for the final game of the season.
Kelly shook up the organization with his bold roster moves, which would ultimately impact the fantasy football world. After two seasons being ranked in the top five in total offense, the Eagles fell from grace in 2015 to the middle of the pack. Let’s take a look at some of the players who were affected by Kelly’s decisions, which would lead to his demise.
At the quarterback position, Foles had two successful, but injury-plagued seasons under Kelly from 2013-2014. A once promising starter would fall into fantasy football irrelevance after his trade to the Rams for Bradford. For Bradford, Philadelphia was a fresh start for the former first-overall pick. His stock was at an all-time high in the fantasy world, surrounded by the most talent he’s seen in his disappointing career. Bradford was set to be a late-round pick with upside, but for those who selected him it was a long season of letdowns.
Perhaps the biggest move came at the running back position. By parting ways with McCoy, the Eagles needed to fill a huge void. In comes Murray and Matthews to join Darren Sproles in a crowded Philadelphia backfield. Murray was a top selection in fantasy drafts of all formats in 2015, only to be one of the biggest disappointments. Although leading the team in touches and yards, he would lose his starting job to Matthews and was hardly on the field for the past two weeks seeing his snap counts fall to eight and 15 respectively in those contests.Being drafted in later rounds and primarily as a handcuff to Murray, Matthews would have the greatest value of the three backs, he leads the team in rushing touchdowns heading into the final game of the season. Sproles played a similar pass catching, change of pace role as he did for most of his career and leads all Philadelphia backs in receiving, which comes to no surprise.
Being drafted in later rounds of fantasy drafts and primarily as a handcuff to Murray, Matthews would have the greatest value of the three backs. He leads the team in rushing touchdowns heading into the final game of the season. Sproles played a similar pass-catching, change-of-pace role as he did for most of his career and leads all Philadelphia backs in receiving, which comes as no surprise.
Coming into the 2015 season, the wide receiver position had the biggest question marks in Philadelphia. With Jackson moving on to Washington in the 2014 offseason, and Maclin joining the Chiefs this past year, Jordan Matthews became the new No. 1 receiver for the Eagles. Matthews was another Philadelphia player picked early in fantasy drafts. Ranked No. 31 overall, he was selected in the early rounds and was thought to be a star in the making in Kelly’s offense. Matthews never panned out for those who drafted him. While his statistics aren’t awful, for a player selected that early Matthews will be labeled a bust, with underwhelming numbers.
Heading into Week 17 and beyond, the Eagles have a lot of voids to fill, as well as questions to be answered. For fantasy owners, what’s next? Philadelphia wraps up 2015 against the New York Giants. For standard formats, the last week of the season has little relevance, but with the emergence of DFS leagues, we need to take a look at the impact of Kelly’s firing for Philadelphia’s upcoming contest against a very giving Giants’ defense.
The only player worth taking a look at in this one comes from the wide receiver position, Jordan Matthews. He is coming off back to back games with over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Outside of Matthews, shy away from any other Philadelphia Eagles player even in this favorable matchup. They are a broken and beaten team with nothing but pride to play for.