I love Eagles quarterback Carson
Wentz. He helped lead my hometown team to the No. 1 seed in
the NFC last season and set them up for a successful playoff run
which ended in their first-ever Super Bowl win.
Wentz ranked third among quarterbacks last season, averaging
25.1 FPts/G, and is the very definition of a franchise quarterback.
He plays at an elite level, he raises the level of those around
him … and he won’t be Philadelphia’s starting quarterback when
the Eagles open the 2018-19 NFL season on Thursday night September
“I'm very confident. My goal is to be ready Week 1,"
Wentz said back in May. "I like where we’re at right
now," Wentz said last Thursday. "We have a good plan."
As the Wizard of Oz more than once loudly proclaimed, “Pay
no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
Bowl MVP Nick
Foles will start the Eagles’ defense of their title.
Here’s what I “know” from watching and listening
Wentz is eight months removed from ACL and LCL surgery. Expected
recovery time is 9-12 months, says noted expert Dr. James Andrews
and Dr. James P. Bradley, who performed the surgery.
Wentz has played in 7-on-7 practices, and been very limited action
in 11-on-11 contact drills this preseason. He isn’t likely to
play in any live action in the near future since he still has
yet to be cleared for contact by the doctors. However, he was
healthy enough to dance at his wedding in mid-July. OK, not the
limbo, he and his new bride danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Wentz isn’t likely to play in any of the four exhibition
games. He obviously isn’t going to play Thursday (neither
is Foles due to muscle spasms in his neck) and without medical
clearance to practice as of August 8, it’s unlikely we will
see him in Week 2 or Week 3 of the preseason. The final week,
when all of the first team OL is watching from the sidelines would
certainly not be the time to test Wentz’s knee. So he will
miss the entire preseason.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he saw "a little hesitation"
in Wentz on Sunday. He’s still wearing a knee brace.
Of course playing a lot in the preseason isn’t a prerequisite
for starting in Week 1 of the regular season. As a rookie in 2016,
Wentz threw just 24 passes in one contest (cracked ribs kept him
out of the final three preseason games) before being named Week
1 starter. (Expected starter Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota
on September 3, 2016, just eight days before the start of the
So what does all this mean for fantasy owners getting ready to
draft their teams over the next few weeks?
Well, in my mind, you can’t expect Wentz to play more than
13 games. If Foles plays in Week 1 as I expect, he’s also
likely to play in Week 2 as the Eagles should certainly be able
to beat a Tampa Bay team without starting QB Jameis Winston (suspended).
In Week 3 they play the Colts and unless Marlon Mack has become
Eric Dickerson over the summer, the Eagles should be able to stop
Andrew Luck and win that one too, while continuing to sit their
I expect Wentz to start against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville
on September 30. That will be 291 days or nine months and 17 days
or about 25,142,400 seconds since his surgery.
What can you expect from Wentz over those 13 remaining games?
Can he play at last season’s MVP-worthy level (265-of-440
for 3,296 yards, 33 TDs, 7 INTs)? Well, he’s likely to be
rusty at the start. He’s likely to avoid contact a little
earlier than usual. He might throw a few more balls away than
last season, instead of running around like Russell Wilson waiting
for a receiver to break open. He might take the shorter passing
option to a back or tight end Zach Ertz.
So let’s put his production at 255-of-450 for 3,150 yards,
27 TDs, 10 INTs. About 22.3 FPts/G. That would have ranked him
eighth last season. Not bad, but you will still need a quarterback
to play in Weeks 1-3 and Week 9 when the Eagles are one of six
teams on bye.
Here are the options to handcuff with Wentz, assuming that each
owner in your 12-team league has already chosen their starting
QB before you look for a backup:
If you still believe in Tannehill (I don’t), his schedule
is the easiest. However, based on his past performance, injury
history and the loss of Jarvis Landry, I can’t go there.
No, I didn’t include Roethlisberger as an option as three
of the four games are on the road and we know how he struggles
without “home cookin’. Last season he averaged 316.6
passing ypg at home and 254.4 on the road. Sixteen touchdown passes
at home, a dozen on the road.
Smith (23.2 FPts/G last season in KC) has an easy schedule, facing
Arizona (24th in QB FPts/G allowed last season), Indianapolis
(22nd), Green Bay (29th) and Atlanta (18th). Three of the games
are at home and Washington’s receiving corps should be better
than it was last season.
Because I think the Seattle pass defense will be a shell of last
season when they ranked sixth-best (no Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor,
Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas), Prescott’s schedule becomes
viable. Carolina was ranked 13th, the Giants 32nd, Seattle and
then Tennessee (21st) in Week 9. Prescott averaged 20.4 FPts/G
last season despite the drop in wins.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.