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LeGarrette Blount Fantasy Football Stock Profile: Eagles light one up and represent the ideal landing spot for the powerful Blount

LeGarrette Blount

Position: Running Back

Former Team: New England Patriots

New Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Movement Summary

Former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles and will now be joining the City of Brotherly Love. After New England had signed Mike Gillisslee from Buffalo, it was very clear that the Patriots were moving on from their power back. The Patriots were already flush with running backs, so Blount’s time in New England was likely coming to an end. Now he’s a member of the Eagles, who don’t really have a power back getting in the way. Let’s evaluate Blount’s move and how this affects where he’ll be ranked among other RBs.

Talent: 6.5/10

When it comes to Blount, there’s one thing he does really well and probably better than anyone else in the NFL: that would be short yardage and goal line situations. Last year Blount rushed for a league-leading 18 touchdowns, which also happened to be a Patriots single-season franchise record. The majority of those touchdowns were from five-yards or less, but nonetheless he’s a great short yardage guy. Aside from that, Blount is lacking in other areas. He’s no threat to be catching passes out of the backfield. This especially holds true with the Eagles who have Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood on the roster.

Blount also isn’t the most skilled runner when it comes to bouncing outside and making defenders miss. His true skill is north-south running while hitting the holes and punishing smaller secondary opponents — though he often dances too much given his massive frame. His biggest games in New England would come against the smaller Colts’ defense, or against teams who were looking forward to getting on the bus in the second half. Sure he’s had his moments, but Bill Belichick often went to James WhiteDion Lewis or Shane Vereen versus the NFL’s tougher defenses. Still, For a big guy, Blount does have some nimble feet and can rip off some long gainers due to strong open-field vision: he had seven rushes of 20-plus yards last season, tied for sixth most in the league.

Opportunity + Usage: 7/10

This is a tough area for Blount as he’s likely to start the season splitting carries with lead back Ryan Mathews.  Mathews is likely to be the RB1 on the team heading into the start of the season and should get majority of the early down carries. Blount of course can be mixed in there as he’s likely to split the backfield with Mathews. As mentioned above, he wont have a role in the passing game but will make up for that with a likely exclusive role at the goal line. This is why Blount can still be very serviceable. One he crosses that pylon, it’s an automatic six points minimum you are getting from Blount with more likely to come. Without his short yardage expertise, Blount would be rendered practically useless for many teams but that ability allows him to carve out a niche roll in the NFL.

Update: Since signing Blount, it looks like the Eagles are looking to part ways with Mathews. As such, Blount will be their lone early-down and short yardage back, which will do wonders from a fantasy perspective, and send this score into the 8 range, making Blount a far more viable starter.

Update x 2:  Even with Mathews’ seemingly impending departure, Blount might not be in line for a truly significant amount of work. Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski sets the over-under for LeGarrette Blount’s rushing attempts at 170 this season, citing last season’s committee approach as evidence:

Player Rushing attempts
 Ryan Mathews 155
 Darren Sproles 94
 Wendell Smallwood 77
 Kenjon Barner 27
 Byron Marshall 19
 Terrell Watson 9
 TOTAL 381

After racking up nearly 300 carries in New England, this workload reduction could render Blount a major weekly risk when he doesn’t find paydirt.

Coaching Scheme: 7/10

There’s a noticeable bump for Blount here thanks to the man in charge Doug Pederson. Pederson is a big proponent of using his RBs often, and with QB Carson Wentz going into his second year, the offense has great potential.  Despite being big spenders this off-season to bring in more talent for Wentz and the offense, such as Alshon Jeffery,  the Eagles don’t seem likely to just air the ball out under their “ground-and-pound” coach.  As seen from his time so far in Philadelphia and back as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, Pederson likes to control the clock and tempo of the game. We know Pederson is going to feed his backs and he’s going to run the ball in multiple tight end sets. It’s a nice offense for Blount to land in, as the team seemingly had no “big back.” Who better to fill that role than last year’s NFL rushing touchdown leader?

UPDATE To further emphasize Blount’s potential importance, Eagles GM Howie Roseman explained the signing as follows:

“We’re always looking for complementary players when we go over our roster and positions…Obviously, LeGarrette had a tremendous amount of success with New England last year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns and winning a Super Bowl. He sets the tempo for your team as a running back.

“He can run between the tackles and he can drag tacklers down the field. He can do everything you look for in the running game. He had runs of plus-20 yards and he’s won two Super Bowls in the last four years. For us, people are going to see that his size is what jumps out at you, but he’s also got quick feet for a big man. He has a complementary skill set that works well in our backfield.

Clearly, the team is envisioning a sturdy role for their newly signed acquisition. Still, as mentioned in the Opportunity / Usage, a committee approach is expected, and Pederson’s recent comments all but confirm this:

“Every run game plan every week changes,” he said. “Sometimes you’re going to be more inside the tackles, and then the next week you might be outside the tackles, so you have to have the versatility to do that.”

Head. Ache.

Surrounding Talent: 8/10

Philadelphia has made a conscious effort to bring in more weapons for Wentz and the Eagles offense. The biggest addition was Jeffery at receiver, while also bringing in Torrey Smith from the 49ers. Those guys will be nice additions to the core of Jordan Matthews and Dorial Green-Beckham. Hopefully the new receivers can hang onto the ball more, as the Eagles’ receivers were towards the top in drops last season, and, on paper, this is a skill set that should have the offense in the red zone quite often — ideal for Blount’s short yardage prowess.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, this line is among the best in the league — they finished #8 in PFF Rankings last season despite missing  Lane Johnson, arguably the game’s best right tackle, for 10 games. Blount should easily find space behind these maulers.

In the backfield, it’s nice to see that there is no stud back directly standing in Blount’s way. Mathews isn’t a lock to make the Eagles’ roster, while Sproles is not somebody you can give 15-20 carries to a game. Now second year back Wendell Smallwood didn’t showcase much in his rookie season, so if the cards come out right, then Blount could be looking at some serious usage and playing time in the near future.

Risk: 5/10

Of course when it comes to LeGarrette Blount, there’s going to be risked involved. Before he steps onto the field he’s a risk based on his past “attitude adjustments” with former teammate Le’Veon Bell. There are always drug suspensions that come up in the offseason, and the most likely offenders are the repeat ones, so Blount carries that risk with him.

He’s also rather unproven outside of New England, as he failed to do much in his other years. His rookie season consisted of 1,000 yards and 6 scores, but he was the clear feature back there. His brief stint in Pittsburgh was very subpar, before returning to New England and excelling as the big back down on the goal line. There’s the risk that in Philadelphia, Blount could be relegated to just goal line work into a Mike Tolbert-esque kind of running back which would diminish any fantasy value he had left.

Overall Stock Score: 33.5/50 = 67, D+

Ceiling Projection / Scenario: As a ceiling, Blount finds himself in Philadelphia’s lead back role after Mathews was cut from the roster. He works the early downs and goal line touches behind one of the NFL’s better offensive lines and is a solid RB2 all season long.

270 carries, 1,050 yards, 12 TDs

Floor Projection/Scenario (excluding injury):  The now 30 year old Blount gets stuck behind Mathews who somehow manages to make then roster and stay healthy for a whole season. Blount works in some carries now and then to spell Mathews, and is basically relegated to goal line work. He still puts up a healthy touchdown number, but he’s become too dependent on scoring six and isn’t trustworthy on a weekly basis. He becomes a bench stash or just sits on the waiver wire all season.

130 carries, 520 yards, 6 TDs

Bottom Line: Blount has the opportunity to carve out a nice role for himself as a big/lead back that should dominate goal line work. Once Mathews is let go (hopefully),it would just open the door for Blount to rise up higher. He’s got a pretty good ceiling if everything turns out the way he wants it to, but he could very well plummet to the floor of strict goal line work.

2017 Predicted Stat Line: 200 carries, 850 yards, 8 TDs

We used this formula to nail David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016. Check back for more Fantasy Stock Profiles throughout the off-season to stay ahead of your fantasy football league.

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