Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders is coming off an incredibly disappointing 2021 season. Sanders was efficient when he touched the ball, but it didn’t translate into fantasy football production. What can fantasy managers expect from Sanders in the 2022 season, and should they draft him at his ADP in fantasy football drafts?
Miles Sanders’ fantasy outlook for 2022
Last year, Sanders was one of the easiest fades, given his role and cost. This year, it’s much tougher to evaluate Sanders because the fantasy community’s love affair with him appears to have dissipated.
After averaging 13.5 PPR fantasy points per game as a rookie and 14.2 ppg as a sophomore, Sanders completely flopped in his third season, averaging just 9.8 ppg. While I’ve long been a critic of Sanders’ play, the funny part is he actually played better than he ever had in 2021.
Sanders’ 5.5 yards per carry was a career-high, and he once again proved capable of explosive runs. 11 of Sanders’ 137 rush attempts went for 15+ yards. So, what happened to his fantasy production?
Two things contributed to Sanders finishing as a mid RB3. First, he didn’t score touchdowns — at all. He had zero on the season. While this may seem flukey, the data suggest it was anything but flukey. The Eagles ran the ball 52.7% of the time — more than any other team in the NFL. Sanders’ problem was that they just didn’t run with him when they got near the end zone.
Boston Scott had 10 goal-line carries. Sanders had just three — one more than each of Jordan Howard and Kenneth Gainwell. It happened far too often to call it bad luck. The Eagles deliberately removed Sanders from the game near the goal line. But at least the guy who averaged 3.9 targets per game as a rookie was catching passes, right? Nope.
Sanders’ 9.5% target share was a career-low. Gainwell’s 11.3% target share far exceeded that of Sanders. And we can’t blame Jalen Hurts for taking off. The Eagles actually targeted the running back position on 22.8% of throws, the eighth-highest rate in the league. Sanders turned into the worst description of a running back you can give for fantasy purposes: a two-down back that doesn’t catch passes and doesn’t get goal-line carries.
How the Eagles’ depth chart impacts Miles Sanders’ fantasy projection for the season
The Eagles made no changes at running back this offseason. They have the same main three guys in Sanders, Scott, and Gainwell. Howard is a free agent, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the team bring him back at some point this year. The question for those looking to draft Sanders is whether he can command a higher target share or goal-line work? My best answer is: I wouldn’t bank on it.
The Eagles will remain a run-first offense, which is typically good for running backs. However, the Eagles have a quarterback who averaged 9.3 carries per game last season, the second-highest rate in the league.
This team’s biggest offseason move was to trade for A.J. Brown. They added Brown and didn’t give up any players to acquire him. He’s one more player that needs the ball, and he’s instantly the best playmaker the Eagles have. Between Gainwell operating as the receiving back and Brown commanding targets, there’s no viable path for Sanders to increase his passing-game work.
Sanders has been efficient, but it hasn’t earned him the trust of the coaching staff
Can Sanders do something more on the ground? He already was as efficient as possible last season. He could potentially see an increase on his 11.4 carries per game, but I don’t view that as likely. Sanders would need to score touchdowns, and that’s not something I’m banking on.
Sanders is also entering the final year of his rookie deal. It sure doesn’t sound like the Eagles intend to extend him. That’s a double-edged sword for 2022 fantasy football. On the one hand, the Eagles could run Sanders into the ground with no repercussions. On the other hand, they could easily move away from him because he’s not part of their long-term plans.
Sanders’ ADP for 2022
Sanders’ ADP is around RB27. He’s being drafted about 73rd overall. It’s a fair price for a player that’s the clear RB1 on his team but not used in the goal line or the passing game. And we agree as he’s our consensus RB27.
I’ve long been a Sanders detractor. His supporters point to his efficiency and say he deserves more work. But it begs the question, why hasn’t he gotten it? I surmise it’s his tendency to chase the big play and bounce runs outside rather than take what’s blocked. That results in long runs but also in plays that go for fewer yards than they should.
Sanders’ ADP is right in that sweet spot for wide receivers. I just can’t ever see myself pushing the button on Sanders over the pass catchers in that area. Additionally, the running backs around him in ADP are also players I have ranked higher as well.