The Philadelphia Eagles will be looking to secure a playoff spot when they face the divisional rival Dallas Cowboys on Saturday. Starting running back Miles Sanders has a broken hand and is set to miss the game, but should you start Jordan Howard, Kenneth Gainwell, or Boston Scott in fantasy football?
Miles Sanders’ absence opens opportunities
This season, Sanders has been the lead back for the Eagles. That doesn’t mean that fantasy managers have had a smooth ride, though. He’s touched the ball 163 times and racked up 912 yards from scrimmage without scoring a touchdown. Much of that has been due to quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Philly’s signal-caller has rushed for 10 touchdowns and frequently carries the ball near the goal line. A mobile QB can open up the run game by giving defenses something else to think about, but RBs often suffer in the red zone, as we’ve seen in past years with Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Cam Newton.
Will Boston Scott or Jordan Howard start for the Eagles at RB?
One player who hasn’t suffered in fantasy has been Scott. He has rushed 87 times for 373 yards this season but has 7 TDs. He has also caught 13 of 16 targets for 83 receiving yards. Scott isn’t the most efficient running back, but he’s become a consistent part of the Eagles’ game plan. He received his first carry against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 7. Since that point, he has touched the ball 92 times in 10 games.
Scott was active in Week 13 and Week 15 but didn’t touch the field on offense. That possibility might scare fantasy managers, but Sanders was healthy and carried the load in those weeks, while Howard also saw some opportunities. Howard spent the first half of the season on the Eagles’ practice squad and didn’t look like he was part of the team’s plans. Yet, he has enjoyed a significant role since being elevated to the active roster in October.
Howard has played seven games for the Eagles this season, rushing 86 times for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has had at least 10 touches in every contest he’s been active in and has established himself as a key part of the team’s run-heavy offense.
Scott and Howard are dealing with availability concerns of their own, though. Both RBs are currently on the COVID-19 list and could miss Week 18. Nevertheless, there is still time for one or both of them to clear protocols. Make sure that you check for updates leading up to the game.
Kenneth Gainwell could be the only fantasy-relevant RB
Any unavailability or limitations could lead to heavy involvement for rookie RB Gainwell. He has been a victim of the numbers game in Philadelphia, rushing only 56 times for 213 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s looked comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield, with 29 receptions for 244 yards and a score.
No team rushes the ball on a higher percentage of offensive plays than the Eagles. While Hurts is responsible for a lot of those attempts, head coach Nick Sirianni is unlikely to change his approach completely. Gainwell is a talented player, and he’s on the waiver wire in many leagues. He could become the workhorse running back by default.
The Eagles face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 18. The Cowboys have performed well against running backs in fantasy football so far this season. Dallas’ defense allows the fourth-fewest fantasy points in standard scoring and third-fewest in points per reception (PPR) scoring.
Volume could be the most critical factor in what is likely to be a tough matchup. It would be difficult to strongly recommend anybody in a three-person committee with a mobile QB. If Howard and Scott miss the game, Gainwell becomes a more appealing fantasy option.
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