Like a prophecy coming true, Carson Wentz was shipped out of Philadelphia on February 18, 2021, going to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2021 third round pick and a conditional 2022 pick. With January bringing football fans a trade of Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff, the Wentz trade marks the third major movement of a quarterback in 2021. Let’s take a look at both the real-life and fantasy implications of the Carson Wentz trade.
Carson Wentz played himself out of a job in Philadelphia in 2020. After being selected second overall in the 2016 NFL draft, Wentz stepped immediately into the starting role for the Philadelphia Eagles and thrived under head coach Doug Pederson. In 2017, Wentz led the Eagles to the playoffs behind an 11-2 record and 33 touchdowns. The Eagles went to the Super Bowl that year, famously behind backup quarterback Nick Foles, who subbed for Wentz after a season-ending ACL injury. The Eagles returned to the playoffs the next year, again captained by Nick Foles. Because the Eagles spent a significant amount of draft capital to acquire Wentz in the 2016 draft, he remained the incumbent starting quarterback through 2020. The Eagles struggled to surround him with healthy wide receivers, with the unusual tandem of tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert being the most reliable receivers on the team from 2018-2020. In 2019, the Eagles signed Wentz to a 4-year, $128 million extension. However, reports in 2020 sounded like Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Wentz were in complete disagreement on the function of the offense. Additionally, the Eagles front office drafted quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, thinking he represented a good value for a team that had needed a solid backup in light of Wentz’ injuries. By the end of 2020, Hurts replaced Wentz as the starting quarterback for the Eagles, and adding insult to injury, in week 17, coach Doug Pederson finished the season with third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld taking snaps ahead of Wentz. Everybody could see it: Wentz wasn’t welcome in Philadelphia anymore.
- Carson Wentz: The public’s perception of Carson Wentz is as low as it can get right now. However, it’s important to remember that from a fantasy perspective, Wentz was still producing on fantasy teams right up until he was benched. In his last seven games in 2020, Wentz was in the top 10 QBs three times. Wentz was better in the 50-75% mark of the fantasy season — those games that get you into the fantasy playoffs — than Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr, who were some of the “go-to” streamer QBs. Wentz even finished 2019 as QB10 on the year. So, we’re talking about a QB with the potential to be on fantasy rosters after a tough 2020. His move to the Colts reunites him with Frank Reich, who was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017 when Wentz entered the league. The Colts recently had their QB, Philip Rivers, depart due to retirement. So, Wentz takes over an offense that he’s familiar with, complete with Jonathan Taylor at running back and a cadre of upside wide receivers like Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell, and Jack Doyle. Wentz will likely begin 2021 outside of the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks and will be a waiver wire add or a nice superflex add. However, he’s got the potential to be similar to Matt Ryan in fantasy: a high-volume, quiet producer that sits in the top 10-15 QB range, useful for teams doing the “quarterback free fall” or finding themselves with an injured QB1. For right now though, Wentz should be rostered only in deeper leagues, and dynasty managers should look to unload him before the start of the season.
- Jalen Hurts: Hurts gains control of the Eagles offense, which was riddled with injuries in 2020. Hurts is the only QB on the Eagles roster under contract right now, so it wouldn’t be surprising for the Eagles to bring in a veteran to “push” Hurts in training camp. That said, it’s reasonable to expect that Hurts takes all the snaps in 2021. With Miles Sanders,
DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffrey, and Jalen Reagor all returning next year, Hurts will have plenty of players who know the system. (edit: The Eagles cut DeSean Jackson the afternoon this article was published) Hopefully a better offensive line and some luck in the health department will allow the Eagles to be better prepared for 2021. Hurts has upside with his legs — putting up 354 yards rushing in 4 games started — although his arm displayed poor accuracy in 2020, with a 52% completion rate. That said, he was a rookie in a tough situation — no pre-season, troubled situation with Wentz, injuries all over the roster — and we shouldn’t read too much into that. His college numbers showed great accuracy, and the air yards transferred into the NFL as well. Although Hurts had a small sample size, his 7.7 air yards per completion would have ranked him first in the league in 2020. In short, Hurts replaced Wentz and was throwing the ball — not just to his tight ends but like, beyond the sticks — and he was making more difficult passes than Wentz tried. This gives Hurts a huge upside for 2021, and puts him in the territory of QB10 or above. He comes with risk of course, but if you’re in a dynasty league, Hurts is the QB you want to chase for 2021 and beyond.
What’s your take? Drop your reactions to the Carson Wentz trade down in the comments, and have an awesome week!