The Philadelphia Eagles revamped their offense this offseason around their young quarterback Jalen Hurts. While their passing game figures to improve, it could also do wonders for fourth-year running back Miles Sanders, who will be looking to put together a complete campaign after struggling in 2021.
It wasn’t necessarily that Sanders struggled to get yards last season; he averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season, so when he had the ball, he had ample room to run. But pretty much everything else went wrong for Sanders. He split carries with Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, and Hurts under center, failed to score a single touchdown, and missed five games with injuries,
From a fantasy perspective, Sanders is looking to put together a bounce back season. He has struggled succeed in an offense where Hurts is in charge, but now that Hurts will have more targets to throw to in the passing game, it could lead to more touches for Sanders. Let’s take a closer look at Sanders’ fantasy outlook for the 2022 season and see whether or not a bounce back campaign could be in the cards for him.
Miles Sanders 2022 fantasy football outlook
From a fantasy perspective, Sanders was very nearly unplayable last season. He finished as the 43rd best running back in terms of scoring, which was pretty poor. Now, it’s worth noting that Sanders did miss five games, but even when he was on the field, he was inconsistent. Of Sanders’ 12 games, he only scored double-digit points three times. For a guy who was expected to be a solid RB2/FLEX option heading into the season, Sanders let a lot of fantasy owners down last season.
Despite that, there are a lot of reasons to expect a bounce back campaign from Sanders this upcoming season. For starters, assuming he plays all 17 games this upcoming season, he’s going to be more productive than guys like Latavius Murray and Mike Davis. When Sanders is healthy, he’s a top 25 running back in the league.
Sanders also had arguably the worst luck in the league when it came to touchdowns last season. He had 171 touches last season, but failed to take one of them to the house. For what it’s worth, Gainwell had six touchdowns last season, Scott had seven, and Hurts scored 10 on the ground himself. There are touchdowns to be had on the ground in the Eagles offense, and Sanders will surely find his way into the end zone in 2022.
Sanders’ competing for touches with all three of those guys, though, decreases his value immediately. Sanders showed potential as a pass-catching back during his rookie season, but he often got looked over in favor of Gainwell in obvious passing situations last season. Philly’s insistence on rotating their backs makes sense in the NFL, but for fantasy purposes, it hurts Sanders’ value.
Even though Sanders will be competing for touches, he will be leading the way for the Eagles when he’s healthy. It’s telling that his two best games in terms of yardage last season came during the two games where he got the most carries. Sanders has the ability to rip off big plays out of the backfield, and that instantly makes him a fantasy threat, even with all the question marks he faces heading into the season.
What also works in Sanders’ favor is that opposing defenses have to account for Hurts’ threat out of the backfield as well. Typically, Sanders will be the benefit of RPO style handoffs, which helps soften the defensive line and allow Sanders a nice two or three yard cushion on most carries. Hurts also has top-tier targets in the passing game in AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert, which should open up the Eagles offense even more.
Sanders is still a very risky pick, but his ceiling is higher than most running backs who will be getting picked around the same time he does. If he can dominate the carries out of Philly’s backfield, there’s no doubt he will be productive. But it remains to be seen how the Eagles will split up their running backs’ playing time in 2022.
Sanders will probably get drafted somewhere between rounds six and eight. Philadelphia’s offense has a lot of upside and could be poised to take a step forward in 2022. If you like Sanders’ upside given the probability he will bounce back this season, and the fact that Philly’s offense figures to be much improved this season, he makes sense as a FLEX option, with the possibility to become a solid RB2 if everything goes his way.
But the last season showed that things aren’t always going to go Sanders’ way. If he’s around late in the seventh round or early in the eighth, he could be a sneaky option at FLEX, or even off the bench, who ends up forcing his way into your starting lineup. Counting on Sanders may be a bit risky, but the payoff could be quite nice if you pick him at the right time.