• Sam Erman

Do Not Fade Miles Sanders: FFBallAllDay’s 2021 “My Guy”

Twitter: @FFBallAllDay


With the 53rd overall pick in 2019, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Miles Sanders. Sanders primarily served as the backup to a guy you may have heard of named Saquon Barkley while at Penn State.

Anytime Sanders got his chance he showed a ton of flash. He averaged 7 yards a rip while as the backup, granted it was only 56 carries. Year 3, when he became the guy, he lit up the BIG 10. He posted over 1400 scrimmage yards and 9 TDs. He caught 24 balls as well showing he had the ability to be a workhorse back.

Sanders put his name into the NFL draft. He went to the combine where he put on a show and the NFL saw his raw athleticism. Sanders posted a 75th percentile SPARQ with a score of 120.3. Sanders is a great athlete who is built like the prototypical workhorse in today’s NFL. Coming in at 5’11” and 211 lbs.


Rookie Season

Sanders's rookie season started off slow, predictably, as he was buried behind veteran Jordan Howard. That quickly changed as Sanders became the guy and then lit up the fantasy community with excitement once we saw what he could do. He posted 818 rushing yards on 179 attempts. 50 receptions for 509 yards and had 6 scrimmage touchdowns. Sanders posted 1327 yards, 50 catches, and 6 TDs on only 53.7% of snaps. There was a great reason to have been so excited heading into 2020.


Sophomore Slump?

Expectations for Sanders were stupid high in 2020. I was out at him for his cost. He was a late 1st/early 2nd round draft pick. Where you had to draft him he HAD to be an RB1 or you lost value. There’s another RB with the same issue this year *cough* Cam Akers *cough*.

In 2020 Sanders dealt with some injuries which limited him to only playing 11.5 games. He still put up 867 rushing yards and 197 rushing yards while drastically improving his efficiency. He averaged over 5 yards a tote every time he carried the ball. Somewhere Mike Liu is rolling his eyes at YPC stat, but 5ypc means something. It means you’re not losing yards and busting the big one here and there. Back to back 1000+ scrimmage yards to start your career isn’t too bad.

The Eagles were a dumpster fire in 2020. Wentz lost his ability to play, Pederson got fired, they threw rookie QB Jalen Hurts into the fire, and they were always playing from behind. They had no WR’s who could play. It was so bad it was impressive. The Eagles cleaned house and are starting fresh with Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts.


The Overcorrection

The NFL added an extra game. All across the league teams have been adding RBs to help take the load off the starter to keep him fresher and healthier. All of the stars have really good backups. CMC/Hubbard, Edmonds/Conner, Cook/Mattison, Kamara/Murray, Jacobs/Drake, Chubb/Hunt, Swift/Williams, and Akers/Henderson. Are we seeing a theme here? Your most valuable fantasy asset is usually backed up by someone good. Here’s some truth syrup. Henderson is just as much if not a bigger threat to Akers than Gainwell is to Sanders.

Look, the Eagles added bust Kerry-YAWN Johnson, Journeyman Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, Gainwell, and I’m supposed to abandon ship? “Yeah man, that CLEARLY means it’s going to be a committee and they are all going to play a lot.” That’s not how you build teams. You don’t bring in all these backs and put them on your 53. Two or three of these guys will get cut. In order to be safe, you need either to have been just drafted AND/OR play special teams. Neither Howard nor Johnson plays special teams. Scott and Gainwell have very similar skill set it just so happens that Gainwell is much better.

I’d be willing to bet the season starts off like 1. Sanders, 2. Gainwell, 3. The winner of Johnson/Howard/Scott as the 3rd man on the 53. They’ll get some snaps here and there but Sanders will be the guy and Gainwell will get some 3rd down work. Nick Sirianni isn’t stupid. He’s not just going to pull off his best players.


The 2021 Season

The “workhorse” has been a dying breed for years now. If an RB is getting 60-65% of the work you lock that in and chase the talent. That is exactly where Sanders will be. In Indianapolis Sirianni ran Reich’s offense how he wanted. When you become an HC you tweak the offense to your liking and run it how you want. Sirianni’s offense will be similar, and different, to what they run in Indianapolis. They haven’t played a down yet so nobody outside of the building knows exactly what that offense will look like.

People can guess by looking backward when he was an OC but they’re doing just that. Guessing. Sure, it’s educated guessing but it’s still guessing. This is one of those situations where you have to sift through the mud and the junk to see that some of those RB’s are getting cut, teams all across the league are preparing for longer seasons, and take advantage of the Twitter overreactions. There’s a lot of bad advice out and understanding the game and breaking it down to roster construction alone can save you a lot of headaches.

Bet on the talent here. You’re betting on Miles Sanders to continue doing what he’s always done when he is on the field which is produce at a very high level. Ignore the noise and pay attention to details. So, what do I expect out of Miles Sanders in 2021?

Here are my projections!

  • 60-65% snap share

  • 245 carries

  • 1,170 rushing yards

  • 35 receptions

  • 262 receiving yards

  • 9 Total TDs

With 17 games this is 14 carries a game and 2 receptions a game. 16 total touches are more than a fair share estimation. It’s also probably a little on the lower side but we are looking at a floor projection.

These numbers would equate to 218.54 Full PPR Points (excluding week 18). This would have made him the RB11 on the season last year. What does this mean? Despite all of this drama with his name Sanders is still easily an RB1 candidate for 2021. The best part? People overreacting and dancing on his grave has dropped his ADP to a laughably low 4th-5th round ADP. Last year, people were too high on him. This year the market is overcorrected and too low on him. Draft him and enjoy the free money.