The Philadelphia Eagles largely abandoned the run as they tried to come from behind in Week 1's 26-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but that didn't stop all three of their running backs from producing in fantasy Monday.
DeMarco Murray's touches were limited, yet he found paydirt twice. Ryan Mathews got into the end zone on a one-yard touchdown plunge, while scatback Darren Sproles was effective as a pass-catcher and runner, leading the Eagles backfield in total yards.
Continue reading for fantasy advice on each Philadelphia ball-carrier, preceded by the Eagles trio's final numbers from Week 1:
It's a bit of a shock to the system to see the reigning NFL rushing champion receive only eight carries in his Eagles debut. Murray doesn't have the offensive line he enjoyed in Dallas, yet he found a way to make an impact despite not having a lot of running room.
ESPN Stats & Info showed how unusually slow Murray started:
The circumstances of the game forced the Eagles to pass often, and Murray's playing time diminished down the stretch. Since that won't happen every week, it's not worth hitting the panic button on Murray despite his timeshare situation.
Fantasy owners can confidently deploy Murray in the RB1 slot and expect results. The Eagles got off to a slow start in the opening half, but as quarterback Sam Bradford and Murray continue to get more comfortable, both should only improve.
Sproles is a nightmare in the open field. If he's matched up against a linebacker, the ball is going to him almost every time. His seven receptions Monday showed how lethal Sproles can be.
Sproles' diminutive frame also makes him difficult to track when he's carrying the rock and presses into the line of scrimmage. Still lightning-quick, Sproles is a legitimate flex option no matter the fantasy format.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly acquired Murray and Mathews this offseason to run downhill. That isn't Sproles' style by nature, so his upside is limited to RB2 status at the best, though he is an undeniably strong value play in weekly formats on DraftKings.
In a surprising development, Philadelphia kept Mathews in the game late, and he capitalized on a carry close to the goal line that Murray could have easily taken.
But fantasy owners can't count on Mathews as anything more than a shaky flex option. He isn't the runner Murray is, and he isn't the receiver Sproles is. The Eagles have Mathews as a luxury for depth purposes—someone who can spell the other backs to help keep everyone fresh.
Even with the high number of plays Philadelphia will run on offense thanks to its uptempo system, Mathews won't get enough totes to justify a spot in a fantasy owner's starting lineup on a regular basis.