The Philadelphia Eagles officially announced Friday quarterback Sam Bradford will miss the team's Week 11 clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he recovers from a shoulder injury and a concussion. His absence pushes Mark Sanchez into the starting lineup, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
Although the former New York Jets signal-caller enjoyed moderate success in nine games with the Eagles last season, it's hard to trust the team's passing attack this week. In particular, it leaves fantasy owners who regularly start wide receiver Jordan Matthews in a tough spot.
So let's take a deeper dive into the fantasy prospects of Sanchez and Matthews for Week 11.
As mentioned, Sanchez actually played reasonably well for Philadelphia last season. He posted a 88.4 passer rating with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 64 percent of his throws. Obviously, it wasn't enough for him to carry the starting job into 2015, but it wasn't a terrible showing.
He didn't do much in relief of Bradford last week, throwing a pick and no touchdowns in 23 attempts. He believes getting an entire week of practice with the first team under his belt should help get everyone on the same page, as noted by Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com: "Any extra repetition can only help. Take every rep for what it's worth. I just feel comfortable with the system and the calls. I have fun running it."
That doesn't completely eliminate the uncertainty, though. It's his first start of the season after watching from the sideline for the first half of the campaign, his career numbers are merely average, and the Bucs rank 10th in passing yards against per game.
It leaves Sanchez as nothing more than a hopeful flier in the fantasy realm. Yes, there's a hint of upside, but it wouldn't be a surprise if his performance is a clunker, either. Most fantasy owners are looking for more stable options at this key stage of playoff races.
Matthews still warrants attention due to volume. He leads the Eagles with 80 targets, and only one other player has garnered more than 50 (tight end Zach Ertz with 58). It's an offense that's built on spreading the ball around, but he's one player who tends to get his fair share of looks no matter what.
The second-year player out of Vanderbilt also seemed to develop a connection with Sanchez when they worked together last season. John Paulsen of 4for4 Football provided a RotoViz chart to show how much more productive the wideout was with Sanchez leading the offense:
That doesn't guarantee he'll have a big game against Tampa Bay, of course. A quarterback switch always adds some extra doubt to the equation, and he caught just three passes for 21 yards last week with the two QBs splitting reps.
So Matthews' status really depends on each individual fantasy roster. Those with a lot of depth at the position may want to play it safe and look elsewhere for a week. Anybody without that luxury shouldn't feel forced to make a waiver-wire addition, but keep expectations within reason for Week 11.