Where were you when the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts? Perhaps you—like many faithful Eagles fans—were busy collecting your jaws from the floor. After all, the team had then-27-year-old quarterback Carson Wentz. Philadelphia didn’t need a passer in the second round of the 2020 draft; well, a lot has certainly changed since then.
Despite Hurts taking the starting job late last season, new head coach Nick Sirianni has not committed to Hurts as their starter in 2021. I wouldn’t read into that too much though. What we can read into is how Hurts may help, or hurt, your fantasy team; I promise that’s the only Hurts pun from me today. By looking at a number of factors, we can determine whether Hurts should be your starting quarterback this season.
Before we begin, it’s important to realize the importance of establishing a ceiling/floor versus evaluating the likelihood a prospect reaches those thresholds. Every year, fantasy owners fall in love with a players’ ceiling and disregard the likelihood it can happen. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was all the rage in fantasy drafts last season. People fell in love with the idea of him becoming a weekly star at the position, akin to Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. To do that, he would have needed to see something around at least 20 carries and five receptions a week. Was Edwards-Helaire really likely to become the focal point of Kansas City’s offense featuring quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce? No, he wasn’t, yet too many people became blinded by the slim chance he reached that desired ceiling.
Instead of measuring a player’s projected floor and ceiling, let’s measure the likelihood of said player reaching that floor and ceiling. With Hurts, I’ll focus more on his floor because we’ve already seen how great Hurts can be in fantasy. But on the days he isn’t posting 30-plus points? We’ll determine that and see if you should draft Hurts as your QB1.
How Jalen Hurts Fared Last Year
Hurts was used sparingly as a rookie until Wentz was benched in favor of Hurts in the third quarter of Week 13. Hurts got the official nod over Wentz in Week 14 and started each game after, though Hurts was controversially benched midway through Week 17. His passing stats during those three full games were as follows:
- Week 14: 17/30, 167 passing yards, 1 TD
- Week 15: 24/44, 338 passing yards, 3 TD
- Week 16: 21/39, 348 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
That’s not too shabby. I’m especially delighted about his passing volume. It hovers right around the average of passes per game thrown by fantasy’s top quarterbacks last year such as Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, and Mahomes. Of course, mobility is all the craze in fantasy, and Hurts definitely doesn’t lack it. His production as a runner was even juicier than his production as a passer:
- Week 14: 18 carries, 106 rushing yards
- Week 15: 11 carries, 63 rushing yards, 1 TD
- Week 16: 9 carries, 69 rushing yards
Hurts also scored twice on the ground in his shortened Week 17 performance. His fantasy production for those four games was 19.3, 37.8, 18.6, and 16.3, respectively. Hurts was clearly the focal point of the Eagles’ offense during that span, which bodes well for his fantasy forecast in 2021.
What Philadelphia’s Offense Can Look Like
But what will Philadelphia’s offense look like in 2021? It’s a tricky projection considering Sirianni has the option to completely construct a new offense. Whatever this unit looks like, it’s safe to say Hurts will remain an integral part of the run game.
There’s were only two top-10 fantasy quarterbacks—Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady—that didn’t have more than 50 carries. Allowing Hurts to run more play-action can open up the ground game for him. We know Hurts is capable of throwing 35-plus passes and running the ball seven-plus times each game. Every sign out of Philadelphia suggests that won’t change under Sirianni.
Jalen Hurts’ Supporting Cast
There’s also an improved supporting cast trending in Hurts’ favor, albeit not by too much. DeVonta Smith, the Heisman Trophy-winning playmaker, has been much maligned for his lackluster size. Whether or not he’s viewed as a true NFL wide receiver, it’s encouraging to see a new face for Hurts to throw to. Last year’s first-round pick, Jalen Reagor, didn’t have the greatest inaugural season, but a second-year leap should be expected now that he’s healthy.
Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert also return to make a nice young core, though veteran Zach Ertz is widely assumed to have played his final days in an Eagles uniform. I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by this Philadelphia roster, even with Lane Johnson returning from injury. Adding Smith may not be enough to boost Hurts into the upper echelon of quarterbacks. However, for fantasy purposes, it may be fine. Considering what Hurts did last season with a worse supporting cast, I’m not too concerned about this roster. For what it’s worth, Smith is in a prime position to become Hurts’ favorite target.
How Jalen Hurts Compares To Other QBs
It seems there is an assumption Hurts will return to form from the end of last season. It’s a fair projection considering his situation has seemingly improved. But how does that compare to other quarterbacks getting picked around him? Hurts is currently being drafted as QB9, per Fantasy Pros’ consensus ADP calculator. That’s behind Rodgers and Justin Herbert, and it’s ahead of Brady and Joe Burrow. There’s nothing to suggest Rodgers takes a step back, and Herbert seems to be in a similar—if not better—situation as Hurts. For as great as Brady is, he solely relies on passing volume, which caps his upside. There is a case to be made for Burrow over Hurts, but both can be weekly starters. Therefore, QB9 seems like a good ceiling for Hurts in drafts.
Let’s say Hurts averages roughly 18 points per contest, which is what he averaged in Weeks 14, 15, and 17. That would’ve put him on pace to be QB11 for the whole season—and that’s excluding the 37.8 points he put up in Week 16. Factor in that upside and he could’ve been QB7.
Unless you’re playing in a league with fewer than 10 teams, Hurts should be drafted as a QB1. He can have a floor of 16 points and a ceiling of 23 with outliers for 30-point performances every now and then. That’s good, but I understand the hesitation with drafting Hurts higher. All the passers generally getting drafted before him—excluding fellow second-year Herbert—are established fantasy studs at the position. Hurts may be learning a new system, but that doesn’t mean it’s a totally different one. I’d draft Hurts as my starter, though it wouldn’t hurt to secure a proven veteran as a backup like Matthew Stafford or Ryan Tannehill.