Very little has gone right for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. From a slew of injuries to a team that has simply failed to play up to its talent level, the Birds have earned their disappointing 3-7 record and six-game losing streak.
But on Monday Night Football against the Carolina Panthers, the Eagles and fantasy football owners will at least know the team has solid running back depth when Bryce Brown goes off for a huge evening in relief of starter LeSean McCoy.
Everything points toward Brown being a handcuff hero on Monday night. For one, the Panthers aren't great against the run, allowing 19.7 fantasy points to opposing running backs per week in standard scoring leagues (24th in NFL) and 118.4 rushing yards per game (20th in NFL).
So it's certainly a good matchup for Brown.
But the young back also has looked good in limited action this week. He has 32 carries for 141 yards on the season (4.4 yards per carry), but he's showed excellent burst and the ability to gain yards after contact when given the chance.
He won't make Shady expendable anytime soon, but Brown should step in and do just fine.
Plus, the Eagles are going to want to lean on the running game in this one. Nick Foles will get his second start behind a patchwork offensive line, and I would expect the Panthers to blitz the Eagles early and often to take advantage of that fact.
So the Eagles will need to run the ball to neutralize that pass rush. Frankly, they should rely on the running game more than they do—they're 11th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (121.6) despite throwing the ball 117 more times than they've run it.
Plus, keeping the ball away from the Panthers and controlling time of possession will be key for the Eagles in this game. Philly's defense has given up at least 28 points in four straight games, and 30-plus points in three of those contests.
Let's just say the switch to Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator hasn't really worked out.
So again, everything points toward Brown having a big evening. Then again, everything pointed to the Eagles starting the season better than 3-7 as well. You never know with this Eagles team.
A key for fantasy owners will be Brown's impact in the passing game. McCoy is very good catching the ball out of the backfield and making people miss in the screen game. If Brown can be a consistent dump-off option for Foles, he may slowly accumulate a nice yardage total and make owners who picked him up very happy.
On the evening, I see Brown finishing with 90 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. A big projection, I know, but I've got a good feeling about this handcuff on Monday night.
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