The Philadelphia Eagles have DeMarco Murray as the starting running back, but fantasy owners should look at Ryan Mathews as a strong handcuff, as Chip Kelly likely will split carries between the two this season. Darren Sproles is a great PPR pick for fantasy football and it comes as Sam Bradford could be a sleeper starter at quarterback.
The Eagles signed Murray to a five year contract this offseason and while he is expected to be the lead back, Mathews also should get work this season. According to Pro Football Talk, head coach Chip Kelly said earlier this offseason that there is "a lot of validity" to how much Murray touched the ball in 2014 and that the Eagles will keep that in mind this season. Murray had nearly 500 touches overall last season and while he led the league in rushing, he was overworked by the Cowboys.
The Eagles added Mathews before signing Murray, but the move ended up being a smart one, as he could be a perfect complement for Murray. Mathews dealt with an injury last season and he is looking to have a strong year and with Darren Sproles also on the roster, the Eagles are as deep as anyone at running back. According to Eliot Shorr-Parks at NJ.com, Murray could end up with "65 percent" of the Eagles carries at RB, while Parks predicts that Mathews "gets 30 percent" for this season.
Murray could be in line to get around 250 carries if that holds up and that would be a big cut from last year, but that could be best for Murray long term. Last season Murray had a career best 1845 yards with 393 carries and 13 touchdowns. Murray had 12 games with 100+ yards and he also had a career best 57 catches for 416 yards. Sproles likely will be the main receiver of the three and in PPR fantasy leagues he could be a great option.
Mathews comes in after playing in just six games last season and rushing for 330 yards for the Chargers. Mathews had his best season in 2013 with a career best 1255 yards and that was the first time that he played in all 16 games for the Chargers. Mathews could be a great Flex option for teams and he is an important handcuff for anyone that has Murray on the roster.
The Eagles also kept Kenjon Barner on the roster as a fourth running back, but he likely will factor more into special teams than anything else. Barner had two returns in the preseason for two touchdowns and he also added 55 rushing yards in the games that he played. Barner is a nice option if someone gets injured between Mathews, Murray and Sproles and he could be an explosive option in the return game on punts and possibly kickoffs.