Miles Sanders in the eyes of Eagles fans may be a top ten running back. But let’s be realistic for a second; I think there’s an argument for Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, Chris Carson, Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, and even Josh Jacobs to be better than Sanders. Before y’all yell at me, I said there’s an argument. Nonetheless, with a strong year in 2020 Sanders could cement himself as a top ten running back.
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In 2019 Sanders had 818 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 50 catches, 509 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns. That’s a pretty solid stat line for a rookie. And with Jordan Howard headed to Miami in 2020, Sanders has one less back to compete with for carries.
In 2019, Howard had 525 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. Although that production won’t entirely go into Sanders' load, it wouldn’t be crazy to expect about 1100 rushing yards and 6 or 7 touchdowns from Sanders with Howard’s departure. Those rushing totals are very similar to what Josh Jacobs did last season for the Raiders, and with Sanders being a much better receiver out of the backfield, it’s very reasonable to expect more production from Sanders than Jacobs in 2020 (note for fantasy owners!).
However, there are a few things holding Sanders back from reaching his top 10 potential. Firstly, Doug Pederson is known to utilize a heavy dose of running back by committee, but with Boston Scott and Corey Clement as the other running backs in Philadelphia’s backfield, Sanders should still get a heavy dose of touches. Not only is he clearly the best player in the Eagles backfield, but his ability in the run game and pass game makes him deadly for Pederson.
More importantly, the Eagles lost Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard to season ending injuries. As one of the best right guards in the NFL, losing Brooks is heartbreaking for the Eagles offense. Without Brooks and Dillard, Sanders is going to have difficulty being as successful as he was a season ago, but with the Eagles bringing back Jason Peters to fill the void at left tackle, how bad can things be?
Although Matt Pryor will be playing right guard for Philadelphia in 2020, I’m not too worried for Philadelphia’s offensive line. The Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL with Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, and although playing Matt Pryor and an aging Jason Peters scares me, Miles Sanders should still have room to run behind.
With an increased percent of carries, expect for Miles Sanders to explode in 2020 behind a Brandon Brooks-less offensive lineman. Even without their elite right guard, Philadelphia still has one of the NFL’s best run blocking units that’ll help Sanders find holes to run through. Plus, with his ability as a pass catcher, don’t be surprised if Miles Sanders ends up establishing himself as a top ten running back in 2020.