It didn’t happen exactly like we planned, but Miles Sanders did come on in the second half of his rookie season, ending the year with 1,327 total yards and six touchdowns. Many fantasy players expected the Penn State product to simply overtake Jordan Howard — a one-dimensional runner who lacked the sterling profile of the second-round pick Sanders — over the course of the season, but Howard was the clear lead back in Philadelphia for the first half of the season. However, Howard suffered a lingering nerve injury around midseason, and Sanders got the job and never looked back.
Among rookie running backs who played six or more games, Sanders finished:
- Fourth in rushing attempts per game and rushing yards per game
- Third in expected fantasy points per game as a runner (ruEP)
- 11th in rushing Fantasy Points Over Expectation (ruFPOE) per game
- First in targets per game, receiving yards per game, receiving expected points per game (reEP), and receiving Fantasy Points Over Expectation (reFPOE) per game
- Second in fantasy points per game
Put simply, he was an extremely effective receiver in his rookie campaign. Some of that is due to the Eagles being incredibly thin at wide receiver in the second half of the season, but it’s still a good sign for Sanders’ career prospects that he can contribute in both facets. It’s also a good sign that Sanders finished the season with positive total FPOE (19.7) even though he had negative ruFPOE (-5.6), as Blair Andrews has shown that rookie-year efficiency is an important predictor of future success for RBs.
Fantasy players have high expectations for Sanders in Year 2, and he’s coming off the board in the middle of the second round of early best ball drafts. As the clear lead back in one of the NFL’s better offenses, it’s easy to see why many are so high on the former Nittany Lion. Let’s dive into his historical comps to gauge whether he’s worth his current ADP.