Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith already looks like a PPR fantasy gem

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

DeVonta Smith has officially been in the NFL for one game. He played 62 snaps for the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, good for the seventh-highest mark on the team, and earned a start alongside fellow former first-round pick Jalen Reagor and training camp’s breakout star, Quez Watkins.

How, you may ask, did it go? Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Re-paired up with his college quarterback, Jalen Hurts, Smith led the team in targets, catches, and yards and has the rare distinction of hauling in a touchdown in his very first NFL catch (more on that here).

While the Eagles’ game plan could change from week to week depending on the perceived strengths of any given opponent, Smith’s role likely will remain relatively similar, as the 22-year-old already appears locked in as the team’s WR1.

Needless to say, if you somehow haven’t drafted a fantasy football team yet or just enjoy playing weekly pick’em contests, DeVonta Smith already looks destined to be a PPR darling.

The Philadelphia Eagles might finally have a consistent fantasy receiver.

In Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, only 27 receivers had more targets, 19 had more catches, and 31 still had more yards than DeVonta Smith.

After starting things off rather slowly, with only one catch in the first quarter, the much-heralded Jalen Hurts-Smitty connection Alabama fans have touted for months finally started hitting, with seven of the final 23 targets of the game going from number 1 to number 6.

This performance – six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown – not only made Hurts the high-man in the game among wide receivers on both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons but actually ranked him 24th overall among fantasy football receivers league-wide with 13.1 points, sandwiched between the Saints’ Deonte Harris and his former Alabama teammate, Jaylen Waddle.

And when you look at Smith’s performance from a PPR perspective, his production becomes even more impressive.

Because Smitty earned his 71 yards and touchdown on six receptions, his points in PPR leagues actually jump up all the way to 19.1, which ranks 19th among fantasy receivers under the aforementioned constraints.

Pretty good for a rookie, isn’t it?

Currently on pace for a 1,000-plus yard season, a mark a Philly receiver hasn’t eclipsed since Jeremy Maclin recorded 1,318 in 2014, Smith is just going to get more comfortable with each passing game, which is fantastic news for Eagles fans the world over but bad news for opposing cornerbacks who already have to deal with one of the best route runners in the business at the tender age of 21.

Not too shabby for the third wide receiver taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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Will DeVonta Smith surely turn in a statistical dud every now and then? Undoubtedly so. With Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, and Kenneth Gainwell all readily seeking out targets in any given game, there will surely be games where Smith only records a few targets or end up without a stat to speak of, but that’s going to be the exception, not the rule. With the most well-rounded set of skills in the Philadelphia Eagles’ receiving corps, Smitty is just going to be the team’s featured receiver for a very long time.