Miles Sanders is not a running back to overlook in free agency this offseason. Yes, this is another free agent running back episode.
However, this one has a wrinkle added in that freshens it up compared to the previous episodes.
Sanders had a remarkably great campaign. He had career-highs in most rushing categories en route to finishing as the 10th-best running back in fantasy football.
With such a great season, Sanders likely draws a high-end running back contract wherever he ends up. Last season, the running back proved he is worthy of every dime he earns.
However, something is fishy about Sanders’ outlook, especially if he stays with the Philadelphia Eagles. It is alarming enough to put him on the list of regression candidates in fantasy football heading into 2023.
Miles Sanders received a high snap count
The strange thing to look at is his snap percentage throughout the season.
It isn’t that the number was particularly high. As a matter of fact, through the first 15 games of the season, Sanders had a 59.2% share of the offensive snaps.
The best part about that number is Sanders never dropped below a 50% snap share through Week 15.
There is nothing wrong with 59.2% of the snaps at running either. It isn’t too high or low. Frankly, it is around where you expect a starting running back to be in the modern NFL.
However, he is a regression candidate for a reason. So, what happened to his snap share with the Eagles for him to end up on this list?
Throughout the season, Miles Sanders’ snaps dissipated
In the final five games of the season (including playoffs), Sanders had just a 37% snap share on offense. The running back never surpassed 40% of the total snaps on offense during this time.
To put it bluntly, Sanders was ineffective down the stretch of the season. With his decreased role, he averaged less than four yards per carry.
What happened to make Sanders have such a hard fall from grace came from the rest of the running back room?
Boston Scott, alongside the threat of a potential Jalen Hurts quarterback sneak is an unfathomably good combination. It’s like having a pair of miniature tanks near the goalline.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Gainwell emerged as both a running and pass-catching threat out of the backfield. Gainwell increased his snap percentages every game in the Eagles’ playoff run and got better game by game.
Eventually, Gainwell got a 51% snap share in the Super Bowl and did great work as a dual-threat running back in that game.
Miles Sanders had a disappointing playoff run
Meanwhile, Sanders progressively got worse as the playoff run proceeded.
He got ousted from his starting role by an upstart on a rookie contract. When the Eagles needed Sanders the most, he declined, and Gainwell emerged as the guy in the running back room.
It is weird to say, but the playoff run felt like a tryout for Gainwell as a starting running back heading into the 2023 season, and he didn’t disappoint.
As a result, the Eagles might feel as if they do not need Sanders moving forward. If he leaves, there aren’t many offensive lines better than what the Eagles had this year, so he might struggle to find momentum.
If he stays in Philadelphia, Sanders could struggle to get playing time as he did in the final games of this last season.
Regardless of what happens, Sanders is a candidate for regression next season.
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