Fantasy Football: Do Changes to the "Brotherly Shove" Hinder Jalen Hurts' 2024 Outlook?

Austin Swaim
Austin SwaimASwaim3
Fantasy Football: Do Changes to the "Brotherly Shove" Hinder Jalen Hurts' 2024 Outlook?

Through all studies or lenses into touchdown regression, I'm not sure we've ever had a case as curious as Jalen Hurts'.

We've seen quarterbacks with rushing upside before, but Hurts' reliance and consistency on using that element to add to his fantasy totals as a quarterback was absolutely unprecedented. Hurts amassed 15 rushing scores to set a new NFL record behind the Philadelphia Eagles' patented "Brotherly Shove" or "tush push" -- the name dependent on your individual affinity for it.

Changes to the Eagles -- and the shove, in particular -- are coming in 2024, though. The team hired a new offensive coordinator, signed a stud running back, and one of the catalysts of the play won't appear in green this season.

At his current average draft position (ADP), can we expect enough of Hurts' record-breaking production to stick and target him in fantasy drafts, or will he tumble down the season-long rankings and end up crippling squads that invest in him early?

Jalen Hurts Fantasy Football Outlook

How Impactful Was the "Brotherly Shove"?

Some may put an asterisk on Hurts' rushing touchdown record should the "Brotherly Shove" -- a.k.a. the Eagles' elite quarterback sneak play with a 93% success rate inside of three yards to a first down or touchdown -- be outlawed in the future. For now, it stays legal entering the 2024 season.

Per FantasyPros, Hurts was the QB2 in fantasy football leagues with standard QB scoring, posting 371.9 total fantasy points. His per-game average (21.9) was also second. Nonetheless, there's no doubt that a vast majority of the 90 fantasy points from his rushing touchdowns came via the play; 13 of Hurts' 15 rushing TDs came from inside three yards.

Across the entire NFL, all quarterbacks in the league combined to average one rushing touchdown for every 85.6 rushing yards cumulated. Topping 600 rushing yards and 135 attempts in each of the last three seasons, Hurts' individual rushing ability is better than the league average, yet that sort of pace of accumulating touchdowns on his 605 rushing yards would have put the Eagles' QB at 7.1 touchdowns rather than 15.

Therefore, this play is dramatically important to his fantasy production. If we simply took him to the league average of TD conversion, Hurts would have tumbled to the QB7 on a points-per-game basis.

Under the same head coach (Nick Sirianni) and sporting the same physical traits that add to the play's effectiveness, the production isn't going away entirely, but let's factor in a marginal decline from the league TD record of 20%. That's still a reduction of 1.1 fantasy points per game, which drops him to the QB3.

While that margin alone is small, there are also several picks of other flex players between selecting the QB2 and QB3 in fantasy.

Plus, as a rushing quarterback, projecting Hurts for another full 17 games -- looking at the reality of the NFL -- is also somewhat generous. You can never predict injury, but it's not exactly a positive to avoid it that Hurts regularly tumbles into piles of 300-pound men, which resulted in a knee issue that potentially hampered his effectiveness late last season.

Do the New Pieces Help or Hurt?

Of course, if nothing changed in the "tush push" equation, I wouldn't be talking about it. If all pieces were the same, we'd expect Hurts to encroach his own record in 2024, but that's not the case. Both of the other pieces involved are different.

The center position in the play is almost certainly getting a downgrade. Pro Football Focus (PFF) had the retiring Jason Kelce as their fifth-best run blocker at the position in the NFL. Losing him could be losing the secret sauce to the play; there are plenty of big, strong quarterbacks that squat a ton of weight across the NFL, yet the league's average rushing success rate for quarterbacks inside of three yards to go when excluding Hurts (57.9%) pales in comparison to Hurts' 86.0% mark from last season. Was Kelce the difference-maker? Only time will tell.

Plus, Philadelphia is changing their offensive philosophy in some direction by signing Saquon Barkley to a huge 3-year, $37.8-million contract. Eagles running backs averaged -0.34 rushing yards over expectation per carry (RYOE/c) last season, per the NFL's NextGenStats. Saquon is a huge upgrade to the position after posting 0.30 RYOE/c last season, which was masked by a terrible New York Giants passing attack.

In addition to these changes, the Eagles hired Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator to call plays, and Moore's Los Angeles Chargers were eighth in pass rate over expectation a year ago. Though, personally, Sirianni's foundation as an offensive coach leads me to believe that Moore won't have full reigns to entirely deviate from the head coach's philosophy, so I'd ranked this as significantly less impactful for Hurts than the other two changes.

Though some might cite Barkley's ability to squat weight as a positive for the "tush push", there is a reason he was brought to the team. Hurts' knee issues late last season probably means that Philadelphia, in an ideal world, would like to rely on him less to keep him healthy to win games -- that thing that actually matters to NFL teams.

Putting more work on Barkley would only further deepen the concerns for Hurts to put together the top-three fantasy season required from his ADP, and the "tush push" might not even be the oasis of fantasy points that it was in 2023 without Kelce.

Concerns Forgotten Among the Touchdowns

The reason I'm focusing on Hurts' impact on the ground is because, through the air, it wasn't extremely pretty in 2023.

Exclusively as a passer, Hurts posted a flat 0.00 expected points added per drop back (EPA/db), per NextGenStats. That placed him behind Derek Carr, Anthony Richardson, and Geno Smith in that particular category. Richardson's name is particularly interesting considering his own non-touchdown-dependent upside as a rusher as an alternative to Hurts (28.3 ADP in FanDuel's best-ball leagues) at a much lower average draft position (73.2).

The weaponry -- with A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert -- couldn't have been much better and remains in place, and the Birds did add Parris Campbell as the candidate they're hoping reliably mans the slot. However, pass protection without Kelce -- a top-10 center, per PFF, in that protection area, as well -- is also projected to decline for whatever upgrade Campbell might bring.

Including the playoffs, Philadelphia lost six of their last seven games as teams stacked the box on Hurts, forced a career-high in turnovers from him (20), and their defense disintegrated. For fantasy, we don't care about the last point, but the concerns about his ability to beat teams from the pocket seem valid.

Some may cite the knee injury, but Josh Allen (0.12 EPA/dB) and Lamar Jackson (0.05 EPA/db) are alternatives in this same tier of fantasy quarterbacking that showed the ability to do with similar rushing upside even without an outlier in the TD department. That's worth remembering as QBs start to come off the board in your fantasy drafts.

Jalen Hurts Fantasy Football Projection

Overall, numberFire's projection model -- paying no mind to how the production came -- still loves Jalen Hurts in 2024.

It forecasts him as the QB2 when assuming a 17-game season behind 3,991.3 projected passing yards, 26.0 projected passing touchdowns, 675.6 projected rushing yards, and 11.5 projected rushing touchdowns. Wrap that all into 370.2 projected median fantasy points in standard QB scoring leagues.

Interestingly enough, that rushing touchdown mark is below the 20% decline in TD production I mused earlier, but it's also forecasting a significant upgrade in the three other categories when Hurts' situation to produce higher counting stats hasn't really improved. Additional reliance on Barkley would theoretically lead to fewer attempts for an inefficient passer -- and fewer attempts on the ground.

As a dual threat leading the offense for one of the highest NFL win totals available at FanDuel (10.5), we can still reasonably expect Hurts -- if healthy -- to be among fantasy football's top overall quarterbacks. That's not the point of concern. However, for a third-round ADP on FanDuel, I'm extremely inclined to pass on him if I've already missed out Josh Allen, nF's top overall projected quarterback that was extremely efficient both rushing and passing last year.

There are candidates like a healthy sophomore season from Anthony Richardson or deeper potential gems like Caleb Williams that could contend for similar enough production at a much lower acquisition cost. A decline from league-best rushing touchdown production seems imminent, and it's overwhelmingly the top reason he was such an effective fantasy asset last season.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.