As part of the premium content package, we’re unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL all Spring and Summer. This year, we also have a precursor to every team capsule, with more detail on one of our favorite pieces – the dynasty sleeper. We continue our alphabetical journey through the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.
We all know the story behind Michael Vick. Just in case you don’t, here is the brief version. He was the first overall pick in 2001, arguably the best rushing quarterback in the history of the league, given a $130 million dollar contract, arrested and jailed for dog fighting, signed by the Eagles after his release, became a top fantasy player in 2010, awarded a second $100 million dollar contract, and then under performed in 2011.
Now that we are all on the same page, let’s take a look at what this means for the present and future of Vick.
There is an awful lot to like about Vick. First off, his passing has definitely improved. His best years in terms of yards, completion rate, average per attempt, and quarterback rating have come in the last two years as the starter for the Eagles. He also still poses a significant threat to run the ball at any point in time, providing a dual threat to defenses and more opportunity for fantasy teams to score. The team he plays on is also a plus. The Eagles have put together one of the best collection of playmakers in the league, providing Vick with plenty of weapons to help him along the way to victory. He also seems to have matured a bit over the last year or two. His drive also seems to be improving as he realizes that the window to win is starting to close.
Vick isn’t without his concerns though. Chief among them is that he just can’t stay healthy. He has only managed to start all 16 games in a season just once over his 11 years. In fact, he averages only about 12.3 starts per season – that isn’t a very good track record when you consider that the majority of starting quarterbacks in the league start all 16 games in a year. If he is your QB1, you better have a pretty solid backup and expect to use them for a few games a year.
The second concern is his age. Vick opens the 2012 season at the age of 32. While this isn’t a big deal at all for quarterbacks, since many of them don’t hit their prime until their early or mid 30’s, Vick isn’t your typical quarterback. He relies a lot on his legs, and he is at the age where they might not be what they used to be. If he starts to lose that rushing ability, his passing ability, while improving, isn’t at the level you would want if that was all you were getting. In fact, if you look only at his passing numbers in 2010, Vick was only at a QB2 level of production. Of course in 2010 you were able to add RB2 level production to that for free as well.
Drafted in the late fourth round of the 2010 draft, Kafka was never expected to be more than a career backup. His arm strength is below average, but he has good accuracy and a good head on his shoulders. In his brief stints of relief, he has been only adequate with stat lines like 7 of 9 for 72 yards. If he ends up starting some games, which is pretty likely with Vick’s injury issues, he isn’t really worth a pickup unless you’re very desperate. His name in the starting lineup will most likely be a deathblow for the production of the Eagles deep threat wide receivers as well given the lack of arm strength.
He is a raw rookie out of Arizona with a lot of potential. He has great size at 6’5” and 240 pounds and a very talented arm. The issues come in his accuracy, decision making, and technique. He is a long term project in the NFL and little more than a very long shot, long term lottery ticket in fantasy.
McCoy is one of the most valuable players in dynasty leagues. He is one of the ever shrinking group of three down running backs. He has good size for his role at 5’11” and nearly 210 pounds, but it is his speed and quickness that really set him apart from the crowd. Combine that with the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and his age (he just turned 24 years old a few weeks ago), and you have a back who should be elite for several more years.
There really isn’t much to dislike about McCoy. He put up 1,309 rushing yards with an average of 4.8 yards per carry, 17 rushing touchdowns, 48 receptions for 315 yards with another three receiving touchdowns. The scary thing is that last year was actually his worst year out of his two starting years as a pass catcher. He had 78 receptions for nearly 600 yards in 2010. If you combine that with his rushing from last year, you’re looking at the top running back in all of fantasy football.
All reports point to Lewis being McCoy’s backup this season. Like McCoy, Lewis played for Pittsburgh, though he didn’t produce at quite the level that McCoy did. He has more of a change of pace build coming in at 5’8” and 195 pounds but don’t expect McCoy to come off the field very much. Lewis is merely a handcuff that will probably split time should McCoy miss a game. If you are super desperate and get return points, Lewis will most likely be the kick returner for the Eagles.
The main competition for Lewis in terms of the primary backup role is Bryce Brown. For more detail on Brown, please go read our recent write-up on him here.
Polk had one of the biggest draft day falls of the 2012 draft. He was viewed by many as a very solid day two selection, but then went undrafted. Even more puzzling was his choice to sign with the Eagles where he has no chance of winning the starting job. He has ideal size at 5’11” and 220 pounds and good hands out of the backfield. He lacks the breakaway speed that most teams look for in lead backs, and there are some medical concerns about his shoulders. Expect him to make the team as a special teamer for now and to maybe work his way up into competition for a backup role behind McCoy.
The Eagles feature a 1A and 1B setup at wide receiver. Jackson is the smaller, faster of the pair and one of the best deep threats in the entire NFL. Entering his fifth year in the league, he is also one of the most feared punt returners in the league due to his speed, agility, and playmaking ability. The Eagles might try to limit his returns, but when he is back there he is a force to be reckoned with. In response to all of this, he was recently rewarded with a big contract, locking him up for the next several years.
There are some questions about his attitude and maturity. He was a bit of a malcontent before he received his contract and people questioned how hard he was actually working. There have also been various incidents on the field during his career such as him taunting the other team by flipping the football behind him on what he thought was a touchdown and finding out moments later he dropped the ball on the one yard line. His durability is also a bit of a question mark as he has missed time in each of the last three seasons with little injuries or concussions.
If you can get over the questions, Jackson is one of the biggest homerun hitters in the league and a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. However, fantasy consistency is not his strong suit. You could get two catches for 28 yards or six catches for 171 yards. He didn’t have a single game over six receptions last year. If you like boom or bust guys on your roster, he is someone you want.
Maclin is the slightly bigger, slightly more consistent, but slightly less explosive of the pair. He measures in at right about 6’0” and 200 pounds and fills more of a possession receiver role in the Eagles’ offense. He struggled a little bit last season with a “mysterious illness” that sapped his strength, caused him to lose significant weight, and made him more susceptible to injury. Because of that, many expect his third year breakout to come this year. He definitely has the skills to creep into the WR1 range this season with a stat line that could approach 75 receptions, 1,050 yards, and ten touchdowns. In a PPR league, he is the wide receiver to target in the group.
After the big two wide receivers, there is a bit of a mess for the Eagles without any clear cut pecking order. Cooper is one of the receivers in the mix. He will be entering his third year in the league and is a big bodied wide receiver at 6’3” and 220 pounds. While he has the body, he has failed to show good speed or the ability to separate in games. He will also be hampered by the fact that he recently broke his collarbone, causing him to miss significant parts of the 2012 training camp. If he can get healthy and improve his separation, he could be in line for some solid work as the third wide receiver in the offense.
Another wide receiver in the mix for the third spot is veteran Jason Avant. Entering his seventh year with the Eagles, he is the incumbent at the position. He posted a respectable 52 receptions for 679 yards last year, but only one touchdown. No matter how you look at Avant, he is very average. He has average size, average speed, average hands, etc. He is a very solid contributor for an NFL team, but nothing more than a bye week fill in or a WR3 in very large leagues. There isn’t much upside here unless there is an injury.
McNutt is the most intriguing of the wide receivers competing for the third wide receiver position and our choice for the Eagles sleeper player. Please take a look at the sleeper article for more details.
Celek is one of the more undervalued tight ends in the league. Our very own Steve Wyremski did a very nice feature article on him back in mid-May that can be found here. If you didn’t read it or don’t remember the details, go take a look at that article. Celek is a very solid TE1 that you can get at a much cheaper price.
After Celek, the Eagles don’t have much to consider at the tight end position from a fantasy perspective. The only player who even belongs on the fantasy radar is Harbor. He is a big bodied third year tight end that has been featured mostly as a blocker for the explosive running game. If Celek were to go down with an injury, Harbor could step up as a TE2 with some production in the red zone. Without an injury there just aren’t enough passes to go around for Harbor to be worth a roster spot.