Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Augury, Chapter 9: Philadelphia Eagles

QB:  Last year was a memorable one for Nick Foles.  He led the league in touchdown percentage, average yards per pass attempt and that mystical quarterback rating.

Now, perhaps those stats are a little misleading because it was accomplished in just 10 starts.

However, he was also top eight in touchdown passes --  ahead of Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Joe Flacco to name a few.  In just 10 starts.

He had just 2,891 yards passing, but again remember that is over 10 starts -- that's very close to 290 yards passing per game (averaging 2.7 touchdown passes per game).

Those are some decent, consistent fantasy numbers.

The bad news is DeSean Jackson is no longer an Eagle; the good news is Jeremy Maclin is healthy again and Darren Sproles is an Eagle.

Foles seems to be the type of player that will get the ball to whomever is on the field.  I think he's the real deal and could top 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns this year.  He is a lower-end top tier quarterback, but he will end up performing like a top five.  He is a great value pick.

RB:  Last year I correctly prognosticated that LeSean McCoy would lead the league in rushing (which he did with ease).  Now McCoy has let it go to his head, opened his yap and proclaimed he's a better runner than Adrian Peterson.

Child, please.

It's not that I don't think McCoy is in for another big year.  He's one of the main cogs in the Eagles offensive wheel and will have plenty of touches both on the ground and through the air.  I'm just not ready to crown him the best in the game.  He is most definitely top tier material and worthy of a first round selection.

Just don't talk smack about Adrian Peterson.

Darren Sproles is the best pass catching running back since Larry Centers and the McCoy/Sproles combination is going to give defensive coordinators fits (and make Nick Foles a ton of fantasy points).  Unfortunately, Sproles doesn't do a whole lot on the ground (never really has); he is a terrific addition to a real offense, but just a handy flex option in fantasy football.

WR: The time is now for Jeremy Maclin.  He tore his ACL in last year's training camp, and will be 14 months removed from the injury when the 2014 campaign begins.  He will be overlooked by most fantasy owners for three reasons: 1) he is coming off an injury  2) he didn't play last season 3) he's never had a 1,000 yard season.

But now that DeSean Jackson is gone, Maclin becomes the primary receiver for the Eagles.  Assuming he can stay healthy, I look for him to have a big year.  A really big year.  If Maclin is still there the middle rounds of your draft, don't hesitate to grab him.  You may have the steal of the draft.

Last year at this time, Riley Cooper was labeled a racist prick (and rightly so).  He was close to being cut by the Eagles.  He responded with 835 yards receiving and eight touchdowns, by far the best in his four years as a pro; this made him a viable borderline second tier fantasy receiver.

He may still be a racist scumbag, but I don't look for any drop-off this season and Cooper remains a lower-second tier wide out.

The Eagles drafted Jordan Matthews in the second round and Josh Huff in the third round, covering their bases if something goes haywire with Jeremy Maclin's knee, or if Cooper attends more concerts and is put on YouTube drunk and tossing the N-word around like a Frisbee.   Matthews and/or Huff will become the third wideout on this high-powered offense and could have some fantasy value.  The question is, which one?

TE:  Brent Celek always provides comedy relief on Sundays.  I get a kick out of his ridiculous red contact lenses, as if his appearance will intimidate an NFL linebacker.  Maybe that tactic will work in high school football, but not big boy football.

Give it a rest, Brent.

For a while, it looked like Celek was going to be the second coming of Antonio Gates.  Five seasons ago he topped out at 971 yards receiving and eight touchdowns -- terrific stats for a tight end.

But since 2011, his yards have been dwindling.  Last year, despite playing all 16 games, his receiving total, targets and catches were his worst effort since 2008, although he did grab six touchdowns (second best in his career).

As it stands now, I don't look at Celek as a starting caliber fantasy tight end any longer.

A better fantasy bet is to look at Zach Ertz.  He had more targets and receptions than Celek and last year's second rounder is the obvious heir apparent at tight end.  With a year of pro experience under his belt, Ertz could double last year's 469 yards, four touchdowns.  He could end up top ten at his position.