QB Michael Vick
(2012 QB Rank – #26, 20.7 FPts/G)
Vick has struggled to replicate his 2010 success over the past two seasons but appears set to earn another opportunity to try again in 2013. While he will need to beat out second-year signal caller Nick Foles, that seems like a mere formality. Vick has endured plenty of criticism over the past two seasons but his passing production has remained decent, the only issue being his propensity for turnovers. In the run game, Vick has remained productive, but the nine touchdowns he scored in 2010 have been replaced by a pair of single-rushing-touchdown seasons in each of 2011 and 2012. With Chip Kelly now in Philadelphia, Vick is getting a decent amount of fantasy buzz given his upside as a read-option quarterback and the talented skill position players the Eagles have on offense. The question is whether he can run that type of offense and stay healthy for an entire season. We have our doubts. Consider Vick a mid- to lower-tier QB with a solid upside in 2013.
QB Nick Foles
(2012 QB Rank – #34, 17.0 FPts/G)
The Eagles say they are going to give Foles a chance to compete with Michael Vick for the starting quarterback position, and there isn’t any reason to doubt that. We just doubt Foles’ ability to beat out Vick, and presumably the Eagles do as well, or else why draft Matt Barkley in the fourth round of this year’s draft? Foles was serviceable as a six-game starter during his rookie season, throwing for 1,699 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. While his accuracy is decent, he doesn’t move well in the pocket and he doesn’t seem like a good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. Consider Foles as a stopgap measure if he ends in the starting lineup in Week 1 or if Vick gets injured once again in 2013.
RB LeSean McCoy
(2012 RB Rank – #21, 12.6 FPts/G; #16 PPR, 17.1 FPts/G)
The man they call Shady took a bit of a pounding in fantasy circles last season as his PPG average dropped from 18.8 in 2011 to just 12.6. Not helping matters was that he was unavailable from Week 12 to 15 with a concussion, basically extinguishing several fantasy teams with his absence. However, a closer look reveals that McCoy remained a solid producer, averaging 101 total yards per game, just a half a yard off his production in 2011. His 20 touchdowns in 2011 were what padded his PPG totals that season, and expecting a repeat of that was unrealistic. And it’s unrealistic to again expect 20 touchdowns in 2013. McCoy isn’t getting the fantasy love that he deserves because of the drop in his touchdown production and the solid performance of Bryce Brown as his fill-in last season. I say Brown’s presence is being overblown. Consider the 25-year old McCoy a mid-tier RB1 and a player worthy of being taken as early as the fourth overall pick in your fantasy draft.
RB Bryce Brown
(2012 RB Rank – #39, 5.4 FPts/G; #42 PPR, 6.2 FPts/G)
Seriously talented but lacking maturity, Brown wasn’t taken until the seventh round of the 2012 draft, but the Eagles landed a steal in acquiring the Kansas State product. When LeSean McCoy was lost to a concussion, Brown put together two monstrous performances, totaling 372 yards in games against Carolina and Dallas. However, he struggled over his next two starts and saw limited touches once McCoy returned to the lineup. The knocks on the speedy Brown are that he doesn’t use his powerful frame enough— choosing to take too many runs outside of the tackles—and ball control, as in he has pretty much none. If he can learn to protect the football and be a better inside runner, Brown has the potential to be one of the league’s top backup running backs. It remains to be seen how new head coach Chip Kelly will rotate his backups, but if Brown can earn eight to ten touches a game, he could be a decent flex option in 14-team leagues. If that doesn’t happen, he is at least a must-have handcuff for McCoy owners.
RB Felix Jones
(2012 RB Rank – #31, 6.1 FPts/G; #35 PPR, 7.7 FPts/G)
After five subpar seasons with the Cowboys, Jones languished in the free agent market before getting an offer from the Eagles. He will compete for LeSean McCoy’s scraps with Bryce Brown, who had an outstanding run as the Eagles starter last season when McCoy was hurt. While Brown may have had a propensity to cough the ball up, he is younger and far more explosive than the injury-prone Jones. Don’t be shocked if Jones is on the street by opening day.
RB Chris Polk
(2012 RB Rank – N/A)
A degenerative shoulder condition kept Polk from being taken in the 2012 draft, and Bryce Brown’s emergence kept him from getting a single touch in the Eagles base offense as a rookie. With Felix Jones having been signed to join the backup brigade behind LeSean McCoy, Polk’s path to playing time seems completely blocked. Dynasty leaguers can now pretty much forget about Polk ever replicating his prolific collegiate production in the pros.
WR DeSean Jackson
(2012 WR Rank – #60, 7.4 FPts/G; #37 PPR, 11.1 FPts/G)
In 2011, Jackson had a subpar year, and that was blamed on the distraction of not having received a lucrative long-term contract. Prior to last season, he got the contract extension and we told you that his already high fantasy risk factor got even worse because he’d been paid. Sure enough, he hauled in just 45 receptions for 700 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games. After averaging double-digit fantasy points in 2009 and 2010, his PPG averages have plummeted to 8.0 and 7.5 over the past two seasons. Let’s hope new head coach Chip Kelly can motivate DJax back to high-end WR2 production and with Maclin (ACL) lost for the season, he’s got every opportunity to do so. Just don’t hold your breath on that happening. Kelly’s offense dictates getting the ball out early and letting his receivers rack up yards after the catch. Jackson is good at the latter part of that equation but not so good at hauling in quick hitters. Let’s just say we don’t see this as a match made in heaven. If you can grab Jackson as a low-end WR3 or upper-tier fantasy backup, do so; but don’t reach for him.
WR Jason Avant
(2012 WR Rank – #70, 4.6 FPts/G; #62 PPR, 8.4 FPts/G)
Hanging on to his role as the Eagles’ third receiver, Avant put up respectable numbers in 2012, catching 53 passes for 648 yards but failing to find the end zone. At 30 years of age, the days of hoping that he could turn into a consistent fantasy contributor are over, and there is a chance the Eagles could go in another direction in 2013. Avant offers almost no big-play ability, with just 10 touchdowns over his seven-year career. So it won’t be a huge surprise if the Eagles roll with recently acquired Arrelious Benn as their third receiver this season. While Avant has no chance of ever earning a starting role, Benn just might.
WR Arrelious Benn
(2012 WR Rank – #162, 1.1 FPts/G; #161 PPR, 2.1 FPts/G)
The Eagles acquired Benn from the Bucs in the offseason and proceeded to sign him to a one-year contract extension. Don’t get confused into thinking the extension means they have big plans for him. More likely, the Eagles had Benn over a barrel and he knew that his odds of making the squad this season were more likely if the Eagles had him signed at a modest cap hit in 2014. In Benn, Philadelphia acquired a player who has shown glimpses of big-play ability but one who has been unable to remain healthy. After a pair of moderately productive seasons, he missed eight games last year, finishing on injured reserve with a knee injury. In Philadelphia he will get a chance to supplant Jason Avant as the team’s third receiver. With a new coaching staff and Avant now on the wrong side of 30, there is a chance the 24-year-old Benn, a strong, physical receiver with good speed, could earn that role. However, until it happens and he shows some consistent production, you don’t need to consider him for your fantasy squad.
WR Damaris Johnson
(2012 WR Rank – #113, 2.4 FPts/G; #113 PPR, 4.2 FPts/G)
A little spark plug, Johnson earned a minor role as an undrafted free agent last year in Philadelphia, hauling in 19 receptions for 259 yards. At 5’8” and 170 pounds, Johnson seems unlikely to earn significant playing time, and his lack of size relegates him to working as a slot receiver and on gadget plays. While he will likely earn a spot on the Eagles roster, he shouldn’t earn one on yours.
WR Riley Cooper
(2012 WR Rank – #93, 3.9 FPts/G; #93 PPR, 6.0 FPts/G)
The Eagles fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft, Cooper has increased his target count and receptions each year he has been in the league. Unfortunately, the big-play potential that he displayed in 2010 and 2011 seemed to disappear last season as his 23 receptions only resulted in 248 yards. Cooper has a bigger fantasy upside now that Jeremy Maclin (ACL) has been lost for the season. For now, the Eagles have decided to address this issue in house and that means Cooper will likely get first opportunity to fill Maclin’s void and crack the starting lineup. We’re not sold yet on Cooper being anything more than a fantasy WR4 at this point but stay tuned.
TE Brent Celek
(2012 TE Rank – #22, 5.0 FPts/G; #17 PPR, 8.8 FPts/G)
Celek has been a roller coaster ride over the past four seasons, struggling to match the production from his career year in 2009 when he caught 76 passes for 971 yards and eight touchdowns. He was solid in 2011 but struggled during the 2010 and 2012 seasons and now appears to be on the outs in Philadelphia. New head coach Chip Kelly signed James Casey as a free agent, and the team also drafted Zach Ertz in the second round. Both players offer more big-play potential than Celek, and 2010 fourth-round pick Clay Harbor remains on the roster, coming off a 25-reception season in 2012. While the final note on Celek’s career in Philadelphia may not have sounded yet, his days as a solid fantasy producer appear to be over, especially with Kelly having said that his strength is as a blocker.
TE James Casey
(2012 TE Rank – #33, 3.2 FPts/G; #32 PPR, 5.4 FPts/G)
The Eagles handed Casey a boatload of money ($12 million over 3 years with $8 million guaranteed) to leave the Texans so you would have to think they have big plans for him in 2013. They then proceeded to talk him up as a “move” tight end or H-back, but a knee injury held him back in the offseason so we don’t really know how they plan to utilize him. And really, should we be convinced that the 240-pound Casey could handle a full load at tight end? Don’t get overly excited by his fantasy prospects.
TE Zach Ertz
(2012 TE Rank – N/A)
With the Eagles looking to add versatile pieces among their array of offensive weapons, they used an early second-round pick in this year’s draft to acquire Ertz. The 6’6”, 252-pound Stanford product had a productive year in 2012 and has the ability to line up all over the field. More receiver than blocker, he currently stands behind Brent Celek on the depth chart with James Casey also expected to earn some snaps. The crowded depth chart keeps Ertz from being an exciting option in redraft formats, but he does offer intriguing dynasty potential if new coach Chip Kelly can replicate his collegiate success at the pro level.