24th in a series.
The Eagles suffered fantasy disappointment across the board as this team was so hyped by all analysts, whether fantasy or NFL. There are questions at the QB and WR positions, but in this high-octane attack there are plenty of options at every position.
Can QB Michael Vick return to prominence?
Vick will be 32 when the season begins, and in nine seasons has played 16 games only once, in 2006. In his defense, he has played in 15 games three times. As the hits pile up, he will wear down and his stats will drop, but he's still talented enough to return to prominence if he stays healthy. He missed three games in 2011 and threw for 3,303 yards, 18 TDs and 14 interceptions, but his strength is his legs and that's where he disappointed with 76-589-1 — the lack of TDs killed his value. He ended up averaging 254.1 yards passing, 1.5 total TDs with 1.1 interceptions and chipped in 45.3 rushing yards in 13 games. Those numbers are far from elite and he will drop from first-round draft status but has great upside.
Vince Young is a free agent and is not expected back. Reports out of Philly indicate that there's a chance the Eagles could take a quarterback early in the draft.
Will RB LeSean McCoy once again carry the full load?
McCoy is one of fantasy's elite players and ended the season with 273-1,309-17 rushing and 48-315-3 receiving on 69 targets, an average of 22.8 utilizations for 108.3 yards from scrimmage and 1.3 TDs in 15 games. McCoy will be a high first-round pick and possible overall No. 1 in point-per-reception leagues. He did miss Week 17 with an ankle injury.
Ronnie Brown ended the season with 42-136-1 rushing and is a free agent. He likely will depart and Dion Lewis, a change-of-pace back, ended with 23-102-1 rushing and is not capable of stepping into the starter's role. The Eagles will have to find a capable backup and Lewis has no fantasy value going into the offseason.
What does the team do with WRs DeSean Jackson and Steve Smith?
Seeking a big payday, Jackson created a negative locker room, trying to pit players against management but it backfired. Disciplined by the team and chastised by teammates, Jackson's play was inconsistent and subpar overall. There's a chance he will be given the franchise tag. The team could change its mind but this makes some sense as the Eagles could then trade him.
Jackson's a vertical threat and a playmaker so there are teams that will have interest. One team could be the Patriots and imagine him with Wes Welker. His ability to go deep will open the offense up and make it even more potent. Teams will listen, making him a player to hold on to in keeper leagues. By training camp we should know where he is and what his value will be. He ended 2011 with 58-961-4 receiving on 104 targets — an average of 3.9 catches for 64.1 yards and 0.27 TDs in 15 games, nowhere near elite play.
Steve Smith is a free agent and likely will not return, instead possibly looking toward his old team, the Giants. If the team is without Jackson, it will need to add a receiver. Jeremy Maclin could struggle as the No. 1 and don't forget that he missed three games with injury. With a season total of 63-859-5 on 97 targets — an average of 4.8 catches for 66.1 yards and 0.38 TDS on 7.46 targets — he carries No. 2 WR fantasy value. Entering his fourth season, Maclin could be ready to break out and is a fantasy-league keeper going into the offseason.
Riley Cooper and Jason Avant are quality depth players who can step in but aren't capable of being full-time starters. Avant ended the season with 52-679-1 receiving on 81 targets and Cooper had 16-315-1 on 35 targets. They both have value if a starter goes down but are late-round picks going into 2012.
Can Brent Celek be a consistent fantasy tight end?
Give Celek credit, as he played the 2011 season injured with a sports hernia and torn labrum in his left hip. He still performed admirably and above many expectations. Vick has always used the tight end and it's part of the West Coast offense, so this is not a surprise. At 32, Vick is also more disciplined to stay in the pocket and go through his reads as well and Celek benefited. He displayed big-play ability in Week 15 against the Jets with 5-156-1 receiving on six targets and ended the season with 62-811-5 on 97 targets. Those are quality numbers. Celek is a No. 2 tight end in most leagues but is a low-end No. 1 in larger leagues. He will be an early late-round pick in 2012.
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