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Eagles Fantasy Outlook

With Jeremy Maclin injured, WR DeSean Jackson becomes a more viable fantasy pick

With Jeremy Maclin injured, WR DeSean Jackson becomes a more viable fantasy pick

With fantasy football season approaching quickly, NFL fans face a serious internal conflict. Should they draft players from their favorite teams? On the one hand, following a team’s training camp and preseason closely can help unearth a late-round sleeper. On the other, bias tends to creep in and lead owners to overvalue their favorite players. Below is my most objective assessment of the fantasy-relevant Eagles.

LeSean McCoy: Shady never topped 273 carries under Andy Reid, but became a very intriguing fantasy pick once Chip Kelly took over. In a fast-paced, run-oriented offense, McCoy has an outside chance of leading the league in carries. His outlook isn’t all rosy, though. Expect his reception total to decrease sharply now that Reid and his west coast offense are in Kansas City. Touchdowns may also be tough to come by in an offense that is missing a top quarterback. He should be a second round pick in all formats as a low-end RB1 or elite RB2. Don’t take him in the first round unless you’re completely sold on Kelly’s offense.

DeSean Jackson: Chip Kelly’s hiring dealt a blow to Jackson’s fantasy status. For the first time in Jackson’s career, he will be playing in a run-first system. What’s worse is that when Kelly does throw, he likes to get his tight ends involved. However, Jeremy Maclin’s torn ACL leaves Jackson as the team’s clear-cut number one receiver, which will lead to more opportunities in the passing game. Fantasy owners should be very concerned that Jackson has only scored 6 times in the last two seasons, but #10 has a shot at recapturing his 2009 brilliance. I like his chances of eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark, which makes him a solid WR3 pick. His seventh round ADP (average draft position) sounds about right to me.

Nick Foles/Michael Vick: Neither Foles nor Vick will throw for more than 4,000 yards in Chip Kelly’s run-based attack. It’s also highly unlikely that either one of them will start all 16 games. As a result, their fantasy values are both tightly capped. Foles would be nothing more than a fringe QB2 as the team’s opening day starter, while Vick’s running ability makes him a viable QB2. If Foles wins the job, be ready to scoop Vick off of waivers. While Vick can’t put together any type of consistency, I like his odds of posting at least one or two monster fantasy performances over the course of the season.

Bryce Brown: Brown won’t carry much stand alone fantasy value as a clear backup to LeSean McCoy, but he has proven capable of producing at a high level. He’s a valuable handcuff for McCoy owners, but also worth scooping up by anybody else as a high-upside RB4. Brown is one injury away from an 1,000 yard season, which makes him an attractive late round pick.

Riley Cooper: While Cooper is in line to start in place of Jeremy Maclin, he won’t inherit all of his production. In fact, GM Howie Roseman was quick to name tight ends and running backs as players who the team counted on to replace Maclin. Cooper is an asset as a blocker and vertical field stretcher, but is unlikely to be targeted enough to retain any fantasy value. Keep him off your draft boards.

James Casey: Casey may be listed as a tight end, but the Eagles signed him to be a passing game mismatch. He will rarely – if ever – start from a three point stance and will function as a ‘move’ tight end or slot receiver. He has to compete with two other starting-caliber tight ends for targets, but he should still catch enough passes to achieve fantasy relevance. He’s no more than a TE2 and a borderline draft-able player, though.

Zach Ertz: Don’t count on much production from Ertz as a rookie. The Stanford product will likely see some of Jeremy Maclin’s snaps out wide and serve as both James Casey and Brent Celek’s backups. He won’t see enough targets to sustain fantasy value, but he’s worth picking up off waivers if Casey goes down with an injury.

Brent Celek: The Eagles organization now views Celek as more of an in-line blocking specialist than anything else. They brought in James Casey and Zach Ertz to catch passes, leaving Celek very low on the passing game totem pole. Don’t burn a draft pick on him.

Alex Henery: Henery has been one of the league’s most consistent intermediate range kickers since entering the league. However, a kicker only gets as many opportunities as his offense gives him. While the Eagles’ fast pace, improved offensive line, and talented skill players are all appealing, I’d rather take a kicker on an established offense. I currently have Henery ranked 15th among kickers.

Defense: Please pass on the Eagles defense in your fantasy drafts. In choosing fantasy defenses, remember that sacks and turnovers are gold. While the Eagles got to the quarterback often enough with Jim Washburn coaching the defensive line, new defensive coordinator Billy Davis is placing an emphasis on size and stopping the run at the expense of quickness and pass rush. Despite the shift in philosophy, nobody the Eagles added guarantees that the team can improve upon their embarrassingly low number of forced turnovers in 2012. The Eagles simply don’t have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and their new style of play lends itself better to real football than to fantasy.

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