In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles were one of the busiest teams in terms of free agency and trading after the end of the lockout and before the start of the regular season, signing new blood like Nnamdi Asomugha and trading old faces in Kevin Kolb. Despite the moves and the term "Dream Team," the Eagles couldn't live up to that moniker, finishing at 8-8 and failing to make the playoffs. Going into the 2012 season, like a handful of other NFL teams, the Philadelphia Eagles are jam packed with fantasy football value at literally every spot on the offense.
The Philadelphia Eagles offer plenty of fantasy value in 2012.
With that said, here is how I rank each player on offense with their fantasy value in parenthesis:
Michael Vick (QB1)
It's easy to hate Michael Vick, but I don't let that hatred of what he did off the field blind my knowledge of just how good he is on the field. Many fans won't realize it, but this will be the first year that Vick will have a full offseason to work with the team's first-string offense. In 2009, Vick was behind Donovan McNabb. In 2010, Vick was behind Kevin Kolb. And last year, Vick was unable to put in a full offseason or training camp due to the lockout. Now that he finally has a chance to work with the first-string offense for as long as possible, 2012 could easily be Vick's best year as an Eagle and as a fantasy option. Couple his passing abilities and his rushing abilities, Vick should finish as a top-5 fantasy quarterback by the end of the year. Once guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are off the board, I would not think twice about taking Vick as my starter.
LeSean McCoy (RB1)
I admit. I have a man crush on McCoy. The guy is the complete package and only one of three fantasy running backs who I would consider as a slam-dunk overall fantasy pick (Ray Rice and Arian Foster being the other two). McCoy's receiving numbers dropped from 2010 (78/592) to 2011 (48/315), but his rushing numbers improved (1080 to 1309). Andy Reid said he would like to limit McCoy's touches this year. But with no one except Dion Lewis behind him, I expect McCoy to touch the ball just as much as he had done last year. So what do you get when you draft McCoy? 1800+ total yards and 12-14 total touchdowns. In PPR leagues, his value goes up even more with the news that the Eagles would like to line up McCoy as a receiver. McCoy is the one player who I think could beat out Arian Foster as the best fantasy back when all is said and done.
Dion Lewis (Low-End Handcuff)
It's hard to gauge who is going to wind up being McCoy's backup at this time. The team has Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk, all three of whom could wind up being the No. 2. Lewis has the edge because of his familiarity of the offense after his 2011 rookie season. But according to Adam Caplan, the Eagles would have to go with a running back by committee if McCoy couldn’t play. For those who are drafting in the next couple weeks, I'd still draft Lewis as McCoy's handcuff since I still consider him the favorite. And the best part about handcuffing Lewis with McCoy is you won't have to fork over as high a pick as you would for someone like Ben Tate or Michael Bush. Lewis can easily be had in the later rounds.
Jeremy Maclin (WR2)
Maclin didn't get off to a hot start last year after dealing with a mono-like illness. He had lost 15 pounds and there were some rumors that he may have been dealing with lymphoma. Luckily, it wasn't the case and Maclin eventually put up fair numbers, averaging 66.1 yards a game. This year, Maclin is said to be looking excellent and the Eagles expect this year to be a "big year" for the fourth-year receiver. For now, Maclin is the 20th-ranked fantasy receiver, which puts him as a low-end WR2 in 12-team leagues. But if he can do what the Eagles are expecting of him, he should exceed expectations. To see where Maclin would fall according to your league's scoring, make sure to sign up to one of our Dominator Packages. I like his weekly consistency much more than the next player on this list.
DeSean Jackson (WR2)
Was Jackson's disappointing 2011 season because of his contract or because he gets taken out of games too easily by defenses? There is no doubt that Jackson has the talent to be a top-12 fantasy receiver, but he is too inconsistent to count on every week. Like Maclin, owners are lowering the value of Jackson because of last year's numbers. Right now, he is being drafted as a borderline WR3 (26th receiver). Much of that could be because owners tend to think about the past, rather than the future. With a new contract, Jackson could easily surpass his Average Draft Position. Jackson will never put up numbers like Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but his 2009 numbers (63/1167/9TDs) will make his owners happy. He carries a little bit more value if you count punt-return yards, but not as much as he used to.
Jason Avant (Flex Option/WR3 In Larger Leagues)
Avant might be ranked as one of the best slot receivers in the league, but that rarely translates to quality fantasy numbers. Avant enjoyed the best year of his career in 2011, with career highs in catches (52) and receiving yards (679), but much of that was because of Maclin and defenses game-planning for Jackson and, eventually, Maclin once he was 100 percent. The best value Avant can give is as a flex option in 16 team leagues where talent is scarce. But in normal 12-teamers, Avant is better off on the waiver wire until Jackson or Maclin miss time.
Brent Celek (Borderline TE1)
I give Celek all the credit in the world for having played all 16 games in 2011 while dealing with multiple injuries, including a sports hernia. Fantasy owners have never had to worry about Celek missing time with injuries. He has yet to miss a game since being drafted. Celek has yet to miss a practice in OTAs, so it sounds like he will be good to go when training camp comes around. Considering Celek averaged 50.7 a game and finished strong near the tail-end of 2011, he might crack TE1 status by the beginning of the regular season. Right now he is being drafted as the 15th tight end, wedged between Jacob Tamme (Read More Here) and Kyle Rudolph.
Eagles Defense/Special Teams
There's no doubt that the Eagles have talent on defense. Nnamdi Asomugha is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league. And now that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is slated to start after the Eagles traded Asante Samuel to the Falcons, this duo could be regarded as one of the best in the league if the cards fall the right way. The Eagles racked up a total of 15 interceptions in 2011. The talent level hasn't dropped with Samuel gone. And sackwise, the Eagles tied with the Vikings as the best in the league with 50. A lot of people raised their eyebrows when Reid anointed offensive-line coach Juan Castillo as the new defensive coordinator. But with a strong defensive line, up-and-coming secondary and a linebacking corps (fingers crossed) that could be the best the team has seen in years, there is no reason why Philly can't be a starting fantasy squad this season.
Are there any other players who might be a sleeper in 2012? WR Riley Cooper? Maybe TE Clay Harbor? While it's doubtful, you never know who can be the next top waiver-wire option because of injuries.