The NFL "Dream Team." This is what the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to be. There probably wasn't a more athletic offense in the league, and we had just witnessed the great turn-around of Michael Vick the year before, when the Eagles seemed poised to make a Super Bowl run. The addition of Nnamdi Asomugha on defense was supposed to be the final touch.
The Eagles started the season 1-4 with their only win coming over the Rams in week one. Their playoffs hope were basically dashed before the bye week, though they managed to rally and win their final four games of the year to finish at .500. Maybe the "dream team" is just a year delayed.
Philly has no shortages of weapons again this year, with perhaps the top running back in the league, a top quarterback, and two top receivers. Even if the dream team doesn't come together to win the NFC East, they should be pretty relevant in your fantasy league. Here's a preview of the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.
2012 Record: 8-8
Drafted Skill Players: Nick Foles, QB (3rd), Marvin McNutt, WR (6th), Bryce Brown, RB (7th)
Dearly Departed: Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith
If you don't think that people can forgive and forget basically anybody in the sports and entertainment industry, look no further than Mike Vick. We loved him, we hated him, and then he played good football again and I didn't see many fantasy owners shun him after that. His 2010 season was phenomenal, but he was overdrafted in 2011 because of it. His passing game didn't actually get terrible worse (more yards per game, similar Y/A, but fewer touchdowns and more interceptions) but the main difference was that he rushed for nine touchdowns in 2010 and one touchdown in 2011. That eight TD difference plus his three fewer passing scores and eight additional interceptions made him go from an elite fantasy QB to merely a good one.
Vick is still a much more productive passer than he was in Atlanta though and rushing touchdowns can be somewhat variable for a player like him, so it's reasonable to think he could sneak in 5-10 touchdowns again this season on the ground. He could slide in some drafts and even if you already drafted your QB1, I might take him for trade/insurance purposes if he slips further than he should have.
2012 Projection: 60% completions, 3,200 yards, 20 TD, 15 INT, 500 rushing yards, 5 TD, 12 games played, 0 animals harmed in the making of this season.
I don't think there's a lot that can be adequately known about Kafka at this point in terms of what he could do as a starter, but I think a lot of fans believe it's something good. As of this writing, there's nothing to prove that the former fourth round pick that supplanted Kevin Kolb as backup really could handle a starting job. He was 11-for-16 for 107 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT last season.
It's a little scary that Kafka is your backup to a guy that's known for missing at least a couple of games per season.
2012 Projection: Kafka-esque.
Of course, Foles is also competing for the backup job (along with Trent Edwards) but a lot of scouts were split on whether he was a potential future starter, or not much more than a third string project. His size (6'6", 243 lb) is intriguing, but bigger isn't necessarily better. You can be successful at 6'2" or at 6'5" (but honestly, less success stories above that) and so I'm looking more for production. He was under-the-radar nationally at Arizona, I feel like, but I'm not sure what his future really holds. It doesn't hold much for 2012, I'd imagine.
He's still one of my favorite players in the NFL, mostly for his resemblance to a Care Bear, but he also was a top fantasy player last season after scoring an NFL-leading 20 total touchdowns. Normally, I would say "Don't overpay for what a guy did last year" but if I had a top four pick, I'd want to play it safe. Even though he probably won't top 20 touchdowns, he's going to be very good to great. He was already a worthy top 6 pick last year, and he's still worth it plus a few spots.
I have Ray Rice as my #1 ranked player, but McCoy is right there.
2012 Projection: 1,300 yards, 12 TD, 400 yards, 60 catches, 4 TD
Dion Lewis/Chris Polk/Bryce Brown
The 2nd and 3rd string running back positions will be decided in the coming weeks, but know this: Ronnie Brown played in all sixteen games last year, made two starts, and still finished with 136 yards on the year. This is the McCoy and Vick show on the ground.
The guy that you want to handcuff to McCoy will be determined later.
2012 Projection: That one of these guys gets 10 carries and another gets 5 and another does not. Brown could be headed for the practice squad, even if he was drafted and Polk wasn't. If it wasn't for the shoulder injury (which hasn't hurt him yet) Polk would have been drafted. Brown's had many issues with focus and commitment, while Lewis is the only one with experience. Albeit, for one year.
His athleticism is second-to-none, and talent-wise he's one of my favorite NFL players, but I'll be very interested to see how the new $51 million man responds to $51 million. He's a showcase show-off, which is fine when he's the guy that makes the big play to win the game, but I prefer a "go about your business, hand the ball to the ref" kind of player.
He disappointed last season by only catching four touchdowns, but he's got the ability to have one of those 1,500, 15 TD seasons. He worries me a little bit (and Vick worries me a little bit too, which effects the receivers) but I'd have no problem with Jackson on my team.
2012 Projection: 55 catches, 1,150 yards, 7 TD
Last season I was a bigger Maclin fan than I was a Jackson fan, but I'm pretty evenly split right now. I think both are talented, but I'd say Jackson has a bit more talent, while Maclin might be a bit more dependable. He's also healthy, which is good.
2012 Projection: 75 catches, 1,000 yards, 6 TD
One thing you can always count on in Philly is that Jason Avant will be there. This is his seventh season of the team and he just had a career-high 52 catches for 679 yards. He still only scored once though and has ten touchdowns in his entire career. He's not going to break out at 29.
2012 Projection: 40 catches, 500 yards, 1 TD
Any injuries could mean a breakout year for Cooper. He caught a pass in six games last year and those numbers turned out to be: 16 catches for 315 yards, working out to 19.7 yards per catch. That would be huge if it were actually projected out to sixteen games but instead we can assume that if he were a full-time starter, Cooper would be a good bet for at least 700 yards. That's the same thing we saw from him during his big senior season at Florida.
2012 Projection: Great white guy numbers.
Marvin McNutt/Ronald Johnson
These guys and a couple other players will compete for time beyond that. Last season the Eagles kept 5 active receivers, so it's likely they're fighting for the last spot. I'd consider McNutt the favorite.
He is like the consummate "injury/bye week" replacement tight end. But maybe on closer look, Celek is poised to repeat his big 2009 season. Last year he started off incredibly slow, going for 13 yards or less in four of the first five games. But he had 738 yards and 5 TD in the last 11 games, which would give him over 1,000 yards in a full season at that pace. He's probably one of the last guys that you'll take as a TE1, but Celek is only 27 and is coming off a hot streak.
2012 Projection: 65 catches, 900 yards, 6 TD