Eagles' fans are dreading this potentiality, as many believe Vick's health is the difference between a potential Super Bowl run and consecutive non-playoff seasons. One could argue Vick getting hurt would have far reaching impact beyond the 2012 season, as well:
Andy Reid was almost fired after last year's uneven campaign, and another non-playoff season would likely mean Reid moves on to coach elsewhere
Vick would have back-to-back injury-plagued seasons and the Eagles would have to consider whether it's worth keeping him around for the rest of his massive contract
The team would not only hire a new coach, but would also have a new personnel head (Andy pulls the trigger on personnel currently) which could lead to significant overhaul in scheme
But this article is about what would happen to the fantasy prospects of the Philadelphia Eagles THIS YEAR. This isn't purely a hypothetical exercise considering Vick missed three games last year – Weeks 10 through 12. Over those weeks, the Eagles amassed:
66 completions 112 attempts 58.9% completion rate 866 passing yards 7.7 yards per attempt 4 passing TDs 7 interceptions 75 rushes 341 rushing yards 4.5 yards per rush 2 rushing TDs
Unfortunately those numbers aren't a great proxy for what we might see this year. First, last year's backup was Vince Young. This year we're looking at Mike Kafka (who's currently hurt but could be back and re-inserted as the #2), Trent Edwards or rookie Nick Foles. None of those guys are athletic mobile players like Young and Vick, but they could conceivably be higher percentage passers than Young. Second, Jeremy Maclin was also out during that span – and he's sure to be a key cog in the wheel this year particularly for a pocket passer because Maclin is a precise route runner who can run a full route tree, unlike DeSean Jackson whose main weapon is his deep speed.
Head coach Andy Reid has a long history of finding ways to win games with backup quarterbacks –including the likes of A.J. Feeley and Jeff Garcia. But winning NFL games isn't the same as fielding productive fantasy players. Vick's absence would allow opposing defenders to play more aggressively, as they would have the freedom to vary their coverages and wouldn't have to worry about leaving a linebacker or safety dedicated to shadowing the quarterback. LeSean McCoy would still get a monster workload, but he would have to earn his keep in a more conventional set, as defenses wouldn't be as easily stretched wide as they are with Vick under center.
Jeremy Maclin, WR – Maclin may not be as explosive as DeSean Jackson, but he's the more complete receiver. He would become the 1st look in most progressions, and his ability to work intermediate and short routes in tight coverage would be invaluable to the new quarterback. Maclin would maintain, if not increase his value in all formats – and would be an every week starter in PPR leagues.
Brent Celek, TE – Celek has had long bouts of incompatibility with Vick; although that changed toward the end of last year. In any event, much like Maclin, Celek has the ability to work the middle of the field and has great hands. His reliability as a chain mover (first down converter) will be vital to the new quarterback.
LeSean McCoy, RB – McCoy ran the ball far more than most expected in 2011 (273 attempts) and would be relied upon even more as the offensive engine. While he might not have as much room to run (defenses will force the new quarterbacks to beat them and try to stop McCoy), it's important to remember McCoy is elite, patient and has a solid run-blocking line to run behind. McCoy is also capable of 70+ receptions, and there's a great chance Kafka, Foles or Edwards would be checking down to McCoy in the flat quite frequently.
DeSean Jackson, WR – I'm predicting a bounce back season from Jackson now that he's completely healthy and has a contract extension. But that bounce back is predicated on a healthy Michael Vick. Jackson is capable of greatness (63 receptions, 1,167 yards, 9 touchdowns in 2009) but needs a strong armed passer as well as enough time to get downfield (Vick's mobility helps tremendously in both cases). Jackson's size and prior concussion issues limit his effectiveness in intermediate crossing routes, and none of the Eagles backup QBs are going to be able to target Jackson downfield as often or as accurately.
Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards, and Nick Foles, QBs – Unless you're in a very deep league (e.g., 14+ teams) or a league that requires 2 starting quarterbacks, it's not worth grabbing Vick's replacement.
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