It was only two seasons ago that a rejuvenated Michael Vick was fantasy football's darling quarterback. His ADP registered 8th overall according to MyFantasyLeague.com and was second to only Aaron Rodgers at the quarterback position. Vick's buzz was flying at an all-time high after leading all players in fantasy points per game. In fact, with just twelve games played, he fell just six fantasy points shy of Rodgers for the lead in total fantasy points.
Vick's Statistics Since 2010
Since that magical 2010 season, Vick has seemingly failed to live up to his expectations. I write “seemingly” because when he has been on the field, he has actually been quite productive. In 2011, his fantasy-points-per-game (FPPG) still matched up with that of a top-six quarterback. As for his 2012 production, Footballguys' very own, Chase Stuart adjusted the performance of all quarterbacks for partial games played and strength of schedule; his results placed Vick in the top-twelve in FP/Adj G. When you consider that Vick has only rushed for two touchdowns over the past two seasons, his FPPG is made more impressive.
At 33 years of age, his strong arm and incredible athleticism are still both clearly evident when watching his film. In fact, just this past offseason, he handedly beat LeSean McCoy in a 40-yard race. With his physical tools still in tact, Vick now has the opportunity to work with Chip Kelly in his fast-paced offense. In an earlier offseason article on McCoy, I went into detail about the pace of Kelly's offense, which should challenge the New England Patriots in plays-per-game and create plenty of opportunity for the Eagles' playmakers.
While Kelly may continue to downplay the importance of athleticism in choosing the starting quarterback, his track record at the University of Oregon speaks for itself. In the six years that he orchestrated the Ducks offense, he has had a dual threat quarterback lead his offense in each of those seasons.
Starting Quarterbacks Under Kelly At Oregon
Kelly will likely make some adjustments when transitioning from college to the professional level, but Vick's skillset would have fit perfectly into his offense at Oregon. The numbers across the board that Vick put up in 2010 are in line with the production of Kelly's college quarterbacks.
The latest reports from Eagles camp have bounced back and forth between the starting job being Vick's to lose and the competition very close between Vick and Nick Foles. On August 5th, CSN Philly's Rueben Frank tweeted, “Honestly, the last few days Vick has been tremendous. Foles hasn't been bad at all, but Vick has gapped him. The following day, August 6th, ESPN's Sal Palantonio reported on NFL Live that Vick and Foles are "neck and neck" in the Eagles' QB battle.
At this point, I fully expect Vick to earn the starting job and run with it until he's sidelined by an injury. Regardless of what player is behind center, you can expect improved offensive line play in 2013. In the previously mentioned McCoy article, I explained why the line should perform better:
“One of the Eagles' greatest deficiencies this past year was the offensive line. They allowed a league-leading 118 hits on the quarterback and also relinquished 48 sacks, which ranked among the NFL's worst five teams... The absence of Jason Peters, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in the offseason, at left tackle cannot be overlooked... Peters was joined on the injured reserve list by center, Jason Kelce, and also right tackle, Todd Herremans... expect the offensive line to perform much closer to their 2011 level, when they placed the among the top-half of NFL teams in sacks allowed (with 32) and quarterback hits permitted (with 72).
- Still possesses much of the same physical talents that made him into the NFL's most exciting player
- Kelly's offense has been catered to dual-threat quarterbacks and been very successful
- The offensive line, which was a major deficiency in 2012, should be improved
- Although he may be the favorite, he is still must compete with Foles for the starting job
- He has proven to be a major injury risk due to his build and style of play
At the moment, Vick's average draft position places him in Rounds 11 and 12 as the 19th quarterback off the board. His injury risks will always be present, but if everything clicks for him in Kelly's offense, you will have drafted yourself a strong QB1 at the price of a backup quarterback. If his season spirals out of control due to injuries and turnovers, his low cost will allow you to cut him without second thoughts. In the 2013 fantasy football season, Vick's reward outweighs the risk.
Kyle Wachtel's Projections
David Dodds' Projections
Pro Football Focus' Vincent Frank isn't sold on Vick, but believes the price is right...
If you average out Vick's last three seasons, taking into account his horrible performance last year, he would still have been a top-six fantasy quarterback last season. The opportunity to get him in the 12th round of standard 12-team drafts as an under-the-radar QB2 option enables you to sit the quarterback for a couple weeks to see whether 2012 was more of a mirage than anything else.
Christopher Harris discusses the risk of drafting dual threat quarterbacks such as Vick...
Of course, if it was easy to make it as a running QB, more guys would do it. It takes a crazy-great athlete, and it tempts the injury gods. One need only look at the star-crossed career of Vick as a cautionary tale. Vick still holds the single-season record for rushing yards by a QB (1,039 in '06), but he's played a full 16 games exactly once in 10 pro seasons. He's been crunched in all three of his campaigns with the Eagles, missing multiple games with rib, leg and head injuries. He might be the greatest open-field runner in the history of the position, but defensive goliaths have always eventually made him pay.
Footballguys' very own, Sigmund Bloom explains why Vick might allow you to get away with not taking one of the top 12 quarterbacks in fantasy leagues this year...
The quarterback competition that has flared up in Philadelphia has also brought Vick's ADP down to mid-QB2 range... Vick was a low QB1 last year, and if he wins the job this year, we will project him in the top 15 every week that he is healthy.
You can find me on Twitter: @KyleWachtel