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Stadium : Lincoln Financial Field (Outside)
Schedule Strength : 14th
Postseason Weather issues : Home (Weeks 15 and 16)
Offensive Line Ranking : 7th (the loss of Jason Peters will hurt)
Head Coach – Andy Reid
Reid began his NFL coaching career in 1992 as the offensive line coach for the Green Bay Packers. In 1997 Reid was promoted to quarterbacks coach. During his time with the Packers, Reid studied the famous Bill Walsh West Coast offense under the tutelage of Mike Holmgren, a direct disciple of Walsh. In 1999 Reid was hired as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, putting his own spin on the classic offensive system becoming one of the few teams with a pass/run ratio greater than 65 percent (Reid considers a screen pass to be a run play). We know from previous years Reid will continue to utilize his two young, speedy wide receivers to stretch the field. Reid also prefers a running back who can play in the passing game as a multi-purpose threat out of the backfield (Brian Westbrook now converted to LeSean McCoy). Basically, with Reid as the head coach, the Eagles are going to throw the football, a lot.
Offensive Coordinator – Marty Mornhinweg
Another disciple of the “Bill Walsh coaching tree,” Mornhinweg has worked under numerous “West Coast” coaches, including Mike Holmgren, Steve Mariucci and Andy Reid. But let’s be honest, I could type anybody’s name as the Philadelphia offensive coordinator. This is Reid’s offense, always has been and always will be. The Eagles are a passing team that sprinkles in the run for special effect to keep the defense honest.
QB – Michael Vick
I must preface this by stating that I’m not normally a Vick supporter. He is a red-flag injury-prone player every year, proven once again last season. At 6-foot, 215 pounds, Vick doesn’t possess the size to absorb being sacked like a Ben Roethlisberger or Josh Freeman. Vick’s biggest problem has been the inability to slide when being pursued by a defender, opening himself up to the big hits. I admire his toughness, but an extra two yards isn’t worth risking the entire season. For some reason my gut tells me the parity of the NFC East needs Vick to stay healthy this season (although I’m not ready to bet the rent). Playing inside Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast offense means the Eagles are going to throw the football all game long, which equals big quarterback numbers. Also factor Vick’s rushing abilities, and he should finish the season inside the Top 8 in fantasy scoring, warranting a player rating of 8.7.
RB – LeSean McCoy
One of the league’s only true three-down-running backs, McCoy is a rare find in fantasy football. Furthermore, he is an elite receiving threat, fitting perfectly into Reid’s West Coast system. His only downfall could be his smaller size along with the loss of Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters. Even still, McCoy is considered a beast with a player rating of 9.4. Handcuff as of right now is Dion Lewis, but watch out for Chris Polk during the preseason.
WR1 – DeSean Jackson
Jackson had an absolutely horrible 2011 season, greatly disappointing many fantasy owners who had him pegged as a WR1. Obviously disgruntled with his contract situation, Jackson showed a lack of interest in numerous games running at half speed and not finishing routes. The Eagles succumbed to Jackson's poor effort by giving him a five-year, $51 million deal. After getting paid we’ll likely see a rejuvenated “deep threat wide receiver” who should come close to equaling his 2009 production of 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns. The one glaring downfall is a lack of targets, constantly relying on the deep pass to score fantasy points (similar to Mike Wallace). Jackson also carries a yellow flag injury risk with a history of minor ailments. On the upside, Jackson should have decent draft value considering his poor performance last season, scaring off many owners. At this juncture, Jackson has a projected player rating of 8.9.
WR2 – Jeremy Maclin
Maclin is an exceptionally talented wide receiver possessing eye-popping speed and agility, making him a threat to score over the middle or deep down the field. His major downfall is a lack the size to play underneath, becoming a yellow flag injury risk, while being eliminated from red zone plays. I’ve been wrong with wide receivers of Maclin’s caliber before, but as the Eagles’ second wide receiver, I see a player rating of 7.8, equaling high-end WR3 status.
TE – Brent Celek
In a West Coast offense, the tight end position is typically a solid fantasy point producer, but Andy Reid’s Eagles haven’t had a prolific fantasy tight end in recent memory. Celek is a red zone threat, and Philadelphia will throw the football with enough consistency to give him low-end TE1 status with a player rating of 7.9.
D/ST – Philadelphia Eagles
On a personal note, I’ve had a terrible track record of projecting fantasy defenses one year too early. This happened to me in 2008 when Jared Allen was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, and again in 2010 when I bet on the Patrick Willis-led San Francisco 49ers. Both Minnesota and San Francisco had exceptional seasons one year after I drafted them. Enter the 2011 Eagles. Last season I had Philadelphia pegged as one of my top defenses, only to be disappointed once again (they did finish seventh in my league so it wasn’t all bad, but I jumped to the Houston Texans around the middle of the season). The Eagles' problems last year stemmed from poor linebacker play and the inability to stop the run (injury to Trent Cole didn’t help). This past offseason the Eagles atoned for their deficiencies signing middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Texans and drafting Fletcher Cox in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft (widely considered the most pro-ready interior linemen). Learning from my past mistakes, I believe this year the Eagles defense will finally come together and produce Top 6 fantasy numbers. Playing in the tough NFC East is always a downfall, but the Eagles defense will enter the 2012 preseason with a player rating of 9.1.
K – Alex Henery
During his rookie season in 2011, Henery only missed three field goals. We always prefer kickers who play alongside a high-powered offense, and the Eagles fit the bill. The only downfall we can find is two home games during the fantasy postseason, as Philadelphia is a notoriously bad weather city in December. Henery could have solid value during the season, but should be monitored come the fantasy playoffs. Player Rating of 8.7.
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