The Eagles start the 2011 season next weekend and with the return of the NFL comes the return of the only thing more American than football -- fantasy football.
Plenty of Birds are living up to the “Dream Team” billing when it comes to fantasy draft value with four players averaging out in the Top 4 rounds (48 picks) of standard Yahoo drafts -- QB Michael Vick (10), RB LeSean McCoy (13.8), WR DeSean Jackson (31.6) and WR Jeremy Maclin (47.5).
Add in TE Brent Celek (128.3), K Alex Henery (112.7) and the Eagles Defense (71.1) and at least seven Eagles are going in most 12-team leagues.
But there are some other Birds who could possibly have value -- most notably backups WR Steve Smith, WR Jason Avant, WR Riley Cooper, RB Ronnie Brown and QB Vince Young.
The highest-drafted backup is Brown who is going at 121.5 with Smith closely following at 122.9 (Both coincidentally ahead of Celek). These two are likely getting picked up in the late rounds because of their histories. Brown is a former 1,000-yard rusher (2006) and Smith caught 107 balls for 1,220 yards (2009).
Fantasy owners should remember that the past is past. Smith might not even be healthy to start the season so you would be using up a roster spot that ESPN predicts will catch 50 balls for 554 yards and Brown is estimated to only rush for 535 yards and three TDs, which could be a generous predication by the folks at EPSN considering Shady McCoy is a durable back meaning Brown won’t get big carries.
Either Smith or Brown could have some big weeks if a starter gets hurt but a couple other Eagles have better upside if a starter goes down -- most notably Young.
Should the $100-Million Man Michael Vick get hurt then Young is the starter with a spoil of talented skill players -- making Young the exception to the rule when it comes to not looking at past glories.
Considering that Vick has only played more than 12 games in half of his eight NFL seasons, it’s a good gamble to grab Young late or even pick him up off the free agent junk heap post draft. Young -- despite playing just nine games for the Titans last season -- still managed an impressive 98.6 rating that could translate to plenty of points with better receivers here in Philly.
Two other interesting candidates for free-agent pickups are Cooper and Avant. With Maclin still gaining strength after his mystery illness, DeSean’s uncertain contract situation and Smith’s knee problems, either of these receivers could possibly slide into the starting lineup at some point. If they do PICK UP THE PLAYER even if it costs you waiver priority.
The last two seasons Avant has put up the 575ish yards that ESPN predicts for Smith. And Cooper has nothing but upside should one of the starters go down.
And even if you don’t think any Eagles are worth it fantasy-wise it never hurts from a karma standpoint to have an Eagle on the roster.