Fantasy Football Team Preview: Eagles
Meet the ...
New stars. Gone are Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook -- even Reggie Brown was sent packing as the Eagles completed the rehaul of their offense. Kevin Kolb steps in under center with very big shoes to fill. Ditto with LeSean McCoy, and the two second-round picks will be under pressure to continue the Eagles' long string of post-season relevance. Of the skill-position starters on offense, Kolb and tight end Brent Celek are actually the grizzled veterans, as receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have a combined three years in the league between them. This team is plenty talented, but it remains to be seen whether it will all come together right away in 2010.
LeSean McCoy. Without McNabb, the Eagles will probably lean a little more on the running game than they have in the past, at least until Kolb has conquered any growing pains he may have. Even in a predominantly passing offense, Brian Westbrook has had elite fantasy seasons, and now that role lands on McCoy. He had 155 carries and 40 receptions last year, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry while scoring four TDs. This year, I'd expect McCoy to land anywhere between 200-250 carries while picking up about 50 receptions, which could lead to 1,400 total yards. If he can find the end zone consistently, he'll have a great fantasy campaign.
Kevin Kolb. Do I think Kolb will fail as the Eagles' quarterback? Of course not, but I also don't think he's worthy of being the first guy off the board after the top seven (Rodgers, Brees, Manning, Brady, Schaub, Romo, Rivers), and anyone that takes him as the eighth QB off the board is banking on him fulfilling his potential immediately. Even McNabb, who obviously was very comfortable in the Eagles offense having played in it for a decade, ranked 10th in 2009 in QB points per game after ranking 10th in 2008. Do we expect Kolb to step in and immediately be better than McNabb? I don't, which is why I'm passing on Kolb as a sure-fire starting QB.
The Depth Chart
QB1 - Kevin Kolb
QB2 - Michael Vick
RB1 - LeSean McCoy
RB2 - Mike Bell
RB3 - J.J. Arrington
WR1 - DeSean Jackson
WR2 - Jeremy Maclin
WR3 - Jason Avant
WR4 - Hank Baskett
WR5 - Kelley Washington
TE1 - Brent Celek
K - David Akers
There are things to like about the Eagles D. The team brought in pass-rusher Daryl Tapp through trade before trading up to grab stud prospect Brandon Graham, so the pass-rush of the Eagles -- led by Trent Cole -- should continue to be great. Also, Stewart Bradley returns to the middle of the defense after missing a season with injury. The Eagles also added Ernie Sims through trade to play weakside linebacker. They'll still need someone to step up on the strong side (Moise Fokou is the expected starter) as well as a good performance from second cornerback Ellis Hobbs to be elite. With new special teams coach Bobby April -- one of the best in the business -- on board, we could also see a few return touchdowns from this unit.
• DeSean Jackson had to be carted off the field during camp, but he's expected to miss little time with a lower back strain. He showed great chemistry with Kolb early in the season, scoring a touchdown and topping 100 yards in each of Kolb's two starts. Even though Jackson only had 62 catches last year, he's been elevated to No. 1 WR status in fantasy leagues. I'd tread carefully though, as any struggles Kolb has could kill Jackson's value. There are safer options in the third round.
• The second option in the passing game is Brent Celek, who had multiple eight-catch, 104-yard performances in Kolb's two starts last season, grabbing a TD in the last of the two starts. Celek ended the year with 76 catces for 971 yards and eight TDs, and even though he was overshadowed in fantasy by Vernon Davis' breakout, Celek is worthy of top-five tight end status and should come off the board before popular sleeper Jermichael Finley.
• Jeremy Maclin is the starter opposite of Jackson, and he could see a nice little bump in production in his second season, especially if he develops chemistry with Kolb right away. With teams focusing on Jackson, Celek and McCoy, the talented Maclin has the opportunity to take advantage of easy matchups in the secondary. I'd expect a few long touchdowns from him, and he's a quality pick as a No. 3 fantasy WR.