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Reaction-Overreaction: Fly Eagles Fly

Chip Kelly unleashed a new brand of football on the NFL Monday night, but a number of factors were in place to help the debut go smoothly. Opposing quarterback Robert Griffin III was playing in his first live action since tearing up his knee in last season’s playoffs and the Eagles also held another significant advantage: surprise. With little preparation or film on the Eagles offense, we’ll have to give the tired-out ‘Skins defense a slight pass for the opening quarter and they did improve as the game went on. Still, the Eagles team as a whole was invigorated by the up-tempo pace of the new regime. Lets react to what we saw and figure out just what fantasy owners need to take against this high-flying Eagles offense.

The Situation

The Chip Kelly edition of the Philadelphia Eagles debuted on Monday night and took the Nation’s Capital by storm. The new look birds moved up and down the field early in the game, running the hurry up at a break-neck pace. The Birds offense dominated the first half before slowing in the second as Robert Griffin and the Redskins found some positive traction and made it a game. The Eagles stars got theirs with Lesean McCoy (31 carries 184 yards, 1 TD) and Michael Vick (15-for-25, 203 passing yards, 2 TDs, 9 rushes, 54 yards, 1 TD) both checking in as top-5 options at their respective positions while Desean Jackson (7 receptions, 104 yards, 1 TD)  ranked as the No. 12 wide receiver in Week 1 according to ESPN standard scoring rules. Bryce Brown also got some run, piling up nine carries (though only rushing for 25 yards) and Brent Celek found the end zone despite catching only two balls.

Reaction

The new scheme injected life into a team that had become stale over the past several years under former Head Coach Andy Reid. Vick made plays with both his arm and his legs, putting together his most impressive performance since November 2010 when he picked apart these same Redskins to produce one of the most prolific fantasy games in modern history. In today’s NFL fantasy football landscape has been forever altered by the running quarterback and no one has been doing it longer that Michael Vick.

Lesean McCoy proves his value as a true RB1 turning 31 carries and one catch into 189 total yards and a touchdown. Shady is just 25 years old, a year removed from a 20-touchdown season and still possess the best wiggle in all of football. For as long as the Eagles continue to feed him the rock, McCoy will continue to return to rank among the top running backs in the league.

Vick and McCoy are the studs, but Desean Jackson has also held his fair share of fantasy value over the years. He still possesses impressive speed and quickness, albeit with an unimpressive attitude, but now he is receiving the lion’s share of targets on the team. Jackson was targeted nine times on Monday night. Riley Cooper was targeted six times and no other Eagle pass-catcher was thrown to more than three times.

Overreaction

The Birds are back and Michael Vick will lead this offense to elite levels and bring fantasy owners with him. It’s no surprise that Lesean McCoy is a top tier back, but after being selected as the 15th quarterback in drafts this preseason Vick has rapidly ascended to must start status. Vick was simply the most valuable player in fantasy down the stretch in 2010 and is now in an offensive system that allows instincts and athleticism to take over. There is no question that Vick owns both of those traits and Chip Kelly is a master at massaging production out of elite athletes.

Vick is an unquestioned top-5 QB the rest of the way and an absolute must start each and every week. If there is any chance Mike Vick is still dangling on your waiver wire, scoop him up immediately. If not, feel free to break the bank to get him; there is little worry that you are “buying high” on Vick as only a handful of players currently hold more value.

Analysis

It’s really a mixed bag with the Eagles and we are buying this improved look, to a certain extent. Yes, it’s seems that calling Michael Vick a top-5 fantasy quarterback a year after he turned the ball over 14 times in just 10 games is a stretch, but he is absolutely a must-start… for now. The biggest obstacle to Michael Vick’s resurgence will be: Michael Vick. Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski has spent the past couple of season cautioning anyone who will listen that the pure volume of hits that Vick takes will prevent him from being successful over the course of a full season. Early in the Monday night game, it appeared the new scheme would help keep Vick off of the turf, but as the contest wore on, the hits started coming. Whether in the backfield or scrambling around making plays with his legs,  Vick took far to many shots for us to have confidence in him staying healthily over the balance of the season.

He’s a glutton for punishment, plain and simple. While many signal callers shy away from contact, Vick seems to welcome it. Even as protection breaks down around him, Vick simply refuses to throw the ball away. He holds onto the rock far too long at times and while this helps spawn some amazing game-changing plays, it will also be the reason that Vick fails to play a full 16 games for the 1oth time in his 11 year career.

McCoy’s performance is legit and Kelly has shown a clear desire to feed the beast. We are also buying in on a bounce-back campaign from Desean Jackson. The speedy wideout is the clear focus of this aerial attack and with many of his targets coming at or near the line of scrimmage, he needs no longer to be down-graded in PPR formats. As long as D-Jax can stay on the field, expect career highs across the board.

For the most part, this new look Eagles team is encouraging for fantasy owners. Feel free to spend on McCoy, Jackson and even backup running  back Bryce Brown who figures to get a healthy share of carries in relief of McCoy, but when considering a play for the Eagles quarterback use caution. Go ahead and acquire him if you can, but have a backup plan in place so you are ready when the inevitable injury strikes. Overreaction is warranted after a performance as inspiring as the Eagles season debut on Monday night, just cover your bases and ensure your season wont be lost if Vick misses time.

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