Of course, it always ends up just how we expect it. That’s right, you know your league-mate who trotted out that deadly Nick Foles-to-Riley Cooper combination this Sunday? Yeah, turns out they also starter Darrel Young and Davon Bess. In one of the oddest weeks in memory, the leader board is riddled with relative unknowns. We broke down their impact on the Waiver Wire on Tuesday and now, let’s take a minute to go deeper on one of the more surprising units in Week 9.
Is it Deja Vu? Well, sort of. We overreacted about the Eagles’ speedy offense way back in September when they simply thrashed the Redskins in the season opener. It hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride since, but new circumstances warrant another look at Nick Foles’ Eagles.
Two weeks after a pitiful performance against the division rival Dallas Cowboys, Nick Foles bounced back to put up a historically great performance. He tossed seven touchdown passes in a 49-20 rout of the Raiders while racking up 406 passing yards. Did we mention that those seven scoring strikes were two more than the number of incompletions he threw? It was big play after big play for Foles and the up-tempo Eagles offense. The QB showed solid mobility and was given the time that his predecessor Michael Vick rarely had the luxury of behind that Philly offensive line. Foles hooked up with surprising standout Riley Cooper on three scoring strikes, but was also sure to get the regulars involved as both Lesean McCoy and Desean Jackson got into the mix as well. It’s time to do what every fine fantasy owner should and overreact to this monstrous performance.
It is an interesting case for fantasy owners as the short-term outlook for Foles continues to look rosy, while playing in the defensively challenged NFC East. Perhaps his biggest obstacle down the stretch is Michael Vick‘s hamstring, as we don’t yet know who would get the call if both were healthy. It certainly won’t be the schedule that is holding Foles back, as the Eagles look ahead to matchups with Green Bay, Washington, Dallas, Detroit Minnesota and Chicago down the stretch, hardly a murderer’s row.
Foles is a must add in every format and will continue to dominate. Look, the Eagles finally re-captured their up-tempo mojo with Foles at the helm and for Chip Kelly and the playoff-contending Eagles, what reason to they have to move back to Michael Vick?
Foles is a borderline top-10 play for as long as he’s the starter, but trusting him as any more than that is a mistake. While it’s easy to scoff at the notion that a healthy Michael Vick will return to a starting role, we wouldn’t be all that shocked to see that happen in the next couple of weeks. Quarterback changes are not moves to be taken lightly and the dynamic in the locker room — which us fans are not privy too — will carry a whole lot of weight in Chip Kelly’s decision. Foles will need to continue to perform with a level of consistency he has not yet shown. Consider that in the 11 career games in which Foles has attempted at least 20 passes, he has posted a QB rating over 90 five times, while putting up a QB rating below 65 in three of those games games. His true performance likely lies somewhere in between but, with the team very much alive in the pitiful NFC East, we can be sure that Kelly will not want his quarterback working out the kinks on the field.
Riley Cooper is averaging 6.3 targets per game when Nick Foles has started under center, with the strong target volume translating to 118.6 yards/game and four touchdowns in those three games. His production with Foles running the offense reflects, at worst, WR2 value, making Cooper the clear-cut top waiver pickup for the week.
Cooper isn’t just a must-add, but he’s a must-start moving forward. Over the past four weeks, the wideout is averaging 14.75 fantasy points per game in standard scoring formats. To put that into perspective, consider that Calvin Johnson has averaged 16.8 fantasy points per game so far this season. With the per-game production we’ve been seeing out of Riley of late, it’s not difficult to make a case for him as a top-10 option when the Eagles take on a middle-of-the-road Packers secondary in Week 10.
An increased role for Riley Cooper moving forward can be expected, but we are also not necessarily calling him a must-add on the waiver wire. Cooper will continue to have useful weeks, but consistency issues remain. Under normal circumstances, we’d like to leave Cooper on the wire as little more than a bye-week plugin. But this season has a bit of a different feel to it. Not only ave we been pounded in recent weeks by a heavy bye schedule, but we’ve also seen injuries slash the once-great depth at the wide receiver position. Owners who have had to deal with missed time from highly-touted receivers like Roddy White, Randall Cobb, Julio Jones, Justin Blackmon, and Reggie Wayne would gladly scoop a 6+ targets and 80+ yards off of the wire and plug it right into the lineup.
Deasean Jackson remains and established, and elite option, and while we may previously have been worried about the impact of the QB change, the speedy receiver has seen his target total dip just slightly when Foles is chucking it. He remains even, if not slightly ahead, of Cooper in the pecking order. Jackson’s value change is insignificant.
Desean Jackson is putting together his finest (read: most consistent) season as a pro. It’s all Chip Kelly and it’s all real. Yes, he compiled much of his Week 9 fantasy goodness on one long play from Foles, but Desean is involved in the offense in a way that Andy Ried could not seem to figure out. The Eagles call D-Jax number at or near the line of scrimmage repeatedly, keeping his typically inconsistent floor higher than it’s ever been. Trust Desean as a No. 1 wide receiver.
It’s status quo on Desean. While he had previously represented a true boom-or-bust fantasy option, Jackson is now locked in at an every week start. Continue to have roll him out there regardless of who is taking snaps under center.
McCoy is the toughest case to gauge and, in a vacuum, he the most reliable fantasy commodity on this offense. Still, there is no getting around the fact that his yards-per-carry drops (5.8 ypc with Vick, 3.7 ypc with Foles) to a pretty mediocre level when Foles is in the game.
The pro-bowl running back, is the one we may have to worry about. No one is doubting McCoy’s ability to make plays in every facet of the football game, but as mentioned, the running lanes just aren’t quite as open for Shady as they seem to be with Michael Vick under center. In each of Nick Foles’ three starts, McCoy’s production has dipped. He saved owners with a touchdown reception on Sunday, but just 12 carries (for 44 yards) and four more looks in the passing game is a bit below the workhorse levels that were expected
In time, defenses will have to adjust to Foles and the passing attack, but at this point, it’s fair to wonder how much of Shady’s elite production was tied to Michael Vick’s legs. He’ll continue to get work in the passing game and we know he can make just about any defender on the planet miss, but McCoy’s day’s as the No. 1 back atop our rest-of-season rankings are over.