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2012 Draft Prep: Vindication coming for Vick

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Last year, Fantasy owners were all in on Michael Vick.

It proved to be a costly decision as Vick was one of the biggest disappointments in Fantasy in 2011. He let a lot of people down and cost many owners a shot at the playoffs.

More positive Vick vibes ...
In 2010 Michael Vick averaged the second most points per game (30.45) in Fantasy Football history and I made my debut at CBS explaining why he was undraftable given his first round price tag in 2011. I'm back in 2012 to tell you that the pendulum has swung the other way and Vick is looking like one of the great Draft Day values.

Vick still finished as the 12th ranked quarterback last year despite missing three games, scoring only one rushing touchdown and dealing with down seasons for both Jeremy Maclin (illness and injury) and DeSean Jackson (attitude). Vick still averaged 21 points per game in 2011 and I know he has a ton of upside on those numbers. As I explained last year, there was no way that Vick would match the career highs he set in 2010 in completion percentage (62.6), yards per attempt (8.1) and rushing touchdowns (nine). In 2011, those numbers fell to 59.8 percent, 7.8 yards per attempt and only one rushing touchdown. What I like about those numbers is that Vick bested his career averages in both completion percentage and yards per attempt last year and they represented the second best totals of his career. Vick averages around five rushing touchdowns per season and I do expect to see his scores come up from one and land right around 4-6 scores, which is significant for his weekly production.

For Vick to still produce that efficiently in the worst years for both Maclin and Jackson as starters is extremely impressive to me and shows that Vick has really grown as a quarterback. I am concerned however that his rushes per game fell by 33 percent (although that could help to keep him healthy) and his ability to score up close completely fell off the map. After scoring a quarterback best nine rushing touchdowns in the red zone in 2010 on 21 carries, Vick took only 11 carries last year and scored the one touchdown. Both Vick and the Eagles wanted to limit his wear and tear in scoring situations, which is why we saw Vick score eight fewer times from inside the 20 last year while running back LeSean McCoy saw his red zone rushing scores jump from four in 2010 to 14 last year.

In 2011, Vick had an 18.7 percent red zone scoring rate, worst among the 15 busiest quarterbacks and his struggles inside the five-yard line were legendary. His 23.1 percent goal line scoring rate bested only Curtis Painter, Blaine Gabbert and Joe Flacco among the 28 quarterbacks with at least 10 goal line chances. He will improve on those metrics and was at 23.8 and 42 percent respectively in 2010 so look for Vick to average out those numbers for 2012, which gives him some nice upside.

With a healthy Maclin, a happy Jackson, McCoy out of the backfield and his rediscovery of tight end Brent Celek, Vick will pilot one of the most explosive and dynamic offenses in the entire NFL. How many games he will play remains the big question for Vick, who has missed seven games over the last two years. At 32 years of age, Vick is no spring chicken, but his Fantasy upside is as big as any quarterback's in the league and with a proper ADP in the late fourth round, he is absolutely a worthwhile gamble on Draft Day.

Unlike with the top quarterbacks, I would definitely recommend snagging a good backup (I think Robert Griffin III is the perfect compliment) with Vick because chances are you will need him for at least a few games. -- Nathan Zegura, Senior Fantasy Writer

To recap, Vick was drafted on average at No. 7 overall as the No. 2 quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers. He finished as the No. 11 quarterback in standard leagues, 217 points behind Rodgers and just three points ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went undrafted in most formats.

But this year, Vick will rebound and prove to be tremendous value. The prediction here is Vick will finish as a Top 5 Fantasy quarterback.

Heading into training camp, Vick is being drafted on average as the No. 6 quarterback in Round 4. He is being selected after Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton.

That's totally understandable given the way all five of those quarterbacks played last year since they were Top 5 in Fantasy points. All have a positive outlook this season, and each one should do well. Just don't be surprised if Vick supplants one of them as a Top 5 quarterback with Brees, Stafford and Newton the likely candidates to slip.

Brees could suffer with Sean Payton suspended, Stafford could see a decline in production with an improved running game and Newton could endure a sophomore slump. But this isn't about one of those quarterbacks dropping out of the Top 5 -- it's about Vick bouncing back.

Now, why should Fantasy owners trust Vick this year? Has he done enough to earn back your trust after what we saw last season? Does he deserve consideration as a Top 5 Fantasy passer?

We know injuries will always be a risk with him based on his smallish frame (6-foot, 215 pounds) and running style. He has played 16 games once and 15 games three other times since coming into the NFL in 2001, and he's missed at least seven full games with the Eagles as their starter the past two seasons. Last year, Vick missed three games with broken ribs.

But you have to look at what Vick is capable of when healthy, which is why he is worth drafting as your starting quarterback. The potential is there for him to be the No. 1 Fantasy passer if he can play close to a full season. Vick averaged 19.8 Fantasy points a game last year in standard leagues, which includes three games where he was in single digits. One of those games was in Week 10 against Arizona when he first broke his ribs, and DeSean Jackson was benched for that outing due to disciplinary reasons.

A better example of what Vick is capable of is looking at his final three games of the season against the Jets, Cowboys and Redskins when he was healthy with Jackson active. Vick averaged 24.7 Fantasy points over that span, which would have given him 394.6 points over 16 games and put him at No. 5 overall among quarterbacks, just ahead of Newton (394.0).

It is obviously difficult to count on Vick for a full season even though he's saying all the right things about staying healthy. He recently said his motto is to "get the next yard on the next play" so he can avoid needless hits, but instincts will likely take over in a game. Still, it's nice to envision what Vick could do if he stays on the field all year.

He had seven games with at least 23 Fantasy points in 2011. By comparison, Rodgers (14 games with at least 23 points), Brees (12), Brady (10), Newton (nine) and Stafford (nine) all had more, but they all played at least 15 games.

Vick should have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL with Jackson happy now that he got paid, Jeremy Maclin at 100 percent, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy. Vick also has a lot to prove after getting a $100 million contract last year and not living up to it.

The biggest thing for Vick is staying on the field, and none of us can predict that. We can only draft him in the appropriate spot and hope he stays healthy. It's why you should draft a capable No. 2 quarterback; I like pairing Vick with Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III or Jay Cutler since each could be starting Fantasy options and good replacements should Vick go down.

But we don't want to talk about Vick injuries this year. We want to talk about his success, and hopefully he produces as we expect, which should mean Top 5 production at his position. He should be considered a steal in Round 4, and we expect a big year for Vick in 2012.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:34 pm ET) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


Entering third season, 49ers' Lawrence Okoye eyeing roster spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:04 pm ET) This might finally be the year Lawrence Okoye can crack a spot on the 49ers' roster, per the Bay Area News Group.

Okoye, a former British Olympics discus thrower and rugby player, is feeling confident about his improvements and feels like his potential is worth a roster spot.

“It’s very different from the first time I came here. I’m feeling very good about things,” Okoye said Thursday while sitting at his locker. “I’m just happy I was given the opportunity to stay here so long, so I could catch up. I have a good opportunity to show what I can do.”

Okoye has worked under new head coach Jim Tomsula for two years and with Justin Smith's retirement, his emergence might be rewarded.

“You’re going to get lots of people telling you things. But the main thing is to just keep yourself motivated, despite what people say about you," Okoye said. "People will write you off. People will say this or that. Just keep yourself motivated, keep going every day and you’ll be good.”

 


Bengals' Terrelle Pryor still dreams about winning it all
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:45 pm ET) Terrelle Pryor's chances of taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl and winning it are slim, but that won’t stop him from dreaming.

Pryor -- in his fourth year in the league -- dreams about winning the Super Bowl with quite some frequency, he just isn't sure what team he's doing it with.

“I don’t know the team. It’s always in black uniforms,” Pryor said. “I didn’t see any orange. No, it’s not the Raiders. But I believe it can happen because I can visualize it like that. I’m into visualization.”

Pryor hasn't played a down since the 2013 regular season, when he passed for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games.


Flowers' college position coach thinks he can fill in for injured Beatty
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:18 pm ET) Things are moving really fast for Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. The eighth overall pick in the draft, because of an injury to Will Beatty, might have inherited a huge workload this season, per nj.com.

Art Kehoe, Flowers' offensive line coach at the University of Miami, thinks Flowers will be up to the task of protecting quarterback Eli Manning.

"I'm sure he raised his level up a notch or two, but I think he plays every week, I think he plays hard in practice," Kehoe said. "He's an unproven commodity at the next level, and he's a high draft pick, [the Giants] drafted him to be a fixer, so I'm sure he's going in there to do what he did in Miami — scrap his ass off every day in practice, and if you're supposed to be a badass the next weekend [against] your opponent, he's gonna be there and he's gonna bring everything he's got. That's what he does. He wants to know that there's a dude, and he has to take care of him, and he'll be up to the challenge.

Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Justin Pugh is also a top candidate to fill in for the injured Beatty.


Union: Goodell must back off hearing of Patriots QB Tom Brady
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:00 pm ET) NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is growing impatient awaiting word from Roger Goodell on the request of the NFL commissioner to recuse himself as arbitrator of the appeal hearings ofPatriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games next season for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal, claiming that he likely knew that game balls were being deflated for his benefit before the 2014 AFC title game.

Smith is claiming that neither Goodell nor the Wells Report, which investigated the incident, could legitimately claim impartiality. He added that the NFLPA will "advance the volume" of the request if they don't hear from Goodell by next week. Part of the union's press release reads as follows:

Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

As for the Wells Report, Smith stated that "you can't really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper." He offered into evidence the findings in regard to NFL official Walt Anderson, who was a key figure in the investigation, citing one part of the report questions his memory and another credits it.


Zimmer happy with progress of Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:32 pm ET) Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is gaining a better understanding of route-running and the nuances of playing the position in the NFL, which would allow his talent to result in greater productivity.

Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.

"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."


GM: Dolphins LT Branden Albert should be fine for Week 1
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has expressed optimism that left tackle Branden Albert will be ready to roll by the regular season opener.

Albert has been rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL sustained last November against Detroit. He had signed a five-year, $46 million contract the previous March and had been performing particularly well before going down.

"It's been a long rehab and he's really attacked it every day," Hickey told SiriusXM NFL Radio, adding that there was a "reasonable explanation" that he would be ready for Week 1. "We really like his progress. He's out there with his team working out. We're really encouraged by what we're seeing with him."

Ja'Wuan Williams was forced to move to left tackle following the Albert injury in 2014. But he struggled at that position and is expected to move to his more familiar right tackle spot this year.


Report: Bills still want to extend Marcell Dareus
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:15 pm ET) The Bills still want to extend the contract of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Despite the one-game suspension levied by the league against Dareus on Thursday, the team still hopes to have an extension wrapped up before the start of training camp. 

2015 is scheduled to be the last season of Dareus' current contract. He'll make $8.06 million.


Shanahan: Struggles of Robert Griffin III unrelated to injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan does not believe injuries have prevented quarterback Robert Griffin III from maximizing his potential in the NFL. Rather, he feels it was the team not creating an offensive system that best fits his talents and his own belief that he could play a traditional role at that position.

Griffin sustained a serious knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. He then struggled in 2013 in an offense designed to transform him into a drop-back quarterback rather than one that took advantage of his mobility. He suffered another knee injury last year and did not perform well in the offense of new coach Jay Gruden.

"I don't think getting hurt has anything to do with it," Shanahan told 106.7 The Fan. "In college he didn't have a route tree, didn't have a playbook. That does take some time. ... If you take a quarterback like that you must run the kind of system that allows him to be successful. ... I really believe Robert thought he was more of a drop-back quarterback. He hasn't done things the NFL asks you to do. It does take some growing pains. You better really work on it inside and out."

Some have wondered why the Redskins went so hard after Griffin if they weren't willing to create an offense that maximizes his skill set.


Sheldon Richardson not at Jets' OTAs because 'I have a life'
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson is skipping the team's OTAs this week, a decision that earned him criticism from fans and media. 

Richardson's explanation isn't likely to win anyone over. 

Richardson went on Twitter and told fans he missed the workouts because, "I have a life outside of football."

"I chose to enjoy my family a little longer," he continued. "So to (you) fans that know everything, please worry 'bout yourself."

Richardson pointed out in another tweet that he "jus' wasn't at practice," but that he was still "putting in work tho'"


 
 
 
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