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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
Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:13 pm ET) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:09 pm ET) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
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(4:01 pm ET) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
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(2:56 pm ET) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson suspended four games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:22 pm ET) Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the NFL announced Thursday.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in a statement via the Jets, per Fox Sports. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”

Richardson, who was a 2013 first-round pick, is entering his third season in the NFL. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He has totaled 84 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in 32 career games. He also has one safety.


Texans DT Brandon Ivory arrested on burglary charge
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Texans defensive tackle Brandon Ivory was arrested Wednesday morning in Alabama and charged with first-degree burglary, according to a Tuscaloosa Police Department report obtained by SportingNews.com.

Ivory and another man were allegedly involved in a home burglary when the two entered the residence by kicking open the back door and then demanding money from the residents. The two stole money and two Ipads from the residence. Ivory and the other suspect were arrested at their apartment shortly after the incident with the stolen money and property.


Embattled Brandon Spikes pleads guilty to leaving scene of crash
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Former Patriots and Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a recent car crash and has received a fine and year of probation, per WBZ, which is further reporting that he has lost his license and will be forced to attend a driver's safety class.

Spikes has lost far more than his license. He has lost his livelihood, having been cut by New England for hitting another car and abandoning his vehicle on the highway. He later told the police that he had hit a deer.

No other teams have been rumored to be targeting Spikes for the coming season.


Terrelle Pryor ready to embrace new role with Browns
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6/30/2015) Terrelle Pryor once declared that he could not play football if he could not play quarterback.

Reality has since set in.

Pryor has been cut twice and is now playing on a Cleveland Browns team desperate for a quarterback, but apparently not desperate enough to give him a shot. He is instead embracing what he is calling a "slash-player" role.

"I'm going to give (it) a chance," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I just want to play football. I'm a playmaker, and I believe if I can touch the ball, I can go to the house, especially if I have space. This should definitely open up some opportunities."

Pryor has already taken the first step by contacting Steelers receiving stud Antonio Brown and making plans to work out with him and Randy Moss so they can teach him the nuances of the position.

He also figures there's another reason he's ahead of the game.

"The thing that helps me is that I played quarterback, and I know what the quarterback wants," Pryor said.


Lions new DT Haloti Ngata too busy to think about new contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6/30/2015) Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had his contract in mind in his last days with the Ravens, but he's too busy to think about it now that he's been traded to the Lions.

Ngata admitted that he suspected a deal could take place.

"The closer we got to free agency, I thought it could be a possibility," he told Monday Morning Quarterback. "It didn't surprise me ... since we weren't getting closer to any kind of contract stuff, I just figured there were a lot of things that could happen. I definitely started to have a trade in my mind as a possibility."

Ngata added that he's not thinking about a contract extension with Detroit.

"I'm just trying to get to know my teammates, get my playbook down, and my technique and terminology," he said.


Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon claims he'd pick himself in Fantasy
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6/30/2015) Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon doesn't have a Fantasy football team, but if he did...

"If ... I could take myself, I would," he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Never mind that Adrian Peterson has returned to the backfield. Never mind that Peterson has traditionally not yielded many carries to teammates. In 2012, for instance, he totaled 348 of his team's 401 rushing attempts.

The Vikings, however, are expected to use a more balanced approach in 2015. And McKinnon, who flashed as a starter with Peterson sidelined last season, is feeling dandy after undergoing lower back surgery in December.

"Two hundred percent," he declared in regard to his health. "If there is a 300, I feel 300. It's all good."

McKinnon averaged 4.8 yards per carry a year ago, which buoyed his confidence.


 
 
 
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