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Offseason Primers: Philadelphia Eagles

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Dream Team is gone. The Eagles are no longer viewed as a team full of superstars.

Heading into the 2011 season, the Eagles were viewed as a potential power. Michael Vick was coming off a dynamic season, and the offense was loaded with budding stars like LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. On defense, the Eagles brought in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and they were expected to win the Super Bowl.

Two years later, Andy Reid is no longer the head coach, Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie are gone and Vick is competing for his job. Chip Kelly is the new head coach, and he has plenty of decisions to make with his new team.

2012 Touches Leaders
780 total touches (rush attempts + receptions)
LeSean McCoy 254 (200 car., 54 rec.) 32.5%
Bryce Brown 128 (115 car., 13 rec.) 16.4%
Jeremy Maclin 69 rec. 8.8%
Brent Celek 57 rec. 7.3%
Jason Avant 53 rec. 6.7%
All Others 219 28.1%

The biggest quandary facing Kelly is with Vick, and this might be his final chance to prove he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He'll be 33 when the season starts, and his career is far from over. But after being a star in 2010 he has faltered the past two years, and he has to rebuild his on-field reputation again in a new system under Kelly.

On the surface, Kelly's up-tempo offense suits Vick's style of play, but we have to find out if the two can mesh. Vick still has plenty of talent and plenty of talent around him with Jackson, Maclin, Brent Celek and McCoy. But Vick's problems remain the same: he's injury prone and prone to mistakes.

If he starts 16 games we can still see him posting quality stats, but that's no guarantee since he hasn't finished a full season since 2006. He enters this season as a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback, and he's worth drafting with a late-round pick. If you have reasonable expectations for Vick then he'll be a good selection on Draft Day. But if you go in expecting Vick to play like 2010 again then you can expect to be disappointed, because it's unlikely that quarterback will ever be seen again.

As for McCoy, Jackson and Maclin, they should enjoy playing for Kelly. And we'll find out if Kelly can infuse some new talent in Bryce Brown and James Casey, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason. We like Casey as a sleeper this year, but don't expect much from Brown if McCoy is healthy. This is still McCoy's backfield, and he should return to form as an elite Fantasy running back.

LeSean McCoy -- Still going strong

2012 Target Leaders
618 pass attempts
Jeremy Maclin 122 19.7%
Brent Celek 88 14.2%
DeSean Jackson 87 14.1%
Jason Avant 76 12.3%
LeSean McCoy 67 10.8%
All Others 178 28.8%

There are some Fantasy owners worried about McCoy this season. He is coming off a bad year, playing for a new coach in Kelly and has some potential competition for carries in Brown. All of that is true, but have no fear; McCoy remains an elite Fantasy option. Yes, 2012 was a tough year for him. He missed four games with a concussion and went from 20 total touchdowns in 2011 to just five. He also failed to reach 1,500 total yards (he had 1,200) for the first time since 2009. But despite his struggles, McCoy still had double digits in Fantasy points in 10 of his 12 outings. He still remains the starter, and Kelly will lean on him. And even if he comes off the field for Brown at times, it's not like this is a 50-50 split. McCoy will continue to do the heavy lifting for this offense. We definitely recommend drafting McCoy in Round 1, and he should be considered a Top 10 overall pick. Brown is worth a late-round selection as a handcuff, but figure McCoy to be around 1,500 total yards again with the chance for double digits in touchdowns and close to 50 catches. He's an elite Fantasy option, and he will regain his form this year.

Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson -- Bounce-back candidates

Jackson and Maclin are hoping the addition of Kelly can help them rebound from a down year. For Jackson, he has been a disappointment the past two years. In 2011, while dealing with his contract status, Jackson had just 58 catches for 961 yards and four touchdowns. He then dropped to 45 catches for 700 yards and two touchdowns in 2012, including being out the final five games with a rib injury. Kelly has promised to use Jackson a lot this year, and we hope he's true to his word. Jackson has plenty of potential -- he had 2,200 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns from 2009-10 -- but he has to stay healthy and prove he wants to be an elite receiver again. The good thing with Jackson this year is you can draft him with a mid-round pick compared to the past two years when he was an early-round selection. For Maclin, he is entering a potential contract year, and we hope the motivation of a new deal will help him perform at a high level. Maclin was good but not great in 2012 with 69 catches for 857 yards and seven touchdowns. He now has 22 touchdowns in his past three years with at least 63 catches a year over that span. But Maclin has never reached 1,000 receiving yards, and he's had a hard time staying healthy, even though he's only missed five games in four seasons. Go into this season with Maclin as a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver. He has the chance to be a starting option in all leagues, but he should be drafted with a mid-round pick with the hope he'll outperform his draft value.

James Casey -- Sleeper

Expected 2013 Draft Averages
Michael Vick 117-125 overall
LeSean McCoy 4-10 overall
Bryce Brown 126-133 overall
Jeremy Maclin 102-110 overall
DeSean Jackson 114-120 overall
Brent Celek Undrafted
James Casey Undrafted

Casey has never been a big stat producer. His best season was 2012 when he had 34 catches for 330 yards and three touchdowns for the Texans. But he's never really had the chance to showcase his skills playing a hybrid role of fullback and tight end in Houston. With the Eagles, Kelly has talked him up as a tight end who can be used like Aaron Hernandez with the Patriots. They can move Casey around on offense, and he should be able to increase his catches, yards and touchdowns. Brent Celek remains the starting tight end, but Casey could still be on the field with Celek and make plays. We don't recommend drafting Casey in the majority of standard leagues, but he is someone to keep on your radar. The Eagles are going to be creative on offense with Kelly, and Casey is someone who could benefit -- along with Fantasy owners.

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
New optimism regarding Justin Blackmon's potential return
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(4:48 pm ET) A lot of people inside the NFL are optimistic Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon is "overcoming his issues" and will be back in the league in 2015, reports Fox Sports. Blackmon got suspended in November 2013 following his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy.

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Pro Football Talk reports that because of Gordon's past DUI, alcohol was one of the substances for which he was being tested. The website said a one-year suspension is likely a "done deal."

The Browns also suspended Gordon for missing a Saturday walkthrough before the regular-season finale, and CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported then the Browns might be ready to part ways with the ultra-talented 23-year-old.

The Browns have not commented on Sunday's reports.


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(3:14 pm ET) Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and ESPNCleveland.com does not expect him to re-sign with Cleveland. A concussion and shoulder injury limited Cameron to 10 games this season.

The 26-year-old caught 24 passes for 424 yards and two touchdowns after a breakout 2013 season in which he made 80 grabs for 917 yards and seven scores.


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(1:53 pm ET) Patriots starting center Bryan Stork, who missed the AFC title game with a knee injury, practiced Sunday and "continues to show no noticeable signs of injury," reports ESPN.com. The rookie is on track to play in the Super Bowl.

New England is a 1-point favorite over Seattle after opening as a 2.5-point underdog.


Seahawks to make CB Byron Maxwell a free-agency priority
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(1:29 pm ET) Seahawks general manager John Schneider told the Seattle Times that one of his first priorities will be re-signing corner Byron Maxwell, who is headed for unrestricted free agency. "Now I think he, like a lot of our other unrestricted guys, I think he is going to be highly sought after and he should be," Schneider said.

"But we would at least like to have the opportunity to retain him."

Maxwell, 26, who starts opposite Richard Sherman, had 39 tackles and two interceptions in 13 regular-season games.


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(10:11 am ET) Along with the Cowboys, Packers cornerback Sam Shields said he also believes wide receiver Dez Bryant made the catch during the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional game, reports ESPN.

While Shields initially said 'The refs made a good call on that,' he now admits Bryant secured the ball properly.

"It was a catch," Shields said. "But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that's what the refs came up with. I never said he didn't catch it. He made a helluva catch I was in great coverage. Like I said, it was good on good and he came up with the catch."


Brian Hoyer wants to compete for starting QB role in Cleveland
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:36 am ET) Quarterback Brian Hoyer is open to returning to the Browns in 2015, if he is given a chance to compete for the starting role, Hoyer's agent Joe Linta told NBC Sports.

Hoyer started the first 13 games of the season and went 7-6. However, he was replaced by Johnny Manziel.

"I think the only thing that would make him not [want to] come back is if they said Manziel or whoever we take in the draft or whoever we sign in free agency is going to be the starter and you will only be the backup," Linta said.

Hoyer is set to become a free agent in the offseason and Linta added he expects to meet with the Browns soon to discuss their options.


Colts' Andrew Luck considered skipping Pro Bowl
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(1/24/2015) After losing 45-7 to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck admitted he thought about not playing in the Pro Bowl, reports The Indianapolis Star.

Luck felt embarrassed after the championship game and had to think about turning around and playing a week later.

"I mean, it is a privilege, but I am hurting in a sense," Luck said. "But I realize it's an honor to be voted in and the fans really enjoy it. So, I did it."

While Luck was proud of his team for advancing to the championship game, he said this season’s playoff loss was worse than the previous two.

"I think every loss in the playoffs leaves a really, really terrible taste in your mouth," Luck said. "But this one has been worse than the other two because we did get so close. And the way we lost, it was just embarrassing."


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(1/24/2015) The NFL has issued a warning to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch if he decides to make his obscene gesture in the Super Bowl, vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told ESPN Saturday. If Lynch performs his gesture, Seattle will be assessed a 15-yard penalty.

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(1/24/2015) Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater told reporters that the NFL Players Association has "instructed" New England players to not publicly address Deflategate, according to the team's official website. The 29-year-old Slater is a team representative for the union.

"I'd love to get into that with you, but we have been instructed by our union as players to reserve comment on this situation," Slater said. "It's an ongoing investigation, so in order to protect our players, we’re going to go ahead and not talk about that."

The NFL found 11 of 12 game balls the Patriots used in the first half in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Colts were significantly underinflated after being deemed legal before the game. The investigation is being led by NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash and Ted Wells. The league has yet to release its findings.

Coach Bill Belichick also addressed the media in an impromptu press conference to reveal that his team conducted an "internal study," which revealed that the Patriots "followed every rule to the letter."

Like Slater, Belichick vowed not to speak on Deflategate again. New England will square off against Seattle in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.


 
 
 
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