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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
Report: Titans, TE Craig Stevens agree to restructured contract
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) The Titans and tight end Craig Stevens agreed to a restructured contract Wednesday, The Tennessean reports.

Stevens had been scheduled to make $3.5 million in 2015, but he'll make a similar amount to his $1.6-million salary from 2014. He was placed on injured reserve after five games last season due to a thigh injury.


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(4/1/2015) The Vikings signed defensive end Caesar Rayford on Wednesday, Rayford's representation, the Willis & Woy Sports group announced.

Rayford attended the NFL veterans combine, which gave him another look for NFL teams. Rayford was last in the CFL and the Arena League. He was last in the NFL in 2013 when he was with the Cowboys. 


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(4/1/2015) Linebacker Reggie Walker is all right with doing whatever the Broncos coaching staff asks of him. 

Walker, in an interview with DenverBroncos.com, said one of his biggest assets as a football player is the ability to play multiple positions as a linebacker. However, his primary position is at inside linebacker. 

"I’ve had to play in multiple positions throughout my football career; I can do a lot," Walker said. "I think I can do a lot very well. Hopefully I can come out here and show that and I’m going to be ready to compete."

Walker will earn his pay check on special teams. That was a role he played with the Chargers and one the Broncos will rely on him for as well. 

"Special teams is all a mindset," Walker said. "It’s all just about who’s willing to work harder and I’m going to work as hard as I can so I’ll be great at it."


Browns' Randy Starks wants to 'take care of the defensive line'
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(4/1/2015) One attribute that defensive lineman Randy Starks is looking to bring to the Browns is leadership. 

Coming from Miami, Starks is hoping to be an outspoken leader to the younger members on the defensive line. Starks added that he doesn't necessarily want to try and assert his authority over the whole defense. 

“I’m not trying to come here and take over the whole defense," Starks said on Sirius XM radio, via ClevelandBrowns.com. "I’m just trying to take care of the defensive line, and that will help take care of the defense itself. Because we have (Karlos) Dansby and Joe Haden to take care of their respective positions.”

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“That’s the same thing I told (coach Mike Pettine): I’m trying to win games," Starks said. "I’m trying to get to the playoffs. And we’re on the same page.”


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(4/1/2015) Cardinals pass-rusher Kareem Martin could be going from having his hand in the dirt to standing up with the intent of rushing the passer. 

Martin, who spent his rookie season at defensive end, is being considered for a move to outside linebacker, coach Bruce Arians told the team's website

"With his length, I wouldn't say he's (San Francisco’s) Aldon Smith at this point in his career, but he's got that body style and he's shown some stuff off the edge,” Arians said. “So we are going to look at him to see if he can play in space at all. That might be a spot where he can find his niche as a pass rusher.”

Martin actually spent one day during his rookie year in the outside linebackers meeting room before making the move to defensive end. When Martin worked with the scout team, he would occasionally work as an outside linebacker.

“Being on the edge won’t be so foreign to me,” Martin said. “I’m ready for it.” 


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(4/1/2015) The Ravens are working on a contract extension with right guard Marshal Yanda, owner Steve Bisciotti said on a conference call with PSL ticket holders. 

Yanda is slated to earn a $5.5 million base salary and carry an $8.45 million cap number heading into 2015, the final year of his contract. Yanda's regarded as one of the top interior linemen in the NFL, making him a prime candidate for the Ravens to work a new deal out with. 


Jets re-sign offensive tackle Ben Ijalana
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(4/1/2015) The Jets announced on Wednesday that they have re-signed offensive tackle Ben Ijalana

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(4/1/2015) The Jaguars hosted free-agent center Stefen Wisniewski on a visit on Wednesday, according to a report from the Florida Times-Union.

Wisniewski also recently visited the Patriots, according to NFL.com, with both New England and Jacksonville in need of interior offensive linemen. Wisniewski spent the past four years with the Raiders, appearing in 61 games. 


Jets sign linebacker Jamari Lattimore
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(4/1/2015) The Jets announced on Wednesday that they have signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Jamari Lattimore

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In 2014, Lattimore started five games and totaled 35 tackles. 


 
 
 
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