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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
'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:21 pm ET) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:06 pm ET) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:12 am ET) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:01 am ET) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:54 am ET) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:52 am ET) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:50 am ET) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


Russell Allen among Jaguars' latest releases
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:43 am ET) On Thursday the Jaguars released veteran linebacker Russell Allen along with Will Pericak , D'Aundre Reed and Jabin Sambrano, ESPN reported. Allen was released with a failed physical designation, a sign that he might not quite be over the effects of a concussion suffered late last season. 

Ravens reinstate Rolando McClain
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:41 am ET) Despite a poor workout earlier this month the Ravens have reinstated linebacker Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list, NFL.com reports. It remains to be seen if McClain has a legitimate chance of staying on the roster this summer. 

J.J. Watt locked up through 2015
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:39 am ET) The Texans have exercised their option to keep defensive end J.J. Watt on the roster through the 2015 season. The Houston Chronicle believes that Watt won't even play under the terms of that fifth year (roughly $10.6 million guaranteed) because the Texans will agree to a long-term extension with him before then. 

 
 
 
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