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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
Joe Flacco: Ravens don't need to draft wide receiver
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:35 am ET) When your Super Bowl quarterback doesn't believe his team needs to draft a wide receiver, then perhaps it doesn't.

Joe Flacco feels the Ravens are well-stocked in that area despite having lost Torrey Smith to free agency. They still boast Steve Smith, Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanero and Jeremy Butler, but are expected to seriously considering adding a wideout as early as the first round.

"Obviously, without Torrey now, the one thing we probably don't have as much of is that speed, is that one guy who can stretch the field," Flacco told ESPN. "But I'm not going to say we need it. I think we got really good guys and I think we're good with who we have."


Report: Cowboys out of running for Adrian Peterson; Cardinals still alive
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:28 am ET) The Cowboys, once considered the frontrunners to trade for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, are now out of the running, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, who added that only the Cardinals are serious contenders.

The claim is that a deal for Peterson must be made by Friday or Peterson will stay with Minnesota. That will be contingent on Arizona's ability or inability to identify its future featured back. Peterson could bring the Vikings a second-round pick.


Colts sign ILB Jerrell Freeman to qualifying offer
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:16 am ET) Linebacker Jerrell Freeman has signed his one-year qualifying offer for a reported $2.35 million and will remain with the Colts for a fourth season, the team website has reported. He had been a restricted free agent.

The three-year starter led Indianapolis in tackles in 2012 and 2013 before losing four games to a hamstring injury last year. He still finished with 95 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.


Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


 
 
 
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