Fantasy Team Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were one of the most mystifying teams in the NFL last year. After an embarrassing tie at Cincinnati, the team benched ten-year starting QB Donovan McNabb in a loss to the Ravens. Two months later, the team was one defensive stop from going to the Super Bowl.

We care little about “teams” in fantasy football. There’s a lot to like about this team, but buyer beware. Between last year’s finish and a contract “readjustment” (not extension), McNabb will be the starter through 2010. When he plays at least 14 games, McNabb is a top-12 quarterback. All the team did in the draft was add new weapons. Right now he’s the 8th rated QB by ADP. You’re not getting a bargain on this well worn QB model.

Brian Westbrook isn’t going to play 16 games. He’s been a top 10 RB four out of the last five years. He catches a lot of passes. As I know from mistakenly keeping Willis McGahee last year, guys coming off surgery are question marks. Ankle surgery will keep Westbrook out of training camp until close to the start of the regular season. He’s going to be a tough sell at RB11. Best case scenario is to let someone else take him and make a deal early in the season. LeSean McCoy is the rookie running back most likely to pick up the slack while Westbrook is out. He has the same body type as Westbrook but is very raw (left college after redshirt sophomore year).

The Eagles throw more often than most teams. The problem is, the ball tends to get spread around. DeSean Jackson led the team with 62 receptions. He was also the team’s punt returner. If his punt return job is handed over to rookie Jeremy Maclin, he could be a WR2 for fantasy. Jackson is most remembered for dropping the ball short of the goal line, costing his owners six points.

Maclin’s very good, as I can attest from being a Missouri fan. He played in a spread offense, so it’s doubtful that he will become a starter as a rookie. He’s a good dynasty pickup, especially if you get return yards. He should return kickoffs, punts, or perhaps both.

Kevin Curtis is another receiver worth keeping an eye on. He caught 77 passes in 2007, so he might be a waiver wire pickup. Reggie Brown never developed, Jason Avant is a potential slot guy, and Hank Baskett will be seen on reality TV more than the field this year.

L.J. Smith is gone. He will now tease fans of the Baltimore Ravens. Brent Celek is the main target this year. He was a popular waiver wire pickup after a 131-yard game against Seattle in Week 9. For the rest of the year, he didn’t amass 131 yards in receiving. He’s a TE2 at best. Draft pick Cornelius Ingram is a project and probably won’t see much of the field.

David Akers has been around for a while. He kicks the ball real good.

Eagles’ team D big numbers: 48 sacks, 16 interceptions, 15 fumbles recovered, five defensive touchdowns and two kick-return scores. They will be a top team D again this year.

The Eagles rotate players more than most on the defensive line, and they always seem to be adding one or two starters on defense. Trent Cole is the DE to target. Juqua Parker is a fill-in at best and Victor Abiamiri is the second-year player with upside.

Stewart Bradley took over at MLB last year and led the team in tackles. He’s steady but doesn’t make a lot of big plays. The new starter at weakside linebacker is Akeem Jordan. He’ll be a good late-round pick. Chris Gocong starts at strong side linebacker and has played a little defensive end.

Quintin Mikell is the starting strong safety and will be a top ten defensive back. Quintin Demps or Sean Jones will be the free safety. Demps was the team’s main kickoff returner last year with one touchdown. If he starts, he may lose the role.

There are a lot of rookies and young players who may not quite be ready this year for the Eagles. It’s a good offense without a lot of fantasy star power.

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