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The NFC East has three established quarterbacks and one messy situation.
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Michael Vick is the number one fantasy quarterback in the division. He’s a bit of a risk in part because of injuries and in part because he’s never had a season like last year. He has the tools to succeed and the weapons around him to flourish, but we won’t know if he still has the drive to be a better quarterback. He’s easily a top tier QB1, but he has more risk than the likes of Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Manning. Kevin Kolb is one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. He could find himself traded, possibly to Arizona. He makes a decent QB2 if he’s a starter.
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Tony Romo put up big numbers when he is healthy. Dez Bryant is immature, but he gives Romo another quality weapon. He’s averaged 2699.5 yards and 1.9 touchdown passes per game over the past four years (51 games). His lack of playoff success keeps him from the Brady, Peyton, and Brees discussions, but he is possibly the best value among fantasy quarterbacks because of it.
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Eli Manning reached 4000 yards for the second straight season. Not bad for a team that historically likes to run the football. His career high of 31 touchdowns gives him an average of 29 over the past two years and 25 over the past six. He really formed a nice rapport with Hakeem Nicks and remains a solid QB1 if you want to address other needs or a high-end QB2.
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Then there is Washington. Donovan McNabb is as good as gone, which marks the second straight season he’s been sent packing. I don’t know if he’s a starting caliber quarterback anymore. Even if he finds a new gig, his fantasy days are most likely behind him. Rex Grossman could be brought back, but it appears John Beck could get a chance to show what he can do. This is a situation to avoid. Not only are the QB options mediocre at best, but they are running thin in the playmaker department.
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It is going to be weird on Sunday when Donovan McNabb returns to The Link sporting the Redskins burgundy and gold. He’ll still wear that trademark smile and don the #5, but everything else will be different. 
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The question is, how will he be received by Philadelphia’s notorious fans? They booed Mike Schmidt and Santa Claus. They’ve thrown snowballs. How will they treat the QB they booed on draft day back in 1999?
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My guess is that he’ll receive a warm introduction. Sure, there will be some boos, but for the most part the Eagles fans will show their appreciation prior to kick-off.
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I attended Charles Barkley’s first game back to the Spectrum following his trade to Phoenix and Barkley had a raucous standing ovation from the Sixers crowd. In fact, the Sixers players were booed during their introduction because the fans felt they weren’t given enough time to cheer Sir Charles. A fan came on the court while Barkley was shooting a free throw to hug him.
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Granted, Charles Barkley was a more beloved figure in Philly than McNabb, but I do believe the fans have appreciated the success the Eagles have had.
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Once the game starts though, all bets are off.
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As far as his level of play, I believe he’ll rise to the occasion, which is why I have him on the Start side of the ledger in this week’s sit/start article (click here to see the article).


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Kevin Kolb is the ninth QB (71st overall) going off the board in fantasy drafts according to Mock Draft Central. I’m pretty much on board with his rank (click to see my 2010 QB rankings), but I’m not sure if I’d have the guts to pull the trigger on him.

 

Not when you can get much better value with Brett Favre (10, 77), Eli Manning (11, 86), Matt Ryan (12, 87), Joe Flacco (13, 91), Donovan McNabb (14, 103), or Carson Palmer (15, 108). Sure Kevin Kolb could blow up this year, but he also comes with plenty of risk.

 

Aside from two impressive starts in Week 2 & 3 in which he ripped the Saints (391 yards, 2 TDs) and Chiefs (327 yards, 2 TDs),  Kolb is for the most part the great unknown. He is highly regarded for his accuracy, but he has to prove that he can remain accurate all season long against heavy pressure.

 

Kolb does have a ton of weapons at his disposal. Perhaps that is why everybody is so high on him. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are a solid 1-2 receiving punch. LeSean McCoy is very capable at catching the ball out of the backfield. Brent Celek is one of the top options at tight end.

 

That said, Kolb has big shoes to fill following Donovan McNabb’s departure, especially when they will square off twice this season. Philadelphia is not an easy place to play, so if he struggles things could get ugly in a hurry. With Michael Vick waiting in the wings, the Philly fans could start calling for a change. While that won’t necessarily cause Andy Reid to make a change, it would make for a tense situation. Not exactly how you want your first year’s starters season to go.

 

That, of course, is the pessimistic viewpoint. Some Eagles fans have grown tired of McNabb and are thirsty for change. This is a young team, so why not have a young QB try to lead them to the promise land?

 

If you are going to roll the dice and use Kolb as your number one fantasy QB, make sure you get a capable backup. It’s not that I expect him to fail, but there is that risk. Plus, his fantasy playoffs schedule (@DAL, @NYG, vs. MIN) is brutal.

 

Would you trust Kevin Kolb as your starting fantasy QB?


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

The price is going to be right for McNabb. His ADP according to Mock Draft Central is 103, which puts him as the seventh pick in the ninth round of 12-team fantasy drafts. He is the 14th QB coming off the board. I actually have him as the 11th QB (click to see my ranking), which would make him a starter, but he clearly has some risk associated with him.

 

He made the obvious switch from the Eagles to the Redskins. While Mike Shanahan’s concurrent arrival helps, there is still something to be said about switching teams after eleven years with an organization. Even if the transition is flawless, there are other factors that could jeopardize your fantasy team.

 

McNabb will turn 34 this year. While that isn’t nearly as old as the QB the Vikings are waiting on, it’s still an age where you feel the bumps and bruises a little more. If we were talking about an Iron Man like Favre or Peyton Manning, I wouldn’t stress it as much, but this is a guy who has missed multiple games in five of the past eight seasons. Washington tied for 4th in the league with 46 sacks allowed last year. They addressed their line adding rookie LT Trent Williams, but it is still cause for concern.

 

As are his lack of playmakers. His top wideout Santana Moss is a major downgrade from the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson. Devin Thomas (40 career receptions), Malcom Kelly (28 career receptions), and Terrence Austin (rookie) have to prove they can excel at this level. Tight Ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis both have ability, but how often will they both be running routes at the same time. Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker aren’t making anybody envision Brian Westbrook.  McNabb has dealt with inferior talent before, but he at least had Westbrook to lean on.

 

McNabb also isn’t the runner he once was. He hasn’t topped 250 rushing yards in a season since 2003. He has only had 4+ rushing TDs twice in his career, the last one being in 2002. McNabb only has two years of 3600+ passing yards and has thrown 26+ TDs just once, back in 2004 when he had Terrell Owens.

 

So do you trust him as your starting fantasy football QB? Personally I do not. I would rather address the position early and get someone that I rank in the top 8 or so. If you do take McNabb, I urge you to add a high-end backup QB. One that you could envision becoming your full-time starter. Just in case.

 

What do you think of Donovan McNabb?

The Redskins made a big splash by adding Donovan McNabb in the offseason. After a couple years of actually having some weapons in the passing game, McNabb takes a major step back with Washington’s offering. He always seems to find a way to make it work, so expect the Skins’ offense to improve.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They open up the fantasy playoffs against Tampa Bay at home in Week 14. They then go on the road to face Dallas and Jacksonville.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Donovan McNabb – Normally I would give him a five star rating, but he does have an injury history, and he has the aforementioned drop-off in talent at WR. Perhaps his best options are TEs Chris Cooley and Fred Davis.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Clinton Portis – The Redskins brought in competition in the form of Larry Johnson and Willie Parker. McNabb’s presence should open things up for the ground game. If he can stay healthy, Portis brings the most to the table.

 

Santana Moss – Moss isn’t the player he once was, but he hasn’t had a QB the caliber of McNabb, perhaps ever. He is notoriously inconsistent, but he should have some big games still left in him. Brian Orakpo should pile up the sacks.

 

Chris Cooley – The Skins have a good problem having two talented TEs. Mike Shanahan is gifted enough to figure out a way to get both Cooley and Davis involved in the passing game.

 

Redskins Defense/Special Teams – The Redskins will need Albert Haynesworth to make nice with the team to remain a decent fantasy defense. Highlights include the Rams (Week 3), Lions (Week 8), and the Bucs (Week 14).

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Larry Johnson – If Portis were to go down or finally hits the wall from the extensive use in his career, LJ would be the one to step in and carry the load. I think he still has some football left in him. It’s just a matter of how many  opportunities he’ll get.

 

Devin Thomas – He hasn’t lived up to his expectations yet, but McNabb should help. He is not afraid to rely on young receivers. Thomas has good size (6’2″, 215) and speed. He just has to put it all together.

 

Fred Davis – Davis stepped in when Cooley went down and ran with his opportunity. He had 41 catches for 464 yards and 6 TDs in the Skins last ten games. The Skins can’t ignore that kind of production, especially with a sub par receiving corps.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Willie Parker – If he can stay healthy, he should be able to produce in spots for the Skins. That won’t help your fantasy team go. Unless he can earn the #2 RB gig, he’s not a viable fantasy option.

 

Malcom Kelly – Kelly is a 6’4″ receiver that has failed to score a TD in 21 games. That should change with McNabb, but don’t expect him to transform into a stud.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Perhaps no NFL team will look more different in 2010 than the Eagles. After all they one of the most familiar faces in franchise history when Donovan McNabb was dealt to the Redskins. Brian Westbrook, a staple in Philly’s offense for the past seven years is also gone. That said, the Eagles should, in theory, continue to hum right along as one of the league’s best offenses.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Difficult
I’m not going to say that you should bench the likes of Kevin Kolb, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Brent Celek, but you should know going into the year that the Birds face the Cowboys in Dallas (Week 14), the Giants in New Jersey (15), and the Vikings at home (16).

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
DeSean Jackson – Jackson certainly cannot be measured by his stature (5’10″, 175). His quickness is off-the-charts. He is working with a new QB, but one that he racked up 10 catches for 250 yards and 2 TDs with in Kolb’s two starts last year. Like Westbrook, he can scare you a little with injury concerns, but he can put up fantasy points in a hurry.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Kevin Kolb – While I appreciate the talent level Donovan McNabb possess, I do believe that the system and the players in that system play a big role in the success of a player. Brett Favre is an amazing talent, but when he left Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense didn’t miss a beat. Same with Joe Montana to Steve Young. Now I’m not saying Kolb is going to put up Steve Young or even Aaron Rodgers, but the pieces are in place for a real solid season.

 

LeSean McCoy – Everything I mentioned above regarding McNabb and Kolb, paste in Westbrook and McCoy. Actually McCoy has an easier hole to fill. He is replacing a talented RB that was basically missing in action all of last season anyway. Kolb has to replace a franchise QB. McCoy has the perfect skill set for this offense. Yardage will be the name of the game for McCoy. Mike Bell and Michael Vick will likely get the short yardage TDs for the Eagles.

 

Brent Celek – Celek caught 76 passes for 971 yards and 8 TDs. Like Jackson, he played great with Kolb under center. In Kolb’s two starts Celek had 8 catches for 104 yards each game with 1 TD. He’s a big target in the red zone, which could allow him to approach double-digit TDs.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Jeremy Maclin – Maclin had a solid rookie season catching 56 passes for 773 yards and 4 TDs. With Jackson and Celek garnering so much attention, Maclin could lead the team in receptions.

 

Eagles Defense/Special Teams – Their fantasy playoff schedule keeps me from giving them a four star rating. That and the fact that they face the Packers, Falcons, Titans, Colts, and Texans along with two match-ups each against the tough NFC East. You know Donovan McNabb will be gunning for them in Weeks 4 & 10.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Mike Bell – Bell will be used to get the tough yard, most notably near the goal line. He could also be used to close out games. Michael Vick’s potential to snipe short TDs could keep Bell from being a viable flex option.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Michael Vick – Vick is a rare backup QB that could actually put up some numbers week-to-week thanks to the Wildcat. If Kolb gets injured or is overwhelmed by the role of starting QB, Vick could be called upon.

 

Charles Scott – The rookie RB out of LSU could also be used in short yardage situations, as well as to close out games. He will need an injury or ineffectiveness from McCoy or Bell to become a fantasy threat, but the potential is there.

 

Jason Avant – Avant will work the slot in three-receiver sets. He has great hands , but won’t get enough touches week-to-week to be a true fantasy threat. 329 of his 587 yards (56%) came in Weeks 2, 10, and 12. He didn’t top 45 yards in any other game.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

The Eagles did the inevitable yesterday by ushering Donovan McNabb to Washington to kick off the Kevin Kolb era. While it isn’t ideal to trade within your division, I think the Eagles got good value for him. 

I think the Eagles will have a better record than Washington this year, but what I’m concerned with is how the chips will fall in fantasyland.

For starters Iwould downgrade McNabb. He goes from DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, and Brent Celek to Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Fred Davis, and a bunch of question marks. I know McNabb has done well without good receivers in the past, but his mobility isn’t what it once was and his new offensive line is suspect.

Santana Moss’ value increases. While the Redskins’ WR fleet is a downgrade for McNabb, he’s an upgrade for them. Moss is no DeSean Jackson, but he is speedy and has big play ability. I would guess that either (or both)  Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas will take a step forward. We”ll have to see who gels with McNabb. Unless they move Cooley or Davis, both TEs have decreased value. That decrease won’t be attributed to McNabb’s arrival though. They are both capable of being #1 TEs, but if they both are on the roster, they won’t get the necessary targets.

On the Eagles’ side, LeSean McCoy’s value increases. Kolb is basically a rookie QB with a little seasoning. They Eagles will likely lean a little heavier on McCoy and the running game. With no legitimate threat for the bulk of the carries, McCoy should get ample opportunity to shine. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are a little riskier than before the Easter trade. Jackson scored in both games that Kolb started, but that’s no an adequate sample size. He certainly has the talent so it shouldn’t really matter who’s under center. Maclin made strides last year and should continue to improve. If you are taking either WR, you’ll have to have a little faith in Kolb. 

Celek had mirror 8 catch, 104 yard performances in Kolb’s two starts. He should act as a safety valve for the newly-anointed starter. His great hands and toughness give me the confidence to draft Celek without worries.

We all knew the day was coming, but it still takes you by surprise. It certainly adds another twist to an already exciting division. The Eagles just have to hope it doesn’t blow up in their face. Given Washington’s track record under Dan Snyder, I wouldn’t be too worried for the Birds.

ESPN is reporting that Donovan McNabb was traded to the Redskins. 

***Update***
ESPN is also reporting that the Eagles will receive the #37 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and a future 2011 pick (3rd or 4th round).

His fantasy value just took a hit.

They say when there’s smoke, there’s a fire, and I think Smokey the Bear was awakened from his hibernation for this one. When the Eagles will settle for a top 42 pick for Donovan McNabb, it may be too difficult for a team to resist.

I’ll assume that he won’t net the Eagles a first round pick, mainly because of his age and contract demands. You’re looking at picks 33-42.

33.  St. Louis Rams – If they opt to go with Suh with the #1 overall, I can see this scenario. McNabb wouldn’t be happy going to a losing team with limited weapons though.

34.  Detroit Lions – Obviously they aren’t interested, but could possibly work a three-way deal.

35.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ditto.

36.  Kansas City Chiefs – Ditto.  Considering Scott Pioli’s penchant for trading down this wouldn’t surprise me.

37.  Washington Redskins – I’m not sure Shanahan would want an aging vet. It would give them an upgrade at QB and they could use their first pick to add an offensive lineman.

38.  Cleveland Browns – Maybe, but McNabb would not be happy there.

39.  Oakland Raiders – Now we’re talking. Of course, McNabb wouldn’t be happy there either.

40.  San Diego Chargers – Only if it’s a three-way deal.

41.  Buffalo Bills – I’m sure they are interested. I just don’t know if they can pull off a deal financially. Plus, McNabb would not be happy there.

42.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A second chance for Tampa to make a three-way deal.

Minnesota is a possible option, depending on the route Brett Favre takes. I’m assuming he’ll be back so they’ll have no interest in McNabb. If they do, it wouldn’t be until after the draft anyway.

He’d be an upgrade for Carolina, but I don’t think they would want to take him on fiscally.

If Arizona truly feels Matt Leinart is a lost cause, they could enter into the picture. Their second round pick is #58 so they would have to work a three-way deal or add to the package to get McNabb.

Seattle has two first round picks and the 60th pick. They have the pieces in places to make a run at McNabb. They’d have to either add to that 60th pick or trade down. Maybe their 14th pick could net them Tampa Bay’s two second round picks, one they could send to Philly for Donovan.

If Big Ben’s court case took a turn for the worst, Pittsburgh could have some interest. I don’t see this as a likely scenario. 

Despite his immense talent, the options are limited for Donovan and the Eagles, which is why they lowered their demands.

The Chicago defense took a blow as LB Brian Urlacher was lost for the year with a wrist injury.  Not good news for a team that has to face Adrian Peterson twice.  They haven’t been the same defense for a while, but this is devastating news for the Bears.

The Eagles could be without Donovan McNabb, who cracked a rib, next week when they take on the New Orleans Saints.  If he’s unable to go, the Birds would turn to Kevin Kolb in what should be a shootout.  McNabb will try to tough it out.  Stay tuned to see how this turns out.

The Giants crowed WR corps got a little thinner as Rookie Hakeem Nicks will miss a couple games with a foot injury.  Look for Mario Manningham to benefit the most from Nicks’ injury.

The Colts will be without Anthony Gonzalez for 2 to 6 weeks because of a knee injury.  Rookie Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon’s will get extra snaps at WR, but neither are good fantasy plays.  Peyton will likely rely more on Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark while Gonzalez is out.

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