Eagles Fantasy Impact: Initial Impressions

Eagles Fantasy Impact: Initial Impressions

The Eagles have a slew of fantasy producers thanks to a high-speed, versatile attack, and a defense focused on what matters most in the majority of fantasy leagues—pass rush and picks. Here's a look at how the Eagles fared in the fantasy world, which in most cases was not entirely unlike how they did in reality.

Michael Vick: While it wasn't quite as productive as he often was in 2010, Vick put up very good fantasy numbers in scoring a pair of touchdowns and racking up 98 yards on the ground. Hopefully Vick owners didn't lose by four points or less, since Vick had 100 yards on the ground (good for a bonus in most leagues) before kneeling it out to end the game. Vick was pick-free in his 2011 debut, but also stayed under 200 yards passing and lost a fumble. In my league, Vick was tied for 8th in QB points with Joe Flacco and just two points separated him from the 15th most productive QB in the most pass-happy weekend of all time (13 QBs topped 300 yards). After the Rams offense sputtered out, Vick didn't find himself in a shootout as so many of his compatriots around the league did. Still, it's unlikely you're blaming Vick if you lost in Week 1. Former Eagle and current Vick text buddy Kevin Kolb had a better day throwing the ball (300+, 2 TD, 0 picks), but roughly equivalent fantasy production in his debut for the Cardinals (thanks to Vick's rushing yards). Hard not to be happy for the guy.

LeSean McCoy: Shady was among the top producers at the RB position this week, along with Ray Rice. Despite seeing only 17 touches (15 rushing, 2 receiving), McCoy showed that he doesn't need to be a high-volume guy to give you big production, scoring in both facets of the game, including a 49-yard TD run in a huge fourth quarter. Shady comfortably topped 100 yards rushing to nab the bonus, though his receiving was relatively pedestrian aside from the whole scoring-a-TD thing. I was somewhat surprised we didn't see more of Ronnie Brown late in the game, but for fantasy purposes, I'm not sure I want to be even discussing an Eagles backup RB. According to Sheil Kapadia's numbers in the great Man Up feature of his Moving the Chains blog, Dion Lewis had just one fewer snap played (4) than Brown, although fewer carries as well. According to FantasyGuru.com's weekly Targets column (subscription required), Brown did have two red zone carries though, one more than McCoy. That's a pretty small sample size to make any assessment on, so we won't.

DeSean Jackson: DJacc wasn't a target of mine in this year's draft because, especially in a Philly league, I assumed he'd be going a bit early for a guy who can be rather boom-or-bust in weekly head-to-head leagues. Good news for those who did take him as early as the late second round: He went fairly 'boom' in Week 1 despite not totally going off. Jackson hauled in six passes for 102 yards, including a beautiful touchdown. Jackson was targeted 12 times though, and had one huge drop, so the potential was there for an even bigger day. Only the week's four two-TD performers (Smith CAR, Welker, Britt, Megatron) had considerably better numbers than the next tier of WRs, which included Jackson and a handful of others.

Jeremy Maclin: While he may have some solid value this season, Maclin shouldn't have been in Week 1 lineups, and probably wasn't in many standard leagues. He had just one catch for 20 yards, despite getting a lot of playing time. The passing attack was somewhat quiet overall after the Eagles grabbed a big lead; Maclin's production should be higher in the weeks to come.

Steve Smith, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper: None of these guys are up for consideration in standard leagues at this time, though their combined presence on the field at various times should help Jackson and Maclin get loose more often, as well as open up some space for McCoy and Vick to takeoff. Of the three, Avant was the most productive, with three catches for 40 yards. He'll pull in some random TDs, but he's not an option I'd want to rely on in a fantasy season with so many home run threats. Smith was just getting his feet wet, and it's hard to tell at this point whether he'll have much value once up to speed barring injuries to either of the top guys. It's a longshot to think he'll emerge as a Vick favorite any time soon, and his previous production came as a high-volume guy for Eli Manning. Worth a stash if you have WR depth to burn and he didn't get drafted in your league though.

Brent Celek: One catch on three targets for 13 yards, helping a newly formed O-line protect Vick against Steve Spagnuolo's blitzing. In a league with ample startable tight ends even in 12-teamers, Celek is not currently one of them, as was the case last year. Kapadia had some great reviews of his blocking on some key plays, so this is no slight to #87, who has two jobs to do, and one of them doesn't help his own fantasy numbers as much as it does the guys listed above. I do think Brent will reward his diehards with some nice weeks and still could re-emerge as a goal line option as we saw once in the preseason. He's athletic enough to be a producer, but his role on the team isn't as fantasy friendly as many of the guys around the league right now. Perhaps that will change as we get further away from the offensive line's first week together.

Alex Henery: The rookie PK hit the only field goal he lined up for and was the kicker on a team that scored four touchdowns. I'd start him with confidence every week if I owned him, but he went in the second to last round of my league, which is a round earlier than I went K hunting. Your top fantasy producer of the week at this position? Mr. David Akers, who cranked four field goals and hit three PATs. Good on ya, Davey.

Eagles D/ST: Acquiring a pair of top corners may not actually add as much to the Eagles' pick totals as you might think, since no one will want to test the shutdown Nnamdi Asomugha or the ballhawk Asante Samuel too often, but their patrolling of the backfield should give the pass rush an extra second to get to the QB, which Jason Babin and company did on Sunday. The Eagles totaled five sacks, recovered a fumble, and took it to the house (there should be fantasy points for stiff-arming your own man, btw). Asante nearly had at least one pick, and was close on another. Next week poses a big test for this unit, but as we saw in Week 1, they may be in store for some Falcons turnovers too.

Waiver Watch: There aren't any Eagles I'd be targeting that can be found on most leagues' waivers after Week 1, especially in Philly, where we tend to overdraft our own. The team was a rather known fantasy quantity coming into, and despite the abundance of words, there are no surprises above. If you're interested in nicking some value off the wire, I'd recommend Razzball's column on this week's options.

We probably won't be doing this every week, more likely posting updates as trends emerge that are outside of what's expected. In Week 1, the Eagles went chalk in fantasy expectations.

Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

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Best of NBA: Bulls hand Spurs first road loss of season

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points, and the Chicago Bulls handed San Antonio its first road loss after a 13-0 start, hanging on to beat the Spurs 95-91 on Thursday night.

San Antonio fell one win shy of matching the NBA's best road start set by the Golden State Warriors last season. The Spurs cut an 18-point deficit midway through the third quarter to four in the closing minutes, only to come up short.

Kawhi Leonard scored 24 for San Antonio. Patty Mills added 16 points, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers. Former Bull Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game in Chicago since signing with San Antonio in the summer, but the Spurs lost a road game for the first time since Oklahoma City knocked them out in the Western Conference semifinals last season.

Jimmy Butler scored all of his 13 points for Chicago in the second half. Rajon Rondo added 12 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds, and Chicago picked up the win after dropping three in a row and six of nine.

The Spurs hadn't dropped a regular-season road game since Denver beat them on April 8 (see full recap).

Scoreboard malfunction, quiet crowd don’t stop Wizards’ rally
WASHINGTON -- Overcoming a sluggish start in front of a sparse, silent crowd and with a malfunctioning scoreboard, the Washington Wizards came back to beat the Nuggets 92-85 on Thursday night, thanks mainly to Bradley Beal's 26 points and Denver's season-high 29 turnovers.

John Wall scored only 15 points one game after a career-best 52, but nine came in the fourth quarter for Washington, which trailed by as many as 14 in the first half.

With starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay inactive because of what the team said was a sprained right ankle, the Nuggets went 5 1/2 minutes without a point in the fourth quarter.

In that final period, they had 10 of their turnovers and shot 1 for 14 on 3-pointers -- including 0 for 4 in one last-minute possession (see full recap).

Gasol, clutch free throws lift Grizzlies over
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol scored 36 points and Toney Douglas made two free throws with less than a second left to give the Memphis Grizzlies an 88-86 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Douglas finished with 11 points, scoring the game's final six points to seal Memphis' fifth straight victory.

Gasol was 13 of 24 from the field, including 4 of 6 from outside the arc. But Douglas, signed by Memphis this week because of injuries, took over down the stretch. The guard scored on a 19-footer with 34 seconds left, then converted two pairs of free throws in the last 20 seconds.

CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 24 points, and Damian Lillard had 19 on 6-of-18 shooting. Evan Turner had 15 points and 10 rebounds (see full recap).

Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

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Sixers beat Pelicans without Joel Embiid leading the way

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- Joel Embiid shot just 5 for 15 from the field and the Sixers … wait … the Sixers won. 

Surprising? Actually, that’s just how the Sixers envision finding success.

It’s not about Embiid having a relatively quiet night on offense with 14 points, especially going 0 for 5 from three. It’s about other players getting involved and taking the burden off the rookie. Embiid has proved he can do a lot of things, but carrying a team each night in his first season isn’t what the Sixers have in mind. 

“I think that’s when we’re at our best,” Nik Stauskas said after the Sixers beat the Pelicans 99-88 (see Instant Replay). “Obviously there are a few guys in the NBA like a LeBron (James), KD (Kevin Durant) or Steph (Curry) that can single-handedly win a game throughout the entire season. But most of the teams are going to rely on bench players to step up and make shots and make plays. I think that’s when we’re most effective.”

Embiid entered Thursday night averaging 24.3 points and shooting 48.9 percent in Sixers wins (three games played). His 14 points against the Pelicans were his fewest in a victory this season. He also grabbed seven boards with four blocks and three steals. Embiid was a game-high plus-27, which Brett Brown called "massive."

Instead of being powered offensively by their centerpiece, the Sixers received solid efforts from the starters and reserves. Ersan Ilyasova scored 23 points (along with eight rebounds) for the second straight game. Sergio Rodriguez chipped in 16 points and eight assists. Off the bench,  Stauskas hit three treys en route to 14 points while Dario Saric scored 10 points with five rebounds as the team snapped an overall eight-game losing skid and a 23-game road losing streak. 

Embiid’s teammates attribute their success to the fact he is such a focal point of the opponents’ defense. In comparison to the beginning of the season when Embiid was getting stifled by double-teams, he has been learning how to pass out of them. Embiid expects to see two defenders every game and has been making adjustments to create opportunities for others to shoot rather than committing turnovers. 

“We’re not standing around a lot and just focusing on what Jo can do,” Robert Covington said. “Jo is making great moves to find guys that are open. He’s willing to pass. We’re starting to build the chemistry that everyone’s been looking for.”

Ilyasova has noticed a change in the flow of the offense and has capitalized on defensive mismatches when opponents swarm Embiid. 

“We just share the ball well,” Ilyasova said. “I find myself open. Obviously Joel does a great job of as far as when there is a double-team, just kicking out. When I see the open look, I try to knock that shot down.” 

This style of play is mutually beneficial for both Embiid and his teammates. Just because Embiid is passing out doesn't mean he's not getting his looks. Oftentimes, dishing out of a double-team allows him to get a better look on the next touch. 

“It’s a team effort," Covington said. "We’re doing so much as a unit that we’re not just focusing on just get Jo the ball and let him do his thing. He’s getting the ball, he’s surveying the floor and then he’s making his moves. He’s reading the defense really well. He’s doing a lot of [kicking out]. Then we find him a lot of re-posts and finding the open shot and making it easy for him to find the easy bucket.” 

Embiid is capable of scoring 20-plus in spite of his 28-minute restriction. The Sixers are making strides, though, by finding ways to win when he isn’t the running up the scoreboard. 

“I think there’s no doubt Jo is our best player and our offense is going to revolve around him most of the time,” Stauskas said. “But we’re playing our best when he’s posting up and kicking out to guys and they’re hitting threes or we’re taking pressure off him by making plays and the defense can’t just be solely focused on him. In a game like tonight, that’s kind of what you saw.”