Fantasy Football 2012: Philadelphia Eagles' LeSean McCoy Will Dominate
It's never too early to start talking about the NFL and the upcoming fantasy football season.
Unless your league is weirdly customized and/or rigged, the running back position is typically the most important to a fantasy team's success.
Fantasy owners always look to draft high-end, healthy and proven tailbacks who they know will come through with a productive campaign.
Let's take a look at why McCoy will thrive this year in fantasy football.
History of Health
Rob Carr/Getty Images
One of the biggest factors that goes into fantasy football drafts and a particular player’s success is susceptibility to injury.
Guys like Frank Gore and Arian Foster have incredible talent and would be instant fantasy football Hall of Famers if they just stayed healthy.
However, team owners in the past would cringe at picking that type of player because it is a major risk to use such a high pick on a guy who could be deactivated frequently.
While he is a smaller back, LeSean McCoy should not be an injury concern heading into 2012.
Sure, he had way too many carries last season, but the last time McCoy had any serious injury was when he broke his ankle toward the end of his high school career.
Also, in his three years of NFL experience, McCoy has missed only two games due to injury.
Al Bello/Getty Images
Another plus for LeSean McCoy’s fantasy football case is the fact that his rushing numbers have steadily improved since he’s entered the league.
After being drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft out of Pittsburgh, McCoy got his chance to make an impact in his rookie season.
Because former Eagle Brian Westbrook had health issues throughout the year, the shifty tailback rushed the ball over 150 times for a respectable 637 yards and four touchdowns.
In 2010, McCoy took over the permanent starting role and thrived, compiling 1,080 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 207 attempts.
After surprising fantasy owners with such a successful campaign, the Pitt product was a popular pick in 2011 fantasy drafts—and for good reason.
McCoy once again bolstered his numbers and place among the league’s best running backs, carrying the rock for 300 more yards than he did the previous year along with 10 more rushing touchdowns.
Again, McCoy probably won’t get as many rushing attempts this season, thus cutting down on his yardage a bit.
However, the point is that there haven’t been any signs of major dips in production, so expect McCoy to again be at the top of fantasy points for running backs.
In today’s game, the position of running back is changing just as offenses across the league are making adjustments.
Not only does a tailback have to possess ball control and lane vision, but also the ability to come out of the backfield and threaten linebackers and secondary in the passing game.
Other than maybe a healthy Adrian Peterson, I don’t know of any back in the league who can compare to McCoy’s versatility.
McCoy has proven his worth as a ball-carrier, but he has also shown his soft hands as a receiver.
Over three years of work, he’s snagged 166 receptions for 1,215 yards and five touchdowns for a 7.3 yards-per-catch average.
Combining his rushing and receiving touchdowns last year, McCoy set a franchise record for most touchdowns in a season with 20.
Better Passing Game
Rob Carr/Getty Images
While it’s not a guarantee, the expectation around the league is that the Eagles passing game, particularly Michael Vick, will improve significantly.
Also, the return of a fully concentrated and happy DeSean Jackson will bolster the receiving corps and give the Eagles more options on offense.
So why would that be good for running back LeSean McCoy?
Well, the threat of a more lethal aerial attack would cause difficult situations for the defense.
If the passing game is clicking, not only would McCoy be involved in it, but also the opposing defenses would be playing on their heels and couldn’t stack the box with seven or eight bodies.
Considering Shady’s shiftiness and elusive nature, he would be able to take advantage of these pockets of space and burn the defense and fantasy football opponents.
More Experienced Offensive Line
Rob Carr/Getty Images
After one year of growing in offensive line coach Howard Mudd’s system, the Eagles offensive line will be more experienced and better off in 2012
This experience will certainly will help McCoy get through holes and into open space.
Despite the loss of Pro Bowler Jason Peters to a torn Achilles tendon, the O-line will still return a dangerous and vastly underrated run-blocking bunch next season.
One guy to keep an eye on is former rugby player and starting right guard Danny Watkins.
While he made mistakes as expected for a rookie, Watkins became more comfortable with the system as the year went on and he can only improve in the upcoming season.
The offensive line will continue to thrive this upcoming season, which can only mean good things for LeSean McCoy’s fantasy outlook.