Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has put up some gaudy numbers to start the 2013 NFL season, but his fantasy prospects figure to take a hit in Week 3's home contest against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Although Vick's dual-threat capabilities and his strong fit in the Eagles' new offense make giving him up at this point difficult, his value could go down if he performs poorly on Thursday evening.
That is perfectly possible, because the Chiefs' front seven is formidable. Between dominant pass-rushers in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston—along with second-year athletic freak Dontari Poe at nose tackle—Kansas City threatens to stymie Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense.
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated had high praise for last year's No. 11 overall pick, who was considered a high-risk prospect but is becoming a rewarding investment:
Dontari Poe is the most active and disruptive straight-over NT in the NFL. Tape is VERY impressive.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) September 17, 2013
Vick has a promising tandem of tackles to protect him in All-Pro Jason Peters and top rookie draft pick Lane Johnson. There also isn't a lot of film on Philadelphia's new-look offensive schemes.
In throwing for 631 yards in the first two games, Vick has been able to avoid an interception and has posted a quarterback rating of 119.
The problem is that Vick's fleet feet—which have netted appeased fantasy owners 88 rushing yards and two touchdowns to date—won't necessarily be able to get him away from the Chiefs.
Even if Peters and Johnson control the point of attack on the edge, it will be difficult for Vick to break contain with Poe collapsing the pocket from the inside.
Check out Poe's sack of Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo last week. The opposing team's first-round center Travis Frederick had no chance:
Worst of all, the NFL's current leading rusher is Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. He and Vick have complemented each other well and allowed Vick to drive the ball down the field.
McCoy must establish a solid running game, but that's easier said than done against the new-look Chiefs.
Poe has been an absolute beast in registering 3.5 sacks already. What's most impressive has been that the Chiefs—in addition to racking up a league-best nine sacks—are second against the run, yielding 56 yards per game.
Other than DeSean Jackson, Vick doesn't have a truly reliable target to throw the ball to other than McCoy, and definitely not on the outside.
The cornerback tandem of Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith along with star Eric Berry and solid free safety Kendrick Lewis make for a stellar defensive backfield. As B/R's Matt Miller points out, too, Berry has the speed and quickness to spy Vick and curb some of his dynamic athleticism:
NFL Network's Bucky Brooks points out how the Chiefs utilize exotic schemes on defense to throw off opposing quarterbacks, which may make Vick more mistake-prone than he has been:
The @KCChiefs get after it w/multifaceted scheme built around the top players. Crazy sub-package w/tight press coverage— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) September 17, 2013
Effectively jamming Jackson at the line will take him away as a deep threat.
It's been only two games for Vick in Kelly's offense. The system seems to cater to what he does best, but the sample size is still small. Week 3 could be the first sign that he could start dropping off.
The only saving grace Vick and the Eagles have is that they're at home and it's a short week. Nevertheless, this should be Vick's worst outing of the young season.
What is Michael Vick's fantasy ceiling in 2013?
Week 4 is a road trip to take on the Denver Broncos, but there is extra time to prepare for a Von Miller-free defense that ranks 28th against the pass.
Thereafter, the New York Giants have the league's worst running game, which should give Vick plenty of possessions to put up huge numbers again. Their typically vaunted pass rush is also not looking good through two weeks.
It's dangerous to overreact to too much this early in the year, but what seems certain is that Vick's long-term stock shouldn't take a hit even if he performs poorly against the Chiefs. That possibility is palpable given the unfavorable matchup.
If Vick does poorly this week, fantasy owners may be eager to dump him, especially if he relapses into his recent penchant for turnovers.
Should an owner in your league appear disappointed, talk it up and trade for Vick at any reasonable cost, because he will ultimately prove to be a fantasy superstar in 2013.