Michael Vick and Nick Foles and Matt Barkley, oh my.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been riding the quarterback merry-go-round this season, with all three options on the roster playing significant minutes this season.
But with Foles back in action after being cleared from his concussion—and with Vick out again due to his hamstring—how will Foles, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy produce for fantasy owners in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders?
First, the news that Foles will indeed be the starter, via the Eagles' official Twitter account:
Coach Kelly: Nick Foles will be our starting quarterback this week and he'll take first-team reps to prepare for #PHIvsOAK.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 30, 2013
Foles is a risky play that nonetheless carries pretty solid upside. He torched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6 for 296 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for a fourth score and registering 29 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues.
But he was awful against the Dallas Cowboys, finishing 11-of-29 for 80 yards and taking three sacks before being pulled at the end of the third quarter due to a concussion.
The Raiders give up 15.9 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks per week in standard-scoring leagues, 19th in the NFL, but they've given up a combined total of 18 fantasy points to quarterbacks in the past two weeks.
They are 17th in passing yards allowed, giving up 241 yards per contest, but have only allowed two passers (Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers) to exceed 300 yards passing, and only allowed Manning to reach three passing scores.
Add it all up, and Foles is nothing more than a high-end QB2 this week, though he should definitely be started in two-quarterback leagues.
Jackson remains a boom-or-bust WR1. Despite just eight points total in the past two weeks, he has 11 receptions (for 84 yards) and has been targeted 19 times. His usage suggests his elite fantasy production should soon return, and remember, he had six receptions for 64 yards and two touchdowns with Foles under center in Week 6.
The Raiders give up 21.7 fantasy points to opposing wide receivers per week, 19th in the NFL—and Riley Cooper isn't scaring anyone—so expect a very nice game from Jackson this week.
But with McCoy, things get tricky.
For starters, it isn't a great matchup. The Raiders are sixth in rush defense (89.9 yards per game) and give up 14.3 fantasy points to opposing running backs per contest, 15th in the league.
But the bigger issue is that McCoy is simply more effective with Vick under center.
In the four games that Vick hasn't played in or couldn't finish, McCoy has 409 yards from scrimmage and 40 fantasy points. Contrast that to the four games that Vick has started and finished, where McCoy has accumulated 608 yards from scrimmage and 70 fantasy points.
Will LeSean McCoy finish the season as a top-10 fantasy running back?
What's the difference? Well, with Vick in the game, defenses have to respect his ability to scramble on the read-option. That tends to open up more running lanes for McCoy. Plus, teams generally have to designate a spy to Vick, which opens up favorable matchups underneath in the passing game for McCoy.
Defenses don't fear Foles on the read-option, and therefore can condense the box against McCoy. Without question, it somewhat limits his fantasy upside.
Still, McCoy is likely to get about 25 touches in this game and is a dynamic talent, so he remains a low-end RB1. Just don't expect him to blow up for 20 or more fantasy points this week.
Hit me up on Twitter—I'll answer your fantasy lineup questions, commiserate with you over underachieving players and muse over how terrible it must be to get stuck in line next to an impatient Dez Bryant at the DMV.