Those are three quarterbacks who were at the top of every fantasy football player's draft board last season. All of them turned out to be as good as advertised, but there was one guy who, for good reason, went largely unnoticed during many fantasy drafts.
That player is Michael Vick.
I say for good reason because Vick was a backup heading into the 2010 season behind four-year quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was slated to be a top-10 fantasy player.
But in the first game of the season against the Green Bay Packers, Kolb went down with a concussion and Vick took off. No sooner than when he entered the game,flashed a few nifty jukes and scored a few touchdowns did fantasy football players race to their laptops and snatch Vick off the waiver wire.
That is, if they weren’t glued to their laptop already at opening kickoff.
Vick was largely undrafted last season in almost every league, but by midway through the 2010 season, he had a 98.6 percent ownership rating. He turned out to be the best waiver pickup in all of fantasy football last season. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns while also throwing a career-low six interceptions. He also rushed for nearly 700 yards and scored on the ground nine times.
That’s 30 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards total.
Vick’s best moment of 2010 and fantasy alike came on Monday night against Washington in Week 10. He threw six touchdowns along with notching over 400 yards combined passing and rushing.
There’s no telling how many games he won for fantasy teams that night, but I am there were a lot more Vick fans after that.
With such stellar numbers in 2010, Vick will likely go in the top 10 in most fantasy drafts in 2011. But if Vick is going to have any shot at repeating what he did in 2010, he’ll need to rely more on his arm. The hits he took started to wear on him as the playoffs approached, and he’ll need to learn to preserve himself better so he can peak when it matters most.
But how likely is it that he will repeat what he did last season? To answer that, we must look at the Eagles' schedule and what they’ve done to help Vick this offseason.
The Eagles had one of the toughest schedules last season, as they played tough NFC North teams such as the Packers, Bears and Vikings, as well as AFC South teams such as the Colts, Titans and Jaguars.
This year, things get a little easier.
Despite an easier schedule than last season, there’s one downfall: The Eagles play two opponents that are coming off their bye weeks in 2011, something that rarely happens. Those two opponents are the Redskins in Week 5 and the Bears in Week 9. Two well-rested teams could really make things a lot more difficult, especially the Redskins, who are a division rival, and the Bears, a team that went to the NFC championship year.
Also, the Eagles play the Patriots late Sunday night followed by a trip all the way across the country to Seattle on a Thursday night, giving them little time to rest. So overall, this schedule may prove more problematic than last year despite playing more slightly weaker teams.
When it comes to getting Vick more help, the Eagles have done a decent job so far this offseason.
Notice I didn’t say great job, because there are still some holes in their offense, mainly on the offensive line. But they did address one big need in the draft.
That big need was their first-round draft pick, Baylor guard Danny Watkins. A former firefighter, Watkins was an All-Big Ten selection and will provide an immediate impact on an offensive line that gave up 49 sacks last season. Rich Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News called Watkins the safest pick in the NFL draft.
In the fifth round, the Eagles also got Vick another weapon, Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis. Lewis broke a series of current records while at Pitt, including current Eagles running back LeSean McCoy’s record for most yards as a freshman and sophomore.
McCoy was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, and his versatility in the passing game can only help Vick’s stats. If Lewis turns out to be half of what McCoy is, he’ll be a worthy backup. Also, if McCoy happens to go down, Vick shouldn’t see his stats drop too much.
At receiver, Vick already has two of the best in the NFL. DeSean Jackson is one of the most explosive receivers in the game, and he and Vick showed great chemistry in 2010. Jeremy Maclin is also coming on, as he caught 70 balls for 940 yards with 10 touchdowns last season.
It’s not out of the question that these two receivers could reach 1,000 yards each in 2011.
With an improved offensive line and explosive weapons at receiver and running back, Vick could notch 3,800 yards passing and 30 touchdowns. He’ll probably throw a few more picks, and expect his rushing yards to dip a little bit, probably in the 300-400 range. But that’s a good thing, since he’ll likely avoid injury from taking hits while on the run.
Vick has all the tools, and he proved a more competent passer than ever last year. While their schedule could pose a few problems, 2011 should be another great fantasy year for the 2011 Comeback Player of the Year.