Michael Vick: 5 Reasons to Trust Him in the 2012 Fantasy Football Season

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2012

Michael Vick: 5 Reasons to Trust Him in the 2012 Fantasy Football Season

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    By this point, fantasy football players are all too familiar with the pros and the cons associated with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.

    Only once in his career (2006) has Vick started all 16 games, and only twice has he thrown for over 20 touchdowns.

    Putting your team on the shoulders of Vick was a risky proposition last season, as the controversial quarterback was coming off of the best season of his career—in which he threw for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, and racked up another 676 yards and nine scores on the ground.

    If you wanted Michael Vick in 2011, you had to reach for him, and most likely in the first round.

    This season, it's a different story. With the emergence of Cam Newton and established names like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees heading this year's quarterback class, Vick will come cheaper to fantasy owners willing to take a risk on his boom-or-bust talent.

    Here are five reasons you should trust Michael Vick as the quarterback of your fantasy team in 2012.

He Comes Cheaper

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    Unlike fantasy drafts just one year ago, 2012 fantasy football drafts will be full of question marks. Due to  significant injuries to running backs across the board, owners will be scrambling to find sure things at tailback in the early rounds.

    Names like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Cam Newton are all sure things to come off the board in the first two rounds, but with the shortage of running backs, you could easily see quarterbacks hang around a bit longer than usual.

    Depending on who you ask, Michael Vick will enter fantasy drafts as either a tier two or tier three quarterback. NFL.com currently has Vick ranked as the 10th best quarterback, behind names like Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and the Manning brothers. 

    If the consensus is that Vick isn't worth a shot in the first three rounds, there's no reason not to go after him. He is full of upside—a term that fantasy owners can't get enough of—and if you are willing to wait on a quarterback like Vick, you could easily pick up a competent backup in the following rounds.

DeSean Jackson's Contract

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    Much like his quarterback, DeSean Jackson had a disappointing showing in 2011. Amid rumblings that his poor play was being affected by the absence of a new contract, Jackson failed to flash the elite speed and hands that had made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia.

    After failing to qualify for the playoffs, the Eagles rewarded Jackson for all of his pouting with a 5-year, $51 million contract in March.

    In 2011 Jackson caught 58 balls for 961 yards and four touchdowns. While his numbers were disappointing, Jackson fell just four receptions short of tying his career high. Jackson's average yards per reception dropped from 22.5 in 2010 to 16.6 in 2011, due in part to opponents' focus on taking away the deep ball, leaving Jackson room to operate underneath.

    Now that all of his financial demands have been met, expect some energized play from one of the league's most enigmatic wide receivers.

Offensive Line

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    Heading into 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles' biggest question mark remained their offensive line. They were starting two rookies, and their left guard was transitioning to right tackle, protecting Michael Vick's blindside.

    After a shaky start to the season the Eagles' line finally gelled under the tutelage of legendary offensive line coach Howard Mudd, and became one of the league's best units.

    When it was all said and done the Eagles graded out as Pro Football Focus's number two overall offensive line. 

    Perhaps the most integral piece of the Eagles' touted offensive line, Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles during the offseason and will likely sit out the entirety of the 2012 campaign.

    His replacement is former Buffalo Bills' tackle Demetress Bell, who actually replaced Peters after he was dealt to Philadelphia in 2009. While Bell may not match the All-Pro form that Peters flashed a year ago, he is an adequate replacement who will help fill the massive void at left tackle.

LeSean McCoy

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    When the 2011 NFL season kicked off, LeSean McCoy was one of the league's rising stars at running back. Just nine months later, McCoy is now entrenched as one of the league's elite backs, and will garner a top-five selection in fantasy drafts this year.

    While McCoy certainly eases the pressure on Vick (1,309 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011), his role in the passing game still hasn't developed completely. McCoy was invaluable to Vick's progression in 2010, catching 78 balls for 592 yards, but in 2011 caught just 48 passes for 315 yards.

    It's a bit surprising that McCoy's touches in the passing game decreased so drastically in 2011, particularly when considering Andy Reid's history of getting his running backs involved in the passing game (i.e. Brian Westbrook). 

    In 2012 look for McCoy to become more involved in the passing game, especially after offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg floated out the idea of giving McCoy fewer carries in order to extend his shelf life. 

Two Effective Tight Ends

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    Philadelphia Eagles' tight end Brent Celek was lauded in 2011 for his excellent run blocking, but down the stretch he proved that he's just as valuable in the passing game as he is on the line.

    After a slow start, Celek's production picked up over the final eight weeks of the season, with his most notable performance coming in a week 15 victory over the New York Jets—in which he posted five receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown.

    While the Eagles don't possess two superior athletes at tight end like the New England Patriots, their second option could be in line for increased production in 2012.

    Although he will garner absolutely no consideration in fantasy drafts, third-year tight end Clay Harbor could emerge as a safety valve for Vick on an offense that is replete with playmakers.