Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 7

Nick Foles gets the Philly QB controversy conversation in full swing. (espn.go.com)
FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 50% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

The major injuries that many fantasy owners seemingly avoided most of the year came crashing down on the shores of Fantasy Island over the past week. Most notably Julio Jones' injury ended his season, and more long-term injuries to Randall Cobb, David Wilson finally being diagnosed, Danny Amendola, Cecil Shorts, DeMarco Murray, and Michael Vick all led to major waiver moves being needed in Week 7.

While not the most significant, but the most intriguing, Michael Vick's hamstring injury opened the door for Nick Foles last week in Tampa and Foles took his first start of the season and ignited a QB controversy in Philadelphia. After filling in admirably after Vick limped off in New York two weeks ago, Foles started against Tampa Bay and threw for 3 TDs and ran for 1 more while amassing 296 passing yards, no turnovers, and a 89.8 QBR. 

We are all aware of Vick's ability and his positives and negatives, so let's take a look at Foles to see if he truly deserves to take Vick's job.

There's no denying that Foles has delivered some great performances so far under new Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly in 2013. Aside from one play for an injured Vick against San Diego and garbage time in Denver, Foles has show two key attributes that Vick has not: passing accuracy and protecting the football.

2013 REGULAR SEASON GAME LOGPASSINGRUSHING
DATEOPPRESULTCMPATTYDSCMP%AVGLNGTDINTQBRRATATTYDSAVGLNGTD
Sun 10/6@W 36-211625197647.88282084.6114.9310.330
NYG
Sun 10/13@W 31-202231296719.55473089.8133.3320.741
TB
Total385649367.58.75475087.2124.1630.541
*stats courtesy of ESPN.com

In over 56 passes he hasn't thrown an interception yet or lost the football. Despite his noted lack of running ability, his quick decision making has allowed him to thrive without the threat of breaking off a big run. 

As we dig a little deeper into Foles' 2013 we see he is clearly excelling in two key areas: the red zone and 3rd down. One additional item to Foles' red zone stats, Chip Kelly said that Foles' success compared to Vick's is that Kelly did a better job making play calls in the red zone more recently with Foles than Vick. Seems a little like falling on the sword, but something to keep in mind.

Looking at the third down numbers, Foles has remained consistent. He's only taken one sack on third down, and his completion percentage is at 80%. 


BY DOWNCMPATTYDSCMP%AVGLNGTDINTSACKRATATTYDSAVGLNGTD
DOWN = 1 OVERALL1625230649.244300133.3410.341
DOWN = 2 OVERALL132118361.98.7147201121.722130
DOWN = 3 OVERALL1215129808.637101124.700000

Sure, on 3rd and long defenses tend to drop back and protect the first down marker, but in 3rd down and 9+ yards to go Foles has an average of 7 yards per pass and a 75% completion rate, which compared to Vick's 25% completion rate and lone 45 yard run in similar scenarios purports to greater success for Foles in this key area.

Chip Kelly has repeated over and over again that he doesn't need a mobile quarterback for a team in  his system to succeed. Over the past couple of weeks, with Vick and Foles he's shown that to be true. Vick did have 79 yards rushing before he left the Giants game, but when Foles came in and was able to affectively throw the ball, it only made Vick's rushing yards seem like a byproduct of his inability to make the proper reads and quick decisions in this offense. Two things that have plagued Vick his entire playing career.

There is always another side to the story, so two of the biggest negatives you can say about Foles is that he's done this against an 0-6 Giants team and a Tampa Bay team that is on the verge of either a meltdown or a MRSA pandemic. Even if he plays well on Sunday, doubts will linger as Dallas has just as bad a pass defense. He hasn't had his leap game yet. Although keep in mind winning is winning, so an Eagles victory and solid Foles performance will undoubtedly push Vick to the bench.

The second negative is that Foles had his shot to impress last year under then head coach Andy Reid. Foles started 7 games that year, and even though the team was crumbling around Reid, Foles put in some lackluster performances. His QBR was a below average 43.1 and he had a near 1:1 TD/INT ratio. Again, this was under a different regime with a different scheme and a different team mentality, so while this is a point against Foles, I can't say that a young quarterback in a new system can't improve year to year.

So what if Foles is able to keep up his consistency and not turn the ball over? What if he's Kelly's version of Jeff Garcia? A player lacking natural talent, but can make quick passes, the right decisions and do that in a way that he's more than a game manager. The short answer is that Foles will start for the rest of the season and this is Vick's last year with the Eagles. The long-term is more complicated.

Can Nick Foles be the guy? In a quarterback heavy draft in 2014, would the Eagles be able to bypass taking a stud QB in favor of addressing the numerous needs on the defensive end of the ball? Does Chip Kelly really want Foles in there or does he want a more mobile quarterback that he can groom that has the skill sets Foles already has? 

Ultimately, I think that Foles can be an everyday quarterback in the league. I'm not sure he has the extra gear to become elite. The more and more you look around football, as the game progresses to a more pass happy system, you need an elite quarterback. Foles, for all his decision making and controlling the football, is still unproven long-term with those skills. If he can develop them, and be one of those single digit INT guys, then I'm all in, but more than likely his skills against high calibur defenses and over time will regress to league average. For all the things that Kelly says he needs in a quarterback, elite skill is probably high on his list. That's probably why he went with Vick to start the season. Vick has the elite skills of a quarterback in the rushing and throwing strength categories, but his decision making and accuracy are terrible. 

Where the Eagles realistically find themselves is 3-3 tied at the top of the NFC East with a big and winnable game. Anyone that has thoughts of tanking or this being a lost season is dilusional. The Eagles are looking to win games, and whether it's Vick or more likely Foles, they're going to do their best to make the playoffs. The way this year is shaping up, the Eagles toughest games are behind them and a lot can happen between now and December, but whether they win the division or finish 3-13 there will be a quarterback available where they are drafting. I believe they'll take one. That doesn't mean Foles can't make it a tough decision for Howie Roseman, but for what Foles has exhibited so far - I think he's our quarterback for good this year.


Joseph Randle will have plenty of open lanes against the Eagles. (fansided.com)

Nick Foles, QB - PHI (12% owned) v DAL

No matter how things work out, Foles looks to be the starter for this week against Dallas, and for that he's worth an add. An interesting side note whenver a new QB takes over is how he affects other teammates. Foles certainly seemed to find Riley Cooper a bit more than Vick did. Could Brent Celek get more involved? 

Joseph Randle, RB - DAL (3%) +Philadelphia Eagles 

While Lance Dunbar appeared to be the favorite to take over when DeMarco Murray went down, Dunbar's own minor injury has led to an opening for Randle. The 5th round pick hasn't shown much so far, but with DMM's injury history along with the Cowboys taking on the Eagles run defense, he's a quality add for this week.

Aaron Dobson, WR - NE (15%) +New York Jets 

Well, we can call of the search for productivity out of one Daniel Amendola this year. The Wes Welker replacement has gone according to everyone's plan except for the Pats and his fantasy owners. While battling through several nagging injuries, Amendola was on the wrong end of a brutal hit that knocked him out cold. League of Denial or not, Danny won't be back in action soon. So with Gronkwatch on-going, let's turn back to Aaron Dobson. We were witnesses to Dobson horrid early season play, but Tom Brady gave him 10 targets last week against New Orleans. Brady has already cured Kenbrell Thompkins so his next mission is Dobson. 

Jarrett Boykin, WR - GB (3%) v CLE

If Aaron Rodgers was doing Aaron Rodgers things then I'd be more aggressive with Boykin. I don't mind so much that Boykin had a couple key drops - I'll cut him some slack for that, but Rodgers can easily assist Boykin in having the game of his career any given week. With Randall Cobb avoiding major injury and James Jones banged up, this should be a no brainer, but while Rodgers is throwing the football like a mere mortal, I would imagine Jordy Nelson (covered by Joe Haden) and Jermichael Finley benefit more than Boykin.

Mike Tolbert/Jonathan Stewart, RB - CAR (6%/7% respectively) v STL

One for now, one for later. As much of a relief it was to see Cam Newton get back to his running ways for Carolina, they braintrust over there must know that they can't rely on Newton as their main running source. DeAngelo Williams is handling the field between the 30's kind of okay, but for the spots that matter Tolbert and potentially a health Stewart get stats where it matters. Stewart makes enough money that if healthy, he has to supplant Tolbert, so depeding on need, I'd keep these guys handy.


PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

Brandon Jacobs, RB - NYG (26%) v MIN

When you watch Brandon Jacobs play like he did on Sunday, you wonder how he isn't a Hall of Famer. He's a big, big running back and when he gets a head of steam going, he is tough to bring down. Sadly though, he hardly runs that way any more - not that he did it that much in his prime either. He filled his role and always has a chance to plop into the end zone, but I'm not here to tell you he'll be getting 2 TDs per game the rest of the season (you know the answer to that already) I'm here to tell you he's not worth adding to your team.

THE 1%

Tim Wright, WR/TE - TB (0%) +Atlanta Falcons 

Until we up the % of ownership on this group to 10% it's hard sometimes to not just make this the TE category, but with Wright I'll accept his selection as this week's 1%. The versatile and athletic TE is slowly emerging as a weapon, at least under the Mike Glennon era, and while the most optimistic hope for a Marques Colston clone, what we're really looking at is a viable red zone option on a horrid Buccs team that can't even get Doug Martin a romp to TD glory (only 1 TD all year). So long as Wright doesn't get MRSA between now and Sunday, I like him against a ravaged Falcons defense.

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