The Philadelphia Eagles have had a less than desirable start to their 2012 season, but they still find themselves at an even 3-3 record. Michael Vick has struggled all season long to hold on to the ball, and has gained more dog-loving Twitter followers than touchdowns. This week, the sloppy Eagles take on the undefeated Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan has orchestrated a very balanced offense that exposes defenses with his two star wide receivers, Roddy White and Julio Jones. As both teams are coming off of byes, here’s how this week eight matchup will play out for your fantasy teams.
LeSean McCoy, RB- To have any chance at winning on Sunday, head coach Andy Reid, has to realize that the Eagles need to hand the ball off to LeSean McCoy more. Their star running back was a key player in each of their three wins. This point has been made painfully clear by the press after the Eagles lost their week six game against the Detroit Lions. McCoy never got going, and ended up with only 22 yards on the ground. Atlanta has the 23rd ranked rush defense in yards allowed through seven weeks. If McCoy can find the 5.2 yards per carry that the Falcons have been allowing, look for McCoy to have a big day.
Michael Vick, QB- Andy Reid is 13-0 coming off bye weeks as a head coach due to amazing game plans. Expect for Reid to recognize the Atlanta deficiency in stopping the run, and getting the ground game going early. Focus on the run will cause some holes in the secondary as the game progresses. That being said, I still don’t trust Vick to have a great game. Atlanta is third in the league in interceptions with 10, which does not bode well for a quarterback who throws just as many touchdowns as he does interceptions. Vick has also only been able to muster a 58.9 completion percentage. Quarterbacks like Carson Palmer (61.4%), Ryan Tannehill (59.6%), and Russell Wilson (59.4%) all have better completion percentages. This stat shouldn’t make any Vick owner comfortable.
DeSean Jackson, WR- The only wide out for Philadelphia that I’d feel halfway confident in starting is DeSean Jackson. Jackson barely cracks the top 15 in receiving yards this year, and has only notched one touchdown. The big plays that Jackson thrives off of just haven’t happened this year. He has only recorded six catches of 20 yards or more. The only saving grace for his fantasy value is the high number of targets from Vick. He is has been targeted 53 times this year, 8.33 times a game, which is in the same boat as Andre Johnson, Eric Decker, and Roddy White.
Strong Play: LeSean McCoy
Decent Play: DeSean Jackson
Weak Play: Michael Vick
Matt Ryan, QB- The Falcons are coming off of a bye week as well and I see some problems when they matchup with Philadelphia. Ryan got off to a fast start, but in the last three games he has thrown six touchdowns and five picks. He scored under 10 points for fantasy owners for the first time this year in week 6 against the Oakland Raiders. Expect Ryan to have an underwhelming, but serviceable game against an Eagles’ secondary that has only given up seven passing touchdowns and 226 yards per game.
Julio Jones/Roddy White, WR- These two guys remain must starts in all league formats. Philadelphia allows a mediocre 11.9 yards per reception that should help out both players. Both have caught four touchdowns, and both are about even in targets from Ryan. However, White (553 yards) has significantly gained more yards than Jones (376 yards). This makes White somewhat of a safer play, but with Julio’s superior athletic ability, he remains the higher upside receiver.
Tony Gonzalez, TE- Who would have thought Gonzalez would have more yards and just as many catches as Julio Jones at this juncture in the year? This seasoned veteran has put up just one less touchdown and four fewer yards than Rob Gronkowski. Look for Ryan to target Gonzalez in the end zone as this tight end looks for his 100th touchdown of his career.
Michael Turner, RB- Even though Turner has put up decent numbers for fantasy owners this year, his role seems to be diminishing. Turner hasn’t received over 20 carries the whole year, and has had four games under 15. Philadelphia fields a tough front seven that is 11th in the league in rushing yards allowed with 627, only 104.5 yards a game. What hurts Turner’s week eight outlook even more is that the Eagles have only allowed two rushing touchdowns all year. He will be a weak RB2 and a decent flex play this week.
Strong Play: Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Julio Jones
Decent Play: Matt Ryan
Weak Play: Michael Turner
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