What started out as a 50/50 battle for the starting quarterback position in Philadelphia shifted in favor of Michael Vick after the veteran gained the upper hand by running Chip Kelly’s offense with deadly efficiency in the team’s first two preseason games.
Vick barely flashed any signs of incompetence against the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers in those contests. In both games combined, Vick went 13-of-15 for 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which might as well be nullified since it occurred on a late Hail Mary at the end of the second quarter.
Vick seems to have regained his confidence as a player, and is getting back to doing the things that made him one of the more incredible playmakers in NFL history. Perhaps what’s more important, though, is how he and his new coach are fitting so seamlessly together, and how quickly Vick became comfortable in the offense.
Last year in Andy Reid’s west coast attack, Vick was shaky at best. After a fantastic 2010 season ended with Vick getting banged up to the point where his running the ball was no longer effective, Reid wanted to preserve Vick as much as he could during the regular season. Unfortunately, that plan involved Vick hanging in the pocket and reading defenses, which has never been one of his strengths. What resulted was countless sacks due to a weak offensive line and a plethora of turnovers which led to Vick’s eventual benching midway through 2012.
Fast forward a year. Under Kelly’s offense, Vick is lining up under center with the understanding that his biggest weapon is still his feet. He’s back to running outside the pocket when receivers aren’t open and he’s still just as dangerous on the run despite being 33 years old. You know a guy is a freak when he’s beating running backs ten years his junior in wind sprints during practice, something Vick did to young speedster LeSean McCoy earlier this spring.
So Vick is healthier than ever, he has looked good in a new offense for the first two preseason games, and he’s back to his old scrambling self. So where does he rank among fantasy quarterbacks heading into 2013.
His value obviously takes a step up from the low-end No. 2 quarterback spot he was being drafted at in most Yahoo! Mock drafts. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Vick is being drafted at 105 overall, just behind Eli Manning. Keep in mind, Vick was a top 10 fantasy quarterback last year on a per game basis, and he’s being drafted like a boarderline backup in most deep leagues.
Vick has even more upside perhaps now than ever as a QB No. 2. For one, Kelly’s offense will allow him to utilize his superior conditioning by running play after play to exhaust defenses, one of Vick’s greatest strengths. Two, the Eagles have the healthiest offensive line they’ve had in years, with pro bowl tackle Jason Peters finally healthy and Top 5 draft pick Lane Johnson already impressing at the right tackle position. While Johnson will still be a bit raw, Vick should have the best blind side protection he’s had since he came to Philly. Also, keep in mind, Vick is the healthiest he’s been in years too.
Lastly, with the Redskins soaking up all the media attention this summer, the Eagles steered clear of offseason distractions that plagued them the last two seasons. You could argue the Riley Cooper incident may have been a slight distraction, but the second-year Florida wide receiver isn’t a talented enough player to warrant a drastic downgrade to team morale or even team production on the field.
Overall, Vick is one of the most valuable backup fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Nobody possesses more upside with as little risk at the quarterback position. If you have him as a starter, you may be a bit in over your head because he always poses significant injury risk, but if you land him in your No. 2 spot, you have a guy who could eventually be your starter or great trade bait as the season wears on.