2013 Fantasy Football: Can You Trust Michael Vick?
Let me be clear right up front, I am in no way advocating that you draft Michael Vick as the starting QB for your fantasy team. We’re far from knowing whether he’ll even start for Philadelphia. But, I believe Vick will start, and if this ends up being the case, as tired as you may be of hearing about him, there are nonetheless five things you should know about his situation heading into the 2013 season.
1. He isn’t that old. Vick will be 33 by the time the 2013 season begins. Is he brittle? Certainly. He’s only played a full 16 games once in his career, way back in 2006. Has he lost a step? Perhaps, but he still averaged only .4 fewer yards per carry than Cam Newton in 2012 – 5.8 to 5.4. Had Vick played a full 16 games last season, he would have rushed the ball 99 times for 531 yards – not bad for a man 9 years Newton’s senior.
2. Chip Kelly likes QBs that can run. During his four seasons as Oregon’s head coach, Kelly’s QBs averaged 118 carries for 658 yards and 8.75 touchdowns per season. Do I expect Vick to run that much under Kelly? Heck no, he’d probably die, but if Vick is the starter, Kelly would be foolish not to use his speed and elusiveness. I don’t think you’ll get that many rushing touchdowns out of Vick, but 400 to 500 rushing yards is certainly not out of the question.
3. He hasn’t been that bad. In 2011, the year after Vick’s big season with Philadelphia, his 247 fantasy points in 13 games made him the 11th best QB in football. If Vick had been able to maintain his pace over the full 16 game season, he would have finished as the 6th best QB with 304 fantasy points. Vick wasn’t bad in 2011, he just didn’t live up to the No. 1 overall pick many fantasy owners used to acquire him. And last season, well, okay, Vick was bad last season, but he wasn’t as bad as Eli Manning. Again, had Vick played all 16 games, he would have outscored younger brother 256 to 248, and taken his place as fantasy’s 14th best QB.
4. Though they’re not the healthiest bunch, Vick’s actually got a great group of targets. By my count, only seven teams currently have a pair of wideouts that are arguably as good or better than Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson – Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Falcons, Buccaneers, Steelers, and Broncos – and at least two of those teams may not have said tandems by the start of the 2013 season. But Vick’s good fortune doesn’t end at the WR position. Brent Celek has been a top 10 fantasy TE in two of the past four seasons, and the only RBs to catch more passes than LeSean McCoy over the past three seasons are Darren Sproles and Ray Rice. Vick has talent to throw to at every level. The question is whether Kelly can implement an offensive scheme that allows Vick to utilize that talent while remaining upright.
5. For once, you won’t need to draft a backup for Vick because Vick will be your backup. Take a look at the scoring leaders chart for your league last season. Count the number of QBs who, if healthy (think RG3), will probably be drafted before Vick in 2013. I can get to 13 before I begin having any real doubts: (1) Drew Brees, (2) Aaron Rodgers, (3) Tom Brady, (4) Cam Newton, (5) Peyton Manning, (6) Colin Kaepernick, (7) Matt Ryan, (8) Matthew Stafford, (9) Russell Wilson, (10) Tony Romo, (11) Andrew Luck, (12) Eli Manning, and (13) RG3 – again, only if healthy. Now, take a look at last year’s draft results to see when the 14th QB was picked in your league. In my 10 and 12-team leagues, the 14th QB was selected with picks 109 (the 10th round in my 12-team league) and 115 (the 12th round in my 10-team league). At that cost, Vick could be a steal in 2013. As disappointing as he was in 2011, Vick nonetheless averaged 19 fantasy points per game. Just a single season separates us from 2011.
So what advice do I have to offer about drafting Vick in 2013? First and foremost, don’t draft Vick as your starter. If you think of him and draft him as a high-upside backup, you won’t be disappointed should he succumb to injury or poor play. And if you draft Vick as a backup – and I don’t recommend drafting backups at all for Brees, Rodgers, Brady, P. Manning, and Ryan – do yourself a favor and don’t take him before the beginning of the 9th round (picks 81-90 in 10-team leagues and 97-108 in 12-team formats). If another team reaches for him and you miss out, no big deal. Again, we don’t know if and for how long Vick will start, and even if he does start, we don’t know that he’ll be better than he was last season. Vick is a high-upside value play in 2013, nothing more.
There is a whole host of quality backup options to choose from should Vick pass you buy – think Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub, Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco. Am I interested in owning Vick in 2013? Let’s just say I’m intrigued by his potential value. Without a bit more information, I’m not willing to go any further than that just yet.