In the past I’ve suggested a safety-first approach to drafting, especially in the first round.
I’m shredding those recommendations and burning the scraps when it comes to Michael Vick. Vick is a massive injury risk, practically guaranteed to miss a handful of games. However, when he is on the field he is the most dominant force in fantasy football and worthy of a top-5 overall pick.
There is not a player defenses fear more than Vick. When he was on the field last year he put up passing numbers on par with Peyton Manning and running numbers on par with a top-20 running back.
Math performed by ESPN’s Matthew Berry showed that in their standard scoring Vick’s fantasy output was equal to having Aaron Rodgers (the No. 1 overall QB according to many 2011 cheatsheets) and Cedric Benson (who scored 158 points last year) combined on the field in your quarterback slot. When all competitors were on the field in 2010: Vick=Rodgers+Benson.
I owned Vick in a couple 2010 leagues and it has definitely skewed my perception. I concocted my QB consistency rankings in part because of Vick’s contributions. He propelled my team to victory more than any one player I have ever owned. Down 40? No problem, Vick is playing on Monday night.
OK, I was never that confident, but when Vick got done tearing up defenses every week it usually meant a victory was in hand.
Detractors will bring up his injury history, which is long. There is no denying that his rushing ability makes him a health risk. He runs and cuts hard, putting his body under more stress than statue QBs. And defenders become enraged homing missiles when a quarterback leaves the safe room the NFL has built for them between the tackles.
Detractors might also say that 2010 was a career year and that nobody should pay for a career year. They’ll say defenses will have a whole offseason to game plan against him.
In actuality, there are many reasons to believe that Vick’s best might come this year or even in 2012.
Last year, the Eagles offense was built for Kevin Kolb. Kolb took the first-team reps in the preseason. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and company were synced up with Kolb, not Vick. Of course, Kolb was injured as the sun was rising on the 2010 season, opening the way for Vick, who settled in quickly. Over the course of the season he took over the offense and everybody got on the same page.
All of the intel points to a Vick who is a much better passer than he was before poor decisions in his personal life cost him a few years in prison. He also has more weapons than he has ever had in the NFL and still flashes elite running ability.
In 2011, Philadelphia has had as much time as opposing defenses to iron in new wrinkles that will no doubt add extra bite to the attack. And, unfortunately for opponents, the defense that is best capable of shutting down a receiver like Jackson is the unit he’ll face in practice.
Maclin’s mystery ailment is a potential buzzkill. It won’t render the offense mediocre by any stretch, but it could slow the Vick-led production factory’s assault on the stratosphere.
Few players, if any, have taken the field with the elite run-pass skillset that Michael Vick presented in 2010. When a player like that emerges, rules evaporate.
Stay away from perennially hurt players? Shredded.
Wait on a quarterback? Incinerated.
In fantasy football you want to win every week.
No player has a better chance of single-handedly winning fantasy games. If Vick only plays in 12 games, that means he’ll make an average team great or a great team unbeatable in 12 games. Whether he helps teams to 12 regular season wins or nine regular season wins and 3 playoff wins, that’s still a whole lot of wins.
Imagine, just for a second, what Vick could do if the stars align and he suits up for 16 games…