Monday, August 22, 2011

First Down: Smith bolts for Philly, yet another toy for Vick

In Philadelphia, the rich keep getting richer.

Late Wednesday, the recession-proof Eagles threw yet another curveball by luring the "other" Steve Smith away from the rival Giants. The recuperating receiver, still on the mend from December microfracture surgery on his left knee, penned a one-year "prove-it" deal.

Similar to how Giants/Eagles fans view action on the field, team doctors for the respective clubs didn't see eye-to-eye on Smith's 2011 prognosis. Giants MDs felt he was a major liability. Eagles white-coats, however, believe the sticky-fingered pass catcher could return after Philly's bye Week 7 (Sidebar: Adam Schefter reports he could be back sooner).

Generally speaking, the recovery process from such a complex procedure is often slow and deliberate. If not healed properly, a follow-up "cleaning" is often necessary. In many cases, explosiveness doesn't return initially for the repaired. Although some guys, namely Marques Colston last year ? the jury is very much still out on whether he can bounce back from the same setback in consecutive years ? are able to regain their previous productive form. Still, no two situations are necessarily the same.

Smith (122.3 Y! ADP), though a bit of a wildcard, is a terrific bench stash in challenging PPR leagues. Once healthy, he will have to compete for touches with DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin, assuming the mysterious ailment currently afflicting the latter isn't the avian flu (UPDATE: Jokes aside, Maclin's health is becoming increasingly worrisome. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported early Thursday the wideout has returned to his hometown, St. Louis, for further testing. Yikes.). But if things go off without a hitch and Smith overtakes Avant's slot role, he could be quite useful over the season's second-half. When firing on all cylinders, he's one of the league's best route runners ? cunning, slippery and sure-handed. Recall just two seasons ago, he hauled in 107 catches for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns, a sparkling line that earned him a Pro Bowl appearance.

The other takeaway from the Eagles' acquisition of Smith: Michael Vick has more nuclear weapons than the U.S.S.R. circa '56. Seriously, if Khruschev was still kicking, he would describe the QB's opulent situation as "epic win."

Vick's downside is obvious, but, no offense to the Piano Man, it's lunacy to think he won't reap a Round 1 value if healthy. For those in football hibernation a few weeks ago who missed our Spin Doctors segment on Vick/Rodgers? a refresher:

Historically speaking, Vick was in a class by himself in 2010. His 29.7 per game average in traditional formats outpaced Aaron Rodgers by 5.2 points. More impressively, the mark was the highest output ever by a QB with at least 10 starts. More than Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper in 2004. More than Tom Brady in 2007. More than your self-created Madden character. Showcasing increased accuracy, pocket poise, maturity and vintage athleticism, he eclipsed 25 points in 10 of 12 starts, including an unforgettable 52.7-point outburst against rival Washington Week 10 on Monday Night Football. Simply put, the largely undrafted passer had owners rolling in green by year's end.

Naysayers will point to Minnesota's "containment" of the slippery quarterback in Week 16 as reason for avoidance. They will also remind everyone of his injury downside. After all, he's only played a full slate once in his eight-year career. Though the latter concern is legitimate, the former is laughable. The Vikings' blitz barrage did hold Vick in check, if in check means he finished just shy of 30 fantasy points. In a game the entire Eagles offense appeared sluggish, the prodigious passer still managed to throw for 263 yards, run for another 63 and account for two touchdowns (one pass, one rush). Because of his pass/run duality and Andy Reid's air-happy system, he can quickly rack up fantasy points even if the real-life scoreboard isn't decorated with crooked numbers.

Smith's addition to an already deadly Eagles arsenal only enhances Vick's standing as a legitimate mid-first selection in standard drafts. Meeting or exceeding his galactic '10 totals may seem unlikely, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. His situation is nothing short of damn good.�Point blank, the payoff potential outweighs the risk. Though�grabbing a Sam Bradford (Y! ADP 113.6), Kevin Kolb (115.6) or Kyle Orton (120.4) as insurance in the beer-sloppy rounds would be a smooth move.

Fearless Forecast (Smith, 10 games): 46 receptions, 515 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns

Fearless Forecast (Vick, 14 games): 253.1 passing yards per game, 26 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 58.2 rushing yards per game, 8 rushing touchdowns

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Images courtesy of US Presswire


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