LeSean McCoy should have no trouble getting
opportunties under Rex Ryan and OC Greg Roman.
Regardless of whether or not it was another clear illustration of
the personnel power he now possesses, a move made to clear up cap
room or a way to keep all his former (Oregon) Ducks in a row, there
is no debate Philadelphia Eagles HC Chip Kelly sent shockwaves through
the NFL last week when he agreed to trade RB LeSean
McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for LB Kiko
McCoy, whose cap number was going to approach $12 M had he stayed
in Philadelphia, admitted to NFL Network’s LaDainian Tomlinson
before the trade that he did not expect to remain an Eagle in
2015 since he felt Kelly phased him out to some degree last year.
There is no question “Shady” saw his role reduced
somewhat in 2014, as Darren Sproles stole some of his work on
passing downs while Chris Polk started to emerge as the part-time
goal-line option in the second half of the season. Early reports
suggested the six-year veteran – one season removed from
leading the league in rushing – was none too happy about
getting dealt and even initially considered sitting out training
camp as a result.
Cooler heads prevailed, however, as McCoy reportedly agreed to
a new five-year contract for $40 M – including $26.5 M guaranteed
– to remain one of the highest-paid runners in the league.
As far as Philadelphia is concerned, Kelly has taken just over
two years to essentially clear out the cupboard of high-flying
talent the Eagles collected near the end of the Andy Reid era
– cutting DeSean Jackson last year, allowing Jeremy Maclin
to flee in free agency (reportedly to Kansas City) and trading
McCoy – while only getting a talented linebacker coming
off ACL surgery in return. To be fair, Alonso’s upside approaches
that of Carolina Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly, so fans should not
pretend the Eagles got the short end of this trade.
Running backs tend to break down around 2,000 career carries
and/or the age of 30. Including the postseason, the 26-year-old
McCoy (27 in July) is at 1,499 rushing attempts (and 1,808 touches)
entering the 2015 season. Amid all the discussion that has taken
place regarding this trade, few have bothered to take the time
to notice that “Shady” may only have about two more
high-production years left in his body, particularly since so
much of his game relies on quickness and lateral agility. With
that said, Buffalo didn’t make this trade to win in the
long-term, but rather because the team’s window to compete
for something more than second place in the AFC East is probably
over the next two years.
With new OC Greg Roman and HC Rex Ryan calling the shots and
Matt Cassel the likely starter at quarterback, the Bills will
run the ball and rely on their stout defense as much as possible.
As a result, getting touches should not be an issue for McCoy.
With only 34-year-old Fred Jackson, special teamer Anthony Dixon
and Bryce Brown serving as his likely backups, the two-time All-Pro
could easily exceed his career high of 314 carries in his first
season in Buffalo. However, if Roman has any hopes of giving him
a chance of playing out his contract, he’ll take advantage
of Shady as a receiver more that Kelly did while allowing Jackson
and/or Dixon to absorb a fair amount of the between-the-tackles
The most immediate concern for McCoy’s immediate fantasy
prospects is the state of the Bills’ offensive line, which
played about as poorly as the injury-ravaged Eagles’ front
five did last year. To that end, Buffalo has already signed G
Richie Incognito and will probably invest a few more resources
into the offensive line throughout the offseason. Assuming those
upgrades are made and 2014 rookies like T Seantrel Henderson,
T Cyrus Kouandjio and G Cyril Richardson all take the next step
in their development, it isn’t out of the question the ex-Eagle
could approach his career 4.6 YPC in his first year in Buffalo.
Given the investment the Bills just made in him, McCoy remains
locked into the fantasy RB1 discussion as one of about five backs
that remain good bets to top 300 carries.
The Eagles remain a work in progress – they reportedly have a
deal in place to sign former Seattle Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell
in free agency and had one to secure ex-San Francisco 49ers RB
Gore before he changed his mind –and will continue reshaping
themselves as Kelly sees fit, with the expectation being that
the innovative coach’s offense will experience little-to-no drop-off
with fewer established playmakers than it had in his first two
years. The upside? Acquiring assets like Alonso (turns 25 in August)
and Maxwell should go a long way into shoring up his defense –
a unit that has lacked the talent to be consistently good during
the Kelly era. One thing is for sure though: if Alonso is completely
healthy by the start of the 2015 season, Philadelphia should be
much better defending the pass. Maxwell is more than capable of
holding his own and Brandon Boykin has emerged as one of the league’s
top slot corners. Alonso was exceptional against the pass as a
rookie in 2013, grading out as the best inside linebacker in coverage
according to Pro Football Focus.
Assuming Philadelphia lands another veteran runner that can execute
the between-the-tackle carries Kelly wants from his new back,
owners shouldn’t be surprised if that new player can muster
a 1,000-yard season behind the Eagles’ vaunted offensive
line, assuming it can stay healthy this year. This veteran runner
to be determined should top out around 225-250 carries while Polk
absorbs the remaining 60-plus carries McCoy is leaving behind.
Sproles’ role figures to be mostly unchanged; he has generally
topped out around 100-120 offensive touches throughout his career.
Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and appeared in
USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in 2010 and
2011. He is also the host of USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff
fantasy football internet chat every Sunday. Doug regularly appears
as a fantasy football analyst on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy
Drive” and for 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C).
He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
E-mail Doug or follow
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