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7/18/2007 05:28:00 PM
The Michael Vick dilemma
The biggest question of your draft could be who rolls the dice on Michael Vick and when.
Michael Vick has always been a polarizing and often frustrating figure in fantasy football because of his on-field exploits. Meanwhile, his off-field exploits have inspired many amusing fantasy football team names. But now with his indictment on charges related to a dogfighting ring in Virginia, Vick's outside activities could have a major impact on his on-field performance and, by extension, your fantasy team.
If you're already drafting your team now, you'll definitely have to hold off on Vick until the later rounds since the NFL probably won't decide his fate for another couple of weeks. Obviously, you don't want Vick as your franchise quarterback when there's a chance he won't play this year, whether it's the NFL's decision or even the Falcons. Meanwhile, Joey Harrington, Vick's new backup this season, now becomes an intriguing prospect in very deep leagues if you're really feeling frisky.
However, should Vick be allowed to play, the major question becomes: "Do I want him on my team?"
Vick's running skills are a great bonus to fantasy owners, but sometimes his passing numbers can be so mediocre than his rushing stats only bring his numbers to an average level on any given week. The potential boom-or-bust game frustrates even the most patient of fantasy owners.
Consistency has never been Vick's strong suit, yet in SI.com's Experts League, he was the fourth highest scoring quarterback and ninth-ranked player overall. Last season, Vick became the first quarterback to run for 1,000 yards in the season and set a career high with 20 touchdown passes. The 20 TDs are pretty interesting since his receiving corps was nothing to write home about, although the Falcons did sign veteran Joe Horn this offseason to give them a little leadership. Oddly enough, Vick only scored two TDs on the ground with the 1,000 yards, while Peyton Manning had four rushing scores.
If Vick plays, he'll be working a lot with new head coach Bobby Petrino, who had a high-powered offense at Louisville. Petrino and the coaching staff will find ways to let Vick's game shine, but obviously I'd like to see it before I believe it. (And there's a chance we won't be able to see it.)
Legal issues or not, Vick shouldn't be expected to put up huge passing games on a regular basis, but add 35-40 rushing yards per contest and he's an OK prospect. So even without the potential for a lengthy suspension, he was on the bubble to be someone's No. 1 quarterback. That's out the window now. As a No. 2 quarterback he's still a risk because even if he's not suspended, Vick might still miss time attending to his legal troubles surrounding the case. And then there's whole distraction factor both on and off the field.
At this point, you'll need to be really patient with the Vick situation. If you were really high on him initially, you still should be able to draft him a few rounds later than you might expect (probably 8th or 9th in many leagues), just hopefully not as your primary starter. If you weren't a big fan to begin with, this whole situation makes it easier for you to ignore him completely.
While it's hard to know whether Vick will play this season, one thing seems almost certain -- at least one team in your league will have its name inspired in this case. So don't be surprised to see a handful of Bad Newz Kennels, Ookies or Release the Hounds as team names this season.