We Need To Talk About Michael Vick
I promise I’m not trolling you.
It’s Week 17, the time for fake football owners who truly hate themselves and play until the bitter, unpredictable final week of the NFL’s regular season. Many of your studliest studs, no matter what vagaries their coaches speak this week, will take a seat on Sunday because their teams are locked into postseason seeding, transforming Week 17 into preseason, Week 1.
That’s a driving motivator in putting Michael Vick in this week’s top-eight quarterbacks, just behind Peyton Manning and one spot ahead of Andrew Luck. It’s not that I project Vick – that master of the back-breaking turnover – as a safer option than the Colts’ rookie.
I just don’t think Luck will play the entire game against Houston. Indianapolis is locked into the AFC’s No. 5 seed, with nothing to gain with a win against their division rival. Maybe Luck will play one series, maybe one quarter, maybe even a whole half. It seems exceedingly unlikely, however, that Indy’s coaches will keep their golden boy in the pocket against J.J. Watt for all four quarters. More than ever, it’s important to read pregame reports – that’s when coach’s playing time machinations begin to leak to the public, so starved for that last morsel of information.
You hate Vick. I hate Vick. He’s deeply detestable on a personal level, and certainly for those who drafted him as a major post-hype sleeper, that rare bird that was great, then wasn’t, and magically regains his form. See Gates, Antonio, as another example.
The Eagles play the Giants, who have quietly become reliably horrendous against fantasy signal callers. Big Blue is ninth worst against quarterbacks this season, allowing 19.8 fantasy points per game to QBs over the past four weeks. Joe Flacco roasted the G-Men for 309 yards and three total scores in Week 16. Flacco toyed with New York’s secondary on his way to completing 25-of-36 passes.
The Giants’ on-again-off-again front seven isn’t applying consistent pressure on quarterbacks, giving passers adequate time to pick apart an underperforming secondary hurt by a spate of late-season injuries. Flacco wasn’t the first quarterback to go after Giants’ cornerback Corey Webster, and I expect Vick to do the same, probably with his last reliable pass catcher, Jeremy Maclin.
Let’s remember: Vick crushed owners in Week 10 against Dallas, when he was knocked out early with a concussion after tallying just six fantasy points. Before that though, his numbers weren’t exactly laughable. Vick scored more than 17 fake football points in four of his first six games of 2012, cracking the 300-yard mark thrice in that span. Even in New Orleans in Week 9, when Vick and the Philly offense could not have looked worse against the NFL’s worst defense, Vick scored 18 fantasy points on the strength of 272 passing yards and 53 yards on the ground.
Vick didn’t commit a single turnover against Big Blue when he faced the team in October, throwing for 241 yards and a touchdown while tacking on 49 rushing yards.
Looking, for a moment, beyond the raw stats, we shouldn’t ignore Vick’s motivation to show the league that he’s a legit professional starting quarterback, not a nice backup option for some team willing to pay him a few bucks this spring. He’s playing for a job in Kansas City or Buffalo or Jacksonville or Arizona next year. I said it on the 2Mugs Fantasy Football podcast on Wednesday: We’ll see glimpses of Vick’s 2010 form against the Giants just in time for him to rip off some poor team in 2013.
Vick is owned in 67 percent of NFL.com leagues and 74 percent of ESPN leagues. I much prefer him over guys like Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman, and yes, even Matt Ryan. I simply don’t believe Atlanta head coach Mike Smith when he says the Falcons will “play to win,” whatever that means. George Orwell would be proud of such intentionally misleading language.
You don’t want to play Vick, and I understand. Such are the risks for those fake footballers who venture into the deadly terrain of Week 17, where the guys you drafted won’t be there for you when it means the most.