Camp notebook: Vick's production tough to project

A few head coaches had itchy trigger fingers when it came to naming starting QBs. Let's get right to it.

Kelly chooses Vick

A long-time axiom to which many statisticians adhere reads as follows:

The best predictor of future performance is past behavior, all things held constant.

Obvious? Yep. Groovy? Sure. However, even the geekiest of stats geeks would have to scratch his head and shrug his shoulders if he was asked to conjur up a formula to try to predict what will happen in Philadelphia this fall.

Chip Kelly has named Michael Vick the starter for the season, and while the move was expected, the competition was closer than you imagined. Nick Foles really gave Kelly something to think about. Granted, Foles was either terrific or horrific at times in the preseason -- sometimes even both on the same drive. Overall though, Foles was efficient and showed he'd have been capable of leading Kelly's offense if necessary. Nonetheless, Vick returns to his familiar role as starter. You can adjust your draft boards accordingly.

As far as predictions for how this will turn out? Well, there's really no reliable data available to make one. It's like staring at a blank Excel workbook and asking it to perform some kind of simulation with no data inputted.

Why is it so difficult to project Vick's numbers this year? Several reasons.

First, a great deal of Michael Vick's success will depend on what kind of year he himself is prepared to have. He earned a huge contract after posting some amazing numbers during the 2010-11 season, but then the following year, he looked worn-down, inaccurate and even a little confused at times. Which Vick is the real one? Is he feeling healthy? Can he learn a completely new system in such short order? I'll give him the benefit of the doubt after he recently said he rediscovered his love for the game. And I think a lot of what he said has to do with the new offense. Which brings me to ...

Vick (and most of his teammates for that matter) has never operated in an offense quite like this before. Most coaches run a vanilla version of their offense in preseason, but it's clear Kelly wants to run an up-tempo style attack. Vick is the perfect fit under center since he is accurate enough to hit the short crossing routes his receivers will run and mobile enough to hit the gas and take off if he sees an opening. Still, if Vick is primarily throwing to receivers who are running short-to-medium range passing routes, will all those passes add up to decent fantasy output each week -- especially since the Eagles have plenty of question marks at the wide receiver position? With that in mind, will Kelly stick to his ground game mindset and prefer to run the ball more with LeSean McCoy? We won't know the answers to these questions until we see at least a few regular season games -- by which time, of course, your drafts will already be in the books.

This is why taking Vick is more of a gamble than something which can be projected based on history. So, what should you do if you find Vick on the board in your draft and you need a QB? Trust your gut. If you're worried about his receivers or don't think Kelly's system will work in the NFL, pass. If you're convinced he's an ideal fit for QB in a Chip Kelly offense, and the Eagles are about to unleash a never-seen-before level of offensive efficiency, take him. Sometimes, the right play is based on instinct as opposed to cold, calculated analysis. Vick's fantasy status is one of them.

Miller given six-game suspension

I'm normally not much of an IDP honk, as IDPs are only started in one of my leagues. But Von Miller's confirmed six-game ban has huge implications not just for him, but the value of Denver's D/ST as a whole.

Individually, Miller registered 18.5 sacks last season, third-best in the league behind only J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith. As a whole, the Broncos and Rams co-led the league last year with 52 sacks each, making Miller responsible for just over 36 percent of Denver's sack production. His presence alone commanded a great deal of attention, as offenses could rarely afford to leave an offensive lineman to block Miller by himself. As a matter of fact, a good deal of the remaining sacks Denver registered were because offenses focused so much on blocking Miller that there weren't enough resources to allocate to impede other pass rushers. The fact that Miller will not be available until mid-October will not only slow down the defense's production, but also give a boost to the offenses of Denver's first six opponents (vs. BAL, @ NYG, vs. OAK, vs. PHI, @ DAL, vs. JAC).

This offseason could not have gone much worse for the Broncos. Drop both Miller and Denver's D/ST farther down your rankings.

Quick hits

» Brandon Weeden was named Cleveland's starter. No surprise there. Weeden may not get off to a jackrabbit start with Josh Gordon out for the first two games (vs. MIA, @ BAL), but he'll almost certainly hit his stride around Week 3.

» Some of you may want to pump the brakes a bit on Lamar Miller, who now finds himself in a battle with Daniel Thomas. I said a few weeks ago that I was going to take a cautious approach on Miller since he had yet to show he had the capability of carrying the load of an RB1. If he really was going to be the team's hands-down choice for RB1, you'd likely already know it by now. Miller may prove me wrong, but I'm more than happy to let someone else in my league roll the dice on him earlier than they probably should.

» Victor Cruz isn't quite certain whether he'll play in Week 1. If it turns out he returns in Week 2, then it's easier to absorb the blow of playing without him for one week in a head-to-head format. But you might want to move him down a bit on your draft boards if you play in a league that keeps a running tally of total points. As a Cruz owner in one of my leagues, I'm hoping this isn't the type of injury that lingers until it's completely healed. Time will tell.


John Juhasz is a fantasy editor at NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnJuhasz

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