Brian Westbrook might be the most versatile running back in the National Football League.
A reception and yardage machine with a nose for the end zone, the Villanova product has posted 50-plus catches in each of the last five seasons. He's also scored 37 total touchdowns since 2006, so it's no shock that Westbrook has become a surefire first-round selection in standard and PPR fantasy leagues.
Despite his considerable skills, though, Westbrook will come with some risk in 2009. He's dealt with knee problems in recent seasons and could miss all or most of training camp after offseason ankle surgery. Westbrook will also turn 30 in September, so he's clearly heading to the downside of his career.
The Eagles realize that as well, and the selection of McCoy in April's Draft is all the proof you need.
But will McCoy put a damper on Westbrook's value in 2009?
As long as he can avoid injuries, the answer is no. The rookie has similar skill sets to his veteran teammate, but he'll need to greatly improve on blocking and picking up the blitz in order to make a real push at stealing carries.
Westbrook also doesn't have a ton of carries on his body for a back his age, so he should have one more productive season in the tank.
With that said, fantasy leaguers who draft Westbrook should still target McCoy in the middle rounds, especially considering the procedure on the veteran's ankle.
Should Westbrook miss time because of injuries -- which has been the case more often than not over the last five seasons -- McCoy would become an instant starter in most leagues. A hard runner and a very capable receiver out of the backfield, McCoy will be seen as one of the top fantasy handcuffs on Draft Day.
Where most of McCoy's value lies, though, is in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Westbrook's heir apparent in the Eagles' backfield, McCoy should start to see an increase in carries as soon as 2010 and could become the team's featured back in 2011. But for fantasy owners in seasonal formats, McCoy shouldn't be seen as a reason to avoid Westbrook.
In fact, injuries are the greatest reason to avoid the veteran back.