What Should Fantasy Football Owners With LeSean McCoy Do?
Antone Smith has scored more fantasy points than LeSean McCoy in PPR leagues. That’s not a joke; Smith has played 217 fewer snaps and has 89 fewer touches and is outscoring last year's rushing leader.
Is Shady's lack of production his fault? And if you own him, what in the world should you do with him?
Who’s To Blame?
The Eagles offensive line was one of the best in the NFL last year, and was a huge reason LeSean McCoy had a fantastic season. But this season, it's been absolutely decimated by injuries, most notably All-Pro guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce.
All of the injuries on the offensive line have severely hampered the Eagles run game which predicates on an outside zone scheme that attempts to generate gaps for McCoy, allowing him to make easy cuts to gash defenses. In 2013, those massive running lanes were bountiful, and Shady shredded defenses. This year, McCoy has nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.
Now, to be fair, the backup offensive linemen could be playing better and McCoy himself isn’t completely absolved from blame. But there's not a lot that indicates McCoy has regressed talent-wise in any fashion. He is still making the first and sometimes the second defender miss but after that, the run blocking usually crumbles in front of him and he can’t generate many positive gains.
Reasons For Optimism
As a LeSean McCoy owner, you’re frustrated. You spent a top-three pick on him, and he hasn’t even come close to paying back his cost. To be honest, he may not be a sure-fire top-five fantasy running back at any point this year. He has a Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) of -14.54, which is dead last among running backs with more than 65 carries. He’s also averaging a dismal 2.9 yards per carry. But, in the face of the doom and gloom, I do believe there are reasons for optimism for the rest of the season.
First, the Eagles offensive line will get better fairly soon. The aforementioned Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce are slated to return from their respective injuries by Week 10. From then on, if they don't sustain anymore injuries, Philadelphia’s offensive line will be at full strength for the last eight games of the season. Fantasy championships could be won on LeSean McCoy’s back even if their running game returns to 80% of 2013 form.
In terms of usage, Chip Kelly keeps trying to get McCoy his touches, despite the putrid state of their run blocking. Kelly has given Shady 19-plus carries in four of the Eagles five games and, despite the lack of positive gains, every indication shows that he'll keep feeding McCoy the ball no matter what.
It’s possible Chip Kelly’s has psyched himself out, because it would make sense that he would try and get Shady going by getting him the ball in space via the passing game. McCoy hasn’t been as involved in the passing game this year, partially because of the presence of Darren Sproles, but McCoy caught all four of his targets in their game this past Sunday against the Rams. If he gets four or more targets per game going forward, that could generate the big plays McCoy fantasy owners have been missing.
The last sign for optimism is the Eagles offensive line seemed to get a little bit better as the game went along against the Rams on Sunday. They started to get more push, and McCoy had actual running lanes to work with in the second quarter and beyond. Shady’s best run of the day came with 3:23 left in the second quarter where Philly lined up in a singleback set and McCoy made one cut that allowed him to bounce it outside for a nice 19-yard gain.
From that point on, there weren’t any big plays, but it was nice to see McCoy gaining positive yardage semi-consistently which is something we have not seen much so far this year. Things have been really ugly, but they seemed to get a little better against the Rams. Hopefully Philadelphia can build off some of that success and trend upward going into their Week 6 matchup with the Giants.
What Do You Do If You Own LeSean McCoy?
Notwithstanding the lack of big plays generated and bad run blocking, I think if you drafted LeSean McCoy you pretty much have to stand pat and continue to weather the storm. With that in mind, you also need to temper expectations. There's a very good chance McCoy won’t return to his 2013 form this year, but he could be a very good asset once the Eagles offensive line is fully healthy in about a month and the offense starts striking on all cylinders.
If you can make it a few more weeks and scrape out some wins through the bye weeks, having McCoy on your roster could be very beneficial during the push for the playoffs. With that in mind, does this mean LeSean McCoy is a buy-low? Sort of. If you’re 4-1 or 5-0, have great running back and wide receiver depth and the McCoy owner in your league is freaking out, it may be a decent opportunity to pull the trigger and make an offer. If you can get Shady for 75 cents on the dollar, that may prove to be a league winning move when the fantasy season is over.