Please make the nightmare stop.
I’m an unabashed Halloween lover. The costumes, the candy, the endless stream of Friday the 13th sequels—all of it. But this has been something of an off year for me. Why, you ask? Well, I tell you, because of this. That’s right, last week’s loss to the Giants was so cruel, so horrific, that it spoiled my appetite for any form of undead dread. I mean, why bother with a horror movie when your favorite football team’s season is playing out like one.
The most horrific statistic of that loss to the Giants isn’t the 0-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, nor is it LeSean McCoy’s frightful 3.2 rushing average. It’s the 200 total yards that the Eagles put up throughout the course of the game. (For comparison’s sake, the Eagles have averaged 397 total yards-per-game over the course of the season.) The last time the Eagles scored an offensive touchdown, the U.S. was still entangled in the debt ceiling crises, Obama and Angela Merkel were playing racquetball together, and Gravity was the the Oscars front-runner, not 12 Years a Slave.
Rookie Matt Barkley, who was inserted into the lineup after Vick re-injured his hamstring for the 9,000th time, wasn’t as bad as his numbers would suggest; aside from an interception and a lost fumble, he was fairly successful moving the ball. Time will tell if Barkley—or Nick Foles, for that matter—is a good quarterback. But it’s unfair to give up on the 22-year-old USC product after two-and-a-half quarters of unanticipated play. In an age of rookie sensations like Andrew Luck and Cam Newton, we’ve lost patience with young passers. We don’t expect a learning curve. And that’s foolish, because some of the best quarterbacks—guys like Troy Aikman, John Elway and, more recently, both of the Manning brothers—had a tough first season. Barkley wasn’t Halloween III awful; he was Halloween H2O pretty bad.
Of course, none of that really matters because Nick Foles, cleared by doctors after suffering a concussion against the Cowboys, will be this week’s starter. I still stand by Foles as another quarterback worth not abandoning. Considering his poor play against the Cowboys two weeks ago as well as his outstanding game against the Buccaneers prior to that, I’m expecting this weekend’s performance against the Raiders to fall somewhere in between. And make no mistake: if there’s ever a week to gain some ground in the division, this is it. Facing a Raiders squad that fields a middling pass defense and the league’s worst passing offense, the Eagles have to pounce on the opportunity to get within a game of the division lead. Otherwise, Chip Kelly may have to worry about facing Eagles fans’ less forgiving side.
Who’s Michael Myers? The guy who will strike fear into the Raiders’ hearts in Week 9: DeSean Jackson. Despite all the chaos surrounding him, Jackson has continued his solid output. The Raiders have allowed the opposing team’s top receiver to score in four of the last five games, as well as allowing opposing receiving units as a whole have topped 200 yards in two of the past three games. Jackson should benefit from having Nick Foles back under center; start him with confidence.
Who’s Jigsaw? The guy won’t do anything exciting for your fantasy team in Week 9: Any Eagles tight end. Both Brent Celek and Zach Ertz are decent players, but the fact that both players see game action negates any value either has as fantasy options. It looks like Celek is being phased out of this offense, with just 11 combined targets over the past month. Ertz is seeing more looks, as he’s seen 17 targets over that same span; he hasn’t translated those targets into fantasy performance though. ESPN projects Celek as the 25th best fantasy tight end this week, while Ertz isn’t even on the list. That seems about right.
Who’s Jason Voorhees? The guy who’s a real hit-or-miss option for your fantasy team in Week 9: Nick Foles. With a lot of teams on a bye this week, you could do a lot worse than Foles. Personally, I’m expecting a big fantasy day, especially since the Eagles will likely be forced to throw, given the Raiders’ solid run defense. He’s a risky pick, but he’s worth it.