Fantasy Football

2013 Fantasy Football: Maclin, Pitta injury impact

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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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The calendar still reads July, yet two big-name fantasy assets can X-out the rest of the 2013 pigskin schedule, as receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Dennis Pitta suffered season-ending injuries over the weekend.

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For Maclin, his elevated standing has never matched his mettle on the field. A first-round pick in 2009, the Missouri product has averaged 863 yards per season, somewhat disappointing given his draft status. The upcoming campaign was looked to be a rejuvenation of sorts, as many hoped Chip Kelly’s offense would prove a catalyst for Maclin making the next step in the pro ranks. Alas, a torn ACL will force the 25-year-old to the sidelines this fall.

Maclin’s injury heightens the already-bright spotlight on DeSean Jackson. Ailments and a contentious contract negotiation have led to back-to-back disappointing seasons from Jackson, and his fantasy rank has suffered as such. With Maclin now out, Jackson’s role should be heightened, making the playmaker a possible steal in the middle rounds of your fantasy football draft.

Though names such as Brandon Lloyd and Laurent Robinson have been thrown out as possible Maclin replacements, Philadelphia will likely look within their own receiving corps for a new starter. The two possible beneficiaries are possession wideout Riley Cooper and former Buccaneer Arrelious Benn. While Cooper could be valuable in PPR leagues, Benn is an intriguing candidate. A second-round pick in 2010, Benn has also been bit by the injury bug in his career, and already tweaked his knee at Friday’s practice. However, his potential is off the charts, and if he can stay healthy, could be a major bargain as late-round snag.

Maclin’s injury is a colossal detriment to the stock of Michael Vick (or Nick Foles, for that matter). With rookie tight end Zach Ertz assimilating into the offense, Vick is left with the mercurial Jackson and Jason Avant as his two primary targets. Such an unstable and fledgling unit does not bode well for Vick to turn back the clock to 2010. Vick is already going late in fantasy drafts as is, and this won’t help boost that endeavor. Continue to view Vick as a great value pick, but his forecast is becoming increasingly ominous.

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As for Pitta, a hip fracture will keep the tight end off the gridiron in Baltimore’s title defense this year. Pitta quietly organized an effective season in 2012, hauling in 61 receptions for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. Moreover, he served as Joe Flacco’s safety net over the middle during the Ravens’ playoff run, posting 14 catches for 163 yards and three scores. With Pitta out, Flacco has now lost two of his top-three air recipients from last year (with Anquan Boldin dealt to San Francisco in the offseason).

Visanthe Shiancoe was brought in over the weekend to shore up depth at the position, yet for fantasy purposes, Ed Dickson is the candidate for promotion. A third-round choice in 2010, Dickson saw his role in the passing game decrease last year, mostly used as a blocker versus a receiving threat. That will change in 2013, as Dickson is now expected to be one of Flacco’s bull’s-eyes, along with Torrey Smith and Ray Rice. View Dickson as a backup tight end on your rotisserie roster, with the potential to be a top-10 contributor at his position by season’s end.

Tagged: Eagles, Ravens, Michael Vick, Joe Flacco, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Arrelious Benn, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta

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