By M. Britt Hayes
In case you haven’t heard, there was a minor trade this off season between the Eagles of Philadelphia and the “wagon circling” Buffalo Bills. It involved 2013 NFL rushing leader Lesean McCoy, the Eagles’ franchise all-time leading rusher and a 3rd year linebacker from Buffalo. And yes it was a straight up trade. Nope, no draft picks. No monetary compensation either. It was a stunner to say the least. While everyone in the fantasy world is more than familiar with McCoy, there is somewhat of a mystery surrounding the other side of this deal. How can a Linebacker be worth such an outstanding player? Who is Kiko Alonso?
Aside from wearing the other half of Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s BFF necklace, what do we know about Kiko Alonso? After red shirting his freshman year, and being arrested more than Suge Knight in 2010 and 2011, Kiko had a solid senior year for the Oregon Ducks. Solid enough to make him the 46th overall pick by Buffalo in 2013. That’s where he exploded as a rookie collecting 159 total tackles, for third in the NFL. In 16 starts he had eight games of double-digit tackles with four interceptions, two quarterback sacks and two fumble recoveries. So, what do you do to follow up such an impressive rookie performance? Well, if you’re Kiko Alonso, you tear your ACL in off season workouts and miss the entire following year.
And apparently that’s how you get traded after becoming the most efficient player on a team’s defense. So, here we are in Philadelphia, where the inside linebacker position is more crowded than a gym after new year’s. Behind Mychal Kendricks and Demeco Ryans, the Eagles also have Brad Jones, Najee Goode, Emmanuel Acho and third-round draft pick Jordan Hicks. Kiko is still expected to start immediately. Not only is he Chip’s bromance partner but at 6′ 3″ he is bigger than Mychal Kendricks, and just as speedy to the edge. Alonso’s long arms also stand out. He fits the mold of what every NFL team looks for in an ILB. Kiko should slide right into Philly’s 3-4 defense as easily as Bo Duke slides across the General Lee’s hood. Seeing as how that’s what Oregon played during his time there, he’ll be right at home. Besides Rex Ryan will most likely return Buffalo to a 4-3 now that he has taken over the organization, where Alonso may not have fit well.
Enough about fitting in. For dynasty owners its about points, and points come from stats. Take a look at Kiko’s rookie season statistics along side the consensus best LB in the league, Luke Kuechly’s rookie debut.
- COMB AST SACK INT FF FR
- 159 59 2.0 4 1 2
- 164 40 1.0 2 1 3
The top line is Kiko and I’ll save you the math. That’s 166 total fantasy points in 2013 compared to Luke’s 171 point total from his 2012 campaign. The following seasons Kuechly amassed 161 and 166 total points respectively. Of course these totals will vary depending upon individual league scoring, but the point being made is that they are pretty much the same, and at the current ADP in start up IDP fantasy drafts Luke Kuechly is around 30th overall. While Alonso rests somewhere around the late 80’s. That means you are getting Luke Kuechly output 5 rounds later in a start up draft, and that Kiko’s trade value will never be lower than it is currently. The time to buy is now.
But he tore his ACL, you say? Well, so did Adrian Peterson in 2011. That was the year before he rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 TD’s. So did Rob Gronkowski in 2013. A year later he went for 1,124 yards, 12 TD’s, the Kentucky Derby, the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight and the Family Feud. Then there’s Thomas Davis who has torn his ACL 3 times. That’s more times than Aaron Hernandez has killed people (we think). Let’s just say the ACL tear concerns are as much a thing of the past as fanny packs and Hypercolor T-shirts. Besides, the report from Eagles camp is that Kiko is all systems go, and that he is not even wearing a brace. In fact when asked if he feels any negative impact from his injury, he replied, “No, that is the biggest thing, forgetting about it, because when you come back from (a torn ACL), you have it in the back of your mind, but it’s best to just forget about it and just cut it loose.”
The on field presumptions for Alonso are indicative of his fantasy capabilities. The ceiling for Kiko is anywhere from Comeback Player of the Year all the way up to Defensive Player of the Year. The floor is Bob Sanders, Brian Orakpo or a host of others who never recovered properly from injuries, but rest assured that Chip Kelly will give him every opportunity to succeed. Kelly could walk away a genius if Kiko returns to the production of his rookie glory. It would be like trading a 24 year old Luke Kuechly for a 27 year old Lesean McCoy, but the possibility remains it could also be like trading Albert Haynesworth for Lesean McCoy.
The risk is there, but I’d recommend being the Chip Kelly of your league and acquiring Alonso at all costs. Even if it means wearing a BFF necklace.