Michael Vick has thus far been a living, breathing, interception-throwing example of the difference in the definition of efficiency in fantasy football, and in reality football. Sure, his numbers could be a lot better from a fantasy standpoint if he would stop giving the ball to the other team with such impressive frequency, but when we consider the frustration he’s bestowed on Philadelphia through three weeks that’s resulted in the bogus questioning of his job status, you’ve actually made out quite well, finger biting eating Vick owner.

Oh, Vick’s still been bad, and he’s still surely prompted the growth of a foreign skin disease on those who took the plunge with an early-round pick. But that’s on you, because the risk associated with a player who was oozing with sex appeal (figuratively, not that there’s anything wrong with that) was evident due to his brittle nature, his offensive line that resembles a creaky storm gate, and his bouts with inaccuracy even with he’s healthy and upright.

All of those factors have restricted Vick’s production so far, and have contributed to his nine sacks over three games, and his nine turnovers, six through interceptions. Vick threw 14 interceptions all season last year, a total he’s set to shatter at this pace. He’s also averaging only 27 rushing yards per game, whereas last year his legs led to 45 yards weekly, and his rushing ability compensated for whatever inabilities he was experiencing with his arm far more often.

Yet still, when you consider all of those struggles and the major, often crushing factor that’s out of Vick’s control with two of his key offensive linemen out for the season (Jason Kelce and Jason Peters), it’s an accomplishment that he’s still been able to stay narrowly ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford in terms of fantasy points in Yahoo leagues. Vick has 50, while Rodgers and Stafford are both at 49.

Scoring always varies slightly, but without looking the easy assumption is that Vick has no business being mentioned alongside those two. Maybe that says more about the struggles of Stafford and Rodgers, both of whom were considered to be part of the elite and among the top tier at the position a month ago, with Rodgers often taken first overall in drafts, and he was almost universally the first quarterback off the board.

But another major contributing factor to Vick’s fall could be simple: defenses are being far more aggressive, and pursuing him instead laying back on their heels, and trying to contain his running ability. That’s the approach Mathias Kiwanuka said the Giants have taken in the past and will again this weekend, and he told the New York Post that their blueprint is being copied throughout the league:

“It used to be try and contain him, don’t pressure him because he’ll get by, but now it’s more like, just go after him. We’ve had that philosophy here for a while. We don’t change that. We do that no matter whom we’re playing. I think you’re seeing other teams adopt that same game plan. I think it has just become a point of emphasis for everybody.”

Herein lies the problem with Vick, and any attempt to forecast his production going forward. While it’s encouraging that he’s still had two games with 300 or more passing yards and two games where he’s hovered around 20 fantasy points despite his struggles, his saving grace was always his legs. With teams consistently taking that away now due to the pressure they’re able to create with the Eagles’ offensive line unable to stop any moving object, the frantic, inconsistent Vick will be seen far more often than the Vick who makes mistakes, but they’re forgotten due to his unique ability to create production through other means.

You drafted him knowing mistakes would have to be tolerated, but that pain threshold is quickly wearing thin.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • So what exactly does the return of the regular officials mean for you, the football fan who just wants to scream at a ref for something more reasonable than a call that legitimately robbed a team of a win? Well, the games will be played in less than four hours, and that’s because compared to the first three weeks of the 2011 season, replacement refs called defensive pass interference 25 more times, made 18 more personal foul calls, and 25 more holding calls. [ESPN Stats and Information]
  • So from a fantasy perspective you may have actually benefited from the replacement officials a bit when they were more eager to hand your quarterback better field position. But I’ll gladly sacrifice a few fantasy points for the return of the Hochuli gun show. [Dan Wetzel]
  • Yesterday, Devang shed a tear for Brian Moorman, and today the now former Bills punter had a message for the leader of the Moorman army. [Inside the Bills]
  • Ray Rice’s production tonight against the Browns might be kind of really good. Last year he had 349 all-purpose yards over two games. [Evan Silva]
  • Despite signing Brandon Marshall and employing a supposedly capable quarterback, the Bears are averaging only 5.4 net yards per pass attempt through three weeks. With the exception of their running back — whether it’s Matt Forte, or Michael Bush when he’s injured — Chicago has still been a fantasy wasteland thus far. [The Cowboy Times]
  • With Shonn Greene still struggling to convince us that he’s an NFL running back, this is the time when I would usually advise those in really deep keeper leagues to take a flier on Joe McKnight, who showed brief flashes of his potential late last season (5.3 yards per carry on four attempts in Week 12). But I can’t do that, because he’s not a running back anymore, and he’s not too happy about that either. [Jane McManus]