Curtis to have hernia surgery, out for 'a while'
Donovan McNabb lost his top receiver for "a while" as Kevin Curtis will undergo sports hernia surgery. Curtis, who was injured in Thursday's preseason game against the Panthers, definitely will miss the season opener against the Rams and probably will be out a few more weeks after that. The Eagles aren't strangers to this injury: McNabb missed the final seven games of the 2005 season with a similar ailment, and it slowed down tight end L.J. Smith for most of 2007.
As Eric Karabell mentioned in his 32 Questions piece about the Eagles, Curtis had stepped up as McNabb's top wideout last year and easily surpassed the perennially underachieving Reggie Brown. However, Brian Westbrook might be McNabb's favorite target, so Curtis might not have as high a stats ceiling as you might expect. Still, losing your No. 1 wide receiver for an extended period of time is a big blow to any offense, no matter how often he's used.
Curtis was currently taken 30th among wide receivers in ESPN.com live drafts, making him a No. 3 fantasy wideout with some potential for being a No. 2. That probably won't be the case now, although Curtis does have big-game potential in him, as five of his six touchdowns in 2007 came in just three games (including the crazy 11-catch, 221-yard, 3-TD game in Week 3 against the Lions). But now he's probably no better than a No. 4 or No. 5 wideout on your team if you can afford to stash him on your bench.
Meanwhile, Brown steps up to the No. 1 wideout spot again in Philadelphia. He's never really lived up to expectations, although he had eight touchdowns in 2006. Of more immediate concern to the Eagles is that Brown has been struggling with a hamstring injury in camp, although the team insists it isn't serious. Still, Brown may have to move up slightly if only because he owns the No. 1 wideout job by default. However, it's hard to think he'd match Curtis' production.
Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett will split time in Curtis' place opposite Brown, but neither seems to have a lot of upside as a regular fantasy producer. But rookie DeSean Jackson, who has been impressive in camp, becomes even more of an intriguing prospect. The Eagles are giving him plenty of chances in the preseason, and if Jackson can come through, he could be a nice sleeper.
As for McNabb, his value probably doesn't change a whole lot even without his No. 1 wideout. Westbrook is pretty much his No. 1 target in the passing game, and those balls that went to Curtis will just spread out even more. McNabb has put up big numbers with a less-than-impressive corps of receivers in the past, so this will be nothing new. He was already a marginal No. 1 fantasy quarterback, but this injury might help sway you in another direction if you were deciding between him and guys like Brett Favre, Eli Manning or Jay Cutler.