The year was 2003. Peyton Manning was the second best fantasy quarterback, sandwiched between Daunte Culpepper and Trent Green. Priest Holmes and Ahman Green dominated the running back landscape, with Stephen Davis and Moe Williams rounding out the top-12 at the position. And at tight end, only Tony Gonzalez was able to beat out Shannon Sharpe from a fantasy perspective.
My how the times have changed. Or have they?
You see, in 2003, we saw three very familiar faces in the top-12 at receiver. Randy Moss finished as the top guy at the position, while Chad Johnson finished third and Terrell Owens finished twelfth. And now, nine years later, these three guys are back. Can they get even close to their 2003 success?
After playing for three teams in 2010 and zero in 2011, Randy Moss landed a job with the 49ers this off-season. It’s probably the perfect fit for him, considering Jim Harbaugh’s motivating nature and the fact that the 49ers have lacked wide receiver ability for years.
But from a fantasy perspective, it would have been nice to see him go elsewhere. The 49ers ground and pound nature led them to a 29th ranked passing offense last year, and with the team signing Brandon Jacobs and drafting LaMichael James this off-season, I don’t see that changing.
If Moss had less competition to get targets, this would be a different story. But while Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Vernon Davis are there to steal targets in a run-first offense, I can’t say that Moss’ ceiling is wide open because the ‘9ers will surely be spreading the wealth.
He’s been impressive thus far in camp, and I think that of the three receivers being analyzed here (Moss, Owens and Johnson), he’s been getting the highest praise. His ADP is just far too high for me to draft him. According to MyFantasyLeague.com, he’s been the 46th receiver off the board. I see higher upside players being drafted around Moss like Jonathan Baldwin, Lance Moore, Vincent Brown and Kendall Wright that I’d rather take.
Verdict: Not worth his current ADP of WR46
Out of nowhere, Terrell Owens ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash and is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks. And for fantasy football, it’s intriguing.
The last time Owens was in the NFL, he was a legitimate WR2 in the fantasy world. He would’ve had well over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns for the Bengals if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
Now, I’m not expecting those kind of numbers, but I do think that with the lack of competition at wide receiver in Seattle, T.O. could be a definite late-round flier if he shows promise in the pre-season. They have two young receivers in Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate that are still maturing, and their “stud” at the position, Sidney Rice, can’t stay on the field.
Owens is a case where you need to watch the pre-season before crowning him draft worthy. If he shows signs of the old T.O., however, I can’t blame you for drafting him right before you get your defense and kicker.
Verdict: It’s early, but he could be a late-round flier.
I won’t allow a name change to force me to believe that the old Chad Johnson is back.
Last year in New England, Chad was anything but productive. Catching just 15 balls, he was one of the more disappointing fantasy players in 2011.
Why should that change with any of the Dolphins’ quarterbacks?
Well, there’s a possibility that he’ll be the number one receiver in Miami this year. That’s much different than the 5th or 6th option he was in New England.
The fact is, you’re not paying all that high a price for Johnson right now. MyFantasyLeague.com tells us that he’s the 70th wide receiver taken off the board. To me, that’s definitely worth a shot. Make sure, however, that you’re fully aware that this ADP could rise given the pre-season. I wouldn’t draft him much higher than where he is now.
Verdict: Decent value at his current ADP