Commentary

Fear no letdown from Moss in 2008

Updated: March 4, 2008, 10:51 AM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

In the past week, the New England Patriots lost cornerback Asante Samuel to the Philadelphia Eagles, and according to ESPN's John Clayton, the Pats came pretty close to losing Randy Moss to the Eagles as well.

[+] EnlargeRandy Moss
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesRandy Moss caught 23 TD passes in 2007.
According to some reports, the Eagles offered a larger total package, a larger annual salary and more guaranteed money than the Patriots did, and at various times Monday believed that they might very well have Moss locked up. In the end, either Moss was using the Eagles to drive up his price with New England, or he had a change of heart, and realized that as good as Donovan McNabb sometimes looks, he's not Tom Brady.

In fantasy terms, this is obviously the best possible scenario. The Brady/Moss combo just put the finishing touches on one of the great fantasy seasons of all time, and even without the departed Donte' Stallworth in the Pats' receiving corps, Brady and Moss figure to be the most lethal duo in fantasy come the 2008 regular season. Did the league learn something about containing Moss from the playoffs? Well, sure: It learned that if you have an elite pass rush, you can make Brady throw the ball before Moss can get downfield. The problem with that is about 25 teams in the NFL don't have anything close to an elite pass rush.

Fifty touchdown passes for Brady and 23 touchdown receptions for Moss almost certainly won't happen again. Peyton Manning threw for 49 in 2004, and came back with "just" 28 in 2005, with basically the same skill personnel. But with Wes Welker still in the fold and the team's offensive line back apparently en masse in '08, I still think you have to put Brady and Moss at the top of their respective positional fantasy rankings heading into the summer.

Sure, there's a chance Moss's "greedy" side suddenly makes a reappearance, and a legion of fantasy owners have gone broke trying to predict this particular dude's mental status. But except for the fact that he was working on a one-year contract, all of the other factors that made Moss behave in '07 are still in place: a veteran team with a no-nonsense locker room, a peer pressure to think of teammates first, a Hall of Fame quarterback and a thirst to win his first Super Bowl. Brady will deserve to be a first-round pick in all drafts, and Moss will deserve to be the first pass-catcher off the board, probably in the second round of standard leagues.

Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner across all three of those sports.

You can e-mail him here.