Commentary

Karabell: Moss' disappointing season

Updated: October 20, 2008, 12:14 PM ET
By Eric Karabell | ESPN.com

Every year there are big-name wide receivers who disappoint, and this season has been no different. From Torry Holt to Chad Johnson, after a month of down numbers fantasy owners start looking for replacements for underperforming wide receivers they drafted early. Of course, the perception is there hasn't been a bigger bust at this position than Randy Moss. Blame the loss of Tom Brady, if you will, but considering the fact there are more than 30 wide receivers with more fantasy points than first-round pick Moss, including luminaries Steve Breaston, Eddie Royal and a pair of Saints not named Marques Colston, it's not a good thing.

Then again, this perception would be a misnomer. Moss isn't unusable in fantasy. We continue to rank him well, generally among the top 15 wide receivers, and expect occasional production from him. That's the problem. He was likely your first-round draft pick, and occasional production just doesn't cut it. We've seen what Matt Cassel can do, in good matchups and bad, and let's just say Mr. Moss and his numbers won't resemble the record-breaking 2007 campaign anytime soon. Maybe next season, when Brady returns. But nobody will laugh at you for activating Moss. He's still capable of a big game at any time, like maybe in front of a massive audience on "Monday Night Football"!

With 20 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns through five games, Moss is on pace for 64 catches, 960 yards and six scores. That's not awful, you know. It's not No. 1 wide receiver worthy, but most fantasy owners don't have two or three wide receivers doing better. Last season 26 wide receivers finished with more than 960 receiving yards, so 26 divided by your 10 or 12 teams and -- voila -- Moss might be more like a weekly flex play than a sure starter, but he remains intriguing, especially in meaty matchups against teams from faraway time zones who don't defend well. I can't say the same positive things for the Rams' Holt and Cincinnati's Ocho Cinco, the latter who all of a sudden isn't talking nearly as much with his measly five targets per game. Moss hasn't slipped to that level yet, even as Wes Welker gets more looks and yards, and it's not likely he will. Look up Joey Galloway from 2007, and you can expect Moss to have a similar season, with some big games, others games with very little, and in the end close to 1,000 yards.

Monday's opponent is Denver, a team that boasts precious little in common with the 1972 Dolphins and 1985 Bears, for example. Cassel doesn't seem particularly raw or unlucky to me, we're just seeing his talent level, and it's probably not as a starter. Check out colleague Christopher Harris' fine breakdown on Broncos-Patriots for more on all the key players, and why Cassel just isn't cutting it. The Patriots have other problems besides losing Brady. The running game hasn't thrived, in part due to shoddy offensive line work, and the defense is lacking in the secondary. Maybe the Patriots will end up in more shootouts. This is good news for Moss, especially in a matchup like Monday's. In Week 6 the Patriots got blasted by the Chargers, losing 30-10. On Monday night in Week 7, expect both teams to be scoring the points, and Moss to have one of his better weeks.

Eric Karabell is a senior writer for ESPN.com who covers fantasy baseball, football and basketball. He has twice been honored as fantasy sports writer of the year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. His new book, "The Best Philadelphia Sports Arguments," was published by Source Books and is available in bookstores. Contact Eric by e-mailing him here.

Eric Karabell | email

ESPN.com Senior Writer