Don't expect much from T.O. in Cincy
Veteran receiver knocks down Ochocinco's rank, signals bad news for Bryant
Adam Schefter has reported that Terrell Owens signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday, with incentives that could earn Owens up to $2 million more. However, from a fantasy perspective, the biggest aspect of the story has very little to do with T.O. himself.
For me, the most important thing this move tells us is that Antonio Bryant isn't going to be nearly the fantasy factor I hoped when I called him a midlevel sleeper in our fantasy preview magazine a couple of months ago. Instead, it seems that the Bengals are quite worried about Bryant's troublesome knee. Remember that before they signed Bryant, they first interviewed Owens, then turned around and gave Bryant a four-year deal worth $28 million, with $8.5 million guaranteed. I have to believe what they've seen of Bryant so far has scared the ever-thrifty Bengals silly, and they decided they needed to pay for an insurance policy. I'm dropping Bryant out of my top 70 fantasy receivers for 2010 until further notice.
But I'm not ready to push T.O. right into Bryant's spot on my list, not by a long shot. What I liked about the Bryant signing was the idea that the Bengals might finally have a field stretcher to go with Chad Ochocinco. The issue with Laveranues Coles last year was simply that his speed was mostly gone, so nobody could push the defensive secondary back. I believe Owens has the same problem. I can't guarantee who'd win a footrace between Ochocinco and Owens (here comes the "O&O Show"), but I can guarantee there are probably 50 receivers in the NFL who could trounce both of them. To me, this puts the Bengals' passing game right back where it was last year, and it puts Owens around 50th on my receiver list.
Does this move crush Ochocinco's fantasy value? Well, it probably does hurt it a bit. Because there's a substantial duplication of skills between him and Owens, we could see, for example, red zone opportunities become a bit more spread out (as when T.J. Houshmandzadeh labored in Cincy). But whereas teams have been questioning Owens' focus and (especially) hands for the past few seasons, nobody dares question Ochocinco's and with good reason: He's got some of the best pass-catching mitts on the planet. I still expect him to be a clear No. 1 receiver on the Bengals' roster, and for the moment, I've only dropped him from No. 14 to No. 17 on my wideout list. But I'm open to the possibility of a bigger dip, depending on what we see from the Bengals in the preseason.
As for Carson Palmer, I think the potential loss of Bryant is big, because again, he was hopefully going to be able to scare safeties into playing far back. I think Owens is a shadow of himself, and won't really make Palmer that much better. I'm skeptical of the quarterback's remaining arm strength, and I think the Bengals will be a run-first team. I'm still not buying Palmer as anything close to a fantasy starter.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy and follow him at www.twitter.com/thewriterboy.
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2010 Fantasy Football Offseason
ESPN.comkeeps you connected to fantasy football all offseason long with updated rankings, mock drafts and analysis of all the important moves.
NFL Draft• Day 1: Ryan Mathews the big winner
• Day 2: Toby Gerhart now a handcuff
• Day 3: Rounds 4-7 can yield sleepers
• Matthew Berry's Top 150, updated June 4
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated May 11
• Fantasy Staff Top 200, updated April 30
• Christopher Harris' Top 200, updated April 19
• Matthew Berry's Top 100, April 8
Analysis from Christopher Harris
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• Jason Campbell is still bland in Oakland
• LenDale White, Leon Washington in Seattle
• Brandon Marshall deal to Miami boosts Henne
• Santonio Holmes' value falls with trade to Jets
• Donovan McNabb's stock drops with Redskins
• Willie Parker joins Redskins veteran RBBC
• Browns wheeling and dealing potential options
• LDT signing with Jets muddies Greene's value
• Larry Johnson still irrelevant with Redskins
• Derrick Mason's re-signing helps Flacco
• Antonio Bryant decent fit with Bengals
• Thomas Jones loses lots of value with Chiefs
• Reggie Brown intriguing with Tampa Bay
• Boldin trade doesn't do much for his value
• Taylor, Burleson open free-agency season
• NFL scouting combine fantasy review