One of Fantasy football's elite receivers is reportedly on his way to leaving a controversial, very productive run with the Vikings behind after many weeks of conflicting reports on his future. The high-energy, enigmatic wideout seems like a natural fit for the Silver and Black.
Fantasy owners already want to know, will Moss' value be greatly affected by a move to Oakland? He'll no longer be part of the high-powered Minnesota offense. Yet leaving Daunte Culpepper behind shouldn't concern Moss' keeper league owners, and those who will draft him in next season. Don't expect him to move off his perch as one of the best receivers in our game.
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
49 767 13 15.7 82 187
No matter what uniform he wears, Moss will always be firmly entrenched among the top receivers in fantasy. No single defensive back can seemingly contain him without help. We all know he has outstanding leaping ability and amazing quickness for a big man. Moss makes an offense better with his presence. He does not become better or worse based on the offense he plays in.
It doesn't take Moss much to make a big play. All a QB has to do is get the ball in his general area, and he'll make plays for them. In the past, Moss has made Gus Frerotte look good. And since Cris Carter retired, he has excelled playing with No. 2 receivers such as D'Wayne Bates and Derrick Alexander. No matter who is throwing the ball to him, or even if he is getting double-teamed, Moss always wants the ball, and he's going to make sure he gets it, to the annual delight of his fantasy owners.
With Oakland, he's sure to continue to succeed at a high level. While Kerry Collins doesn't quite match Daunte Culpepper in terms of upside and all-around skills, he certainly isn't shy about throwing the ball downfield. Collins will have no problems getting the ball to Moss, and he won't be shy about putting the ball up for grabs, just like Moss likes it.
STOCK UP...STOCK DOWN
Onterrio Smith/Michael Bennett
TOO EARLY TO TELL
Moss is still a very good bet to score 15 or more TDs, especially in an environment where his "bad boy" image will actually fit in well. There's no apparent reason to expect a statistical slide from him. In fact, his arrival in Oakland instantly boosts the fantasy appeal of Collins, who now actually seems like a viable candidate to approach 30 TD passes next season. Playing with Moss could help Collins produce the best fantasy totals of his career.
Collins has never played with a receiver the likes of Moss, after years of looking to wideouts like Ike Hilliard. He now quickly becomes a top 10 QB without question. A receiving duo of Moss and Jerry Porter has quickly turned Collins from a retread at the end of 2003, to a very attractive fantasy choice as 2005 approaches. Collins has never thrown more than 22 TD passes in a year, and that mark should easily fall in '05.
Porter never seemed to be an ideal fit as Oakland's No. 1 receiver, and consistency was a big issue for him in 2004. Now, he and Moss can both benefit greatly from each other's presence. Moss will be playing with potentially his most explosive partner ever, and his best since Carter retired. With Moss drawing heavy defensive attention, Porter can finally have the full breakthrough season we have all been waiting for. Cracking double figures in TDs and reaching 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career seem to be very reachable goals for '05.
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Att Comp PaTD RuTD Int Rat
513 289 21 0 20 74.8
The arrival of Moss will apparently hurt Ronald Curry's outlook, as he will likely get bumped to the third receiver spot after recovering from an Achilles' injury. Curry will still make the occasional big plays if he is healthy, but he won't be dependable. Yet having the luxury of Curry as a third receiver is another factor that makes Collins so appealing for the next season. A trio of Moss, Porter and Curry is a quarterback's dream, as well as a great luxury for the fantasy owners of that QB. Adding in Doug Gabriel as a No. 4 only adds further to the exciting fantasy possibilities for Collins.
How Oakland will upgrade their running game still remains to be seen, yet whichever RB opens the new season as the starter will benefit greatly from operating in a wide-open offense that is sure to help spread the field for some great open-field running. A scatback such as Justin Fargas could even rip off some sizable runs as defenses concentrate on containing the passing game. Yet losing a first-round pick in the deal, plus the increased salary the Raiders will now assume, could hurt Oakland's chances of acquiring a top RB this offseason. And that means Collins and Moss will certainly hook up very regularly, as the Raiders lean heavily on their passing game.
The team that Moss will leave behind will obviously be in some disarray. Daunte Culpepper has lost his biggest weapon, and cannot be considered a first or second round pick anymore. Yet don't drop Culpepper too far in your rankings. Every season, he has shown an increased willingness to throw to his other receivers, and has learned to spread the ball around much better to his other targets over the last two years. While losing Moss means Culpepper might not reach the 30-TD mark in passing, he still is a very dangerous scrambler and a good game manager. At a a QB position that is full of question marks, he remains, without question, a top five QB.
MOSS, by the numbers...
Finished 18th among all WRs in fantasy last season, 151 traditional points.
However...Moss missed five games. On a per game basis, he had 13.72 points per game, third only to Muhsin Muhammad and Terrell Owens.
The Vikings cannot expect to depend on the improving, but still unpolished Nate Burleson as their No. 1 guy. If they do, Burleson could be a big disappointment as he struggles against top cover corners every week. If Minnesota adds a quality veteran receiver, though, expect Burleson to continue to improve in '05. If he remains a No. 2 wideout, he'll display more consistency next year, and could easily crack the 10-TD and 1,100-yard marks. But only if Minnesota can give him a solid veteran complement, not a faded guy like Marcus Robinson. If the Vikes stick with their current stable of receivers, it won't help Culpepper or Burleson, and you won't see Robinson's stock rise. He certainly is no kind of suitable replacement for the departing Moss.
The Vikings now have the seventh overall pick in the draft, which they could very well use on another big-play type receiver, such as USC's Mike Williams. Playing with a rookie receiver could hurt Burleson and Culpepper only in the short term, but would ensure that they both remain fine fantasy selections from a future perspective.
Minnesota could also deal one of their very talented RBs for another No. 1 receiver. Minnesota onlookers have long wondered how the Vikings would unclutter their RB sitiaution, and now you could conceivably see someone like Michael Bennett or Onterrio Smith end up somewhere else as a featured back. It is very well possible the Moss deal could be the first of Minnesota's offseason moves. The RBs that remain in Minnesota, though, could see their production hurt as the passing game opens up less room for the run.
For now, we know this much. Moss remains among the best players at his position. Collins is now among the best at his position. Porter's stock appears to be higher than ever. Culepper's has slipped a bit, and we'll know in the near future what to truly expect from Burleson and the Minnesota RBs in '05.