- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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FOR ALL those fantasy owners eyeing the Raiders' Randy Moss as a potential No. 1 wide receiver, here's some advice: Stay away. As things stand, there's no way Moss deserves to be taken high in anybody's draft. It's not that he's lost any of his freakish ability; it's because he's mired in an offense that doesn't take full advantage of his abilities.
Moss produced the second-worst season of his career (60 receptions, 1,005 yards, eight touchdowns) in 2005, primarily because the Raiders didn't make much of an effort to get him the ball. In fact, an AFC scout told me that the Chiefs covered Moss with then 32-year-old journeyman cornerback Dewayne Washington in a game last season, and Washington only gave up one reception. If you think new coach Art Shell will find better ways to use Moss, think again: Shell wants to implement a power-running offense.
Other factors hurt Moss: The Raiders are relying on erratic quarterback Aaron Brooks as their starter, and their offensive coordinator, Tom Walsh, has been out of football for more than a decade. All of this points to a ton of headaches for fantasy owners who think Moss will be the solution to their passing games. Right now he's merely a solid second receiver--at best.
Early in training camp I visited the Panthers in Spartanburg, S.C., and sat down with wideout Steve Smith. He'd just suffered what I'd read was a "tweaked" hamstring, and the Panthers were listing him as day-to-day. My antennae sprung up.
"Whenever I hear that a player 'tweaked a hamstring,'" I said to Smith, "it always ends up being more like three weeks than three days."
Smith smiled. "This," he said, "is no three days."
Hamstring injuries never are. And Smith (right), as of late last week, still wasn't practicing. Which is why you should bump him down to near No. 10 in your receiver rankings. I'd bump Terrell Owens down into the teens. I'd bump Hines Ward (left) to the same area, the teens. And I might not take David Givens at all. They're all draftable players, certainly, most very high. All hammy-plagued. And this is what I've noticed about hamstring injuries over the years: If you get one in camp and you try to come back too soon, your entire season will suffer.