Thoughts on Chad Ochocinco, Randy Moss 

August, 1, 2011
My first reaction when I saw that Chad Ochocinco had signed with the Patriots over the weekend was that I loved it. I tend to view Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots differently than most NFL teams, as they form an organization that always knows what it's doing and can rehabilitate lost souls. Hey, it worked once upon a time with Randy Moss, right? Now Albert Haynesworth is aboard. But then I thought about the inconsistent Ochocinco from the past few seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He deserves an upgrade with Brady now slingin' it to him, but this surely isn't Moss. Motivation and trash-talking can take a guy only so far ... but I still think there's some talent left, too.

[+] EnlargeChad Ochocinco
David Butler II/US PresswireChad Ochocinco has posted 1,000-plus receiving yards in seven of his nine seasons as a starting receiver. The years he didn't: 2008 and 2010.
Colleague Christopher Harris does a fine job reigning in expectations on Ochocinco, pointing out how he and Moss are not similar in their construction, and how poor No. 85 looked in 2010. I can't argue with those points. Moss was far more of a deep threat, even as he passed 30 years old, and he was able to dominate games seemingly at will. Ochocinco is a strong route-runner, which will surely help, but he and Wes Welker will be sharing a lot of the space. Things don't go well when individuals demand the football.

But here's where I deviate from Mr. Harris a bit on Ochocinco's fantasy value: No. 85 is getting another chance, in a perfect situation, and next to nothing I saw in the Bengals' awful season a year ago seems relevant to me. I think Ochocinco has a lot to prove after getting out of Cincinnati. Carson Palmer didn't seem to want to be there last year (or now). Terrell Owens became Palmer's top option. And they lost, a lot. Ochocinco had a big first week of the season (at New England, coincidentally), with 12 catches, 159 yards and a touchdown, good for a season-best 21 standard fantasy points. Only two more times did he reach double digits in fantasy points after that. But a year prior to that (2009), Ochocinco had actually bounced back from a poor 2008 season, topping 1,000 receiving yards and scoring nine touchdowns. I'm generally the fellow on the ESPN Fantasy staff arguing against players simply losing their ability quickly because of age. Yes, it seems unlikely Ochocinco will reach Pro Bowl-type numbers in New England, but I trust Belichick. I think Ochocinco can and will play better than our last impressions.