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Burress a sleeper for 2009

6/15/2009

As late-round picks go, it certainly wasn't the worst one I had seen. I was participating in a fantasy football dispersal draft of sorts for a keeper league about a month ago, as a few of the teams were picking apart the carcasses of teams whose owners were leaving the league, and I couldn't find any wide receiver depth. Derrick Mason was looking like my final keeper in this deep league, and I knew that wasn't good. Then someone said the magic words, a name that I had frankly forgotten about: Plaxico Burress.

I knew I had missed a potential opportunity. Hey, stranger things have happened. Back then I thought it was a decent late-round pick, since Burress does have significant upside. Now the pick looks even better. Burress does, however, have two problems. One, he needs to avoid prison. Two, he needs a team to play on. Let's not be so naive as to assume if he and his lawyers can take care of the first problem, the second one will somehow find a way to work itself out.

As reported by ESPN.com, Burress' next court date on his weapons possession charge has been adjourned all the way to late September. At this time, he'll find out if he'll have to stand trial for the incident in late November when the then-New York Giants wide receiver shot himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub. If he does, it would almost assuredly be sometime in 2010, after the upcoming season. The Giants have since parted ways with the free agent, but if there's anything we've found out when it comes to troubled athletes, it's that talent always finds work. Agent Drew Rosenhaus said he's confident Burress will find work before training camp begins. I don't doubt it.

Burress is obviously talented, having caught double-digit touchdowns in 2006 and 2007, and being a 1,000-yard receiver four times in his career with the Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. Burress also hauled in the game-winning touchdown two Super Bowls ago against the New England Patriots.

ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas wrote in his blog recently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have shown interest in Burress, and it's been reported the New York Jets acknowledged they had interest around draft time. Wouldn't that adjust the value of rookie Mark Sanchez just a tad? Even if Burress doesn't have to stand trial for the weapons charge, he will be subject to disciplinary action by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but he could escape punishment there as well. Or he could miss a few games, kind of like Brandon Marshall seems to from time to time. Either way, it's hard to argue this is a name fantasy owners might need to consider.

Could Plaxico Burress help you -- or the team playing you -- this upcoming fantasy football season? If you've got a late pick to try on a sleeper, this isn't the worst guy to take a chance on.

• In case you missed it, another football player with some legal troubles -- well, significantly more legal troubles -- was released by his former NFL team. Michael Vick is both free and a free agent, though there aren't the same kind of rumors of actual NFL teams having interest since the Atlanta Falcons officially released the quarterback. Burress and Vick are in different situations; Burress played in 2008, and was playing reasonably well. It's not a stretch to think he'll find work and have a good season. Vick was a bit more preoccupied off the field the past two NFL seasons, so even if a team wants to sign him, that's two missed seasons to make up for. I wouldn't expect Vick to find NFL work in 2009, or even if he does, to see the field and make for a worthy fantasy selection.

• The Eagles and Donovan McNabb made it official, as the quarterback had his contract restructured. This news doesn't make McNabb any more durable or accurate with his passes, but if it makes him happier, hopefully he'll be more productive. It also makes it clear for those holding on to Kevin Kolb in deep keeper leagues that his wait could be awhile. McNabb is the No. 10 quarterback in ESPN Fantasy.

• And there's even more quarterback news! The Denver Broncos decided lying about a potential quarterback controversy wasn't worth much, as new coach Josh McDaniels wasted no time naming Kyle Orton the starting quarterback. McDaniels must have liked what he saw from Orton in the organized team activities, or didn't think much of what fellow newcomer Chris Simms was doing. Regardless, this isn't a surprise. I see Orton as a bit of a sleeper in this new offense, which is far different from what he had to deal with as a Chicago Bear, and we rank him No. 16 at quarterback.

• Speaking of former Bears quarterbacks, Rex Grossman has found work with the Houston Texans, likely replacing new Viking Sage Rosenfels as the backup to brittle Matt Schaub. Then again, let's not assume turnover-prone Grossman beats out Dan Orlovsky for the No. 2 job just yet. Grossman didn't see much of the field in 2008, but he still found time to throw two interceptions. Amazingly, Grossman didn't make our initial top 50 for quarterbacks.

• And finally, let's all give a nod to the underrated Trent Green, who officially announced his retirement last week after 15 seasons. Green certainly made his mark in fantasy football, throwing for more than 4,000 yards three times with the Kansas City Chiefs, and averaging 26 touchdown passes over a three-year period from 2002 to 2004. His other underrated contribution to fantasy football was the unfortunate yet serious knee injury he suffered in the preseason of 2000 with the St. Louis Rams, which opened the door for a grocery stock boy named Kurt Warner to step in and ... become the greatest surprise fantasy quarterback ever. Yep, Green was responsible. Thanks for the memories.