We begin our offseason coverage with a series on the top 30 fantasy relevant players that could have a change of scenery before next season (provided Goodell and the players union can make nice).  Some players that we will profile face free agency, some have requested trades (Carson Palmer has his house for sale), some (Steve Smith) may present more value as trade bate than they are worth to the team, and a few others have been passed on the depth chart.

We kickoff this series trying to determine the fantasy value of a fresh out da pen Plaxico Burress.  The 34 year old sharp shooter will look to trade in his orange jumpsuit for an NFL uniform if and when the 2011 season kicks off as he’s due to be released from jail in June.  He’ll likely have to sign an incentive laden deal but there is no shortage of teams that could utilize his playmaking ability (especially in the red zone).  The 6’5, 232 pound WR has played 9 NFL seasons and will likely remain a matchup nightmare in the red zone provided he proves to be in shape once training camp begins.  As Ice Cube said in Boyz in the Hood “there aint nothin to do up in the pen but liftin and eatin”, but that doesn’t mean Burress is any where near game shape.

Burress is best known for hauling in the game winning TD for the Giants in Super Bowl 42 (aside from shooting himself in the leg I mean) and has averaged 56 catches for 872 yards and 6 TDs over his NFL career. He posted back to back double digit TD seasons in 2006/2007 and has topped 1,000 yards four times in his career.

YearTeamGamesRec.YardsYds/GameYPC100+TDFantasy PPG
2000PIT102227327.312.4002.7
2001PIT1666100863.015.3468.6
2002PIT1678132582.817.04710.9
2003PIT166086053.814.3346.9
2004PIT113569863.519.9159.1
2005NYG1676121475.916.04710.2
2006NYG156398865.915.721010.6
2007NYG1670102564.114.631210.9
2008NYG103545445.413.0146.9
AVERAGE145687260.215.4268.5

These are the only stats we could find for the past two years…

YearSelf Inflicting Gun Shot WoundsHome Made ShanksCell Search ViolationsBooks ReadDominoes WinsGang Alliances
200921207.01.0
2010031012.00.0

Plaxico and agent won’t have much of a leg to stand on at the negotiating table as teams looking to bolster the WR position will have multiple avenues to improve  before 2011.  This years draft class has multiple first round talents led by AJ Green (Georgia) and Julio Jones (Alabama) - two players labeled as locks to go in the top.  Titus Young (Boise State) and Jonathan Baldwin (Pittsburgh) are also considered potential first rounders. The free agent class also boasts some big names as well including Santonio Holmes, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith (NYG), and Sidney Rice (possible transition tag). Bottom line is Burress’  list of  suitors will be limited.  He’s old, a convict, and has been out of the game for a couple years.  Sounds like a Bengal in waiting if I ever heard one!

Prior to blowing a couple holes in his leg (one entry and one exit wound) and landing in prison, Burress battled injuries in 2008 and finished with only 35 catches for 454 yards and 4 TDs.  Back in 2007, Plaxico finished as the #10 ranked fantasy WR finishing with 70 catches for 1,025 yards and a career high 12 TDs.

Despite the fact that Giant’s ownership is reportedly still fond of shoot-em-up Burress, a return to the NY Giants seems like an unlikely scenario.  Tom Coughlin never saw eye to eye with Burress and WR is not a position of need with Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Steve Smith (free agent) splitting out wide for Eli Manning.

Possible Destinations:

The five worst passing games in the 2010 season were located in Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Arizona, and Carolina.

Cleveland: The Browns passing game struggled mightily in 2010 as their leading receiver was TE Ben Watson. I’m not sure Burress is the ideal role model for sophomore QB Colt McCoy but he would provide the Browns with a red zone threat that could keep defenses honest and open up running lanes for Peyton Hillis.

Cincinnati: Never one to pass up a convict or bad person, Mike Brown will certainly take a look at Burress.  He can get him cheaper than his talent level would indicate and the Bengals will be losing one, and likely two, starting receivers – as TO is a free agent and #85 is declining making him a potential salary cap casualty.

Baltimore: Head coach John Harbaugh recently signed a contract extension and has professed his interest in Burress. The Ravens could use another WR opposite Anquan Boldin as Derrick Mason is on the decline and is an impending free agent.  Burress would also likely welcome a chance to dethrone his former Steeler teammates in the AFC North.

Chicago: At 34 years old , Burress will likely appeal more to Super Bowl contenders. The Bears got about as close as it gets in 2010 but their odds of repeating in the NFC north is contingent on upgrading a below average WR corps.  Johnny Knox (960 yards, 5 TDs) proved to be starter worthy but Jay Cutler would welcome an upgrade from Devin Hester.  Burress is not a prototypical Martz WR though.

Oakland: Al Davis.  Enough said.

Wherever he goes he is unlikely to make a very big impact in 2011.  Prior to Mike Williams successful come back this year, I would have said it would be almost impossible to come off of a two years out of the game and be a fantasy starter.  

There is hope for Burress, but it seems like his best chance of making a real fantasy impact is 2012 and even then he would have to be in the right situation.  If he lands on a team with a legit top 15 fantasy QB, consider Plexiglass in the final few rounds of your draft as he the size and strength to succeed in the red zone making him an asset in TD heavy leagues.

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