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Plaxico Burress’ Fantasy Prospects for 2011

Who knows if Plaxico Burress “gets it.” Watching the re-air of his August 2009 interview with ESPN, you can see that Burress was a bit disgusted at that time. Not with himself but with his situation.

“I gotta wake up every morning and look at my leg, and I got a hole in my leg. And I gotta go to prison for almost killing myself.”

Actually, Burress had to go to prison for unlawfully possessing a gun. And while the penalty was harsh, that’s how it is in New York for such crimes. You don’t try to make yourself the victim for being ignorant about the law.

I don’t know if his point of view has changed in the past 22 months. But that’s the one of the perks of fantasy football — you can act like a general manager while not worrying about character concerns.

Terrell Owens has been a jerk for most of his career, but if he can get you 80 yards and a touchdown every week, he can say whatever he wants. You don’t care about chemistry; just win, baby!

Michael Vick slaughtered dogs, but if he can get 28 fantasy points per week (which is close to what he averaged in 12 games last season), you can find a way to push his failings as a person to the back. I know that sounds amazingly cold, but that’s how you have to approach fantasy sports. Biases must fly out the window.

However, Plaxico isn’t Vick. On the field, I mean. Vick appears to be in his prime and is considered by many to be a first-round pick in fantasy drafts this fall. Burress is a largely unknown commodity.

Just from what I’ve seen on television in the past couple of days, Burress looks to be in decent shape. I mean, prison certainly allows you to work out a lot. However, there are obvious concerns over rust, age and how months of football inactivity may have diminished Burress’ skills.

Burress will turn 34 this August. Maybe a two-year break from getting beat up on the field will be a positive for him. Maybe it will have saved some juice in his legs — the Ricky Williams paradox — but age is still age. It’s a cliché, but he’s not getting any younger, and you can’t expect Burress to play like he’s 29. Only four players in the past three seasons have recorded at least 900 receiving yards. Owens, Muhsin Muhammad and the ageless duo of Donald Driver and Derrick Mason make up that list. I think that’s the absolute ceiling for Burress.

Teams such as the Rams, Jets, Eagles, Raiders, Dolphins and Redskins are all rumored to be interested in Burress’ services. But most of those teams are in the hunt for a big-game wide receiver. A No. 1 option. A WR leader. I don’t think Burress can be that guy at this point in his life. He probably can’t be consistent threat when it comes to racking up yardage. He never really was that type of guy when he was at his best. Just look at his roller coaster game logs. He can’t be the glue in a receiving corps any longer. Teams looking for a top-flight receiver are disillusioned if they think Burress can provide what they need.

Instead of relying on a major impact, NFL teams just need to look up at Burress and keep it simple. Burress’ 6-foot-5-inch frame hasn’t shrunk and can still lead to a lot of easy touchdowns. He caught 33 touchdowns in 57 regular-season games as a Giant, and he can be that end-zone leaper or drive-extending player for anybody.

A lot of people have said that the Eagles wouldn’t be a good fit for Burress — or vice versa — because they already have a pair of receiving playmakers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. But that shouldn’t stop them from going after Plaxico for one huge reason, literally and figuratively: Philly lacks size on the outside. In that way, I think Burress would be perfect. Plus, the media would love the Burress-Vick coupling.

However, we have no idea where Burress is going to play. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has said he and his client will keep their options open. I know projecting what he could do in fantasy hinges on where he lands, but I think Burress is worth a flyer in all drafts. There’s always the chance that I’m dead wrong and he turns back the clock to go for a 1,200-yard season. He could be a major steal.

But I think 50 catches, 700 yards and 7-8 touchdowns would be a very possible and respectable line. In other words, Burress can be solid bye-week option if he gets enough playing time.

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