Faceoff - WR Plaxico Burress, New York Giants
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Upside - by Jason Wood
You’ll get no argument from me that Plaxico Burress has largely not lived up to lofty expectations. When you’re 6’5”, 231 pounds with receiving skills to boot, you’re expected to be more dominant than Burress has been. But the smart fantasy owner recognizes value when he sees it, and you would be hard pressed to argue that Burress presents just that. According to Antsports ADP data, Burress is currently being drafted 33rd among wideouts. At that price, he’s going to find his way onto quite a few of my teams this year.
Consider that in his five-year career, Burress has NEVER finished that low in a full 16-game season. His worst full season, 2003, saw him finish 28th among fantasy WRs. When you consider that he’s accomplished this while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that runs more than any in the league, AND he shared billing with Hines Ward, I hardly think you can argue that his situation isn’t more advantageous now that he’s calling New York home.
For the first time in his career, Burress gets the chance to be THE man. And yet, he’ll be motivated by the almighty $$$ too because he signed a contract below his expected market value.
When you consider that Burress managed 78 catches for 1,325 yards and 7 TDs with Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart throwing him the ball, one has to be curious about what he’s capable of with Eli Manning at the helm. Although I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on Burress finishing among the top 15 or 20 fantasy receivers in 2005, I believe strongly that he’s much more likely to exceed his current ADP than fall short of it. Draft accordingly.
Downside - by Chris Smith
There is no question that Plaxico Burress has a world of talent when it comes to playing receiver in the NFL. He is fast, tall and often creates a mismatch against cornerbacks. However his attitude has often left a lot to be desired and he has never reached the maturity level necessary to be an elite receiver.
Reasons to believe Burress won’t be in the top thirty this season
- QB Eli Manning still has a long way to go as a starting quarterback. Last year, he was simply atrocious with a brutal 48% completion rate and a low 5.3 yards per passing attempt.
- Young quarterbacks will throw a lot of conservative passes which bodes well for Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey but not so well for the receivers
- WR Amani Toomer struggled last year due to a torn hamstring and poor quarterbacking but prior to the 2004 season, Toomer finished in the top thirty five straight seasons and he is a better all-around receiver than Burress
- Burress, despite his size has never been a great red-zone receiver and has scored only 22 touchdowns in five seasons.
- Burress still suffers from immaturity and attitude problems and his focus isn’t always where it needs to be
It is tough to put any Giants receiver into the top thirty with the struggles of Eli Manning last year. However if you do, it should be Toomer who is a better all-around receiver without the baggage that Burris insists he carries around with him. Add to that the difficulties many receivers have the first year they switch teams and the likelihood option 1 and option 2 for the team will be running back Barber and tight end Shockey and it is folly to project Burress high in 2005.