Mike Tanier

Going Deep

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Old faces in new places

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The Randy Moss trade made national headlines two weeks ago, but you know the Moss story. If you want him, warm up your time machine, travel back to late August, and draft him.

Several lower-profile veterans resurfaced with new teams recently, some after trades, some after trips to the free agent market (a nice way of saying "unemployment.") Unlike Moss, these guys may be sitting on the waiver wire, and a few of them could help your fantasy team. Here's a breakdown of some of the old faces now appearing in new places:

Deion Branch
The Lowdown: Tom Brady's go-to guy from 2002 through 2005 and one of the greatest Super Bowl performers ever (21 catches, 276 yards, one touchdown in two games) is back in New England after four disappointing seasons with the Seahawks. After a 9-98-1 performance against the Ravens, Branch is the early favorite to replace Randy Moss as the big play threat in the Patriots offense.

A Deeper Look: Big play threat? Branch averaged 9.7 yards per catch in 2009 and was averaging 8.6 yards per catch before the trade. Even in his heyday, Branch was more of a possession receiver than a burner, averaging just 12.8 yards per catch and scoring only five touchdowns in 2008, his best season (78-998). Branch has never had a multi-touchdown game and has only had seven 100-plus yard regular-season receiving performances in his career. Seven of Branch's nine catches on Sunday came in the fourth quarter or overtime, suggesting that his performance had more to do with the situation than with some plan to replace Moss.

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The Final Word: Branch is definitely worth a pickup for receiver depth if no one snatched him last week. Just know what you are getting: a guy who was part of a committee approach in his best seasons and will fill the same role this year. When it comes time for your playoff fantasy pool, though, grab Branch with both hands.

Marshawn Lynch
The Lowdown: Lynch was trapped in a numbers game in Buffalo: the Bills had three good running backs but no opportunities to run the ball because they are always playing from behind. The Seahawks acquired Lynch for two late-round draft picks, and Lynch carried 14 times for 47 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against the Bears.

A Deeper Look: Not counting his one-yard touchdown, nine of Lynch' 14 carries netted no yards, one yard, or a loss. Justin Forsett also had a touchdown against the Bears and had another red-zone carry, so while Lynch earned the start, he wasn't the designated goalline back. This is a crowded, confusing backfield committee, with Michael Robinson in the mix as a Wildcat and Leon Washington as a third-down back. Lynch is a tough runner who was playing well in Buffalo (64 and 79 yard games), but it's not clear how much use he'll get in Seattle.

The Final Word: Obviously, you need to take a long look at Lynch if you are having a running back crisis. He's officially a starter right now, which gives him a head up on the other guys in this article.

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