When Tom Brady limped off the field in Foxborough just a few moments into the season, Randy Moss may as well have limped off with him.
That's the fantasy football perspective, anyway. Owners of Brady have a built-in excuse if their teams are tanking thus far: Their (likely) first-round pick was lost for the year in the first quarter of the opening week. But the extensive Brady fallout has an impact on many other owners in addition to those who drafted the Pats quarterback.
For instance, are you one of the unlucky fantasy owners who felt obligated to select Moss in the middle of this year's first round? Back in August, prior to my draft, I heard time and time again from the guy in my league with the sixth overall pick, "If Moss is available, I have to take him."
Why not? Brady and Moss connected for 23 touchdowns last season. Moss was rejuvenated, catching bombs and putting up huge numbers. He was a model citizen. From a wide receiver's standpoint, he led the league in everything. He allowed Brady to showcase his ability to throw deep.
The Pats gave up only a fourth-round pick to acquire him, and if you drafted him last year in the fourth round of your fantasy draft, you probably contended for your league championship.
Which is why taking Moss in the first round this season was a no-brainer. Like the guy in my league who snagged him early, Moss was one of those players who wasn't going to last past the top 10 picks. His 2007 numbers were just too huge, and there was no reason to think they would dip in 2008.
Then Brady went down. From the moment the Pats announced that he was done for the season, I've had more sympathy for owners of Moss than for owners of Brady. At least Brady owners had a chance to rebound and grab someone useful off waivers or in a trade.
Moss owners? They've been killed softly, and slowly. With Matt Cassel at the helm, the Pats are not going to be whipping the ball deep, and Moss won't come close to duplicating last season's performance.
Sure, Moss will have his moments, and it's encouraging to read that he and Cassel are attempting to jell. But then you watch the Pats get dismantled in San Diego, and you notice that Moss had only three catches for 26 yards, and you realize those numbers are now the norm.
Not what you expected from your first-round pick.
Three up, three down
UP -- Robert Royal, TE, Buffalo
If you need a tight end this weekend, Royal is your man. Tight ends have been putting up big numbers against San Diego this season (with New England being the exception), and Royal is a good bet to continue this unusual wave of production.
UP -- Brad Johnson, QB, Dallas
Owners of Tony Romo are scrambling to grab the 40-year-old Johnson off waivers. Romo could be out for a month with a broken finger, and Johnson -- who hasn't started an NFL game since 2006 -- will step in as the starter. Dallas is loaded with playmakers, so taking a chance on Johnson could pay off.
UP -- Harry Douglas, WR, Atlanta
Douglas won't be able to help you right away because the Falcons are on a bye week, but this may be a good time to take a flyer on the rookie from Louisville, a third-round pick last spring. Douglas caught five passes for 96 yards last weekend, and he's starting to develop a rhythm with fellow rookie Matt Ryan.
DOWN -- Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami
It's a bad week to have to play Baltimore. The Colts shredded the Ravens' proud defense last weekend, and you can expect Ray Lewis & Co. to bounce back with a typical stingy effort. Brown has been exceptional since his breakout game against the Patriots last month, but if you are forced to make a choice to sit or start him, this is a good week to keep him on the bench.
DOWN -- Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland
It was a popular notion at the start of the season to consider McFadden this season's Adrian Peterson, but that's not the case. McFadden is dynamic and capable of putting up impressive stats, but his team is terrible, and he's not featured on a consistent basis. Start him if you must, but at this point he's the perfect third back.
DOWN -- Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore
Here's a guy whose production does not match his draft position, assuming McGahee went early in your league. Considered a terrific fantasy back in the preseason, McGahee is now nearly useless thanks to nagging injuries and the emergence of Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain. If you have to start McGahee every week, you're in trouble.
Ed Ryan writes about fantasy sports and betting for OT and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This week's OT cover
OT beat writersMaureen Mullen brings you Red Sox information and insights.
Tom Wilcox covers the Patriots.
Scott Souza is all over the Celtics.
Danny Picard is on the ice with the Bruins.
Mike McDonald takes a look at the humorous side of Boston sports