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Fantasy football mailbag: Stay away from now-inconsistent Moss

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Each week I'll attempt to bring some clarity to your questions about the pigskin and the men who throw, catch, run and kick it. To reach me with questions, scroll down to the end of the piece where you can find my e-mail address.

Who would you start this week between Randy Moss and Johnny Knox?-- David

People hate to give up on their heroes. OK, I don't think Randy Moss has ever been considered a "hero," at least by rational thinkers, but you get the point (I hope).

Moss is with his third team this season, and through it all he has averaged 2.56 catches and 37.7 yards per contest, numbers that you wouldn't consider adding to your team if they weren't precluded by "Randy Moss." For a man who has averaged 4.87 receptions and 75.9 yards per game over the course of his career, Moss' production -- if it's even fair to call it that -- has been dismal. Only once this season has he gone for more than 59 yards in a game, and dating back to last season, here are his numbers over his last 16 games: 48 catches for 712 yards. Those numbers aren't good even if you are a WR4 in fantasy football. His one saving grace has been his ability to get into the end zone, as he has scored 11 times over those last 16 contests. At the same time, though, he has just two end zone boogies over his last six games.

Still, there are reasons to consider starting Moss this week, such as the fact that he is facing a Redskins defense that has allowed the second most yards per game through the air this season (286.6) and the most passing touchdowns (22) while picking off the second fewest passes (five). But given the totality of his play this season, and the fact that you could start him and get zippo, I'd go with Knox, who has averaged five catches and 86 yards over his last four contests.

Miles Austin has been great one week, and invisible the next. I've got one more week to trade him, and there is a Cowboys fan in my league who has offered me Mike Williams of Tampa Bay straight up for Austin. Is there any reason in the world that I should turn that sucker down?-- Michael, Norfolk, Va.

I will be the first to concur with the fact that Austin has been the definition of schizophrenic this season. Austin has four games this season of at least seven catches and 117 yards, and in fact he has gone for at least nine and 142 in three games. However, he has also had three games of 20 yards or less. Add in the fact that he has scored only three times this season, and that Dez Bryant and Jon Kitna have been lighting it up of late -- Bryant has 19 receptions, 274 yards and two scores the past three weeks -- and there are legitimate concerns surrounding Austin. However, before you push the panic button ...

(1) Austin is averaging 80.6 yards per game this season. He averaged 82.5 last season.(2) Austin is averaging 5.22 catches per game this season. He averaged 5.06 last season.

Yes, he has been uneven, and yes, he has scored only three times compared to 11 times in '09, but honestly, the totality of his work hasn't been that much different than last season.

As for which receiver I want out of the two, let's compare their numbers directly to one another.

M. Austin: 47 catches, 725 yards, three TDsWilliams: 40 catches, 627 yards, five TDs

Shocked to see that Miles has more catches and yards than Williams? Moreover, according to our Player Rater tool set for a standard PPR format, Austin has actually outproduced Williams by a score of 137.9 points to 132.7.

I may end up being wrong here, but I'm going to hold onto the receiver who is in a more productive offense -- Austin.

I don't want to give up on Cedric Benson after his huge effort last season, but it's getting harder and harder to count on him each week. What do you see for him the rest of the season?-- Tony, Warren, Mich.

I bet many people are disappointed with the effort of Benson this season, but if you ask me, they really shouldn't be.

I know Benson was 8th in the NFL with 1,251 rushing yards in 2009, but it was an empty 1,251 yards. I say that because CedBen scored only six times while catching a mere 17 passes for 111 yards. If we use the previously mentioned Player Rater tool and set it for the 2009 season in a PPR setup, Benson ended up being the 20th most valuable running back. If we move ahead to 2010 he is ranked --- 19th. And there is the truth -- Benson just isn't a star. His yardage total per game has caved, down from 96.2 last year to 69.2 this season, but he has become more useful in the passing game, already compiling one fewer catch than the 17 he pulled in all of last year. He also has scored four times (three rushing, one receiving), leaving him just two behind his total of last season. So again I say, why would anyone be disappointed in his effort unless they came into 2010 with unrealistic expectations?

For the rest of the year, I would expect more of the same. Five times in nine games he has picked up at least 20 carries, and for the season he is averaging 19.4 carries and 1.78 catches per week. When you touch the ball around 20 times per week you will almost certainly post solid yardage totals, leaving his ability to get into the end zone as the difference between decent totals and fantasy stardom. Look for Benson to continue to be a low end RB2 in standard sized fantasy leagues.

Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Owners Edge and His work can be found weekly, exclusively at the home of fantasy football: To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at You can also hear Ray's thoughts at the Sirius XM Homepage (Ray is the co-host of a daily radio show on XM 147 and Sirius 211 satellite radio).


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