You may recall that last season I was pretty skeptical about Chad Ochocinco coming to the New England Patriots. Did I think he'd catch 15 passes all season? No, I'm not quite that clairvoyant. But despite the presence of Tom Brady and one of the NFL's most aggressive passing offenses, I declared The Ocho basically unownable in standard-sized leagues, because in '10 (while he still labored for the Cincinnati Bengals), I saw Ochocinco shying away from contact and losing at least a step from his straight-ahead speed. Now The Ocho heads to the Miami Dolphins, a team that's certainly in need of receiving help. But I still don't think it will go well.
I know the guy is charming in interviews. I know he's someone who makes the NFL fun. And I don't think he's completely cooked, skillswise. But it's just very, very hard to believe that the Dolphins possess the situation and pieces to make a fading 34-year-old player suddenly fantasy-relevant again. I don't see it.
First off, Ochocinco has never run in the kind of West Coast offense that Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman will bring to Miami. It's a scheme that requires discipline and precise route-running, especially for wideouts who don't possess blazing speed. For instance, there isn't much freelancing in the Green Bay Packers offense that Philbin just left, is there? We're not talking about the Brady-esque, "check-with-me," option-oriented pass patterns that the Pats tried to get out of Ochocinco last year, but it's still a completely new philosophy and playbook, and I have sincere doubts about The Ocho's willingness to be a pupil and a Twitter celebrity.
And perhaps more important, the cast of characters that'll be throwing the ball in Miami this year figures to be a rotation of mediocrity. With Matt Moore, rookie Ryan Tannehill and maybe veteran David Garrard, it's a rogues' gallery of so-so-ness. I know, I know, Moore led the Dolphins to a 6-3 finish last year, which to me only proves (for the second time) that if you want a guy to mop up after a completely hopeless start to a season, Moore is your guy. (He did the same thing for the '09 Carolina Panthers.) I have a strong suspicion that the Dolphins will struggle this year and that Tannehill will get significant playing time. And rookie QBs are rarely good for anyone in fantasy football.
Sure, there's a chance I'm wrong about all this and Ochocinco is ready to rededicate himself and the Fins are set to become Packers South. With Brandon Marshall gone, there are zero established NFL WRs other than Ocho on this team, so not only does EightFive have a chance to make this roster, he could wind up in the starting lineup. (Davone Bess is the slot man, Brian Hartline is probably a starter on one side, and Ocho will compete with the likes of Clyde Gates and Legedu Naanee on the other side.) But I'm sorry, even if Ochocinco is in the starting lineup (and not cut before Week 1), his upside is terribly limited. At this point, I won't rank him among my top 70 fantasy WRs for '12. In my opinion, he can stay undrafted in all but the deepest leagues.