Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Fantasy Football [Print without images]

Saturday, March 7, 2009
T.O. fits the Bills


Well, that was fast. According to ESPN.com's John Clayton, just three days after the Cowboys sent Terrell Owens packing, the wide receiver signed a one-year, $6.5 million guaranteed deal with the Buffalo Bills.

The move certainly makes sense for the Bills, because they were already in the market for a wide receiver to help take some of the downfield heat off of Lee Evans. The Bills had expressed interest in Laveranues Coles before he signed with Cincinnati, and as reported on their official Web site, just two days ago they had 14-year veteran Joey Galloway in Orchard Park for a sit-down. But Owens, when putting out a full effort, is head and shoulders above Galloway. Although Galloway has posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Owens has reached that milestone in eight of the past nine seasons, the lone exception being his injury-shortened 2005 season, when he still averaged over 100 yards per game in his seven starts before he fractured his fibula.

Terrell Owens
Terrell Owens' 10 receiving touchdowns in 2008 were almost as many as the entire Bills roster could muster (14).

Owens finished last season with more receptions (69), receiving yards (1,052) and touchdowns (10) than anybody in a Buffalo uniform. But of course, when dealing with T.O., there's never been any doubt about his talent, it's the reputation of being a negative influence on a locker room, especially around young quarterbacks. Still, while troubles arose over time with Jeff Garcia in San Francisco, Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia and the whole Jason Witten/Tony Romo affair that dominated headlines last season, and likely led to Jerry Jones' decision to let T.O. go, the immediate impact of Owens on a new team cannot be overlooked. In his first season in Philadelphia, Owens had 14 touchdowns and the Eagles went 13-3, winning the NFC East by seven games. In his first season in Dallas, Owens' 13 touchdowns led the league and the Cowboys made the playoffs at 9-7, after missing out on the postseason in 2005.

Last season, Buffalo started strong at 5-1, but ultimately collapsed, ending the season at 7-9, in last place in the AFC East, and only once over the last eight weeks of the season did Buffalo tally 200 yards through the air. Lee Evans barely cracked the 1,000-yard plateau, and had only three receiving touchdowns on the season, a team high! Trent Edwards didn't do all that much in his first full season as a starter, and although comparing his 2008 stats to Tony Romo's first shot as a starter in 2006 would fail the laugh test, that's probably because Romo had Owens to throw to from the get-go.

Now it's not fair to say that either tight end Robert Royal or Derek Schouman will suddenly become the next Jason Witten just by the presence of Owens on the field, but at least the possibility exists for them to have a little more room to operate. Certainly there's a lot of time between now and the start of the season, and it remains unclear just who will be in the backfield when Week 1 rolls around, but whether it's Marshawn Lynch or Fred Jackson, or a yet-to-be-signed veteran, they too will certainly have a little less pressure on them to carry the offensive load with Owens helping Evans to stretch defenses.

Of course, it's all dependent on how motivated Owens is to perform. After all, he's getting paid whether he performs up to expectations or not, and we all know the history. Still, at least on paper, this move should help the 2009 fantasy value of all the players who now share the same locker room as Owens. As for 2010? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves.