Say what you will about Terrell Owens the person, but as a football player, he's really good. Owens signed with the Cincinnati Bengals after a lackluster season with the Buffalo Bills where he tried to clean up his image as a human being. I think he's done a good job of it, but the question is, how much does he have left as professional athlete?
The tandem of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens lining up at scrimmage is something that many football fans could only dream of. If it had happened 3 years ago when both players were in their prime, that would just absolutely crazy. But at this stage of his career, at 37 years of age, how effective will Terrell Owens (and Ochocinco) be?
The problem with T.O. is that at the age of 37, he's entering a territory that few other receivers in the NFL have been to. Not a lot of NFL wide receivers have played that effectively past the age of 35, let alone 37. Even looking at Randy Moss at age 33, he's already slowed considerably, although he's still a force to be reckoned with.
Looking at other NFL players who have played up to the age Owens is attempting, you can see a steady decline. I don't think I'm making a bold statement by saying that as you get older, you slow down, but take a look at these numbers and tell me what you think.
Here's Jerry Rice at ages 35-37:
At 35: 7 recs, 78 yards, 1 td (injured)
At 36: 82 recs, 1157 yards, 9 td
At 37: 67 recs, 830 yards, 5 td
Tim Brown at 35-37:
35: 91 recs, 1165 yards, 9 td
36: 81 recs, 930 yards, 2 td
37: 52 recs, 567 yards, 2 td
35: 96 recs, 1274 yards, 9 td
36: 73 recs, 871 yards, 6 td
37: 8 recs, 66 yards, 1 td (injured)
35: 70 recs, 917, yards, 9 td
36: 36 recs 437 yards, 0 td
37: 22 recs, 256 yards, 1 td
35: 62 recs, 1057 yards, 7 td
36: 57 recs 1014 yards, 6 td
37: 13 recs, 138 yards, 0 td
At 35: 69 recs, 1052 yards, 10 td
At 36: 55 recs, 829 yards, 5 td
At 37: ?
(To be fair to Jerry Rice -the greatest receiver in the history of the NFL-, the guy put up two more 1000+ yard seasons at 39 and 40, so the possibility is certainly there for Terrell Owens.)
These were names off the top of my head that I plugged into p-f-r.com. I'm sure there are more but you get the idea. At 37, every one of these guys put up some pretty not-so-great seasons. So where does that put Terrell Owens?
There's some talk that Owens could supplant Ochocinco as the #1 WR for the Bengals. I can't see that happening. For one thing, Chad's been there for 7 years and over the past 5-6 years, he's developed a strong qb-wr relationship with Carson Palmer. That kind of chemistry is not just going to disappear overnight. If this had been a 31 year old Owens, then maybe, but at this point there's just no way.
I see Owens putting up solid #2 WR numbers. From a fantasy perspective, it puts him at your WR3, so if you start 3 WR, feel confident putting him in that 3rd receiver spot. I'm projecting around 60 receptions, 750 yards and 7 td. That would put him right there with Jerry Rice at 37. As for Chad Ochocinco, I figure he'll get around 75 receptions, 1150 yards and 8 td. That's good enough for a strong WR2 in your fantasy league.