NFL Handicapping: The Return of Randy Moss
by Trevor Whenham - 6/21/2012
Randy Moss is back. He’s with the 49ers after a one-year retirement, and he has looked good in the limited action he has seen so far in camps. We know he looks good because he has received so much attention from the media — far more than almost any other free agent not named Peyton, and certainly more than any 35-year-old receiver. The return of a high-profile player like Moss raises some interesting issues and considerations for sports bettors. Here are six that come to mind:
The public is fascinated by Moss
There are some players that just capture the imagination of the betting public and won’t let go. Moss has been one of those players ever since he was a rookie. His career has had all sorts of twists and turns, but he has always had a captivating swagger and limitless talent. When the public falls in love with a player they always give them more credit than they deserve in terms of their ability to impact the outcome of games. It’s bad enough when the player the public is in love with is a quarterback, but Moss is not only just a wide receiver, but likely not the No. 1 receiver.
Because the public loves Moss, and the media has a seemingly endless appetite for covering his every move, it is almost certain that the public will pay too much attention to what he does and the impact he could have on his team from a betting perspective. That tendency would be amplified if Moss were to come out and make a strong impact early in the season, or even in the preseason.
He is far removed from being effective
It’s important to remember that it has been a long time since Moss played like Moss. He didn’t play at all last year. The year before that he was active for 16 games, but that was with three different teams, his play was underwhelming, and his attitude was awful. The last time he was at the top of his game was 2009.
Players have bounced back after a long absence from their peak, but not nearly as many as those that have failed. I also don’t want to call Moss old because I’m older than him, but he is 35 and that’s getting pretty ancient for any football player — never mind one who has made a career of being a step ahead of the coverage.
This offense hasn’t made receivers shine
In the first year of the Harbaugh regime last year this team won a lot of games, but it was not because of their passing game. Michael Crabtree led the way, but he had only 874 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged just 12.1 yards per reception. Vernon Davis, a tight end, was second best with 791 yards, and no other wide receiver talked a paltry 241 yards.
There are good reasons to believe that this offense should be more explosive through the air this year, but it’s not going to be the Patriots or the Saints. That means that even if Moss is as good as he has ever been his ability to impact games would be less than it has been at other times in his career.
There is depth to contend with
The 49ers knew that they have had receiver issues, and they have been incredibly aggressive in addressing them. Moss is just one piece of the puzzle.
They signed Mario Manningham from the Giants, and he has the potential to be a star if given the chance. In the first round of the draft they picked up A.J. Jenkins from Illinois. They signed undrafted free agent Chris Owusu from Stanford as well. He’s a favorite of Harbaugh when the two were with the Cardinal together, and he would have been high on draft boards without his concussion issues.
There is a whole lot of competition for Moss to face. He has a big edge in experience, but they are much younger and quite possibly hungrier as well.
He’s only a receiver
I’ve touched on this before, but it is important enough that I want to touch on it specifically again. Moss is, or at least was, a great player. The ability for a wide receiver to change a game is not as significant as it is for other positions, though.
Even if Moss came back every bit as good as he was in his prime he still wouldn’t necessarily change the course of this team substantially. Given that, it would be very easy for bettors to attach too much significance to the player and his return. On top of it all, with Crabtree and Manningham in the fold it is very unlikely that Moss would see any time at all as the No. 1 option unless a whole lot of things broke in his favor.
The Niners should be good
I’ve been largely negative up to this point, but I’ll change directions for a moment. I am really bullish on this team. They were very good last year, and they have gotten better in key ways in the offseason. Whether Moss works out or not I think this is going to be a tough team to beat, and a good team to bet on. I’m negative about the outlook for Moss, but I’m not suggesting that that means that I am negative about the team.
Most Recent NFL Handicapping
- NFL Season Win Totals Predictions
- 2022 Super Bowl Predictions
- AFC Championship Game Betting Picks: Best Props Bills at Chiefs
- NFC Championship Game Betting Predictions: Best Props Buccaneers at Packers
- NFL Divisional Round Betting Picks: Best Props Browns at Chiefs
- NFL Divisional Round Betting Predictions: Best Props Buccaneers at Saints
- NFL Divisional Round Betting Picks: Best Props for Ravens at Bills
- NFL Divisional Round Betting Predictions: Best Props Rams at Packers
- NFL Wild Card Betting Picks: Best Prop Bets Browns at Steelers
- NFL Wild Card Betting Picks: Best Prop Bets Ravens at Titans