The picture of Plaxico Burress wearing a No. 80 Pittsburgh Steelers jersey while galloping toward the end zone as a pass comes soaring his way brings nothing but nostalgia back for fans of the franchise and fantasy owners.
Unfortunately, as we saw in Week 12, nostalgia does not necessarily recreate fantasy relevance. After putting up a massive goose egg on against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Burress proved what most analysts thought all along—he should not be owned in any fantasy format, including even the deepest 16-team league.
That's not to say Burress is completely done as a football player. He spent 2011 with the New York Jets as an intermittently effective red-zone target, grabbing 45 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns.
At 6'5" and with relatively fresh legs for a 35-year-old (mostly thanks to a prison sentence, but still), there is little reason to think Burress can't jump up and catch a few red-zone passes now and then.
It's also easy to blame Burress' ineffectiveness last week on a myriad of factors.
Obviously, the putrid play of Charlie Batch is the easiest scapegoat. The longtime Steelers backup threw two passes to Burress against the Browns, both of which fell to the ground for incompletions. Batch also threw three interceptions without a touchdown, helping spur Pittsburgh's whopping eight turnovers in the 20-14 loss.
Perhaps when Ben Roethlisberger returns to the lineup, those passes get caught and Burress scores a touchdown.
What's more, Burress only signed midway through the week leading up to the Cleveland game. The fact that he got a mere 11 offensive snaps can be somewhat attributed to his lack of familiarity with the offense.
All of that leaves out one pretty huge factor: At best, Burress will be the fourth option on the team going forward.
Antonio Brown is expected to return this week against the Baltimore Ravens, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Alan Robinson:
Looks like Antonio Brown will be back at WR vs. Ravens. Ramon Foster could move from RG to RT. Not sure if DeCastro ready to play yet.— Alan Robinson (@arobinson_Trib) November 26, 2012
With Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders also in the fold, there won't exactly be many targets available for the taking. And we're completely leaving tight end Heath Miller out of this scenario, who has become Roethlisberger's go-to man in the end-zone this season.
If you're having trouble keeping up, that makes Burress the fifth-most desirable pass-catcher on his own team.
Even on the league's most high-powered offense (New England Patriots), the No. 5 target (Julian Edelman) isn't worth anyone's time fantasy-wise.
Burress may score one or two red-zone touchdowns this season. But, he's also just as likely to get cut once all of the Steelers' receivers return to full health.
It may be nostalgic to see Burress once again donning the No. 80 in the Steel City. But those who insist on owning Burress will find themselves irrelevant in their league, much like their prized pickup in the Steelers' offense.
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