The big news in the National Football League last night was the Miami Dolphins signing of wide receiver/ PR specialist Chad Ochocinco,the former Bengal turned Patriot that was released by New England just a few days ago due to poor performance.
This appears to be a solid move for the Dolphins, who boasted very little experience at the receiver position. Before brining Ochocino aboard, the only Dolphins wideouts with real NFL experience are Legedu Naane, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, a group that does not exactly inspire fear in the hearts of NFL defensive coordinators.
Last season Miami had a true no.1 receiver in Brandon Marshall, who the team acquired in a trade with the Bears following the 2009 season. Yet the Dolphins brought in a new head coach in former Packers offense coordinator Joe Philbin and after another off field incident, Marshall was traded away to Chicago for a pair of third-round picks, leaving Miami without a lead receiver.
The question now facing fantasy football owners is what Ochocinco will we see in Miami? The one from 2010, who was still semi-productive or the one from New England, who could barely get his butt of the bench.
Despite working with one of the best quarterbacks in football, Ochocinco caught just 15 passes last season for 276 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted just 32 times, catching 46.9 percent of his targets for an average of 8.6 yards per target.
Most have attributed Ochocinco’s struggles in New England to his inability to understand the Patriots offense causing him to have a poor connection with Tom Brady, yet the truth is his play was beginning to decline while he was still in Cincinnati.
In 2010, his last season with the Bengals, Ochocinco was targeted 126 times but produced only 67 receptions for 831 yards and four touchdowns. That equates to a catch percentage on targeted passes of 53.2 percent, which in itself isn’t bad but his 6.6 yards per target was flat out atrocious.
Even back in 2009, when Ochocinco caught 72 passes for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, he caught only 56.3 percent of his passes and averaged 8.2 yards per target, which would have ranked 37th in the NFL last season.
However, Ochocinco may be the most targeted receiver on the Miami offense if he can make a smoother transition to the Dolphins offense than he did the Patriots. In 2009 and 2010, he was a pure volume player and the chance to get a high volume of targets is what makes him relevant to fantasy football owners in 2012.
If Ochocinco can improve his catch percentage, while maintaining his yards per target from last season and he should be fairly productive with increase in targets.
Considering the Dolphins lack a true no.1 receiver there is reason to believe Ochocinco will see somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-100 targets. If he does reach the century mark, 52 receptions for approximately 840 yards and four touchdowns would be a reasonable expectation.
Those numbers are far from spectacular but it works out to approximately 10 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues, which based off last season would put him at the edge of the top 40 for wide receivers.
So do not expect a career revival from Ochocinco in 2012, yet you should not expect him to produce as little he did in New England either. At age 34 it would be folly to anticipate him improving his play much this season but his opportunities will definitely increase and with enough volume, any player can be semi-productive.
The final analysis on Ochocinco is last he will be at best a flex option this season as well as a solid depth option. At this point he is worth no more than a late-round pick.