Fantasy Football Sleeper Watch: Santana Moss, WR, Washington Redskins

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystJune 15, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 16:  Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins avoids a tackle by  Ronnie Brown #21 of the Philadelphia Eagles during a game at FedExField on October 16, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins made several improvements to their passing game in the offseason, drafting quarterback Robert Griffin III and adding free agent wideouts Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. Many fantasy pundits have taken these developments as indicators that the days of fantasy relevance for veteran wide receiver Santana Moss have ended, but those proclamations may have been a bit premature.

Moss suffered through his worst season in a decade in 2011, missing four games and managing only 46 catches for 584 yards, his lowest statistical output since 2002.

That disappointing campaign wasn't lost on the 12th-year pro, who reported to OTAs this year 15 pounds lighter and told The Washington Post that “The last four years, I’ve probably played a little heavy and yeah, I still played at a high level, but I can tell there are certain things I wasn’t doing. I just want to get back to that.”

That "new and improved" Moss has made an impression on the Redskins' coaching staff in OTAs and minicamp, and as head coach Mike Shanahan recently relayed to The Post he very much likes what he's seen from the veteran this offseason.

“Santana’s entire offseason. . . to me he came in possessed. He was ready to go,” Shanahan said. “You saw it physically, and then to see him in the meeting rooms, he’s been great. He’s been so attentive and it’s shown over to the field. The guy’s not thinking out there, he’s confident in his speed. He feels confident in his knowledge of the offense and there’s no hesitation. He’s been very exciting.”

With Pierre Garcon seemingly entrenched as the Redskins number one wideout it would appear that Moss will battle second-year pro Leonard Hankerson and Morgan for the role of second receiver, although Shanahan indicated that Moss will also likely spend a fair amount of time in the slot this season.

Given that both Hankerson and Morgan are coming back from fairly serious injuries it would appear that a rejuvenated Moss has an early leg up on them in the battle for snaps at wide receiver in the nation's capital.

With a rookie signal-caller under center a veteran presence such as Moss, who has a resume that includes four 1,000 yard receiving seasons (including one as recently as 2010) ,could be just the sort of safety net that a young quarterback needs as he acclimates to the NFL.

Granted, at 33-years-old Santana Moss isn't the player he once was, and his days as a plug-and-play weekly fantasy starter may have passed. However, Moss is presently being selected as a low-end fantasy WR3 in many fantasy leagues if not later than that.

If a rejuvenated and dedicated Moss continues to impress the Washington coaching staff and plays his way into the starting lineup he'll almost certainly outproduce that draft status, making him a very nice value for fantasy football owners willing to take a bit of a calculated risk.