With a youth movement under way and their star wide receiver no longer in their plans, the Cincinnati Bengals have traded Chad Ochocinco to New England. Reports indicate the Bengals will receive the Patriots’ fifth-round draft pick in 2012 and their sixth-round pick in 2013.
The enigmatic Ochocinco has spent the last few seasons talking his way out of Cincinnati. With the team expected to start rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and having used their fourth pick in the draft on wide receiver A.J. Green, Ochocinco finally got his wish.
In New England, he will join a receiving unit that has lacked a proven deep threat since Randy Moss was traded early in the 2010 season. He will start opposite Deion Branch with Wes Welker playing out of the slot.
Ochocinco is coming off a disappointing 2010, having caught just 67 passes for 831 yards and four touchdowns during a season in which Terrell Owens overtook him as the team’s lead receiver.
In Cincinnati, Ochocinco would have been the lead receiver on a team that will likely start a rookie quarterback and would have been looking to reduce the receiver’s role as they underwent a youth movement.
Going to New England, Ochocinco joins one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses led by arguably the league’s top quarterback in Tom Brady, so this trade increases his 2011 fantasy prospects.
However, expecting him to return as the fantasy stud he was a few years ago is ill-advised.
New England’s offense features a pair of solid, young pass-receiving tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez; Welker remains the league’s top slot receiver; and Branch was a good, if inconsistent, performer last season after coming over from the Seahawks.
In addition, Ochocinco is approaching 34, he has failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards in two of the last three seasons, and he is no longer the imposing deep threat he was for most of his career.
He was a WR5 in Cincinnati, and while the move to New England should increase his production, he still ranks no better than a low-end WR3 with the Patriots.
The biggest fantasy losers in this deal are Dalton and Branch. Dalton loses his top receiver while Branch will likely see his targets reduced. Branch was rated as a WR3 before the trade but drops to an upper-tier WR4.