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The Sidney Rice Dilemma

Drafting Sidney Rice is a high-risk, high-reward situation.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It happens frequently in my profession. Someone who knows I write a column on fantasy sports will ask me what I think of a player. Normally I have no problem rattling off an opinion. But this morning, a colleague asked me whether he should accept Sidney Rice as part of a package deal?

And I was silent.

I was hesitant because as of August 13th there are simply too many unknowns to make a good prediction on Rice's 2010 worth. Based on the latest RapidDraft ADP Rankings, Rice is a late second-round pick (ADP 20.2) up from 188.9 in 2009.

Let's go over some of the problems to answering the question of Rice's worth in the upcoming season. There are two primary concerns when trying to determine Rice's value.

Number one on the list is his health, or more specifically, a hip injury.

To date, Rice has not participated in a Minnesota Vikings practice. And it wasn't even until Wednesday, August 11th that we saw him running hard. He did that by himself on an empty practice field. He also didn't make any cuts.

According to Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, two of three specialists Rice saw about the injury during the offseason recommended surgery. Rice didn't undergo the surgery.

Question No.2 is who will be the Vikings' starting quarterback on Opening Day?

I'm still betting on Brett Favre, but that's not a guarantee and if the answer is Tarvaris Jackson then Rice's fantasy value takes a huge hit.

With Jackson as the starting quarterback for most of 2007, Rice totaled 31 receptions for 396 yards and four touchdowns. In 2008, Jackson and Gus Frerotte shared the quarterbacking duties and Rice caught just 15 balls for 141 yards and four scores.

When Favre joined the club last season, he found Rice an inviting target and hit him 83 times for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. Rice earned his first Pro Bowl appearance.

After all is said and done, Favre should be back behind center, but nothing in this world is absolute. Favre reportedly flew to Florida to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Thursday.

Two other factors in evaluating Rice's worth are the team's other receivers.

Minnesota wide receiver Bernard Berrian struggled with hamstring issues all last season, which left him watching from the sidelines or ineffective. He's currently completely healthy and should be a factor in the receiving game.

Second-year wideout Percy Harvin is a star in the making. Harvin posted 60 receptions for 790 yards and six scores last year and also ran the ball 15 times for another 130 yards. He'll only be better in 2010, which could mean less targets for Rice.

Having said all this, here is what I finally told my colleague.

"Drafting Rice is a high-risk, high-reward situation. If everything goes your way, he could be a top-five receiver again, but more likely he will be a top- five disappointment."



Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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