When Sidney Rice is healthy, he’s good. No, he’s very good, and he proved it with his 1,312 receiving yards back in 2009, which was good enough to place him among the top five receivers that year, behind only Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, and Miles Austin. He can run very fast and catch a football, and he can do that very often. That much we know.

But five years into his NFL career, we still don’t know if he can handle the rigors of a season. So far, there’s very little reason to think he’ll ever be able to withstand the required punishment. Don’t tell him that, though, because he’s playing in Week 1. Just ask him.

Yesterday Sports Illustrated’s Peter King gave a frank assessment of both the Seahawks’ wide receiver situation following Seattle’s signing of Terrell Owens (it’s still a mess beyond Doug Baldwin), and Rice (he’s still a mess overall). In short, King’s evaluation of the looming question marks on Seattle’s WR depth chart sounded similar to other evaluations post-Owens that were bouncing around everywhere. Owens will compete with Braylon Edwards for a roster spot, but right now the only remotely reliable contributor on the Seahawks’ roster is Baldwin, because Golden Tate only has five career starts, and Rice can’t stay healthy. Ever.

There was nothing deep or statistical about King’s evaluation in which he said there’s a chance Rice won’t be ready for Week 1. When you continually miss games, people will doubt your ability to play in games. And when your injuries aren’t just unlucky bone breaks but are instead muscle issues that require surgery — in Rice’s case, off-season procedures on both shoulders — serious doubts will linger, and questions will be asked about your body, and whether or not you’ve been dealt a crappy hand in life and therefore you don’t have the physical frame to withstand the ol’ NFL meat grinder.

During an interview with Sports Radio KJR in Seattle today, Rice shot down King’s speculation:

“I’m playing in the Cardinal game. I have no idea where (King) got that from.”

That confidence is real swell, Sidney. But forgive Seahawks fans and fantasy owners if they don’t share your optimism.

This is a receiver who’s missed 23 games over five years, meaning he’s sat out during nearly 30 percent (28.8) of the games he’s been eligible to play in. As far as your fake team that’s playing for very real money is concerned, right now in ESPN leagues Rice is being drafted on average 118th overall, which is near the end of the 11th round in a standard 10-team league.

Managing risk should always be a prime concern, and while Rice’s sex appeal is alluring (figuratively…not that there’s anything wrong with that), let him slide a bit more, and maybe until early in the 13th round before you pay for his chronic body conditions. Again, he’s missed 17 games over the past two years. Sure, the boom potential is there, but that busting sound is far louder due to his injuries combined with the questionable quarterback situation in Seattle.

If you’re looking to properly allocate your risk, Randy Moss is a better play, and he’s coming off the board on average just one pick earlier. He’s still 35, because time never reverses, and he’s still returning from a year away from football. Nothing is changing those toxic age and rust narratives. But there’s a thick puddle of drool around his feet due to his training camp performance, and while reading too deeply into that is dangerous, if Moss is still available plucking him feels safer than investing in a player who has broken the brittle-o-meter.

It’s close, and if it wasn’t close then fantasy football wouldn’t make you forget the names of your loved ones every August during draft season. But even at his age and even in the 49ers non-vertical offense and even with Alex Smith as his quarterback, Moss may have a higher ceiling than the fragile Rice.

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