Tonight is draft night for my fantasy football league, and like everyone else who has pride and maybe a little (or a lot) of cash on the line, I constantly feel like I’m in the business of making mountains out of molehills.

Case in point: This tweet by the Carolina Panthers made me terrified to pick wide receiver Steve Smith.

Initially, it was feared that Smith had a staph infection, but that rumor was later dispelled by Chris McClain (co-host of The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte), who received an e-mail from a Panthers source who claimed that Smith’s infection was a lot less serious.

Last year, with the help of rookie quarterback Cam Newton, Smith had a career renaissance. He had more than a thousand receiving yards (1, 394) for the first time since 2008, and had the second largest average yards per reception of his career (17.6). With Newton, the (at the time) 32-year old Smith had seemingly found his personal fountain of youth.

This is why it’s so terrifying to picture Smith still hobbling around on crutches a mere week away from the start of the regular season. We look at Smith and can’t help but wonder if last season was a mirage, and his true form is a tired old man leaning heavily on his worn, rickety crutches. In pro football, 33 is considered ancient.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Smith will most likely be fine, and have around 1,000 receiving yards, while showing a little bit of slowdown.

His ESPN average draft ranking is 42 (14th among receivers), and this shouldn’t change too much. If he’s still on the board early in the fourth round, you shouldn’t be too hesitant to draft him.

Just try to keep the specter of “old man river with crutches” out of your brain during draft day.

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