Fantasy Football: Kevin Ogletree Leads Revelations from Cowboys-Giants Opener
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Here are four fantasy revelations off the Cowboys' 24-17 victory over the Giants on Wednesday—the first time in 13 years a defending Super Bowl champion hadn't won its opener the following season (post-John Elway Broncos, 1999).
1. Kevin Ogletree had one of the best fantasy nights that didn't really count
For starters, let's congratulate Ogletree (eight catches, 114 yards and two TDs) on his monster outing against the Giants defense, which included a game-high 11 targets (tied with New York's Victor Cruz).
Not only was Ogletree the best receiver on the field Wednesday, he was also the most versatile—executing big catches on slant routes, stop-and-go's and classic hitch-and-go fly patterns down the right side.
That's the good news from the sparkling opener.
On the negative side comes the sobering news that Ogletree was owned by only 4.1 percent of fantasygoers on ESPN.com leagues prior to Wednesday. And that number likely got a boost from the proliferation of 16-team leagues.
Perhaps worse, I'd wager that less than two percent of fantasy leagues worldwide had Ogletree installed as a Week 1 starter.
So yes, it's safe to say Ogletree will be the most coveted waiver-wire pickup next Wednesday, and there's a good chance he'll be a flex starter in standard-scoring and points-per-reception leagues for Week 2.
But ay the rub: What if Ogletree's opening act serves as his high-water mark for the season? What if he doesn't have another game that involves eight catches, 100 yards or two touchdowns? Would he still be worth a top-waivers or lucrative auction-bid submission from this point forward?
Only time will tell on the above questions, but we do know this: Ogletree encountered a perfect storm of opportunity on Wednesday—in the form of Miles Austin (four catches, 73 yards, one TD) and Jason Witten (two catches, 10 yards) coming off substantial injuries. They also benefited from the injury-riddled Giants (29th in passing yards allowed last year) doling out extensive playing time to the No. 5 cornerback on their depth chart.
2. Tony Romo's superb outing should be viewed through multiple prisms
According to Pro Football Reference, this week marked only the third time in Romo's career that he amassed three or more touchdown passes, 300 yards passing and a completion percentage of 75 percent in a single game (we're rounding up, percentage-wise, from his sterling outing against the Giants on December 2009).
So, what does that say about Romo in the fantasy realm?
It tells me that Romo isn't Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or even Peyton Manning...but you knew that already.
Bottom line: Before the Austin and Witten injuries dominated the August talk with Dallas, I had Romo (4,184 yards, 32 total TDs last year) installed as the No. 7 fantasy QB. And if Austin, Witten, Ogletree and Dez Bryant (four catches, 85 yards) should start a combined 58 games this season, he'll be a healthy lock for 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns.
3. I have zero doubts about Ahmad Bradshaw and DeMarco Murray for the season
For me, the big-picture highlights of the night involved the rushing prowess of Murray (140 total yards) and Bradshaw (93 total yards, one TD). Both talents were running 'downhill' on seemingly every carry and not shying away from contact.
In fact, if the Cowboys had earmarked more than five carries (and 12 yards) for Murray during the preseason, perhaps I wouldn't have been so reticent to grab him within the first 26 picks of 11 different fantasy leagues. (Murray's rookie campaign was curtailed by a broken ankle in Week 14.)
Bradshaw looked smooth and strong in his inaugural game as the Giants' undisputed workhorse back. The only downside was not converting on two golden scoring chances, from point-blank range, after a long Giants interception return in the second quarter.
But hey, I'll happily overlook a few goal-line missteps, if Bradshaw can remain on track for a full season of good health, no curfew-based benchings, 1,300 total yards and double-digit touchdowns.
4. Hakeem Nicks captured the hearts of fantasy owners everywhere...on a non-catch
On the Giants' first play from scrimmage—and first play of the NFL season—quarterback Eli Manning (213 yards passing, one TD) lofted a sideline rainbow to Nicks, resulting in an incomplete pass. But on a grander scale, it was more important to see Nicks (broken bone in foot back in May) garner immediate separation from rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne and make an athletic move to pursue the catch.
Was it just two weeks ago that Nicks (four catches, 38 yards) had been officially cleared for workouts with the Giants? If I didn't know any better, I would have sworn that Nicks was seven months removed from a foot injury—and not four.
From this point forward, I shall feel no ambivalence about starting him as a WR2 or flex option in 12- team leagues.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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