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Is Kevin Ogletree worth picking up?

9/6/2012
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Ogletree Talks Fantasy Ownership

Kevin Ogletree joins SportsCenter to discuss the effect his performance had on fantasy leagues.

Perhaps my favorite illustration of the overrated Week 1 wide receiver who became way too popular with fantasy owners was Frisman Jackson of the 2005 Cleveland Browns. Jackson caught eight passes for 128 yards and a touchdown from Trent Dilfer that opening weekend, and immediately the attention followed. Thankfully, there was no Twitter to explode back then. As often happens with players of Jackson's ilk, Jackson was added in many leagues while also wisely denounced by those that analyze fantasy football for a living; he caught 16 passes the rest of the year and left the NFL that winter.

Let's be clear: I don't feel that way about Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree. Fast forward to today, and the two most popular people on Twitter appear to be Ogletree and former President Bill Clinton. One of these guys is actually going to matter in fantasy football this season, but be slightly careful about whom you part with to make it happen. In fact, while I can't begin to admit to expecting eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns in Wednesday's opening night win over the New York Giants, the fact is Ogletree has been discussed in this space of late as someone to keep an eye on, though my reasoning focused on opportunity due to the health of those atop the Dallas depth chart, not his ability.

Say what you will about Tony Romo, but this is clearly a productive fantasy quarterback, and his top three receiving options have all been at less than 100 percent health over the past few weeks. Wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin and tight end Jason Witten all played Wednesday to varying degrees of success, which figured to make irrelevant whoever was waiting in the wings as the No. 3 wide receiver. Opportunity still existed long-term, and Ogletree saw a lot of reps this preseason along with Dwayne Harris. From what I read, Ogletree had earned the No. 3 wide receiver job, which might not matter on most NFL teams for fantasy, but last season Laurent Robinson emerged for 11 touchdowns when he got the chance. He wisely parlayed his numbers into big money in Jacksonville, where he cannot possibly repeat his performance.

Ogletree isn't a rookie; he's in his fourth season out of Virginia and had barely played prior to Wednesday. He began the week owned in fewer than half a percent of ESPN standard leagues, and by this time next week, he might be more popular than Robinson, owned in roughly 65 percent of standard leagues. Think about that for a minute. Would I argue this? Well, sharp minds can debate the future of Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the team's passing offense, but last season three Cowboys wide receivers certainly were relevant. No Jaguars were.

On Wednesday, the Giants either barely covered Ogletree, or he was just very good at getting open. The result was elite production: 23 standard fantasy points. For perspective, we all seem to agree that Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the best in the biz: Last year, he didn't reach 23 fantasy points in a game until Week 15. It's obvious and simplistic to state Ogletree won't do this again; heck, it's possible only 10 or so wide receivers will do this all season. You know I'm going to say this is an aberrant performance, but I do think this is a top-50 wide receiver moving forward.

I joked on Twitter that Ogletree is the next Robinson, and there could be some truth to that. For one, I don't trust Austin to stay healthy. He was relatively quiet much of Wednesday night until hauling in a 34-yard touchdown late, and after missing nearly half of last season with hamstring problems was still being held back by them this August. I'm betting he plays in fewer than 16 games. Bryant is an elite talent with, as the Cowboys-hired posse of protectors can attest, off-field questions. Surely, 16 games from Bryant is far from assured. Plus, while everyone treats him as a potential fantasy monster, we're still waiting for the second 100-yard receiving game of his career. He's not Calvin Johnson in terms of production. Ogletree is 25 and probably had the game of his life, but in an offense like this and with the top weapons under suspicion -- we haven't even discussed Witten and his risky future -- a guy like him matters.

It's dangerous to overreact to one performance, and next week I can't imagine Ogletree forcing his way into my top 25 wide receivers, but he's likely an upgrade for most in 10- and 12-team leagues for the final wide receiver spot. Robinson, for example, barely cracked our top 50 at the position for Week 1 after we chopped Wednesday's participants. Using others we barely ranked as a gauge, I'd cut Robinson, Mario Manningham, Doug Baldwin, Leonard Hankerson, Alshon Jeffery, Davone Bess and Randy Moss to sign -- not trade for -- Ogletree. I'm hardly expecting 1,000 receiving yards or double-digit touchdowns, but in a good offense like Dallas, he's going to matter, and if injury strikes others, could matter a lot.