Leave it to the fantasy gods to throw us a wicked curve ball on opening night.
On a field riddled with prolific receivers, who could have foreseen the emergence of Kevin “Freaking” Ogletree? I’m guessing I’m not the only frustrated fantasy player to give the unheralded wideout that nickname, or worse, as we watched him reel in a career-best (by a long shot) eight receptions for 114 yards and 2 TDs.
Why would anyone think the fourth-year receiver could perform at such a high level? The Cowboys certainly didn’t, since they only reluctantly – and certainly not permanently – designated Ogletree their No. 3 wideout heading into Week 1.
In hindsight, perhaps we shouldn’t be completely surprised. Tony Romo has a habit of turning over-looked wideouts into overnight sensations.
Miles Austin labored in obscurity for three years before exploding on the scene against the Chiefs in Week 5 of the 2009 season. Laurent Robinson was a virtual bust after his first four seasons in Atlanta and St. Louis. Picked up by Dallas after the 2011 season had begun, he developed an uncanny rapport with Romo and finished the year with 11 touchdowns and a soaring free agent market value that eventually landed him in Jacksonville.
That’s why I won’t be writing off Ogletree’s performance against the banged-up Giants secondary as an aberration. It may, in fact, prove to be his one shining moment; but history proves he could be another diamond in the rough that helps lead fantasy teams to postseason success.
THE WALKING WOUNDED
My Twitter followers have been pelting me for days with questions about Marshawn Lynch’s Week 1status. The good news is that he’s not expected to be suspended for his off-field transgressions. The bad news is that back spasms have kept him out of practice all week, and could sideline him Sunday. That would open the door to Robert Turbin in a tasty matchup in Arizona. The rookie is clearly worth picking up, if he’s still available. But don’t write off Beast Mode just yet. He’s a warrior, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him popping Skittles on the sideline after breaking another long run in the desert.
Those banking on Adrian Peterson’s triumphant return from his knee injury would be better off letting him spend Week 1 on their bench. As extraordinary an athlete as he is, there’s a strong chance that Peterson will only see limited action on Sunday, if he plays at all. In fact, three to four weeks of spotty play is more likely, with Toby Gerhart getting the bulk of the carries. Gerhart has a decent matchup at home against the Jaguars.
Plan to give Trent Richardson the week off as well, as he’s not yet fully recovered from his training camp knee injury. I wouldn’t waste a roster spot on Montario Hardesty, given the Browns’ tough matchup with the Eagles.
Well, you can’t say you weren’t warned before you spent a draft pick on Ryan Mathews. He’s almost certain to miss the opener, and possibly longer, due to his preseason clavicle injury. This is par for the course for Mathews, a great talent that simply can’t say on the field. Ronnie Brown still has some gas left in his tank, but he’s expected to share the load with Curtis Brinkley and/or Jackie Battle. Against the Raiders, none of the above are likely to help your fantasy team much.
The Pittsburgh backfield will certainly be an interesting one to watch early in the season. Out of the blue, Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is back at practice and participating “fully.” While his return to action in Week 1 would be a shocker, it now appears he will be suiting up much sooner than anticipated. A string of injuries to presumptive starter Isaac Redman (ankle, knee) casts his availability for Sunday’s contest in doubt. Meanwhile, Jonathan Dwyer has been the most impressive back in camp. If Dwyer gets the start in Denver, he could stake his claim a heavy workload, even when Mendenhall returns.
Steve Smith appears to be fully recovered from his foot infection and should be in the Panthers’, and your, starting lineup against Tampa Bay.
On a side note, I spoke to Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan the other day, and he share his backfield plans for Week 1, and the entire season, with me. And if you believe that, I’d like to speak with you about investing in my new hair-growth, weight-loss, testosterone-boosting ointment.