“Receivers coach Jimmy Robinson says Kevin Ogletree has a slight lead in the No. 3 WR battle right now.”
This was Rotoworld’s most recent utterance on Kevin Ogletree — written on August 8 — heading into Wednesday’s NFL opener.
We’d say the lead got a little bigger last night.
A former undrafted free agent who entered 2012 with just 25 catches and zero touchdowns in 31 career games across three seasons, Ogletree was most famous for his ability to keep his roster spot despite perennially underwhelming production.
But the fourth-year pro got a fourth chance in Big D, and used a strong offseason to put himself in command of the battle for Dallas’ No. 3 job heading into camp. He didn’t exactly blow the doors off the competition — catching 10 passes for 147 yards in parts of four games — but did enough to stave off the triumvirate of Andre Holmes, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley.
While his victory was greeted with shrugs in the fantasy community, it was apparently embraced with great enthusiasm by Tony Romo, who not only hooked up with Ogletree for eight catches, 114 yards and two touchdowns Wednesday, but targeted him two more times (11) than Miles Austin and Dez Bryant combined.
This, of course, was partly a product of what the Giants were allowing the Cowboys to do. Wisely, the G-Men didn’t want to get beat by Bryant and Austin on a night where Jason Witten was playing through an injury that sounds more like the result of a fight with a Bond villain than football tackle.
But like Laurent Robinson before him, there’s no reason to believe Ogletree can’t consistently benefit from opposing defenses’ preoccupation with Dallas’ top two wideouts. That is not to say Ogletree has the title of “Next Laurent Robinson” all cinched up. One game is one game, after all.
But in a sport where one game constitutes 6.25 percent of the season, what exactly is the downside to gambling Ogletree is the next Robinson? You’ll have to drop Rueben Randle or Michael Floyd?
Take the “chance,” make the move. Worst case scenario? You’ll be moving onto the next “Great Roto Flier” in Week 4.
Elsewhere in New York City
Although the Twitter mafia was quick to condemn any talk as reactionary, it’s hard to make the case Tony Romo didn’t play one of the best games of his career. Commanding the huddle as well as he ever has and finding every hole in the Giants’ coverage, Romo completed 22-of-29 passes for 307 yards and three scores.
Yes, he still managed to mix in a stupefying interception, but unlike last year’s Week 1 visit to the Big Apple, it didn’t come at the game’s most pivotal moment. Romo may never satisfy the vague and mythical title of “winner” in real life, but he’s well on his way toward another top-10 quarterback finish in fantasy.
The Top 10 is also where Romo’s halfback appears headed. The No. 12 overall player by average draft position this summer, Murray racked up 131 yards on only 20 carries. Naysayers will point to the fact that 48 of Murray’s yards came on one tote, but what’s a 131-yard performance without at least one monster gain?
Murray looked powerful throughout, but particularly as the game wore on and the Giants began to wear down. If only he can stay healthy, Murray is well on his way toward holding RB1 status for the remainder of 2012.
David Wilson and Victor Cruz
If Ogletree, Romo and Murray were highlights, Wilson and Cruz were lowlights. Cruz, for his three drops, Wilson for his 2:1 carries to lost fumbles ratio.
Worst of all may have been the Giants’ reaction to Wilson’s first quarter fumble. So shaken he was in tears on the sideline, Wilson never re-entered the game on offense, finishing his night glued to the bench as punishment.
It was a silly overreaction to a rookie mistake by a first-round pick who rumbled for 131 yards on 28 preseason carries, but also a stern reminder: this is the big leagues. Little league mistakes will not be tolerated.
It’s a message that needs to get through to the No. 32 pick, who put the ball on the ground seven times — losing four — as he rushed for 1,709 yards at Virginia Tech last season.
However, even though the Giants lost their faith in Wilson for three quarters, you shouldn’t lose yours based on one game. Running behind a brittle and declining Ahmad Bradshaw, Wilson’s time is still going to come, perhaps just a little later than expected.
As for Cruz, if one bad night erases one sensational season, perhaps this fantasy football thing isn’t for you.
Other Giants/Cowboys Notes: Martellus Bennett: still a favorite in these parts. … Rueben Randle wasn’t targeted. … Hakeem Nicks was held to four catches for 38 yards on six targets, but there were no overt signs he wasn’t running well coming off his May foot operation. … Felix Jones was held without a carry, and slipped on one of his two targets in the passing game. … Dez Bryant: 28 games and counting without a 100-yard effort. Not that we’re arguing with 85 receiving yards, though. … Jason Witten was mostly limited to blocking duties, drawing just three targets. It’s likely he could use all 10 days between now and Dallas’ Week 2 trip to Seattle to heal up.
Running Back Notes: Rashard Mendenhall (knee) was supposedly a full participant in Pittsburgh’s first official practice of the season. Either he’s a miracle healer, or the Steelers are engaging in some really shady injury subterfuge. … Mendenhall’s teammate Isaac Redman (ankle) also got in a full practice. … Adrian Peterson took live upper-body hits without restriction for the first time. “Barring a setback,” trustworthy Vikings beat writer Tom Pelissero expects AP to suit up against the Jaguars. … Marshawn Lynch (back) didn’t practice, while coach Pete Carroll sounded ominous tones about his Week 1 status. … Panthers coach Ron Rivera is “most certainly optimistic” Jonathan Stewart (ankle) will play against the Bucs, but doesn’t expect to have a “definitive (answer)” on his status until Friday at the earliest. … Trent Richardson (knee scopes) said he’s “very confident” in his knee, and has experienced no swelling since returning to practice. His arrow continues to point up. … James Starks (toe) and Bernard Scott (hand) were both ruled out for Week 1. … Darren Sproles and Ronnie Hillman were absent from the injury report. … Ryan Mathews (collarbone) participated in individual drills.
Other Injury Notes: Michael Vick is absent from the Eagles’ injury report. … Stevie Johnson was limited in Bills practice after his troublesome groin acted up. It’s a situation to monitor. … Justin Blackmon was a surprise presence on the injury report with an ankle ailment. His status is unknown, though he was able to get in a limited session. … Steve Smith, Santonio Holmes, Austin Collie, Brian Hartline, Doug Baldwin and John Carlson all practiced in full. … Marques Colston sat out with a sore left foot, but it’s not considered a major issue. … Dustin Keller (hamstring) is expected to play against the Bills even if he sits out all week.