He’s the next Victor Cruz! No, he’s the next Laurent Robinson! Or is he the next Frisman Jackson?
The hottest topic to come from Wednesday’s NFL opener was the inexplicable and unexpected emergence of Kevin Ogletree, who not only racked up eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns, but who also was targeted more times (11) by Tony Romo than top WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant combined.
The question on everybody’s minds is whether we’re seeing the emergence of the next from-out-of-nowhere fantasy star (a la Cruz or Robinson a year ago), or whether Ogletree will melt back into the shadows of obscurity (a la Jackson, who had eight catches for 128 yards and a TD in Week 1 of 2005, only to be rendered completely meaningless the rest of his career).
While Ogletree’s slot-receiver skillset more closely mirrors Cruz than Robinson, Robinson is the better comparison as a player who’d been given up for dead only to be resurrected and turned into fantasy gold by the very same Tony Romo that created the Ogletree Conundrum last night. While Robinson unquestionably had a better pedigree than Ogletree, he had already been cast off by two different teams in four years and was an unquestioned bust heading into 2011 with Dallas.
It’s easy to dismiss Ogletree as a nobody based on his undrafted pedigree and, well, the fact that he’d never done anything even remotely interesting in three previous NFL seasons as a benchwarmer. But to do so would be ignoring just how effective he was on Wednesday night. Romo looked for him early and often, and Ogletree showed a flair for finding gaps in an admittedly porous Giants secondary, and he showed sure hands every time Romo looked his way.
Ogletree’s usage in Wednesday’s tilt was unquestionably a function of two of Romo’s top three targets (Austin and TE Jason Witten) not being fully healthy, and the fact that the Giants were playing without their No. 2 CB, and with a usually sturdy No. 1 CB who may have played the worst game of his career. Once Austin is back to full speed, Witten is more than just a spleen-less decoy, and the Cowboys are facing NFL-caliber cornerbacks, will Ogletree still command as much of Romo’s attention?
Let’s look at last year for some help. Bryant, Austin, and Robinson played in a total of eight games together. In those eight contests, here were their stats:
Bryant: 52 targets, 33 catches, 494 yards, 3 TD
Austin: 49 targets, 29 catches, 346 yards, 3 TD
Robinson: 33 targets, 26 catches, 435 yards, 6 TD
Robinson clearly did more with his opportunities than either of the other two, but it’s rather obvious that Romo prefers throwing to the two most talented players at his disposal. By their very presence on the field, Bryant and Austin almost certainly opened the door for Robinson to shine, but there should be no doubt that Ogletree will be a distant third (and probably fourth, behind Witten as well) on the Cowboys pecking order as the season rolls along.
Romo proved last year that his offense can support as many as four fantasy regulars, but don’t forget that Robinson accumulated nearly half of his numbers (28-423-5) while serving as the No. 2 WR in place of an injured Austin. When Austin and Bryant are both healthy, Ogletree won’t even be on the field for large chunks of every game.
There’s a very valid school of thought that says taking a flier on the prospect of a season-long Ogletree breakout this week is certainly worth sacrificing a scrub from the end of your bench, but don’t go blowing more than 20% of your blind bidding dollars or do something silly like drop David Wilson for Ogletree. Barring injury, he won’t be anything more than the fourth priority in a good passing offense.