Fantasy Island: Week 1 Waiver Pickups
Fantasy owners ogling Kevin Ogletree on the waiver wire after his career night (eight receptions, 114 yards, two touchdowns) against the Giants should look elsewhere this week. The confluence of factors that led to his sensational performance — namely, Miles Austin’s troublesome hamstring and Jason Witten’s lacerated spleen — will soon be quelled by the commendably therapeutic ministrations of the Cowboys’ medical staff, relegating Ogletree back to fifth-option status behind Austin, Witten, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray in the Dallas offense. Austin’s output of 4-73-1 was impressive considering the extended time he missed in the preseason; Witten was just as remarkable for playing at all. Both should see more targets from Tony Romo as their health improves. The Dez Rules, with their moratorium on strip club visits and security detail for Bryant and his rainmaking proclivities, should eliminate the possibility of in-season legal strife as Bryant finally seems poised to blossom into an elite fantasy player (and another obstacle in the way of Ogletree’s sustained success).
This isn’t to say Ogletree isn’t a decent pickup in standard leagues, but there are better options out there:
Stephen Hill, Jets WR, available in 96.1 percent of ESPN.com leagues
Beleaguered by preseason drops and hindered by a run-of-the-mill quarterback “protected” by a porous offensive line, expectations weren’t high for the rookie from Georgia Tech. When the Jets selected Hill in the second round, he was, by all accounts, raw — a 6-foot-4, 215-pound project that would need a year or two before emerging as a productive receiver. Well, Hill called bullshit on that on Sunday as he abused the Bills’ highly touted cornerback Stephon Gilmore for five receptions, 89 yards, and two touchdowns while appearing to already be Mark Sanchez’s most potent weapon. After the Jets’ 48-28 circling of the wagons, Santonio Holmes was indignant: “We put the league on notice.” No, Santonio, Stephen Hill put the league on notice.
Randall Cobb, Packers WR, available in 86.7 percent of ESPN.com leagues
To the disdain of Cedric Benson owners, the second-year wide receiver from Kentucky was featured prominently in Green Bay’s backfield and in three-receiver sets (read: almost every play from scrimmage) against San Francisco. Tight end Jermichael Finley was the only Packer with more targets than Cobb, and I don’t expect that to be an anomaly — barring injury, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson will continue to be the focus of opposing secondaries, which should free up Cobb for a glut of fantasy points. Bonus: Cobb is a dangerous kick- and punt-returner, as he demonstrated against the 49ers’ vaunted special teams.
Nate Burleson, Lions WR, available in 49.8 percent of ESPN.com leagues
For all the breakout-season hype Titus Young was getting in the summer, Nate Burleson remains the starter in Detroit opposite Megatron. Astonishingly, Titus Young is owned in 97.1 percent of ESPN.com leagues, a testament to the average fantasy owner’s Chad Fordian infatuation with upside. Perhaps one day Young will mature into a reliable fantasy receiver, but today is not that day. For now, I’ll take Burleson.
Just say no …
Alfred Morris, Redskins RB, available in 85 percent of ESPN.com leagues
Morris’s numbers from the trouncing of the Saints — 28 carries, 96 yards, and two touchdowns — are so enticing. Now that that the Redskins can throw, their running game should be more effective, you might reason. And maybe it will be — but Alfred Morris sure as hell won’t be toting the rock like that 15 more times. With Roy Helu, Evan Royster, and, most likely, someone not on Washington’s roster yet, Mike Shanahan will continue to play backfield roulette to your detriment.
Braylon Edwards, Seahawks WR, available in 90.1 percent of ESPN.com leagues
Yes, he led the Seahawks in receiving Sunday, and yes, Pete Carroll has been bullish on him so far, but the pathologically butterfingered Edwards let victory slide through his grasp on fourth-and-goal against the Cardinals. Carroll, who cut Terrell Owens for his preseason bout with the dropsies, shouldn’t tolerate that problem for long, especially with the looming return of Golden Tate.