Each and every season, fantasy owners will latch onto a few absolute no-name players as their last resort waiver reserve. Just as beauty is “in the eye of the beholder”, so is the viewed potential talent of a fantasy player. Some basic keys used for these types of assessments include college production, preseason exposure, the presence of a new name in a team’s game stat-line, and/or a single play viewed during a NFL game. This season, Kevin Ogletree is one player that I have marked as such.
My track record of extreme no-name gambles that have panned out for at least that immediate season, have included the likes of Samkon Gado, Rudi Johnson, Lamar Woodley, Patrick Crayton, and Pierre Thomas. All of my foresight is based off one single key: displayed performance during REAL NFL action. Most stemming from Cincinnati Bengal games because that is my home team and thus accounts for most of my NFL footage.
Samkon Gado was based on his first NFL touch, a game against Cincinnati in which he only had one carry for 8 yards but that one carry was enough to show his ability. Those with a few years of fantasy experience remember how Gado took off the very next week against Pittsburgh gaining 62 yards and a TD as a backup RB to Tony Fisher. He then went on to post 582 yards and 6 TDs during six games played that season before being injured. The biggest factor was that Gado catapulted a lot of fantasy teams into their playoffs that season.
Lamar Woodley was also a result of watching him play, as he constantly decimated his blockers against the Bengals. At the time, he was so drastically limited with NFL playing time that fantasy owners ignored the explosion of his production. If big production numbers are posted despite limited playing time, then fantasy owners should ignore the playing time not the production.
Patrick Crayton’s second NFL catch came in 2004 in his second NFL game, which was against who else, the Cincinnati Bengals. Crayton only had 2 catches that game but he displayed a sound ability to play at the NFL level. Most in the fantasy world had no idea of Crayton’s potential because his final game stat-line was diluted and mediocre.
Rudi Johnson was one that should have been obvious to all fantasy owners. He led all NFL RBs in rushing in back-to-back preseasons before the Bengals even gave him a steady role, which was still only “change of pace”. Only once Cincinnati started to feed Rudi the ball consistently, did he finally start to show up on fantasy radars.
Pierre Thomas was another preseason gem that fantasy owners ignored. Last preseason, Pierre was a lights out RB but owners were blinded by the presence of bigger name RBs Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister. Anybody who saw Pierre play last preseason should have easily picked up on his elusiveness and toughness. That combination is an easy recipe to pinpoint as true sleeper value. The result was that Pierre led a lot of teams not only through their fantasy playoffs but also to a championship.
With this list as evidence of my ability to recognize sleeper talent just by watching for little fundamentals while in limited NFL action, let me present to you Kevin Ogletree. His initial exposure came in this year’s third preseason game. Fantasy owners should be well aware that the third preseason game is also called the dress rehearsal, because that is when NFL teams showcase the starting team that they will be using once the regular season starts. In this dress rehearsal, the Dallas WR with the best production while the first string played was Kevin Ogletree. Romo showed frequent looks in this kid’s direction, and Ogletree responded by showing good route running along with consistent hands. The real beauty of this story is that while Ogletree made the Cowboys final roster, he has been listed inactive for their first four games because Dallas did not want to keep more than four WRs active on game day. This “inactive” status makes Ogletree appear worthless and masks his potential. The Roy Williams “out” status will most likely bring Ogletree some game action this week. Fantasy owners should be aware that if Ogletree flashes anything close to his preseason Week 3 ability, then his waiver value will instantly skyrocket. So for most owners, this week will be their last chance to obtain Ogletree as a complete unknown while his value is still at it’s utmost lowest.
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