Free Agents: The Hype of the One-Week Wonder

Many fantasy football team owners are very quick to believe the hype generated in the media about a relatively unknown player who has an extraordinary game. This hype generates a frenzy in fantasy leagues as owners attempt to improve their team by acquiring this latest hot commodity through free agency. Although I admire the enthusiasm, it must be tempered with a dose of reality. As I have stated in “In-Season Management, Part 3 – Free Agents,” a team owner must think carefully before pulling the trigger on a free agent. You definitely don’t want to give up a high waiver priority just for a “one-week wonder.”

What is a “One-Week Wonder?”

A “one-week wonder” is a player who is widely available in most fantasy football leagues, who has an outstanding game and then is never heard from again. There are many examples of players who fit this category. We will discuss four of those from the 2012 season in this article. Usually a “one-week wonder” is a wide receiver or running back, but our first example will be a tight end.

One-Week Wonder #1 – Dante Rosario, Tight End, San Diego Chargers

In week 2 of the 2012 season, Dante Rosario, undrafted in fantasy football leagues, led all tight ends in the NFL with 22.8 fantasy points. He achieved this by catching four passes for 48 yards (48/10 = 4.8 fantasy points) and three touchdowns (3 x 6 = 18.0 fantasy points).

The reason Dante Rosario was able to have such a great game in week 2 is because the starting tight end, Antonio Gates, was declared “inactive” shortly before game time due to a rib injury he suffered the previous week. The fact that three of the four receptions were for touchdowns is definitely odd considering Rosario previously had only five touchdown receptions throughout his five-year NFL career. It could also be partially explained by the Tennessee Titan defense. The Titans gave up 34 points to the New England Patriots in week 1 before giving up 38 points to the San Diego Chargers in week 2.

Before choosing to pick-up a free agent, the smart owner will evaluate whether the player will have a prominent role in the offense going forward. As Dante Rosario was just filling in for the injured starting tight end, Antonio Gates, it would be highly unlikely that Rosario would have the same amount of playing opportunity once Gates returned to the starting line-up (which would be in week 3). Based on this information, the shrewd team owner would have passed on the opportunity to acquire “one-week wonder” Dante Rosario after his anomalous week 2 performance. For the record, Rosario played in 12 more games in 2012 but never scored more than 1.6 fantasy points in any one game. His season fantasy point total was 25.5 for an average of 2.0 fantasy points per game.

One-Week Wonder #2 – Kevin Ogletree, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys

In week 1 of the 2012 season, Kevin Ogletree, drafted in only 3% of standard fantasy football leagues and 5% of auction leagues, led all wide receivers in the NFL with 23.4 fantasy points. He achieved this by catching eight passes for 114 yards (114/10 = 11.4 fantasy points) and two touchdowns (2 x 6 = 12.0 fantasy points).

Several reasons could be cited to account for Kevin Ogletree’s fantastic game. The first is that as the #3 wide receiver for the Cowboys, he was called upon to take a larger role in the offense because tight end Jason Witten was still recovering from a lacerated spleen and #1 wide receiver Miles Austin had a lingering hamstring issue. Ogletree did indeed take a larger role as he was targeted a team-high 11 times by quarterback Tony Romo and caught a team-high eight passes. (Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten combined for only 12 targets and 10 receptions.) A great performance considering his career stats prior to the game were 25 receptions for 294 yards and no touchdowns. Another reason for Kevin Ogletree’s week 1 performance is that the Cowboys were playing the New York Giants who ranked 29th against the pass in 2011 and 28th against the pass in 2012.

Again, before choosing to pick-up a free agent, the smart owner will evaluate whether the player will have a prominent role in the offense going forward and whether the current performance may have been enabled by a sub-par opponent. As Jason Witten and Miles Austin continued to heal, it would be expected that Kevin Ogletree’s playing opportunities would decrease and, as stated above, the New York Giants don’t defend the pass very well. The wise team owner would have passed on the opportunity to acquire “one-week wonder” Kevin Ogletree after his anomalous week 1 performance. For the record, Ogletree played in 14 more games that season and only once scored more than 10 fantasy points in any one game. His season fantasy point total was 68.5 for an average of 4.6 fantasy points per game.

One-Week Wonder #3 – Stephen Hill, Wide Receiver, New York Jets

In week 1 of the 2012 season, Stephen Hill, drafted in only 2% of standard fantasy football leagues and 4% of auction leagues, was the #3 receiver in the NFL with 20.9 fantasy points. He achieved this by catching five passes for 89 yards (89/10 = 8.9 fantasy points) and two touchdowns (2 x 6 = 12.0 fantasy points).

Stephen Hill did have a very good game, especially with the two touchdowns. There is no explanation for the rookie’s performance other than he was able to get open and Mark Sanchez was able to find him. That being said, any fantasy football team owner considering acquiring Stephen Hill had to make a determination regarding the chances of Hill continuing this level of performance. First, Stephen Hill was a rookie. Wide receivers rarely perform at consistently high levels as rookies. Second, Stephen Hill was not the #1 receiver on the team – Santonio Holmes was. Third, he was a wide receiver on the New York Jets, who are known as a run-first team. Fourth, the quarterback throwing the ball to him was Mark Sanchez, who not only isn’t elite, he isn’t even regarded as top-20 material.

The astute team owner would have passed on the opportunity to acquire “one-week wonder” Stephen Hill after his first professional game in week 1. For the record, Hill played in 10 more games that season but only once scored more than eight fantasy points in any one game. His season fantasy point total was 43.2 for an average of 3.9 fantasy points per game.

One-Week Wonder #4 – Bryce Brown, Running Back, Philadelphia Eagles

In week 12 of the 2012 season, Bryce Brown, undrafted in fantasy football leagues, led all running backs in the NFL with 26.9 fantasy points. He achieved this by rushing 19 times for 178 yards (178/10 = 17.8 fantasy points), scoring two touchdowns (2 x 6 = 12.0 fantasy points), losing two fumbles (2 x -2 = -4 fantasy points) and catching four passes for 11 yards (11/10 = 1.1 fantasy points).

The reason Bryce Brown was able to have such a great game in week 12 was because the starting running back, LeSean McCoy, was unable to play due to a concussion. Taking advantage of an opportunity to play is a scenario that can propel a back-up player into fantasy stardom. And with LeSean McCoy out for an undetermined amount of time while recovering from a concussion, Brown could really make an impression in the featured running back role. However, once McCoy was cleared to play, the chances for Brown to continue with a prominent role in the offense would be greatly reduced.

As the injury to McCoy occurred late in the season and could cost him several weeks, an astute team owner would have evaluated the strength of the running backs on his roster and made a judgment call as to whether Brown would be a useful addition for the remaining weeks. Without a doubt, most team owners who had LeSean McCoy on their rosters would have picked-up Brown upon the first reports of McCoy’s injury. If Bryce Brown was still available as a free agent after his week 12 performance, most team owners would be very interested in acquiring the “one-week wonder” for at least the short term. As it turned out, Bryce Brown led the NFL again in week 13 with 28.3 fantasy points (making him a “two-week wonder”), but subsequent to that, he came back down to earth and disappointed fantasy football team owners by scoring only 1.2 fantasy points in week 14 and 4.5 fantasy points in week 15 (the first week of the fantasy football playoffs). LeSean McCoy returned to the starting line-up in week 16 and Brown was relegated once again to a back-up role as anticipated.

As it has been demonstrated, a player’s breakout game is not always a signal to add that player to your fantasy football roster. Consistency of performance is what is required to win in fantasy football. Don’t fall for the hype surrounding a player’s career game. Do your own analysis and make a determination if the player will likely be consistently productive over the entire season.

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Free Agents: The Hype of the One-Week Wonder

Disclaimer: Fantasy football is a game of speculation; therefore, Fantasy Football Impact disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, regarding player performance or results associated with its opinions or advice.