After an exciting opening week of action, here are three unheralded medal-earners projected to finish in fourth place who ended up setting the fantasy pace:
Cam Newton, Car, QB (33-percent owned)
Y! percent started in Week 1: Three-percent
Throughout preseason play, last year's Heisman Trophy recipient overshot one receiver after another. Andre The Giant on stilts would've struggled to catch many of his errant passes. Due to his dreadful 42.1 completion percentage in exhibition play, most assumed his NFL debut would be rather unmemorable. It was practically a lock. However, in a league where surprises often occur, the unexpected once again popped out from around the corner.
In an unpredictable twist, Newton shattered Peyton Manning's first game passing yards record for a rookie, coincidentally, with No. 18's season hanging in the balance. Over four stirring quarters, he completed 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. He chipped in an additional 18 rushing yards and a one-yard end-zone leap. His resulting 31.6-point tally in standard formats topped the QB chart (Note: That was before Tom Brady went nuts on South Beach), besting the ridiculous efforts of position giants Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick.
Poised, fairly precise and overall "on point" as Steve Smith described him, the No. 1 pick not only defied his critics, he punched them square in the face. Due to his galactic debut, he will be the most added player off waivers in Yahoo! leagues come Tuesday. But before opening the wallet it's important to view his historic performance contextually.
Quarterbacks, young and Kerry Collins-old, will feast on Arizona this season. With two rookies roaming in the defensive backfield (A.J. Jefferson and Patrick Peterson), the Cards' incredibly green secondary will hide many passers' flaws. Rex Grossman stands to benefit next.
Yes, Newton is definitely worth plucking off waivers. His dual scoring ability is very attractive. However, a rude awakening could be in offing. Next week the Panthers host Green Bay and its very aggressive 3-4 defense. If he posts respectable numbers, he deserves to graduate from the QB2 class. But for now expect a few peaks and plenty of valleys.
FAAB Bid ($100): $28-$33
[Fantasy: Cam Newton's stock on the rise (video)]
Ben Tate, Hou, RB (43-percent owned)
Y! percent started in Week 1: Four-percent
No body part dominated the owner thoughts entering Week 1 more than Arian Foster's tender hammy. Unable to go after Saturday's trial run proved unsuccessful, the reigning rush king was subjugated to pep talk duties on the sidelines. In his absence, the Texans ground game, spearheaded by Tate, didn't skip a beat.
Veteran Derrick Ward drew the start, but was forced to the exit midway through with an ankle sprain. The more talented Tate seized the moment plowing over and through defenseless Colts in Sunday's throttling of Indy. On the day, he finished with 116 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown, the eighth-best performance by a RB this week. Post-game Gary Kubiak gushed about the youngster's "explosion" and "big-play capability," noting "he's got a chance to become a fine player."
Much of Tate's success can be pinned on Indy's horrendous run defense. A one-legged Ryan Grant could run for 100 yards and a touch against it. But, make no mistake, he is an emerging talent capable of posting regular RB2 numbers if Foster is sidelined for an extended period of time. The Texans offensive line is one of the league's finest. And the explosive Houston passing game will create ample opportunities for the run game.
For now, Tate's value remains directly tied to Foster's health. When No. 23 is active, the backup may carve out a minor 8-10-carry role, but that's it. Still, shallow leaguers need to reach deep into the coffers to purchase his services. His potential alone is worth roughly a third of owner FAAB budgets. Keep in mind Houston's fantasy playoff schedule is shaping up to be a cakewalk — at Cincinnati, Carolina and at Indy.
FAAB Bid ($100): $28-$33
Devery Henderson, NO, WR (28-percent owned)
Y! percent started in Week 1: Zero-percent
Every year a largely undrafted wideout rises from the darkest corner of the waiver wire to produce high-level numbers. Two years ago it was Miles Austin. Last year, Brandon Lloyd and Stevie Johnson emerged. This year, that guy could be Henderson. Well … that is until Marques Colston returns to the lineup sometime in mid-to-late October.
The book on Devery is rather unsubstantial: He's an average-sized target in a socialist offense who has a deep threat-only reputation. But against one of the league's stiffest secondaries, Green Bay, he flashed more than just home-run power, catching a number of passes in the short-to-intermediate field. In total he finished with a team-best six catches for 100 yards and a touchdown on nine targets, a performance that ranked seventh among WRs in Week 1.
This week, the Saints host the ferocious Bears fresh off their dismantling of Atlanta. The assignment is a tall task for Drew Brees and company, but Henderson should be weighed as a WR3 in 12-teamers, assuming Lance Moore's touchy groin keeps him out of action. If that happens, Henderson will likely again log 7-10 targets. Yes, the matchup is daunting. Chicago has allowed just 14 passing touchdowns over its past 17 regular season games. But New Orleans' prolific vertical attack is extremely difficult to ground. Recall the Packers were the fifth-hardest team to throw on last year. Devery will deliver.
Considering the nature of his situation, it's senseless to blow a significant portion of your budget on a short-term WR3. But he should be at least serviceable over the next few weeks. After Chicago, 'Nawlins faces Houston, Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa.
FAAB Bid ($100): $7-$12
Honorable Mentions: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buf, Rex Grossman, Wash, Darren Sproles, NO, Carnell Williams, StL, Randall Cobb, GB, Early Doucet, Ari, Scott Chandler, Buf, Jermaine Gresham, TE, Houston D/ST, San Francisco D/ST
Image courtesy of US Presswire
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