After a thrilling Week 3, here are three unheralded medal-earners (started in less than 15-percent of Y! leagues) projected to finish in fourth place who ended up setting the fantasy pace:
Torrey Smith, Bal, WR
Y! Percent started: Zero-percent
Last week Oakland's Denarius Moore created a waiver frenzy in Fantasyland. This week, another largely overlooked rookie has owners ready to sledgehammer their piggybanks.
With Lee Evans sidelined by a nagging foot injury, second-rounder Torrey Smith delivered a hat trick former Blues great Brett Hull could appreciate. Utilizing his 4.41 40-yard wheels to jet past outmatched Rams DBs, he hauled in five receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns. For a player owned in zero-percent of Yahoo! leagues entering the day, the scoring bonanza generated an instant buzz across social media outlets, leading inquiring minds to ponder whether or not the rookie's breakout was only a mirage.
The jury is still out.
Obviously the lockout cost Smith an immediate large role within the Baltimore offense. Earlier this month the product, who last year played near Ravens facilities in College Park, admitted his mental transition to the NFL game was a work in progress. Joe Flacco, after Baltimore's third presason game, said the inexperienced receiver was a victim of "overthinking things." He also battled through a nasty case of the dropsies. Based on Sunday's stunner, though, it's clear the kid has finally wrapped his brain around Cam Cameron's offense. His butter hands, too, are no longer a problem.
If Evans' foot continues to heal at a snail's pace, the youngster will start opposite Anquan Boldin for the foreseeable future, warranting starting consideration in deeper leagues against vulnerable defenses. Smith is a classic speed demon with above average size and athleticism. His ability to gain separation on deep routes meshes perfectly with Joe Flacco's big arm. However, next week, could be a heavy dose of reality. The Ravens host Darrelle Revis and the Jets, fresh off a disappointing defensive effort in Oakland.
Feel free to add Smith in 12-team and deeper formats, but because of his all-or-nothing style and with Evans lingering in the background, don't shell out more than $10-$15 for his services. Additional Torrential downpours will likely be few and far between.
Lance Moore, NO, WR
Y! Percent started: 15-percent
Sir Lance-a-Lot, Finally fully recovered from a nettlesome groin injury that coast him much of the preseason and Week 1 of the regular season, got back to doing what he does best Sunday: skewering defenses underneath. Limited to just one catch for six yards in Week 2, Moore hauled in a team-best nine grabs for 89 yards with a touchdown and a pair of two-point conversion against Houston.
Though Drew Brees will continue to spread-the-love, the veteran wideout is the Saints target to own until Marques Colston returns from a broken collarbone, in about 2-4 weeks. Because of his rapport with Brees and cunning route-running ability, he should be viewed as a borderline WR2/3 over the next several weeks. Recall last year, Moore was the 33rd-best WR in virtual pigskin, netting 7.8 points per week in standard formats. Yes, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem will also play prominent roles, but the pair's long-bomb nature suggest No. 16 will be an invaluable asset in PPR formats, particularly over the next few weeks. The Saints' next three games are against rather docile pass defenses (at Jax, at Car and at TB).
Moore, owned in 60-perent of Yahoo! leagues, is long gone in competitive formats, but for those who waited for him to reemerge, your patience is about to be rewarded.
Ryan Grant, GB, RB
Y! Percent started: 13-percent
Over the first two weeks of the regular season most unanimously agreed James Starks was clearly the better option in the Green Bay backfield. The junior rusher showed more power, speed and versatility in clashes with the Saints and Panthers. Stats backed up the popular viewpoint. Entering Week 3, Starks had averaged 6.8 yards per carry, Grant just 4.3. The youngster also bested the vet in yards after contact per attempt outpacing Grant 3.3 to 2.3.
Based on the recent trend and Grant's inability to run over a toddler, most assumed the 28-year-old was completely done. The chances of him posting even a serviceable line against rival Chicago at Soldier Field were equal to getting impaled by a random piece of junk from a disintegrated NASA satellite.
But Grant amazingly defied the odds. In a surprise turn of events the elder back out-carried (17 to 11), out-rushed (92 to 5) and all-around outperformed Starks, a laudable effort considering the opponent. However, as Grant remarked post-game, the backfield remains fluid. From the Journal-Sentinel:
Grant may have earned more next week against the Denver Broncos, but the two-time 1,200-yard rusher says he's taking nothing for granted.
"It's how the game played out this week," said Grant, whose longest gain against the Bears was 14 yards. "It may not be that way next week. You never know."
For now, Green Bay remains a hot-hand situation. Still, Grant's performance Sunday was certainly encouraging. As long as he remains the starter, he will get first-crack to tilt the carries distribution in his favor. If he can storm out of the gate, he has legitimate RB2 potential. The Packers' unstoppable passing attack will create wide, exploitable running lanes, especially over the next three weeks. Green Bay faces Denver, Atlanta and St. Louis, a trio of defenses that has allowed 4.5 yards per carry to RBs.
As Sunday proved, the Cheesehead isn't completely moldy just yet.
Honorable Mentions: Victor Cruz, NYG, WR (one-percent started), James Casey, Hou, RB/TE (zero-percent started), Kendall Hunter, SF, RB (one-percent started)
Image courtesy of Getty