After a topsy-turvy Week 5, 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:
Tim Tebow, Den, QB
Y! Percent started: Zero-percent
When John Fox yanked a terribly ineffective Kyle Orton in the third quarter of Sunday's game against San Diego, Richter scales in the greater Denver area instantly spiked. The Mile High Messiah, who Bronco fans have wanted for weeks, trotted in and repaid his admirers for their loyalty, energizing the crowd with a valiant comeback attempt.
Though he completed just four of 10 passes, Tebow made a significant fantasy impact, accounting for two touchdowns (one pass, one rush) and 117 total yards (79 passing, 38 rushing).
Undoubtedly, the 10-percent owned QB will be the hottest pick-up in leagues this week.
Homeschooled children demand it.
There are no guarantees Fox will turn to Tebow permanently. Post-game, the head coach sidestepped questions about a possible depth-chart flip, saying he needed to "watch film" and "talk to his staff" before making a decision. But considering the southward direction Denver's season is heading and how poorly Orton has recently played, a change has to be made. If not, and the Denver faithful will likely kidnap Fox, hike him up Pike's Peak and push him off the steepest side.
With the Broncos on bye in Week 6, Fox has time to debate a move, but expect No. 15 to be under center at Miami in two weeks. He isn't without flaws, but Denver's porous defense and Fox's pound-it system should raise expectations to lofty heights. Expect many 200-1, 50-1 performances. Essentially, in fantasy terms, Tebow is White Vick. Question answered, ESPN The Mag.
Weighing his mammoth scoring potential — recall he was the top-ranked passer in virtual pigskin over the final three weeks of 2010 netting 28.8 points per game — he's easily worth a $30-$40 bid for owners vexed by quarterback inadequacies. No question, he's capable of posting QB1 numbers in 12-teamers moving forward.
Jackie Battle, KC, RB
Y! Percent started: One-percent
When Jamaal Charles' fantasy soul ascended to heaven in Week 2, the fantasy community slipped into a state of mourning. So did the Chiefs. Over the next two weeks, decomposing corpse Thomas Jones and undersized tweener Dexter McCluster, failed to spark a rushing attack that was one of the AFC's best a season ago. Against San Diego and Minnesota the boring pair averaged a mere 3.3 yards per carry.
However, Sunday in Indianapolis, KC may have found its savior.
Jackie Battle, a little used 28-year-old third-stringer who went undrafted in 2007, exhibited a hot-hand. On 21 touches he churned out 140 total yards, a career-best.
For a running back with only 37 rushes over 34 career games prior to Week 5, most experienced owners will cast his effort as anomalous. Still, despite a limited track-record, don't expect him to be a one-hit wonder. No doubt Battle is the best rusher pound-for-pound currently on the Chiefs roster. He's a tough between-the-tackles, fall-forward runner with serviceable versatility and surprising speed — the former Houston Cougar clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash at the school's pro day back in '07.
Yes, Haley has Shanahan-like tendencies (Remember how he mishandled Charles two years ago?), but Week 5's unsung hero may be the AFC's version of Ryan Torain, an emerging early-down back with measurable upside. Gifted the conference's friendliest run defense, Oakland (5.3 ypc allowed to RBs), after the Chiefs' Week 6 bye, he has an opportunity to cement his case as Haley's go-to back.
Obviously KC's defensive shortcomings will limit Battle's potential, but the waiver sensation needs to be added ASAP (Think $20-$25 bid). In 12-teamers, the three-percent owned commodity has a RB2 ceiling when the matchup warrants.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oak, WR
Y! Percent started: Three-percent
With the death of legendary owner Al Davis clearly in the back of their minds, the Raiders delivered an emotionally-charged victory in hostile territory. Surprisingly, one of the organization's most controversial draft picks, a player Davis took a great deal of heat over, was the driving force in the close win.
In Houston, DHB slipped the Texans a mickey.
The former first-round pick hauled in a game-high seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. During the past two weeks he's totaled 214 yards, over half of what he tallied in 15 games last year.
To naysayers, Heyward-Bey is a fantasy tease. Yes, he has elite speed, but his inconsistent route-running and battle with drops are difficult to overlook. Combine that with the Raiders' run-first mentality, and he's nothing more than bench waste. However, with the receiver's confidence, and Jason Campbell's faith in him, at an all-time high, it appears those issues are in the past. Over the past two weeks he's attracted 19 targets, eight more than Denarius Moore. He's definitely worth another look.
Given the conservative nature of the Oakland offense, don't break the bank for his services. Keep in mind Hue Jackson values all receivers in his system equally. But in these bye-heavy weeks where resources are scarce, Heyward-Bey is a quality add capable of providing useful WR3 numbers in competitive formats, especially with WR-generous Kansas City and Denver upcoming.
Honorable Mentions: Doug Baldwin, Sea, WR, James Jones, GB, WR, Curtis Painter, Ind, QB, Jonathan Dwyer, Pit, RB
Image courtesy of the AP