Camp reports typically teeter on hyperbole, but the love given to Torrey Smith cements my man-crush on the Baltimore Ravens deep threat this season.
Raven in flight
He burst on to fantasy scenes with his three-touchdown, 152-yard bonanza by de-horning a Pop Warner-level St. Louis Rams secondary in last year's Week 3. Smith was a one-trick pony for much of last year but still finished with seven touchdowns to complement 841 yards on 50 catches - a dashing 16.8 YPC, ranking ninth among wideouts with at least 40 snares.
Plus, as Cory Bonini notes, Smith led the NFL in average depth of target (19.4 yards per). Joe Flacco has not met the elite potential many - including the slinger himself - feels he has. His arm strength can take advantage of Smith's skills, though, and another year of them together should lead to more downfield connections.
Already a top-flight burner, Smith is rounding out his route running skills - gaining the polish he didn't have much time to cultivate in the lockout-shortened camp of his rookie 2011 campaign:
[John] Harbaugh added, "[His] route-running's improved. He's improved his hands. He's improved with understanding the blitz package, when he's hot and when he's not. He's improved downfield with his blocking. Really, everything he's gotten better."
I'm not worried about Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta or Jacoby Jones infringing on his turf, and Anquan Boldin is the possession complement. Smith has established his connection with Flacco already. Increased defensive attention is a concern, but it can't always stop talent. Baltimore's division opponents' defenses are OK but hardly elite.
If Cam Cameron increases the no-huddle calls and opens things up ... Cue the obligatory but writer-shunned Raven-fly pun. As long as the hernia problem that was taken care of over the offseason doesn't pop up, of course.
Though Smith's production will probably come in bunches, he's the type of alluring target in non-PPRs thanks to his top-end speed and above-average separation skills. Those bunches can turn the tide of your week, too.
Luckily, you can snag him in most drafts at a point where that risk is nearly nonexistent. Unless we analysts blow up your spot and collectively hype-boost his Average Draft Position before your pick 'em starts, you'll probably swipe him at a Round 6 or 7 pick in 12-teamers. Man, that's tasty.
No sophomore slump here. He'll only get better.
Now, on to the winners of the first wave of Best Team Names competition:
"Buying Cribbs, Sellin Weeden" and "Stop Playa Haden"
That's a lot of Browns ... my condolences.
He knows I'm a fanboy of the Dark Knight, I guess.
Congrats, gents! You've won some chat time with me via Direct Message (so your competitors can't see them!). I'll holler at ya soon.
If you didn't take this round, there'll be plenty more chances before the season starts! Stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook spreads.
Meanwhile, while you watch preseason ball tonight, check out our Fantasy Football Draft Guide!
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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