There is a general inkling in fantasy football that the third year of a wide receiver’s career can and usually is their breakout year in the NFL.  Over the course of the off-season, Razzball will take a look at some wideouts heading into their third year in the league and see if they’re a breakout candidate for 2013 fantasy football.  This week we will review Torrey Smith.

Well why not just start this shebang of third year wideouts with someone who just won a Super Bowl, eh?  I don’t think I’ll be the first nor the last one to point out the move from his 1st year to his 2nd year was supposed to be huge and really wasn’t.  A simple comparison of 2011’s stats – 50 receptions on 95 targets for 841 yards and 7 touchdowns – really isn’t a huge diversion from what he gave his owners this year: 49 receptions on 110 targets for 885 and 8 touchdowns.  In fact, it’s with a heavy heart upon reviewing 2012 Fantasy Football Rankings I had said ‘His inconsistency reminds me a lot of why I didn’t draft V-Jax this year and why I won’t be drafting Torrey next year.’  Well the V-Jax reference of course comes from the years prior not the year that just passed but you get the point.  In fact, you could say his playoffs to date are a microcosm of this issue.  Great matchup with the Colts yielded less than stellar numbers – 2 receptions for 31 yards – while a matchup against one of the best corners in the game in Champ Bailey yielded a 3 catch, 98 yard with 2 touchdown performance.  I’ll admit, I love puzzles.  Give me a rubik’s cube or a woman who has never had an orgasm and I’ll spend hours in a room with them until I figure it out.  But Torrey is definitely one jigsaw that even with the box cover, I have a hard time putting the pieces together.  With all that said, though, let’s take a look at Torrey Smith and see what we can see for 2013 fantasy football.

First, the positives.  Torrey’s base has been established at this point in his career as he now has back to back 800+ yard receiving seasons and 15 total receiving touchdowns in his young career.  He makes for a good WR3 or flex option if you need upside or a homerun play.  Sure, it’s not as exciting as some other players but there’s something to be said for the consistency…which is odd to say given he’s been so inconsistent from game to game.  Coming into the NFL, the scouting report on Smith was that he was a speed guy and nothing else.  He was ‘stiff getting in and out of routes’ was what they said (and what she said, coincidentally).  They also said he didn’t have great hands.  So Torrey Smith was being labelled as the next Jacoby Jones and to be fair, his lack of consistency game to game does in fact sort of prove the scouts right about Smith so far.  In 32 regular season games, Torrey has now had 3 games of 2 touchdowns or more for a total of 7 of his career 15.  The games directly following these offensive explosions?  Well, two of three have been of the 1 catch variety for a total of 8 yards.  Plain and simple, Torrey burns a team for a long route or two one week, the next week the defense he’s up against defends it with more help over the top and exposes Torrey’s lack of ability to run high percentage pass play routes underneath.  In order for Smith to become elite or at the very least a week in and week out start, he’s going to need the ability to run more high percentage pass play routes effectively.  And before you go to blame this on Joe Flacco – and believe me I was tempted to do this as well – realize that both Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta finished the year with more receptions and Pitta did it on less targets.  Couple that with the fact Flacco is at or near the top of the league in terms of deep pass attempts, it’s fair to say he actually plays into Torrey’s abilities rather than away from them.

In the end, I’d love to give Torrey a massive bump for 2013 but I don’t feel lying to myself and then lying to you about it would make any of us feel better.  Part gameplan, part inability, Torrey Smith looks to be what he is at the moment: a great homerun hitter without a great chance at breaking that mould.  In standard leagues, I’d be a little more intrigued by him but in a PPR, his continued inconsistency will likely lead you to some computer-throwing moments that are just best avoided if possible.  He’ll finish the year as a low end WR2 or a high end WR3 based on final rankings of the stats, but I don’t think he should be drafted as such…I know you want a quote from The Raven here.  Heck, even I wanted one but you’re getting only this, and nothing more…ugh, it couldn’t be helped.

Projections: 55 receptions, 935 receiving yards, 20 rushing yards, 8 total touchdowns