Week 5's 'hidden stars'

Pierre Thomas among players who outperformed their stats in Week 5

Updated: October 9, 2013, 9:38 AM ET
By Field Yates | ESPN Insider

Tim JenningsMatt Marton/USA TODAY SportsPierre Thomas had two receiving touchdowns during the Saints' win over the Bears.

Drew Brees is on some kind of tear in New Orleans right now. He's surpassed 300 yards passing in four of his team's five games -- all wins -- and would be a clear-cut favorite for Most Valuable Player honors to this point of the season were it not for one of the Manning brothers (we can all guess which one).

Jimmy Graham is on some kind of tear in New Orleans right now, too. He's Brees' favorite target, and the best tight end in the NFL right now by a mile (and will hold the title until Rob Gronkowski comes back). He's also setting himself up for a payday that will be previously unheard of for a TE; some project he'll have an average annual salary that exceeds $10 million.

Heck, even the defense is on some kind of tear in New Orleans right now, as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has rapidly transformed the group into an attacking, relentless 11-man headache for opposing offenses.

But winning games in the NFL isn't just about relying on your obvious stars. Or, in the case of the Saints, your group of stars. Sometimes it takes that extra kick from a player whose merits are under-appreciated by the masses when examining the box score. One player who falls into this category for Week 5 has seemingly been under-appreciated for much of the past few seasons.

Pierre Thomas leads our weekly list of the NFL's hidden stars.


Thomas

1. Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints

His rushing stats from Sunday won't blow anyone away -- they were a forgettable 19 attempts for 36 yards -- but Thomas found the end zone twice as a receiver, including once on a 25-yard screen pass for a walk-in touchdown.


To see the rest of the "secret stars" from Week 5 in the NFL, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.