Fantasy Football 2013: 10 Most Pleasant Surprises So Far

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Fantasy Football 2013: 10 Most Pleasant Surprises So Far

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Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again ─ Fantasy Football is about guesses, and more educated guesses. Just like in poker, skilled players have the advantage, but luck is the dominating factor. We love to pat ourselves on the back when a player we bet on pays off big, but sometimes it’s just dumb luck.

The order of the draft and what positions we need to fill often lands us players we weren’t even targeting, and sometimes we hit the jackpot. There are some players on this list that could have been predicted, but there are others who, if you claim you saw their big season coming, nobody’s going to believe you (and rightfully so because you’re probably lying).

Let’s start with a couple of honorable mentions who are having a great seasons, but it’s not all that surprising to most GMs.

Matt Stafforrd, QB Detroit Lions

The only question about Stafford coming into the season was whether or not he would be able to find the end zone. As of now, he’s on pace to hit 37 total TDs compared to the 24 he managed last year. So far, he is the fifth highest scorer in Fantasy football, averaging 19.4 Fantasy points per game ─ not bad for a QB with an ADP of 62.

Jamaal Charles, RB Kansas City Chiefs

With an ADP of four, Charles’ big season is certainly no surprise, but being the highest scoring running back, along with his consistency, earns him a mention here. He has yet to have a Fantasy performance of lower than 15 points, and Matt Ryan is the only other player who can also make that claim.

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10. Matt Forte, RB Chicago Bears

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In the past, Forte has been the victim of TD vultures like Chester Taylor, Marion Barber and Michael Bush. But this season, the end zone seems to be all his. He’s second in fantasy scoring among running backs, boasting an average of 15.7 per game, and he has yet to have a single-digit performance.

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9. Knowshon Moreno, RB Denver Broncos

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The big question in the preseason was whether the main RB benefactor of Denver’s offense was going to be Ronnie Hillman, Monte Ball, or Moreno. The answer is crystal clear now as the former Georgia Bulldog is leading the league with eight rushing TDs. His average of 14.6 points per game isn’t too shabby for someone who wasn’t drafted in several leagues.

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8. DeSean Jackson, WR Philadelphia Eagles

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There has never been a question about Jackson’s talent, but his immaturity and inconsistency dropped his ADP to 68 this season. That drop made the second-highest-scoring WR a steal. Thus far, Jackson has flourished in Chip Kelly’s offense with an average of 12.7 points per game.

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7. Philip Rivers, QB San Diego Chargers

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After a couple of down years, Rivers has experienced a resurgence under Coach Mike McCoy as the sixth highest scoring QB. With an ADP of 173, he was picked as a backup, if he was picked at all. Those who drafted Rivers and a weak starter got some nice insurance ─ those who drafted him with a solid starter got some nice trade bait.

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6. Fred Jackson, RB Buffalo Bills

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson has failed to reach double-digits in just one game this season, which is extremely impressive for someone with an ADP of 132. The 32-year-old was typically drafted as a handcuff to C.J. Spiller, and is currently top 10 in scoring among RBs.

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5. Jordan Cameron, TE Cleveland Browns

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Those who claim they saw this one coming, please tell me on what information it was based. I’m guessing most people just kind of ended up with him as he was typically undrafted, or drafted as a reserve. With 12 points per game, Cameron is not only the third highest scoring TE, but he would make the top 10 of WRs as well.

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4. Julius Thomas, TE Denver Broncos

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a 23-point performance in Week 1, the waiver wire blew up for Thomas, who went undrafted in almost every league. He has not disappointed since with an average of 12.6 points per game, and scoring a TD in all but one game. That’s pretty impressive considering the third-year TE had only one career reception prior to this season.

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3. Jordy Nelson, WR Green Bay Packers

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After knee surgery that held him out of most of the preseason, some people were a little tentative to draft Nelson, but those who did cashed in. The former K-State Wildcat was around the 19th WR taken in most drafts, but leads all receivers with an average of 13.8 points per game.

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2. Peyton Manning, QB Denver Broncos

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Most people expected a good year from Manning, but his 2013 season has been ridiculous. Fantasy Football’s top scorer is leading all other players by 63 points. To help put that into perspective, the margin he is leading everyone else by, is enough to be the 16th-ranked WR, 13th-ranked RB, the 12th-ranked D/ST, and the 5th-ranked TE.

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1. Kansas City Chiefs D/ST

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When a D/ST is the sixth highest scorer in Fantasy Football, they deserve the top spot for most pleasantly surprising ─ especially when you consider they went undrafted in almost every league. A few, but not many, had these guys as a sleeper, but nobody could’ve predicted an explosion like this. The Chiefs D/ST averages 19.3 points per game, they've hit double-digits every time, and have four performances of at least 21 points.

1 of 11

Fantasy Football 2013: 10 Most Pleasant Surprises So Far

aa
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again ─ Fantasy Football is about guesses, and more educated guesses. Just like in poker, skilled players have the advantage, but luck is the dominating factor. We love to pat ourselves on the back when a player we bet on pays off big, but sometimes it’s just dumb luck.

The order of the draft and what positions we need to fill often lands us players we weren’t even targeting, and sometimes we hit the jackpot. There are some players on this list that could have been predicted, but there are others who, if you claim you saw their big season coming, nobody’s going to believe you (and rightfully so because you’re probably lying).

Let’s start with a couple of honorable mentions who are having a great seasons, but it’s not all that surprising to most GMs.

Matt Stafforrd, QB Detroit Lions

The only question about Stafford coming into the season was whether or not he would be able to find the end zone. As of now, he’s on pace to hit 37 total TDs compared to the 24 he managed last year. So far, he is the fifth highest scorer in Fantasy football, averaging 19.4 Fantasy points per game ─ not bad for a QB with an ADP of 62.

Jamaal Charles, RB Kansas City Chiefs

With an ADP of four, Charles’ big season is certainly no surprise, but being the highest scoring running back, along with his consistency, earns him a mention here. He has yet to have a Fantasy performance of lower than 15 points, and Matt Ryan is the only other player who can also make that claim.

2 of 11

10. Matt Forte, RB Chicago Bears

aa
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In the past, Forte has been the victim of TD vultures like Chester Taylor, Marion Barber and Michael Bush. But this season, the end zone seems to be all his. He’s second in fantasy scoring among running backs, boasting an average of 15.7 per game, and he has yet to have a single-digit performance.

3 of 11

9. Knowshon Moreno, RB Denver Broncos

aa
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The big question in the preseason was whether the main RB benefactor of Denver’s offense was going to be Ronnie Hillman, Monte Ball, or Moreno. The answer is crystal clear now as the former Georgia Bulldog is leading the league with eight rushing TDs. His average of 14.6 points per game isn’t too shabby for someone who wasn’t drafted in several leagues.

4 of 11

8. DeSean Jackson, WR Philadelphia Eagles

aa
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There has never been a question about Jackson’s talent, but his immaturity and inconsistency dropped his ADP to 68 this season. That drop made the second-highest-scoring WR a steal. Thus far, Jackson has flourished in Chip Kelly’s offense with an average of 12.7 points per game.

5 of 11

7. Philip Rivers, QB San Diego Chargers

aa
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After a couple of down years, Rivers has experienced a resurgence under Coach Mike McCoy as the sixth highest scoring QB. With an ADP of 173, he was picked as a backup, if he was picked at all. Those who drafted Rivers and a weak starter got some nice insurance ─ those who drafted him with a solid starter got some nice trade bait.

6 of 11

6. Fred Jackson, RB Buffalo Bills

aa
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson has failed to reach double-digits in just one game this season, which is extremely impressive for someone with an ADP of 132. The 32-year-old was typically drafted as a handcuff to C.J. Spiller, and is currently top 10 in scoring among RBs.

7 of 11

5. Jordan Cameron, TE Cleveland Browns

aa
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Those who claim they saw this one coming, please tell me on what information it was based. I’m guessing most people just kind of ended up with him as he was typically undrafted, or drafted as a reserve. With 12 points per game, Cameron is not only the third highest scoring TE, but he would make the top 10 of WRs as well.

8 of 11

4. Julius Thomas, TE Denver Broncos

aa
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a 23-point performance in Week 1, the waiver wire blew up for Thomas, who went undrafted in almost every league. He has not disappointed since with an average of 12.6 points per game, and scoring a TD in all but one game. That’s pretty impressive considering the third-year TE had only one career reception prior to this season.

9 of 11

3. Jordy Nelson, WR Green Bay Packers

aa
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After knee surgery that held him out of most of the preseason, some people were a little tentative to draft Nelson, but those who did cashed in. The former K-State Wildcat was around the 19th WR taken in most drafts, but leads all receivers with an average of 13.8 points per game.

10 of 11

2. Peyton Manning, QB Denver Broncos

aa
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Most people expected a good year from Manning, but his 2013 season has been ridiculous. Fantasy Football’s top scorer is leading all other players by 63 points. To help put that into perspective, the margin he is leading everyone else by, is enough to be the 16th-ranked WR, 13th-ranked RB, the 12th-ranked D/ST, and the 5th-ranked TE.

11 of 11

1. Kansas City Chiefs D/ST

aa
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When a D/ST is the sixth highest scorer in Fantasy Football, they deserve the top spot for most pleasantly surprising ─ especially when you consider they went undrafted in almost every league. A few, but not many, had these guys as a sleeper, but nobody could’ve predicted an explosion like this. The Chiefs D/ST averages 19.3 points per game, they've hit double-digits every time, and have four performances of at least 21 points.


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