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Top 10 Surprise Players From 2013 Fantasy Football Season

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Top 10 Surprises This Fantasy Season

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Each fantasy football season, there are several players that come out of nowhere to become weekly starters. It happens each year, so it shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. However, sometimes these breakout players are simply the last person you would expect to have a stellar fantasy campaign.

Sure, rookie backs Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers and Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals have played well most of the season and have earned major roles within their respective offenses, but both players were projected to be studs. Cincinnati invested a second round pick in Bernard (37 overall), while Lacy was went a handful of picks later in the same round (61st overall).

When a team invests such a high draft pick in an offensive player, especially a running back, they quickly become popular fantasy picks and end up being drafted a couple rounds too early. Fantasy fans love to build their team around rookies and it almost takes the sleeper-appeal away from many youngsters.

There are still a couple guys that slip through the cracks each season and end up surprising fantasy owners. So as you prepare for your next matchup or are stuck planning for next year, here are the top-10 surprises from the 2013 fantasy football season.

Adam McGill is the Senior Fantasy Sports Writer at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @adammcgill83, like him on Facebook, or add him to you networks on Google here or here.

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10. QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals – While Dalton has been somewhat hit-or-miss this season, he still has thrown 25 passing touchdowns and over 3,400 passing yards. He wasn’t drafted within the top-10 quarterbacks in many formats, but he is currently sitting among the top-10 signal callers in fantasy. Dalton’s performance this year has certainly been somewhat shocking. After all, not many people expected Dalton to outscore Tom Brady, Robert Griffin III, and Matt Ryan.

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9. RB Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills

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RB Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills – This off-season the most hyped player in fantasy was easily RB C.J. Spiller. He was coming off a magical 2012 season and fantasy fans rewarded him by making him a first round pick in every format. The only thing wrong with drafting him so early was that Buffalo still had a soft spot in their heart for Jackson.

Jackson has been a major factor in the team's game plan since Week 1 and he has continued to frustrate Spiller owners. Jackson has posted eight double-digit fantasy performances on the season, and while he has only had one in the last five games, his performance this season has still been rather shocking. Fred-Ex is currently ranked 13th among fantasy running backs in standard ESPN leagues, while Spiller comes in at 30th on that list. Now I don't think that anyone saw that coming.

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8. WR Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles

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WR Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles – All off-season, Cooper made headlines for his racist comments at a country music concert. He quickly became the most hated man in American, and as a result, wasn’t drafted by anyone. After a couple weeks, fantasy fans quickly realized that Cooper could actually have fantasy value. He is currently the 22nd ranked wideout in standard ESPN formats and has developed into a pretty reliable WR2 this season. Who would’ve thought?

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7. WR Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers

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WR Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers - Allen was the one rookie wideout that ran perfect routes coming out of college and it has helped him transition flawlessly into the NFL. Allen has hauled in five touchdowns this year to go along with five 100-yard games. He has truly been one of the most shocking breakout stars of the 2013 season.

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6. QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers - Rivers had a miserable campaign in 2012, as he finished with 26 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and just 3,606 passing yards. This season, though, Rivers has been a steady contributor week after week. In 13 games, he has 3,882 passing yards, just nine interceptions, and he has already matched his 26 touchdowns from last year. Rivers is on pace to shatter his numbers from 2012 and he can partially thank the guy at #7 on this list.

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5. RB Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams

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RB Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams – Stacy was a well-kept secret in drafts this summer, but the fact that he didn’t get a carry until Week 5 forced several owners to cut ties with him early. Stacy quickly won the starting job once he emerged and the rookie has now scored five touchdowns in his last five games. Stacy has been a fantasy stud since cracking the starting lineup in St. Louis and the youngster has quickly made fantasy owners forget the names Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead.

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4. TE Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos

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TE Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos – It didn’t take long for Orange Julius to give the fantasy world a brain freeze, as the tight end hauled in 110 yards and two touchdowns in Denver’s opening night game versus the Baltimore Ravens. Thomas has caught 11 touchdowns this year and averaged 11.3 fantasy points per game.

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3. WR Alshon Jeffrey, Chicago Bears

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WR Alshon Jeffrey, Chicago Bears – Jeffrey continues to have an incredible fantasy season, despite playing opposite of WR Brandon Marshall. He has gone over the 100-yard mark five times, including a game with 218 yards and another with a ridiculous 239 yards. Jeffrey was thought to be a bench option this year, but he has proven that he can be a reliable fantasy wideout each week.

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2. WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns

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WR Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns – It is true that Gordon was a popular sleeper towards the end of fantasy drafts this summer, but no one expected him to breakout in this manner. The former Baylor standout is currently first in the entire NFL with 1,400 receiving yards, and even more astonishing, is that he has done it after being suspended two games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He is averaging 127.3 yards per game and has matured into one of the best wideouts in fantasy .

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1. RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos

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RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos - After Denver selected RB Montee Ball in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, fantasy owners thought it was guaranteed that Ball would be the team’s starting back. However, the team shockingly decided to give Moreno the ball early on and his sudden success kept him in the driver's seat all year.

Moreno has been a top-five back since Week 1, which is staggering considering that he was once a free agent in the majority of fantasy formats. Moreno completely took the world by storm with his fantasy performance this season and the former first round pick has been the most surprising player of the 2013 fantasy football season.