Fantasy Football: Ryan Mathews and 5 Pleasant Surprises Of 2013

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Top 6 Pleasant Surprises In Fantasy Football

JG
Rich Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football can be incredibly frustrating. Drafting a team in late August or early September is something that takes hours of preparation just for nearly half of the players selected in the first-round to be complete busts. However, for every bust taken in the draft there is a player that goes undrafted and wreaks havoc on the entire league, anyway.

For instance, just about every fantasy league in the country was avoiding Zac Stacy, just for the rookie running back to set a few St. Louis Rams' rookie record and be a total difference-maker from Week 5 on. Stacy is just one player that outperformed fantasy expectations this year as nearly every position is littered with unsung heroes and ultimate sleepers turned superstars.

Like Stacy, most "sleepers" are first-year players. However, other fantasy stalwarts materialize after years of either disappointment, injuries or just flat out lack of opportunity. Moreover, 2013 was no different from years previous as the fantasy football ranks are filled with rookies and first-time All-Pros.

With that being said, here's a list comprised of six fantasy football studs from the 2013 season that none of us saw coming. Remember: this is a list of relative unknowns heading into the season, which means you won't find Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning on this spectacular list of overachievers.

Related:

Top 5 Wide Receiver Duos In the NFL

Keenan Allen And the 5 Most Undervalued Wide Receivers In the NFL

Devin O’Barr is the Content Commentator for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DevinOBarrRS, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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No. 6: Joique Bell

JB
Andrew Weber - USA TODAY Sports

Any Fantasy Football owner that drafted Reggie Bush this year knew about Joique Bell as Bush's biggest handcuff. However, no one predicted this kind of fantastic season for Bell. The second-year back currently has seven touchdowns with three coming in the last four weeks. Keep an eye on Bell come 2014 as Bush's health is always in question.

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No. 5: Alshon Jeffery

AJ
Rob Grabowski - USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a big-play wide receiver. Despite a change at quarterback, Alshon Jeffery has emerged as the wide receiver with the "best hands" in the NFL. Jeffery was supposed to be overshadowed by Brandon Marshall in 2013, but that hasn't happened as Jeffery has just one fewer fantasy point going into Week 15 -- non-PPR leagues -- than the Chicago Bears' No. 1 wide out.

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No. 4: Julius Thomas

JT
Chris Humpreys - USA TODAY Sports

Julius Thomas has gone from a Denver Broncos' project to the best tight end in the AFC. Who would have thought that this basketball player turned football star would be jockeying with Jimmy Graham for the No. 1 tight end spot in the NFL. A significant knee injury has put Thomas on the decline as of late, yet no one can deny his 11 touchdowns.

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No. 3: Ryan Mathews

RM
Robert Hanashiro - USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Mathews is finally bursting out of Ladanian Tomlinson's shadow. After years of being called injury prone and a total bust, Mathews has since turned his career around as he has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. With two games left; Mathews has a chance to finish 2013 in the top 10 of fantasy football running backs after years of disappointing.

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No. 2: Josh Gordon

JG
Raj Mehta - USA TODAY Sports

If you had Josh Gordon going for two 200-yard games before the season, then kudos to you. While I really liked Gordon's promise before the year, it's safe to say that nobody could have predicted Gordon being the second-best wide receiver in the game -- second to only Calvin Johnson. Gordon's meteoric rise gives hope to players like Justin Blackmon and even Cordarrelle Patterson.

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No. 1: Knowshon Moreno

KM
Danny Medley - USA TODAY Sports

Montee Ball was supposedly the guy in the Denver Broncos' backfield, right? Well, no one told that to Knowshon Moreno, who leapfrogged both Ball and Ronnie Hillman for the Broncos' top spot. Moreno has shined this season as he's ranked as only three other running backs have more fantasy points than Moreno. The best thing about Moreno is that even in a tough game he finds a way to score five or more points because he's such a threat in Peyton Manning's passing game. Moreno totally outplayed expectations this year.

Devin O’Barr is the Content Commentator for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DevinOBarrRS, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

1 of 7

Top 6 Pleasant Surprises In Fantasy Football

JG
Rich Osentoski - USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football can be incredibly frustrating. Drafting a team in late August or early September is something that takes hours of preparation just for nearly half of the players selected in the first-round to be complete busts. However, for every bust taken in the draft there is a player that goes undrafted and wreaks havoc on the entire league, anyway.

For instance, just about every fantasy league in the country was avoiding Zac Stacy, just for the rookie running back to set a few St. Louis Rams' rookie record and be a total difference-maker from Week 5 on. Stacy is just one player that outperformed fantasy expectations this year as nearly every position is littered with unsung heroes and ultimate sleepers turned superstars.

Like Stacy, most "sleepers" are first-year players. However, other fantasy stalwarts materialize after years of either disappointment, injuries or just flat out lack of opportunity. Moreover, 2013 was no different from years previous as the fantasy football ranks are filled with rookies and first-time All-Pros.

With that being said, here's a list comprised of six fantasy football studs from the 2013 season that none of us saw coming. Remember: this is a list of relative unknowns heading into the season, which means you won't find Adrian Peterson or Peyton Manning on this spectacular list of overachievers.

Related:

Top 5 Wide Receiver Duos In the NFL

Keenan Allen And the 5 Most Undervalued Wide Receivers In the NFL

Devin O’Barr is the Content Commentator for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DevinOBarrRS, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

2 of 7

No. 6: Joique Bell

JB
Andrew Weber - USA TODAY Sports

Any Fantasy Football owner that drafted Reggie Bush this year knew about Joique Bell as Bush's biggest handcuff. However, no one predicted this kind of fantastic season for Bell. The second-year back currently has seven touchdowns with three coming in the last four weeks. Keep an eye on Bell come 2014 as Bush's health is always in question.

3 of 7

No. 5: Alshon Jeffery

AJ
Rob Grabowski - USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a big-play wide receiver. Despite a change at quarterback, Alshon Jeffery has emerged as the wide receiver with the "best hands" in the NFL. Jeffery was supposed to be overshadowed by Brandon Marshall in 2013, but that hasn't happened as Jeffery has just one fewer fantasy point going into Week 15 -- non-PPR leagues -- than the Chicago Bears' No. 1 wide out.

4 of 7

No. 4: Julius Thomas

JT
Chris Humpreys - USA TODAY Sports

Julius Thomas has gone from a Denver Broncos' project to the best tight end in the AFC. Who would have thought that this basketball player turned football star would be jockeying with Jimmy Graham for the No. 1 tight end spot in the NFL. A significant knee injury has put Thomas on the decline as of late, yet no one can deny his 11 touchdowns.

5 of 7

No. 3: Ryan Mathews

RM
Robert Hanashiro - USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Mathews is finally bursting out of Ladanian Tomlinson's shadow. After years of being called injury prone and a total bust, Mathews has since turned his career around as he has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. With two games left; Mathews has a chance to finish 2013 in the top 10 of fantasy football running backs after years of disappointing.

6 of 7

No. 2: Josh Gordon

JG
Raj Mehta - USA TODAY Sports

If you had Josh Gordon going for two 200-yard games before the season, then kudos to you. While I really liked Gordon's promise before the year, it's safe to say that nobody could have predicted Gordon being the second-best wide receiver in the game -- second to only Calvin Johnson. Gordon's meteoric rise gives hope to players like Justin Blackmon and even Cordarrelle Patterson.

7 of 7

No. 1: Knowshon Moreno

KM
Danny Medley - USA TODAY Sports

Montee Ball was supposedly the guy in the Denver Broncos' backfield, right? Well, no one told that to Knowshon Moreno, who leapfrogged both Ball and Ronnie Hillman for the Broncos' top spot. Moreno has shined this season as he's ranked as only three other running backs have more fantasy points than Moreno. The best thing about Moreno is that even in a tough game he finds a way to score five or more points because he's such a threat in Peyton Manning's passing game. Moreno totally outplayed expectations this year.

Devin O’Barr is the Content Commentator for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DevinOBarrRS, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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