At this point in the year, there aren’t really any big surprises left in the daily fantasy football world since NFL players have already had 14 weeks to prove their worth. Of course, there have been numerous surprises when you look back through the entire season, with some players blowing past the moderate expectations placed on them. This being said, here is a look at the biggest fantasy football surprises of 2011:
Cam Newton, QB Carolina Panthers – Hardly anybody thought that Cam Newton was NFL-ready when he came out of Auburn. Sure they knew he had exceptional physical gifts, but Newton also ran a simplistic offense for the Tigers, and most scouts thought he’d need at least a season to learn how to read NFL defenses. 14 weeks later, we’re now looking at the potential Rookie of the Year because Newton has given Carolina fans something to cheer about with both his passing (3,297 yds, 13TD, 14INT) and running
exploits (518 yds, 13TD). In terms of daily fantasy football production, Newton has been near the top of the list for quarterbacks since Day 1.
Tim Tebow, QB Denver Broncos – Despite finishing the 2010 NFL season strong, Tim Tebow was looked at as an afterthought heading into this year. But against all odds, Tebow has ascended to the top of the depth chart in Denver to become a very strong play in daily fantasy football. Sure it hasn’t been pretty, but Tebow’s ability to run the ball (468 yds, 3TD) has really boosted his value as a quarterback. His passing (1,054 yds,
10TD, INT) even looks solid on paper – when you don’t consider his 47.5% completion rate of course.
Darren Sproles, RB New Orleans Saints – While Darren Sproles had always been a solid change-of-pace back in San Diego, his role was limited because of the more durable running backs on the Chargers’ roster. With a change in scenery, Sproles is still dealing with a crowded backfield, but has somehow managed to post career highs in both rushing (430 yds, 2TD) and receiving (67 rec, 522 yds, 4TD). The 67 receptions have especially been key to DraftDay fantasy football players because each catch is worth one
point! Going back to Sproles, he’s essentially become everything that Reggie Bush was supposed to be for the Saints.
DeMarco Murray, RB Dallas Cowboys – Felix Jones has never been a very durable running back, so one could’ve guessed that it was only a matter of time before DeMarco Murray got a chance to show what he could do. However, few people could’ve guessed that the rookie would turn in the year’s top rushing effort (253 yds, TD) in his first ever start against the St. Louis Rams. Since replacing the injured Jones in Week 7, Murray
hasn’t looked back and should easily top 1,000 rushing yards – despite playing sparsely in the first six weeks.
Steve Smith, WR Carolina Panthers – The wide receiver department is always crowed with overachievers, but this year, the Panthers’ Steve Smith shines among the brightest. In fact, Smith has experienced a career revival with Cam Newton under center, and has erased an abysmal 2010 season (46 rec, 554 yds, 2TD) with a Pro Bowl-caliber year (61rec, 1,092, 5TD).
Victor Cruz, WR New York Giants – After failing to register a catch in three games for the Giants last year, Victor Cruz has come out of nowhere to lead the team in receiving (62 rec, 1,076 yds, 7TD). You might even say that Cruz is the year’s biggest surprise since he was a fantasy football afterthought coming into 2011. Now he’s one of the top10 wide receivers in the league, and has put up amazing numbers over the past six games.
Laurent Robinson, WR Dallas Cowboys – Another surprise name being mentioned among the league’s elite wide receivers lately is Laurent Robinson. A career backup with the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams, he really seems to have found a home in Dallas (42 rec, 626 yds, 7TD) with QB Tony Romo throwing to him. It’s also helped Robinson tremendously that fellow wide receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant have spent time on
the injury list, thus giving him a chance to shine.
Rob Gronkowski, TE New England Patriots – Football fans already knew that Rob Gronkowski was a solid tight end after his 2010 rookie campaign produced 42 catches for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, much of his production was suspected to be the product of an injury to fellow TE Aaron Hernandez. But even with Hernandez back in the fold in 2011, Gronkowski has risen to the top of the tight end class after catching 65 passes for 928 yards and 13 touchdowns. The second-year player has really had some strong performances as of late!