In a previous article, I discussed the Top 5 Fantasy Football Bust of 2011 - players who were not living up to the pre-season expectations that most of us had for them. Now I look the other way, and turn my gaze upon 5 players who have provided a lot more bang for the buck than many of us anticipated. Therefore, without further ado (an in no particular order), here are the Top 5 Fantasy Football Surprise Players of 2011:
Darren Sproles - “Reggie Who?” At all of 5’6, Sproles is the NFL equivalent of The Little Engine That Could, making Saints fans forget all about Reggie Bush by playing with grit, determination and heart. He has flourished in the Saints’ offensive scheme, quickly becoming one of quarterback Drew Brees’ favorite targets while racking up over 300 yards on the ground and almost 400 through the air (not to mention 4 TDs).
Steve Smith (Panthers) - Just a few years ago, he was one of the deadliest deep threats in the game. Then he hit hard times, plagued by QB issues (among other things) and it seemed that he would never be able to regain his former glory - at least not without leaving the Panthers. Now, he has shown that he is still in top form and a force to be reckoned with, once again elevating his game so that he is now counted as one of the top players at his position.
Pierre Garcon - Everyone knows that when it comes to receivers in Indianapolis, Reggie Wayne is unquestionably The Man… But apparently P-Gar didn’t get the memo, as he has eclipsed his teammate and become the number one receiving threat on the Colts’ roster with 4 TDs and over 500 yards through the air.
A.J. Green - Green has been on fire practically since the first game. He has been putting up veteran numbers, not those of a rookie: touchdowns in three consecutive games (5 overall) and over 500 yards receiving? It’s insane!
Cam Newton - What can you say, really? Everyone knew he was good, but to come into the league and throw for over 800 total yards in his first two games? To be a double threat with both his arm and his feet? Ladies and gentleman, Newton is without doubt the complete package, and well on his way to snatching Rookie of the Year honors. He still has a few kinks to work out - like that nasty habit of throwing interceptions - but no one expected this level of play, even from a Heisman winner.
In brief, these are the guys that caught a lot of fantasy football owners by surprise. Not all of them found homes on draft day, but you can bet they’re all sitting on someone’s roster now.