Fantasy football: Early 2017 happy surprises


Three weeks doesn’t sound like a long time, but that chunk of time represents nearly a quarter of a fantasy football regular season.

Teams that are 3-0 can start feeling a little cocky — injuries notwithstanding — and the winless may feel understandably disheartened. That’s not to say those trends will continue, but they’re noteworthy nonetheless.

The same thought process applies to the NFL players themselves. Some are off to shaky starts, while others have performed surprisingly well.

For now, amNewYork will focus on the pleasant fantasy surprises and grant those struggling players another week to prove their worth. Here’s a look at the players who’ve overachieved based on their ESPN average draft position (ADP) in PPR scoring formats from one week before the NFL season opener.

Quarterback

Alex Smith (Chiefs) lit up the Patriots in the season opener, but he has leveled off a bit since. Still, he’s playing mistake-free and has yet to lay an egg. Next to nobody drafted him, so he’s outperformed expectations.

Jared Goff (Rams) and Carson Wentz (Eagles), the top two picks in last year’s NFL draft, both have performed as top-12 QBs in fantasy. Goff was basically undrafted, while Wentz was the 17th-highest drafted QB preseason.

Running back

Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) rose fast up draft boards after starter Spencer Ware went down. It wasn’t fast enough, as the preseason No. 16 RB is fantasy football’s top scorer. His “worst” game came this past Sunday when he went for 183 scrimmage yards and a TD. Simply stunning.

Chris Thompson (Redskins) and Tarik Cohen (Bears) are illustrating the value of RBs that contribute primarily in the passing game. Thompson, drafted on average as the 54th RB, and usually undrafted Cohen rank in the top 10 in RB points through three games.

Wide receiver

Stefon Diggs (Vikings) has posted a pair of monster efforts despite an unsteady quarterback situation. His Week 1 and 3 games were top two for the weeks among WRs. Not bad for the 30th receiver off the board.

Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) — notice the team theme — ranks third in WR points so far after being regarded by players as the 25th-best at the position. Chris Hogan (Patriots) and Adam Thielen (Vikings) both are top 25 despite going off the board after 40 other WRs.

Tight end

Jason Witten (Cowboys) fell back to earth after impressing in his first two games. Still, he’s the No. 3 TE in fantasy now after being regarded as No. 12, on average, by the end of August.

Joining Witten in the top seven are Charles Clay (Bills) and Evan Engram (Giants). Few wanted Clay, who usually made it to the waiver wire post-draft, and Engram ranked as the No. 15 TE according to ADP. Clay posted about 15 points twice, while rookie Engram has yet to put up fewer than eight.

 

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