If your fantasy team has enjoyed a successful season, you likely had to rely on at least one player whom few of us predicted would have a big year. Here is my annual All-Surprise team:
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
Most fantasy footballers steered clear of Newton this summer because rookie quarterbacks are rarely fantasy relevant. Newton, however, bucked the trend in a major way and trails only Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers in fantasy scoring among QBs.
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo
I debated whether to include Jackson on this list, only because he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11. But his stellar performance over 10 games (averaged 137.6 yards per of offense) was impossible to ignore.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas
Despite not being thrust into the Cowboys' starting lineup until Week 7, Murray is currently 16th in fantasy points among running backs. The rookie has amassed at least 100 yards of offense in five of his six starts.
Steve Smith, WR, Carolina
Before the season, Smith was widely regarded as a talented wideout in an unfavorable situation. But Newton's presence proved not to be a detriment but a blessing for the fantasy value of Smith, who was drafted 35th among receivers on average but ranks third in fantasy scoring.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay
Nelson was a fashionable sleeper candidate in the preseason, but who would have thought he would be a top-five fantasy wide receiver at this point, even outscoring teammate Greg Jennings?
Fred Davis, TE, Washington
Redskins tight end Chris Cooley couldn't stay healthy, opening the door for his talented backup, Davis. Despite being light on touchdowns (three), Davis ranks fifth in fantasy scoring among tight ends.
Dan Bailey, K, Dallas
The rookie has missed just one field goal this season and is tied with San Francisco's David Akers as the best fantasy kicker to date.
San Francisco defense
The 49ers were not being drafted among the top-12 fantasy defenses in August. But thanks to 26 takeaways and a stout run defense, San Francisco has had a top-five D in many formats.
Ryan Chatelain is amNewYork’s fantasy football columnist.