With the first calendar month of the NFL season coming to a close it seems appropriate to take a look back at what has been a wild start to the season. With a larger sample size to look over, we can now begin to properly assess the performances of our fantasy favorites.
As always, fantasy football never turns out as we all predicted it would at the start of the season. Injuries have obviously derailed some seasons already this early in the season and some players are just flat out not performing as we thought they would (*cough* Le’Veon Bell *cough*). So let’s take a look at the four biggest surprise fantasy stars so far this season.
1st Down | Kareem Hunt – RB, Kansas City Chiefs
I know everyone is probably sick of hearing about how great Hunt is but you can’t talk about the 2017 season without mentioning ‘Big Reem’. Those lucky owners who took a gamble on Hunt in the 4th round now look like fantasy geniuses as no one even entertained the idea that a rookie thrust into the starting line-up through injury would become the RB1 through week 3.
With more rushing yards than 26 teams, Hunt has certainly hit the ground running in his NFL career. The No. 1 overall scoring leader has not only been effective on the ground, however. Hunt has been targeted 9 times so far and has not dropped a single target. His 9 receptions have seen him rack up 137 pass yards to go along with 6 total touchdowns. Combined with the fact he is averaging over 8.5 yards per carry and that smells like an Offensive Rookie of the Year season at the very least.
P.S. If a Kareem Hunt owner tries to claim he knew Hunt would perform like this when he drafted him, you have the universe’s permission to slap that liar right in their face.
2nd Down | Todd Gurley – RB, Los Angeles Rams
While Hunt was an unknown surprise, Todd Gurley has essentially reinvented himself this season. With the new offensive scheme in place under Sean McVay, Gurley and the Rams have transformed their offense completely. With the improved execution and creativity that McVay has brought along with him, it also appears he also brought along Gurley’s rookie form too.
Gurley is finally showing the same form he displayed in his first NFL season, a performance which saw him win offensive rookie of the year. The No. 2 overall player this season has certainly shocked the fantasy community which had collectively buried Gurley as an untouchable player. With 6 total touchdowns also, Gurley has been arguably just as good as the rookie sensation Kareem Hunt and has shown no signs of slowing down.
The Rams will be looking to grind out the clock against their week 4 opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, to prevent the high-powered Dallas offense boat racing the Rams out of the building and so look for Gurley to get some serious volume this week.
3rd Down | Chris Thompson – RB Washington Redskins
Even though Hunt holds a monopoly on football headlines at the minute, one quiet superstar no one is talking about is Chris Thompson.
The satellite back leads all RBs in receiving yards which is how he has managed to soar to the top of the fantasy scoring board. If you were told at the beginning of the season that 1 month into the NFL calendar that Chris Thompson would be the 4th overall fantasy player I’m sure you would’ve asked the person if they had visited a certain dispensary that are only legal in certain states earlier that day.
No one has been able to stop Thompson and the Washington screen game so far and so ride him until somebody does. Besides, I bet when you drafted him in the 11th round you would’ve sold your left….foot for him to wind up as the RB3 3 weeks in.
4th Down | Alex Smith – QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Now we couldn’t have a 4 downs article with just 4 running backs on it, could we?! To a certain extent, it is even fair to wonder if Smith has been a bigger surprise than Hunt for the Chiefs.
Smith is having a season which is reminiscent of Matt Ryan’s historic year in 2016. An aging quarterback who no one expected much out of, hence his 12th round ADP, who has come flying out of the gates at the head of the hottest team in the league. No, I’m not saying Smith is going to go on to post MVP level statistics and have a season for the ages, but Smith isn’t showing any signs of why he can’t do that.
With 7 touchdowns and no interceptions, Smith’s new aggressive passing style is certainly paying off both for the Chiefs and in fantasy. Even if Smith begins to tail off, his early season for will still be enough to bait some of your league’s members into a big value trade.
Thank you for reading the 4 Downs, please follow Will on Twitter @willpendosports