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You never want to doubt Peyton Manning's ability, but if there ever was a time that his fantasy production seemed poised for a dip, it appeared to be this season.
He came into the year with an another intriguing but injury-prone mix of receivers, including an aging Reggie Wayne and another newbie named Blair White; an injury-prone star running back and an unproven back-up RB; and had finished the 2009-10 season with 16 interceptions, the most he recorded since 2002-03.
Yet, after Week 3 and heading into the first bye week, there is no better fantasy football performer than Manning the elder. He has passed for 1,013 yards with nine touchdowns and zero INTs. He was probably a late second-round pick in many leagues, and right now is looking like a steal. We'll see how long he can keep it up.
While Manning is a familiar name at the top of the fantasy football heap, there are a few other players who have turned out to be surprisingly good during the first three games. Here are the biggest surprises at all positions:
QB: Michael Vick, Philadelphia.
Sorry, Jay Cutler, but this one's easy, as Vick already has seven TDs (including one rushing) without an INT. His 750 passing yards aren't that great, but 170 rushing yards sure helps.
RB: Jahvid Best, Detroit.
His 124 rushing yards don't tell the whole story for a guy who is third among RBs in receiving yards with 183 and already has five TDS, the most among all RBs thus far.
WR: Austin Collie, Indianapolis.
He had something of a breakout year in 2009, but leading the league in receiving yards with 359 isn't what anyone foresaw for this season. Has been the recipient of four of Manning's nine end-zone tosses.
TE: Dustin Keller, NY Jets.
Sure, he made a big blunder at the end of Week 1 by stumbling out of bounds and ending the Jets' final drive, but he has 226 receiving yards and three TDs as a favored target of QB Mark Sanchez. I guess I was right picking him as a sleeper.
K: Mike Nugent, Cincinnati.
The only kicker with two 50-yard-plus field goals so far, Nugent could be a major factor for a team with a talented but sputter-prone offense.
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week likes rookie Rams QB Sam Bradford as a solid buy. He'll throw a few INTs, but he is already looking like an automated passing machine.
* ESPN has a nice fantasy-themed tribute to the multi-talented George Blanda.
* Bleacher Report has its own top five fantasy football surprises. Cutler gets his due, as does Darren McFadden.
* FanHouse reports on another Peyton, Browns RB Peyton Hillis. Hillis has landed on fantasy rosters in the past as a late-season replacement, but a 144-yard performance in Week 3 has bumped him to the head of the class.
* SB Nation says that Dexter McCluster has arrived. The best part is that the Kansas City flash has multi-position RB/WR eligibility on Yahoo! No, wait, the best part is that he returns punts, too. No, wait . . .
Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, a new addition to the Beachwood Media family.
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