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Fantasy basketball campaigns are entering Week 4, and most of the top-ranked players from the draft are merely lurking on the fringes of the top 25.
With the exceptions of Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans, who's been all-around tremendous, and Pau Gasol, PF/C, LA Lakers, who's averaging a career-best 23 PPG and 12.4 RPG, the best fantasy performers this far have been big surprises.
Here are a few early-season accolades:
Biggest surprise overall: Elton Brand, PF/C, Philadelphia.
An eighth- or ninth-round pick in most fantasy leagues, the former star had pretty much fallen off the radar. With Philly, he's in revival mode, averaging 16.3 PPG and 8 RPG, and most significantly, shooting field goals at a 56% clip. He's been a hot waiver wire pickup, and is 93% owned, but my advice to Brand owners is to sell high. I don't think the 12th-year player on one of the NBA's worst teams can keep it up.
Biggest single-game surprise performance: Kevin Love, PF/C, Minnesota.
Had the NBA's first 30/30 game (31 pts., 31 rebounds) in almost 30 years, since some guy named Moses did it. His averages are still levitated from that experience - 18.5 PPG and an amazing 14.3 RPG. The averages will come down, but he's still one of those rare players who will average a double-double.
Biggest scoring surprise: Paul Millsap, PF, Utah.
Forty-six points in one game pushed his scoring average to 21.7 PPG, a full 11 points above his career average. Doubtful he can keep that up, though with Carlos Boozer gone from Utah it's clear that Millsap is benefiting most.
Biggest rookie surprise: Eric Bledsoe, PG, LA Clippers.
Bledsoe was not even expected to play much in the early-going, but has been taking minutes from veteran Baron Davis. He's now averaging 9.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG, as well as 12.8 PPG just in the last 10 days.
* Yahoo!'s Big Board has players like Al Horford, Rudy Gay and Monta Ellis movin' on up.
* SLAM Online looks at how well the NBA's senior citizens are faring this season.
* Bleacher Report features a list of players to target in early trading action.
* ESPN says you better go pick up Bledsoe, and maybe Taj Gibson, at least until Boozer comes back.
Two absolutely stunning fantasy QB performances this past week:
* Michael Vick, Philadelphia: 350 yards passing, six TDs (four passing, two rushing), 80 yards rushing. You may have passed up the dog-killer in the draft and later when he was still available on the waiver wire, but now he's tearing it up for another fantasy team, hopefully not the one you will lose to in the playoffs.
* Matt Cassel, Kansas City: 469 yards passing, four TDs. It came in a game in which his team got blown out, but nothing is better for fantasy passing stats than having a QB who's on the losing end of a blow-out. They just keep throwing and throwing, which also means INTs, but more often than not, the winning team is so far ahead, they're just phoning it in on defense.
Poor Kyle Orton, QB, Denver - he beat the stuffing out of KC and threw three TDs himself, but also for about 170 yards fewer than Cassel.
Speaking of stuffing, next week is turkey week, and that means the Pope's Nose award will be handed out to fantasy football's biggest turkey of the season. Stay tuned.
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 Beachwood blog.More from Beachwood Sports »