Top Fantasy Football Surprises of 2021

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Every year in fantasy football, unexpected things happen, as is the nature of the game. There’s an element of luck to fantasy football. The following players were all expected to perform at a certain level but, unforeseen by anybody in the fantasy community, played at a completely different level.

Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson went undrafted in most leagues and his ADP in leagues where he was drafted as RB89. However, the jack of all trades RB/WR was able to become the RB1 in Atlanta over Mike Davis and never looked back. Patterson is the RB8 overall in PPR and was the waiver-wire pickup of the year. It’s safe to say that nobody was expecting the career special teamer to become one of the best running backs in fantasy football.

Cooper Kupp

This player is a slightly different story, albeit still one of success. Kupp, unlike Patterson, was expected to have a good season. He was drafted as the WR18, a solid WR2. However, he wasn’t just a solid WR2 or even just a solid WR1. Cooper Kupp has been the WR1, even ahead of players like Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill. He is on pace to break Calvin Johnson’s record for receiving yards in a season, and has 14 touchdowns. Kupp may be having the best season of all time despite being drafted outside of the top 15 at his position.

Trey Sermon/Eli Mitchell

These two rookie running backs were drafted by the 49ers, and as a 3rd round draft pick, Trey Sermon was expected to become the lead back after Raheem Mostert’s inevitable injury. However, it was Mitchell, a sixth-round pick, who Kyle Shanahan entrusted with bell-cow duties. Mitchell has been one of the best rookie running backs in the NFL, and that has translated to fantasy football. He has missed time with injuries but has averaged 15.1 points per game when healthy. Sermon has, to the shock of every fantasy draft analyst, delivered almost no value despite his RB31 ADP.

Deebo Samuel

Sticking with Shanahan and the 49ers, Deebo Samuel is the next fantasy football surprise. Samuel was being drafted as the WR36, a similar ADP as players such as Courtland Sutton and Laviska Shenault. Teammate Brandon Aiyuk was being taken almost two rounds earlier than Samuel. Deebo quickly changed the narrative around him by getting 189 receiving yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Samuel is the WR5 this year, a large jump from his preseason rankings.

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