Nobody can predict the future.
That's an important fact to keep in mind as you read through or listen to any fantasy football preseason advice. Whoever is doling out the info is just guessing at best, because that's all it is: An educated guess.
Every fantasy season, plenty of surprises come out of nowhere - both good and bad.
As we enter Week 8, we sit at roughly the halfway mark between most fantasy regular seasons in leagues, so the CSN Fantasy crew is taking a look at the best surprises at each position:
These were the Nos. 26 and 27 QBs off the board in ESPN drafts, going unselected in most leagues and formats. Entering Week 8, Dalton is No. 4 on the leaderboard among QBs, ahead even of Aaron Rodgers. Bortles is the No. 6 QB thanks to three straight multiple-TD games.
Who expected this out of either guy? Dalton threw for 33 tuddies and almost 4,300 yards in 2013, but took a major step back last year (3,398 yards, 19 TD) despite not missing a game. This year, Dalton is averaging more than two TDs a contest, on pace for 37 TDs and almost 4,700 yards.
Bortles, meanwhile, has already thrown four more TDs than last season...in seven fewer games. The second-year Jags QB is on pace for more than 4,100 yards and 34 TDs, which helps make up for his 18-INT pace. He has a solid stable of receiving options in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas and the Jags are an up-and-coming team on both sides of the ball.
Of course, there is the chance that both players are just out to a hot start. But they also both have the talent (and, in the case of Dalton, the track record) to keep this up for the rest of the fantasy season, at least. (Tony Andracki)
RB - Devonta Freeman, ATL
Raise your hand if you had Devonta Freeman tied with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the leading fantasy scorer through seven weeks of the season. I certainly didn't.
The second-year running back out of Florida State has blown his ADP of 117 out of the water. He's scored 161.1 total fantasy points for a ridiculous average of 23 points per game. The next closest running back is Mark Ingram who has 98.5 total points.
[ROTOWORLD - Week 8 touches and targets]
No longer is Freeman a change-of-pace third down back who's only skill is catching passes out of the backfield — pretty much all he was in 2014 with 473 total yards. Freeman was put on notice when the Atlanta Falcons used a Day 2 draft selection on Tevin Coleman. In response, Freeman has transformed into one of the best all-around backs in the game, and is running behind a Top 5 offensive line. Time will tell if he can keep it up this pace, but so far he's made a believer out of everybody. (Scott Krinch)
WR - Travis Benjamin, CLE
It's all about the U. And Travis Benjamin. Undrafted everywhere other than the annual Benjamin family fantasy league (probably), the Browns' new No. 1 wide receiver has been phenomenal after having a preseason ADP at 170.0. In his first three seasons the Miami product caught 41 passes and five touchdowns; in seven games this year he's at 35/575/4 and is the No. 6 wide receiver in standard leagues.
His 11.9 fantasy points per game rank him above A.J. Green, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and Amari Cooper. That's not to say Benjamin will continue his torrid pace, but he's absolutely denounced the notion that he was simply a one- or two-week wonder and just a home-run threat after catching six passes, three of which went for touchdowns, in the season's first two weeks.
After combining for just seven targets in those first two weeks, his targets by game have gone as such: 10, 10, 12, 13, 8. Easily his most impressive game came in Week 5, when he caught nine passes on 13 targets for 147 yards against the vaunted Broncos secondary. Doing all this with Josh McCown (and Johnny Manziel under center) has made this an even bigger surprise. That, and no other Browns receiver has really made a name for himself, notably the absent Dwayne Bowe. That means more targets for the 5-foot-10 Benjamin, who is locked in as a high-end WR2 until further notice. Kudos are in order if you snagged him in Week 3 or 4, because it's paying off in a big way. A Browns wide receiver not only worth owning, but worth starting every week? Now I've seen it all. (Mark Strotman)
TE - Gary Barnidge, CLE
In Week 3, we were all saying "Wow, the Raiders are so bad they let some dude named Gary Barnidge torch them." Now, we are saying "Wow who DOESN'T Gary Barnidge torch?" The Browns TE has certainly been one of the Waiver Wire Pickups of the Year and has not disappointed since his Week 3 coming out party. Since that performance against the Raiders, he's posted double digit fantasy points in standard leagues every week since.
Now can he keep it up? I don't see why not as long as Josh McCown is still behind center. In the two games Johnny Manziel played in, Barnidge didn't post pretty numbers (4 catches, 55 yards combined). If Barnidge can score double-digit points against the Broncos defense, I have faith in him in most matchups for the rest of the year. Long live Gary Barnidge. (John "The Professor" Paschall)