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Fantasy football: Which surprise stars through Week 3 are real, flukes?

Several unexpected players find themselves among the top 10 at their respective positions.

Adrian Peterson, at age 33, has posted 20-plus

Adrian Peterson, at age 33, has posted 20-plus points twice this season for the Redskins. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rob Carr

Three weeks isn’t a huge chunk of the NFL season. In fantasy football, that’s nearly a quarter of the regular season for many leagues.

A few surprise players find themselves among the top of their position at this point in the season. While some fantasy managers surely reaped the benefits of drafting and playing these players, it’s important to know which players are for real and which could be flukes.

Read on for thoughts on how these players could perform going forward.

QBs

No rational person predicted journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buccaneers) and first-year starter Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) would be Nos. 1 and 2 at the position through three weeks. Yet, here we are.

FitzMagic ran his streak of 400-yard passing games to three on Monday, but his three interceptions line up with his track record of occasional dud games. It would be stunning if he finished as a top-10 QB, and Jameis Winston is a very real threat to reclaim his job soon now that his suspension is up.

Mahomes, meanwhile, looks totally legit. While a flawless 13-0 ratio of TDs to INTs is unsustainable, he looks like a bona fide elite QB the rest of the way.

RBs

Well-prepared Le’Veon Bell (Steelers) fantasy managers who also added understudy James Conner haven’t missed a beat. Conner ranks fifth in PPR scoring at RB. The Pittsburgh offense remains a juggernaut, but be wary of the diminishing returns from Connor each week since his monster season debut. He’s likely more RB2 in the long run.

Not long ago, Adrian Peterson (Redskins) would have been expected to post 20-plus in two of three games — or all three. But at 33, having not been signed by the start of training camp, he’s quite a stunner. Tread carefully, though. He’s still ancient for an RB, and he suffered a sprained ankle heading into this week’s bye. Treat every good game from AP like a gift.

WRs

The chemistry between new Broncos QB Case Keenum and WR Emmanuel Sanders is there, for sure. Sanders has been a reliable WR2 or WR3 for years, but he’s currently No. 6 overall in PPR at his position. The catches and yards are there, but take away his lone rush attempt — a 35-yard TD — and he falls to 19th. So, again, he’s a WR2.

DeSean Jackson (Bucs) won’t keep up his top-10 pace. His value is intrinsically linked to Fitzpatrick’s, for starters, and he’s been able to run up his fantasy production thanks to long TDs. Even in his prime, he couldn’t do this every week. Monday’s lesser stat line (three catches, 37 yards, 0 TDs) will happen more often than not.

TE

The No. 2 TE right now is Jared Cook (Raiders), if you can believe it. But that’s misleading, considering 27 of his 44 points this year came in Week 1. He’s been more average since then, but he remains well targeted for a TE. He could wind up as a borderline top-10 TE, so keep rolling with him until further notice.

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