It's Week 5 of the 2012 season, which means that not only have 30 of the 32 teams in the National Football League played four games but we've already completed more than 25 percent of the fantasy football campaign as well.
The first four weeks of 2012 has brought with it it's fair share of surprises, from breakout performances to cursing disappointments, but for this group of emerging stars there's less chance that they're a flash in the pan and the odds are good that the hits will keep right on coming as the season wears on.
Robert Griffin, QB, Washington Redskins
The prevailing school of thought in fantasy football used to be that rookie quarterbacks couldn't be depended on as reliable fantasy options, but if the last two seasons have been any indication then that school of thought has officially been dismissed.
The second overall pick in April's NFL draft has picked up right where Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers left off last year. Griffin has electrified both the NFL and fantasy football in his first four games as a professional, leading all players at the position in fantasy points and drawing rave reviews from analysts according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post.
“I think they’re keeping defensive coordinators up late at night,” former Buccaneers safety John Lynch, now an NFL analyst for Fox, said by telephone Tuesday. “Those kinds of players like RGIII will do that. They’re doing a lot with him. On defense, you want an answer for everything an offense can do, not that you can stop everything. It wreaks havoc on a defense, at least it certainly can.”
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner may be hard-pressed to continue at his current pace, but much like with Newton last year there's little reason to think that Griffin won't finish in the Top Five at his position given what he's done so far this year.
Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
It's not just under center where there have been fantasy surprises this season in the nation's capital, as the running back position has also produced a viable fantasy starter in the shape of another rookie who entered the NFL with much less fanfare than his quarterback.
Alfred Morris emerged in training camp and the preseason as the lead back for the Washington Redskins, and after scoring two touchdowns in his first NFL game, the former Florida Atlantic star hasn't looked back.
However, Morris is just as surprised as anyone by his early success according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.
"I never would have expected for all of this to happen so soon," Morris said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "But life's crazy. Some other guys got nicked and bruised, and I got the opportunity to show the coaches what I could do, and they liked it."
Morris ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yards and among the Top 12 running backs in fantasy points. More importantly, he has averaged more than 20 carries per game. So long as the Redskins keep riding the youngster, he should remain a consistent fantasy producer.
Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams
This name is the least surprising on this list, as before an elbow injury wiped out his entire 2011 season fourth-year wide receiver Danny Amendola had already shown a rapport with quarterback Sam Bradford, hauling in 85 catches for the St. Louis Rams in 2010.
However, few fantasy pundits would have predicted that Amendola would rank second in the National Football League with 31 receptions after four games, although it comes as no shock to Bradford according to the Associated Press via The Washington Post.
He’s always a big part of our offense, he’ll continue to be a big part of our offense, and if we have the opportunity to get him catches, we’re definitely going to do so.”
Amendola is far from the most athletic wide receiver in the National Football League, but he's also one of the most targeted, and while he may not remain among the Top Five fantasy wideouts all season Amendola should continue to be a solid weekly starter given the number of looks he sees.