Fantasy Football: Who's Next? NFL's Top Three Surprise Keepers for 2011

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Fantasy Football: Who's Next? NFL's Top Three Surprise Keepers for 2011
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers stones a would-be tackler. If only he could fend off the competition in his own backfield...

For keeper leaguers, fantasy football isn't just about picking this year's starters. Good drafting means staying one step ahead of the year-to-year surprises that overhaul redraft rankings each offseason.

Granted, some of them really come out of nowhere. You might have been optimistic that Baltimore's Ray Rice would get the majority of touches in a muddled backfield last year, for example, but expecting him to be the fourth-leading scorer among running backs would've been a punch-drunk projection.

In any case, odds are you're keeping him around for 2010.

Rarely do consistent top-tier performers hit the open market in competitive leagues. Like Rice, they start out as mid- or late-round draft picks, make a splash, and stick on one team's fantasy roster for years.

The trick is to anticipate that splash. Amidst the jumble of second-tier talent available in your league, here are three players who'll be jealously guarded in 2011 after they surprise you this year.

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