NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 10 Most Surprising Players of 2010 NFL Season
After 15 wild and crazy weeks of football, the regular season is finally winding down, and just like every other season in the past decade, it was an exciting one.
There have been breakout performances, amazing comebacks and players shutting up critics along the way, to the delight of the fans.
There always seems to be a slew of surprising performances each and every NFL season, from Maurice Jones-Drew's 2006 season to Miles Austin exploding onto the scene a year ago. There always seems to be a guy to come out of nowhere every year.
This year was no different, with many players surprising the country with their stellar play.
So, here I have compiled the top ten surprising players of the 2010 season.
10. Austin Collie
Yeah, but Austin Collie was pretty good last year, you'll say. Well this year he was downright amazing, and if it weren't for injuries he would probably be the toast of the town.
It's true, Collie had seven touchdowns and nearly 700 yards last season, and this season he had eight touchdowns and still not quite 700 yards.
The only difference? He did it in an injury-plagued nine games this season. Really, he did it in seven games, as two returns mid-season were premature and he was only used a few times in those games.
In the first three weeks of the seasons he had four touchdowns and 359 yards. Fantasy owners rejoice.
9. Sam Bradford
It's funny how we always hail a rookie quarterback as the savior of a franchise, and every few years or so when he comes out as a rookie and plays well, we're shocked.
It happened with Mark Sanchez last year and Ben Roethlisberger a few years before, and now it's happening with Sam Bradford.
Bradford hasn't had a great year by other quarterback's standards, but by rookie standards he has been excellent.
His 75.9 QB rating is admittedly unimpressive, but he does have over 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns against only 14 interceptions.
Kudos Mr. Bradford.
8. Kyle Orton
A mile above us all in Denver, Kyle Orton has had a great season, save for his team's lousy three wins.
Orton has put up career numbers. That is a sentence that, if I heard it three years ago I would think, "What did he get like 1,200 yards and six touchdowns?"
Well, the man has passed for 281 yards a game (career high) for 20 touchdowns against only nine interceptions and one fumble. He also has his highest quarterback rating ever, at 87.5.
For a guy who had a pretty ugly case of "fumbleitis" for a while and threw ugly interceptions in almost every game, it's a huge step.
Of course, to thank him for his great season, the Broncos have replaced him with the Mile High Jesus for the remainder of the season.
7. Darren McFadden
I can assume the only people unhappy about McFadden finally living up to his expectations are Al Davis' handlers, who are probably hearing, "See! I told you so! Let me have control of the draft again, I may look like a dead, crazy zombie in warm-ups but I can still run a football team!"
Sure you can Al, now go sit in the corner and continue to wither away, please.
Along with having the most underrated nickname in football (Run DMC) that isn't just a lazy first letter of his first name and first few letters of his last name combo (in this case it would end up being D-Mac), he is finally living up to his potential.
He broke 1000 yards for the first time in his career and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Here's looking to more of that in the future Mr. DMC.
6. Cameron Wake
Two years into his young NFL career and Miami's Cameron Wake has burst onto the scene in a big way.
A year ago he had a decent rookie season which included 23 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 14 games, enough to show that he should have at least been drafted in 2005.
This year, he is making scouts from that same draft look dumb, with 51 tackles and an NFL-leading 14 sacks, all through 14 games.
He has left countless quarterbacks on the ground in his wake play after play. Pun definitely intended.
5. Brandon Lloyd
Brandon Lloyd had pretty much settled into his career before this season. He was a good second receiver or a great third receiver on any football team, but never an elite receiver.
Naturally he is only 20 yards behind Roddy White for most reception yards in the NFL.
Lloyd's 1264 yards are nearly double his former career high of his eight year career, that never seemed to takeoff.
He also had ten touchdowns, prior to this season he had 15 touchdowns in seven seasons in the NFL.
I think he should send Brandon Marshall a "thank you" note for acting dumb and getting traded.
4. LaDainian Tomlinson
Why did we doubt this guy?
He spent the last two seasons on San Diego in an obvious decline, going from 4.7 yards per carry, down to 3.8 and finally 3.3.
So, obviously he's going to come out and average 4.3 yards this season.
LT Part II has 150 more yards on 20 fewer carries in the same number of games compared to a season ago.
He may have been down, but by God, you can't keep the guy out.
3. Peyton Hillis
Peyton Hillis had a decent rookie season, 343 yards on 68 carries (that is five yards a carry), and then went down to only 54 yards a season ago.
Then Denver traded him for Brady Quinn and Browns fans rejoiced.
Hillis is averaging 4.5 yards a carry, totaling 1129 yards, to go along with 469 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns.
His 1598 total yards are the most on the Browns, as in he has more yards than any other player on the team, including their quarterbacks.
Nice trade Denver.
Hillis is already beloved in Cleveland, and people throughout Ohio have adopted him as their favorite white running back of all time.
2. Arian Foster
Arian Foster is one of those guys that makes fantasy football all worthwhile.
Foster ran for 257 yards last season, a decent rookie start, and then nearly met that total on opening day against the Colts with 231 yards.
He has taken off since, averaging nearly five yards a carry all season long, amassing 1,345 yards this season on the ground and 550 through the air, totaling 15 touchdowns for the season.
He has the record this season for most phone calls/texts on Tuesday morning that are some variation of, "I would have won my matchup this week if not for that damned Arian Foster."
1. Michael Vick
The only guy that could surpass the surprise that was given by two guys who were previously unknown to most of the country is a guy that hasn't started a game since 2006 and is getting play in the MVP race.
It's hard to express in words how insane what Michael Vick has done is.
He came back from a two-year absence last year as a backup's backup, got the starting gig because of a trade and a concussion, got hurt, won the starting gig back and is now the best he has ever been.
He can still run the ball as good as ever, only he has combined it with some inspired play at quarterback.
His throws are so precise that he could knock a soda can off a fence post from fifty yards away.
His spiral is so tight (that just sounds dirty) that it could drill a hole in the ground deep enough to penetrate the earth's core.
Vick has truly been an amazing player to watch this season.