Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Marion Barber III is going to have a great 2008. He was very good last year coming off the bench for the Dallas Cowboys and then he was named the team's starting tailback.
Reggie Bush, second in fantasy points, doesn't make the list because he was already well-known, drafted in the third round, and expected to perform at a high level.
But finding "diamonds in the rough" is what fantasy sports is all about. If you can spot that next star, before he becomes extraordinary, your team will be much stronger and your fantasy career will be filled with glory.
Through three weeks of the NFL's 2008 season, here is a small list of those who have out-performed their average draft position (ADP) and would therefore be considered bargains.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego - ADP = 121, Current fantasy rank = 3
I touted Rivers in a July 17th article stating that instead of spending a high draft choice on Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tony Romo, you would be better served by using the pick on a running back or receiver and drafting Rivers late. The North Carolina State product has come through even better than I expected. His 844 yards, nine TD passes and just two interceptions has him third overall behind only Michael Turner and Bush. With the weapons at his disposal (Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, Ladainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles) I see no reason that he should slow down.
Jay Cutler, QB, Denver - ADP = 85, Current fantasy rank = 4
I admit I was not sold on Cutler before this year, but he has turned me around with his performances. He has thrown for 914 yards and his TD-INT ratio is 8-2. It seems that Coach Shanahan has gone away from his traditional running game and given Cutler the opportunity to throw at will. And with Brandon Marshall looking like the best receiver in football, Cutler is taking full advantage.
Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona - ADP = 117, Current fantasy rank = 16
First Warner had to beat out Matt Leinart for the starting job and now he is whipping almost everyone else. He has accumulated 750 yards and six TDs with just one interception. Throwing to two stud receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin make it likely that his stats will continue at a high level. Next in line for Warner is the New York Jets defense that Rivers took apart on Monday night.
Jason Campbell, QB, Washington - ADP = 172, Current fantasy rank = 31
Considering how bad he and the Washington Redskins offense looked in the season opener against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, it's surprising that Campbell made the list, but here he is with 647 yards passing four TDs and zero interceptions. Upcoming games against St. Louis, Cleveland and Detroit (weeks 6-8) bode well for Campbell, but first he has to get through two tough road games - at Dallas and Philadelphia.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta - ADP = 40, Current fantasy rank = 1
Turner was an end-of-the-third-round or start-of-the-fourth-round pick and might end up at just about that level by season's end. But for now he has taken advantage of a weak early season schedule and is No.1 in points through three weeks. Unfortunately he doesn't get to play Detroit and Kansas City every week. Games at Carolina and at Green Bay in Weeks No.4 and No.5 figure to lower his 122 yards-per-game and 1.67 TDs-per-game average.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago - ADP = 66, Current fantasy rank = 9
As a fantasy owner you have to be happy with the consistency from Forte - at least 23 carries in each week and at least 113 combined yards. Usually rookies don't play at this level every week. He just needs to punch the ball into the endzone a little more often (one rushing TD).
Santana Moss, WR, Washington - ADP = 78, Current fantasy rank = 6
So far, the best receiver named Moss, isn't Randy or Sinorice. Santana has caught a touchdown in each of the team's first three games and has 267 yards receiving. He is sixth in fantasy points and first among receivers edging out Boldin and Marshall.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay - ADP = 47, Current fantasy rank = 16
With all the uncertainty at quarterback for Green Bay, both Jennings and Donald Driver dropped in ADP. But apparently the fears were unfounded as Aaron Rodgers has played solidly. Jennings is sixth among receivers in points and 21st overall despite an ADP that had him selected in the fifth round.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia - ADP = 124, Current fantasy rank = 34
Jackson isn't Terrell Owens, but he is apparently just what Donovan McNabb needed. He posted 100+ yards in his first two games and is also a huge threat returning punts. If he can stay healthy, this 5'10" 175 lb. California product should be a solid contributor all season and not bad for a 12th-round pick.