#3 -- Maurice Jones-Drew
What Happened? -- Despite Fred Taylor remaining healthy and remaining the starting running back, Jones-Drew came out of UCLA to have a breakthrough year. With 941 rushing yards, 436 receiving yards and an amazing 15 total touchdowns, Jones-Drew became an unlikely fantasy football star in his rookie season.
Should We Have Seen This Coming?-- No way. Nearly everybody warned about fragile Fred Taylor possibly going down with an injury. And if that injury happened, everybody expected to see big things out of his backup...Greg Jones. When Jones tore an ACL, then people looked at LaBrandon Toefield. Sure, Jones-Drew might catch a lot of balls out of the backfield, but scoring fifteen touchdowns?! Even if Taylor had been hurt from Week 1 that would've been a bold prediction. Considering Taylor finished with a solid 1146 yards himself, Jones-Drew's performance was completely unexpected.
Who Aren't We Seeing This Year? -- Trying to select an insane sleeper like Jones-Drew is always a dangerous game, but I'll put my vote on RB Garrett Wolfe in Chicago. He's a rookie, small and fast like Jones-Drew and playing behind an established, though not overly impressive, #1 RB in Cedric Benson. Benson doesn't even need to get hurt for Wolfe to see some playing time. If he can make the most of it the way Jones-Drew did, then Wolfe could be a huge impact player. Another possibility is Kenneth Darby in Tampa, another smallish rookie running back. With Cadillac Williams underperforming, Darby may get his shot this year as well.