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Ask the Experts

What's the biggest surprise of the season?

Patterson, Knox, Chase stand out

ASK THE EXPERTS appears weekly from training camp through the Super Bowl with answers to a new question being posted Thursday morning. How the guest experts responded when we asked them: What is the biggest surprise of the NFL season so far?

DAVID DOREY

No doubt that Cordarrelle Patterson is the most surprising, out-of-nowhere, rub-your-eyes surprise. He's 30 years old on his fifth NFL team and has never been more than a gimmick really. He's never been a suitable wideout, he's been good on special teams. Somehow, he ended up as a part-time running back in Chicago. But he's offered exactly what the Falcons needed and hasn't showed any signs of letting up. The Falcons really have no other options, so I expect he'll be around being both a running back and receiver. I cannot explain it and it all smacks of a one-year blow up that disappears as quickly as it started the following season.

Dorey co-founded The Huddle.com in 1997. He's ranked every player and projected every game for the last 23 years and is the author of Fantasy Football: The Next Level. David has appeared on numerous radio, television, newspaper and magazines over the last two decades.

MICHAEL NAZAREK

I think it has to be Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox. This guy was an afterthought in the Bills offense, a player who often had the dropsies and was seemingly injured a lot. Now, he's healthy and catches everything thrown his way. Most importantly, he has the trust of Josh Allen to produce when targeted. There is no reason he can't continue to be a solid TE1 in that pass-happy offense moving forward as long as his health stands up.

Nazarek is the CEO of Fantasy Football Mastermind Inc, celebrating 25 years online! His company offers a preseason draft guide, customizable cheat sheets, a multi-use fantasy drafting program including auction values, weekly in-season newsletters, injury reports and free NFL news (updated daily) at its web site, www.ffmastermind.com. He has been playing fantasy football since 1988 and is a four-peat champion of the SI.com Experts Fantasy League, a nationally published writer in several fantasy magazines and a former columnist for SI.com. He's also won nearly $30K in recent seasons of the FFPC High Stakes Main Event. Nazarek can be reached via email at miken@ffmastermind.com.

IAN ALLAN

Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings selected him in the first round way back when, but nobody’s been able to harness his talents. He’s been mostly a kickoff returner (with 8 career touchdowns on such plays, tying for the most in the league history). But The Falcons have him going nicely now. They’re using him as both a running back and a wide receiver, and he’s playing really well at both. As a runner, he looks more explosive than Mike Davis (who’s starting for them). And I’ve seen some good receiving plays from him as well. With Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage out, they used him more as a conventional wide receiver against the Jets, and I saw him make a really nice leaping grab at the goal line to set up a touchdown. Nice player.

Allan co-founded Fantasy Football Index in 1987. He and fellow journalism student Bruce Taylor launched the first newsstand fantasy football magazine as a class project at the University of Washington. For more than three decades, Allan has written and edited most of the content published in the magazines, newsletters and at www.fantasyindex.com. An exhaustive researcher, he may be the only person in the country who has watched at least some of every preseason football game played since the early 1990s. Allan is a member of the FSTA Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame.

SCOTT SACHS

Hard to believe that Cordarrelle Patterson has finally become fantasy relevant. While he returned to Earth in London, the fact of the matter is that he is getting a high percentage of both rushing opportunities and passing targets. Whether the Falcons are leading or trailing, Patterson will be on the field. It doesn't look like anything other than an injury will prevent him from continuing to be a contributor in Atlanta.

Sachs runs Perfect Season Fantasy Football, offering LIVE Talk & Text consulting. He has multiple league championships including 2 perfect seasons. Scott is a past winner of the Fantasy Index Experts Poll and a 2-time winner of the Experts Auction League.

ANDY RICHARDSON

One of the biggest surprises from a positive standpoint is JaMarr Chase. It's a reminder to be careful with preseason evaluations, when Chase couldn't catch a cold. Right now he's on pace to break the rookie record his college teammate Justin Jefferson set just last year. He's been really impressive. I will also give a small shoutout to Emmanuel Sanders, who most figured would the No. 3 or 4 in Buffalo. He's a big part of that offense. On the other side of the coin, it's stunning to me how Robert Tonyan has fallen off the map in the Green Bay offense. This guy was a star last season, and a third of the way through this year he's been under 10 receiving yards in all but one game. It's not as if Green Bay has added a bunch of other players to take chances away from him or overhauled its offense. It just isn't throwing to Tonyan.

Richardson has been a contributing writer and editor to the Fantasy Football Index magazine and www.fantasyindex.com since 2002. His responsibilities include team defense and IDP projections and various site features, and he has run the magazine's annual experts draft and auction leagues since their inception. He previews all the NFL games on Saturdays and writes a wrap-up column on Mondays during the NFL season.

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