Find out which player might help you dominate your fantasy football playoffs if you pay attention
It happens every year in fantasy football. Late in the season, just as the stretch drive begins, a player comes out of nowhere and helps one lucky owner dominate their fantasy playoffs. Wouldn’t it be awesome if that fantasy owner was you?
It’s possible, and the way to do it is really pay attention to some deep sleepers. Most of these guys are later round picks, and some of them might even be dropped sometime during the season. But at some point, they could be given their opportunity to shine, and you need to capitalize along with them.
Note: Players listed in alphabetical order
Corey Coleman, WR, Cleveland Browns
Coleman didn't exactly have a sterling offseason, narrowly avoiding assault charges and missing offseason training programs because of a hamstring injury. After sitting out six games last year because of a hand injury, there might be more red flags than positives. Still, Coleman's explosiveness can't be denied, and with Terrelle Pryor (and his 140 targets) in Washington and tight end Gary Barnidge (and his 82 targets) on the free agent market, Coleman is the longest tenured of the Browns' receiving corps. Inconsistency could still be an issue, but a healthy Coleman should see a big improvement from Year 1.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
If you enter the last couple rounds of your draft and Hooper is on the board, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft-and-stash him. The rookie burst onto the scene with two big games early last season before slowing down due to injuries and sharing time with Jacob Tamme. But he came back strong in the latter part of the regular season, continued his strong play in the playoffs, and broke out in the Super Bowl, finishing with a team-high six targets and a TD catch. With Tamme gone, Hooper is the clear favorite to start at tight end, and many people like his potential. He recently spent the offseason in southern California with Matt Ryan to further develop their chemistry. The Falcons are again expected to have a high-scoring offense, and Hooper is in line to be a big part of it.
J.J. Nelson, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Last year, John Brown was the Cardinals' receiver everyone wanted, but he flopped hard, scoring just two touchdowns, although his health had a lot to do with that. Brown is still a candidate to break out this year, but the even more diminutive Nelson (5-10, 160) has plenty of appeal of his own. He finished last season with a touchdown in four of the final five games, totaling 30 targets over the final three contests. He wasn’t always consistent (one catch twice during this span), so the "boom-or-bust" label applies, but it’s also fair to assume that Arizona likes what Nelson brings to its offense.
Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins
Every year it's seems to be a different Redskins running back that generates some preseason buzz. It was Matt Jones and then Rob Kelley the past two offseasons, and now Perine is being touted by some as the next big thing to come out of Washington’s backfield. The record breaker from Oklahoma certainly has the pedigree, but Kelley was solid last year and won't give up the starting job easily. Still, Perine is almost certainly more explosive, and it's not a stretch to imagine him starting early in the season. Given Washington's relatively healthy 4.5 yards per carry as a team last year, Perine could shine and could very well be this year’s version of Jordan Howard.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans
Sure, Watson is still technically behind Tom Savage on the depth chart, but there’s a reason the Texans moved up in the draft to get the former Clemson star, and it wasn’t to sit on the bench for an entire year. Watson finds himself in a great situation as far as offensive fit and supporting cast goes, not to mention being in a division that appears to be relatively wide open. Watson has DeAndre Hopkins as his No. 1 target, a home-run threat (when healthy) in Will Fuller V, and a reliable receiver in running back Lamar Miller. C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin also have proven to be solid tight ends. Even though he’s a rookie, it’s hard to envision Watson struggling as much Brock Osweiler did with basically the same set up. Watson also has shown an ability to make plays with his legs, collecting 21 rushing touchdowns over his final two years at Clemson. Watson could end up being a valuable stash pick that may pay off later in the season.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
The Packers' RB depth chart currently consists of converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery and a bunch of rookies. Williams is reportedly at the head of that rookie class, which means he's not that far away from starting for one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL. The 6-foot, 213-pound fourth-round pick out of BYU ran for 1,375 yards and 12 TDs in 10 games last year.
Joe Williams, RB, San Francisco 49ers
There are some reports coming from 49ers training camp out in the Bay Area that indicate Williams could be in a timeshare with Carlos Hyde as early as Week 1. While that remains to be seen, this could be an indication that Hyde may not be the best fit for new head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Williams didn't do much as a receiver in college (20 catches in two seasons with Utah), so he'll have to improve on that aspect to succeed in the same vein as Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman did with Atlanta. But unless Tim Hightower can hold off Williams, there appears to be a fairly clear path to a relevant number of touches. And perhaps sooner rather than later.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.