NFL: 5 Fantasy Football players you’ve never heard of but will

Dan O'Shea

Fantasy football is just days away from completely taking over your life for the next four months, and everyone is looking for that one pick pickup that separates them from the rest. Many believe it’s the superstars picked early that bring home the title for you, but you win by finding stars you can plug in every week late in the draft or on the waiver wire.

There’s always that one player who comes out of absolutely nowhere like Jay Ajayi last season to put your team over the edge. If you want to find the next nobody who is waiting to burst onto the scene, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the five players who have the best chance to become household names after this season.

5. Orleans Darkwa – New York Giants, RB

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The Giants may have had one of the worst rushing attacks in the league last year, but with Rashad Jennings out of the picture, the team is finally expected to get back to running the ball more efficiently. Paul Perkins is currently the top back in New York, but Darkwa has done more this preseason to make it an unexpected competition for lead dog. Anytime Darkwa was given a chance, he’s impressed, rushing for 90 yards with 4.5 yards per carry, and the Giants first touchdown of the preseason.

To be fair, people shouldn’t be surprised Darkwa has done so much with so little. Just last season he proved the kind of player he was during his only two starts, rushing for 101 yards with that same 4.5 per clip consistency and a touchdown in both games. He won’t just be a name to remember because you’ve never ever heard of someone else named Orleans before. He’ll be engraved in your head as one of the best pickups of the season if he just gets his shot.

4. Kenny Golladay- Detroit Lions, WR

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Golladay was a sleeper pick in this year’s NFL draft, and will be the perfect sleeper in yours. All signs point to the Lions’ wideout to be one of, if not the best rookie in football this season. He was an absolute monster for Northwestern over the last two seasons, finishing with 2,491 total yards and 21 touchdowns. While those numbers are important, the more important statistic to look for is not one that involves Golladay at all. Last season, Anquan Boldin finished with 67 catches on 95 targets and eight touchdowns, and is now sitting on the couch just like you and I on Sundays after announcing his retirement.

Those aren’t easy numbers to replace, especially considering he led the team in touchdown receptions. Golladay is 6’4 and is a huge red zone target for Matt Stafford. With Golden Tate likely to stay in the slot, Golladay will have plenty of chances to have a big year in Detroit.

3. Jamaal Williams- Green Bay Packers, RB

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The Packers had a big time running back problem for a good portion last season, but those problems will disappear if they decide to go with Jamaal Williams. While Williams has done little statistically to impress this season, there are two reasons why he could take the top running back job from Ty Montgomery. It isn’t his impressive stats at BYU, including a senior season that featured 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns or the fact that Montgomery is actually a wideout. It’s the fact that he’s proven he can hold on to the ball, and pick up the blitz as an effective blocker.

Are those things that really affect your fantasy season? No, but they could lead to an opportunity for Williams. Montgomery could get the hook quickly if he loses a fumble like he did earlier this preseason, and he isn’t as seasoned in blocking in the backfield considering he spent the majority of his career as a wideout. Opportunity breeds success, and Williams could capitalize by being yet another weapon for the Green Bay Packers.

2. Curtis Samuel – Carolina Panthers, WR 

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Samuel is yet another rookie on this list and may have the highest ceiling out of anyone. What makes him the perfect breakout candidate is his ability to hurt teams in so many ways. He can accel as a wideout, running back, or as a kick returner. He was the perfect hybrid for Urban Myer over the years, finishing last season with 15 total touchdowns and over 1,600 yards.

If used correctly, he can be similar to what fantasy star Tyreek Hill was last season for the Chiefs as a player who will be used as a home run threat every time he touches the field. No matter which way he does it, you can bet on Samuel finding the end zone this year.

1. DeAngelo Henderson – Denver Broncos, RB

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Henderson is the player who has the best chance to be the Ajayi-type sleeper in fantasy this season. The Broncos may have a crowded backfield, but now one on the roster currently possesses the talent that Henderson has. He’s one of the best running backs in the history of college football, scoring in a ridiculous 35 straight games over the course of his career. Henderson is used to being a bell cow that can carry the load of an offense while also providing some of the best breakaway speed around.

The second he touches the field and shows the kind of big play ability for the Broncos this season, it’ll be hard to justify staying with CJ Anderson as the top dog in Denver. He’s the perfect pick to be your ticket to fantasy glory this season.

Looking for the big name players to avoid this season? Click here.