Fantasy football is the most popular fantasy sport in America, but it has its limitations like all games. We’ve selected some of the best players who have gone underappreciated during their careers and given them a chance to shine with your help.
The “NFL standings playoffs” is a website that tracks the NFL’s playoff races. The site is great for figuring out which teams have the best chance of making it to the postseason and who has the best shot at winning their respective division. Read more in detail here: nfl standings playoffs.
Every fantasy football season has a few shocks in the playoffs.
Year after year, proven talents like Josh Allen, Jonathan Taylor, and Cooper Kupp lead their fantasy teams to league victories (albeit the names typically change as the stars shift). They’re the “men that got you this far,” which is why we always encourage you to rely on them during these crucial weeks, regardless of matchups. The choice to include them in your lineup is simple.
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But it’s the unknowns, the guys who spent September, October, and frequently November in relative (and occasionally full) obscurity, who typically make the difference in championship games. A fantasy team’s success is largely determined by its supporting cast, which frequently entails taking at least one lineup risk on one of these apparently out-of-nowhere standouts.
If you’ve ever played fantasy football, you’re almost certainly acquainted with at least one of the names on this list. They are one man’s take on the ten most underappreciated playoff hero tales of the modern era, which encompasses the 27 seasons of the 17-week period between 1994 and 2020. Many fantasy leagues employed a 13-week regular season, followed by three (six-team playoffs, single-elimination) or four (four-team playoffs, two-week matches) weeks of playoffs during the time.
Preseason average draft position (ADP), roster percentages during the fantasy regular season and postseason, roster percentages on ESPN championship teams, fantasy scoring during the regular season and postseason, and simply perception of the player’s value are all used to identify these individuals. In ascending sequence, they are:
Unless otherwise stated, all fantasy point totals are for PPR scoring.
10. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams tight end (2019)
Higbee, the list’s lone tight end, with at least seven catches in each of the five games he played in December 2019, a mark he has never achieved in any of his previous 87 career games (through Week 17 of 2021). He scored 83.5 points in Weeks 14-17, the 11th highest by a tight end in NFL history during that four-week timeframe. Higbee was on a championship roster in 21.3 percent of ESPN leagues last season, the most among tight ends.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Breshad Perriman (2019)
Perriman’s 92.2 points during Weeks 14-17 of 2019 constituted 71.8 percent of his seasonal totals and 20.9 percent of his whole career totals, making it one of the most surprisingly excellent hot streaks that arrived at just the right moment (through Week 17 of 2021). In those fantasy playoff weeks, he was on less than 0.1 percent of ESPN teams, but by Week 17 he was the most-rostered player on championship teams (27.2 percent ). Three months later, Perriman signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets, garnering just slightly more points in 12 games (99.1) in 2020 than he did during his incredible fantasy playoff run.
8. Carolina Panthers quarterback Steve Beuerlein (1999)
Beuerlein had a four-week fantasy playoff run to remember in the midst of his three-season career as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. He scored 111.64 points in Weeks 14-17 of 1999, the fourth-highest total by any quarterback during that four-week period. And his 27.9-point average over that time was more than twice what he had averaged in his previous 40 Panthers starts (13.1).
7. Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson (2004)
Here’s an example of an unknown item launching a two-plus-year reign of terror. Johnson, who had been Priest Holmes’ backup in 2004, became the Chiefs’ starter for the first time in December when Holmes suffered a season-ending knee injury. Johnson went from sharing the backfield with Derrick Blaylock to taking over completely following Blaylock’s knee injury in Week 14. Johnson scored 117.7 points in the last four weeks of the season, the 10th highest by a running back in NFL history. Johnson started the 2005 season as Holmes’ backup, but when Holmes suffered a season-ending spinal cord damage on a helmet-to-helmet hit the week before, he took over as the Chiefs’ starting once again in Week 9. Over the following 25 games, Johnson would score 658.6 points, including the last nine games of 2005 and all 16 games of 2006.
6. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans running back (2018)
Henry was one of the greatest disappointments in the 2018 fantasy regular season after being the No. 42 pick on average in ESPN teams (and the 18th RB off the board). He scored 8.0 points per game in the first 13 weeks of the season, which was in line with his full-season averages of 7.1 in 2016 and 8.4 in 2017, but he suddenly improved in December 2018, collecting 105.8 points in his last four games. It was the turning point in Henry’s career, as he went on to score 294.6 points in 15 games in 2019, 333.1 points in 16 games in 2020, and 193.3 points in eight games this season before injuring his foot, averaging 24.2 points per game, the most among all running backs with at least eight games played.
5. San Francisco 49ers running back Kevan Barlow (2003)
Barlow, a third-round choice who spent the first 44 games of his NFL career as Garrison Hearst’s backup, took over as the 49ers’ starting in Week 14 of 2003 when Hearst had season-ending knee surgery. Barlow scored 101.3 points in the last four games of the season, surpassing his previous high of 100.8 points in the first 12 games. He would start for the 49ers for the following two seasons, although he only scored 176.4 points in 15 games in 2004 and 129.2 points in 12 games in 2005.
4. Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Harrison (2009)
Harrison was elevated to starter status after Jamal Lewis’ career was abruptly ended by a concussion in Week 12. After a pair of productive enough fill-in starts for Jamal Lewis, who missed Weeks 3-4 of 2009 due to a hamstring injury, Harrison was elevated to starter status after Lewis’ career was abruptly ended by a concussion in Week 12. The Browns, on the other hand, were 1-10 at the time, and no one could have predicted what Harrison and his team would accomplish as spoiler: They would go on to win four consecutive games to finish the season, outscoring their opponents 100-66 with Harrison scoring 95.2 points in the process. Harrison’s 49.8-point performance in Week 15 is still one of the highest single-week totals in fantasy football postseason history, and he rushed for 106 yards in the last three games of the season. To put it in perspective, he only had 250 rushing attempts in the remaining 60 games of his career.
3. New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower (2015)
His performance was possibly the most unexpected in fantasy football playoff history. After suffering a season-ending torn ACL in Week 7 of 2011, Hightower sat out the following three seasons before joining the Saints practice squad and being promoted to active status in Week 9. After Mark Ingram II’s season-ending shoulder injury, Hightower was given an unexpected opportunity to start, scoring 81.6 points in the team’s last four regular-season games. In the preseason, he was picked in just two ESPN leagues, but at the conclusion of the season, he was on the championship-winning squad in 33.6 percent of leagues, the most of any player.
2. Drew Bennett, Tennessee Titans wide receiver (2004)
Bennett, despite his Titans being forced to depend on little-known backup quarterback Billy Volek for their last five games, scored an incredible 111.9 points during the season’s final four games, the fourth highest by any wide receiver during that four-week timeframe. Bennett was a well-known fantasy asset at the time, but he was far from a star, collecting 165.0 points in his first 12 games and never scoring more than 156.1 points in any of his remaining seven NFL seasons. He profited from a weak Titans defense that pushed Volek to throw often, and the quarterback-wide receiver combo carried many fantasy teams to surprising victories while also imprinting itself on our collective minds.
1. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Patrick Jeffers (1999)
Bennett’s strong Week 14-17 run was surpassed by this wide out, whose 132.6 points were the second highest by a wide receiver over that four-week timeframe in NFL history, behind only Odell Beckham Jr.’s 144.5 in 2014, and the sixth most by any player. Jeffers scored 207.3 points in the other 42 NFL games he played, making it the greatest out-of-character fantasy playoff performance by anybody in the modern era. Unfortunately, we never got to know whether it was a real breakthrough since a ruptured ACL in the following preseason lost him the whole 2000 season and he was never the same player again.
Other significant and surprising fantasy playoff stretches include:
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) Carolina Panthers running back Tim Biakabutuka (1998) Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn (2000) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia (2003) Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (2020) New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (2016) Damien Williams is a running back for the Kansas City Chiefs (2018)