What does the term 'rest of season league winners' actually mean? It is completely up for interpretation, but I will give you how I view it to hopefully help you win your regular season league, get a boost into the playoffs as a wild card, or create depth for a championship run.
I wish I would have spent more time this year writing about waiver claims and trades to make, but I am not 100% sure it would be much different than most articles. I tend to forward think and for the last two years I have been adding guys that are a week or two ahead of the typical waiver claim articles. This is what this article will be about.
Forward-thinking to what could happen and what has happened. Not what has happened all season, just the past 2-4 weeks of the season. There are trends I look for to speculate possible breakout games for players that could turn into long-term depth pieces. The way to not drown yourself in pure speculation is to look at the waiver wire for the next 2-4 weeks. I never look past the next month of what could be. Things change way too fast in the NFL. In fact, 1-3 weeks is probably a more realistic way to look at it, but it's fantasy football. Let's have fun with it and go out for at least the next couple of weeks to a month.
There are two main themes as to why guys break out later in the season. The first is common in football with an injury occurring to a teammate that naturally pushes more volume toward that player. The other one is my favorite and it's the increased role in the offense through a natural progression from the player. Commonly this occurs in rookies or 2nd/3rd-year players between weeks 10 - 18.
How do you predict either one? Well, you can't and shouldn't predict or hope for injuries. The other is predictable to a point. Again, this is fantasy football and you can 100% predict the playcalling, performance, health, or role increase for anyone. The forward-thinking player can at least make a great educated guess and try to take advantage of a young player with an increased of offensive snap %, target %, routes per snap, and production. There are a couple of rookies that have caught my eye over the last two weeks because of a couple of these things working in their favor. There are also a few younger vets that have had similar things percolating for them that looks like they could be what you need for your playoff run.
Skyy Moore - This is the definition of what I am talking about with injuries to teammates and increased snap and target % because of the injuries. Sunday night he had almost half (6) receptions as he has had the entire season (14). This was because Juju Smith-Schuster was out on concussion protocol and Mecole Hardman on IR, but this is the time that rookies start getting use to what the team wants from them and when the team itself figures out how to use them. That along with opportunity presents a nice run for Skyy to close the season out and maybe fit into your lineup to take over for any number of injuries your roster may have had now or later.
Isaiah Spiller - Similar to more with an increased role is more so because of ineffectiveness from guys that were in front of him. Yes, he only has been averaging 4 carries and some occasional targets, but he is working as the number 2 on the Chargers. A Chargers team that looks like it is starting to figure out what they are on offense. If anything happens to Ekeler I am not saying Spiller gets that full workload, but he would get first chance at carrying at least 60% of the workload for a Chargers offense that should be great down the stretch.
Keaontay Ingram - Copy and paste the Spiller talk here. Conner has been injured this year and we have seen a game with a good share of the work to Ingram and he succeeded with it. If anything were to happen to Conner that would make Ingram at least a RB2. Especially since the team believes in him enough to cut Eno Benjamin and trust him.
Trey McBride - Injury creates opportunity for Trey and he can now take over the role that Ertz had. He had 4 receptions in his debut as the starter. This role will only grow with confidence by the coaches and the offense will be more electric once Kyler is back as the starter. Trey could be a great starter in the barrand waste land that is the 2022 tight end position.
Josh Palmer - Cut and paste a mix of Spiller and McBride. Injury created more targets and opportunity for Palmer to run more routes that he typically wouldn't. I would typically back off of him now with Keenan Allen back and Mike Williams back, however, Williams hurt his ankle and Allen looks slow now. Palmer is the Chargers number one receiver in an offense that is now starting to become electric.
Darius Slayton - Injuries have plagued what was already a poor group of receivers for the Giants. They have no one left that is relevant. Daniel Jones looked decent putting over 300 yards this past week and could be the norm for them going forward. The Giants look ike they could have their hands full with teams focusing in on stopping Barkley going forward. Slayton's opportunity and target share alone create a very solid fantasy option that could create stability in your lineup.
Alexander Mattison - Whether or not Cook gets hurt he could be shut down at some point down the line if the Vikings start rolling out victories again. Mattison has a couple ways he could become a league winner. Injury or rest for Cook creates big time chances for Mattison. Even without Cook sitting they may rest him a bit more during the game to prep for the playoffs.
Most of these guys may still be available in your leagues even after waivers or may be cheap trade pieces if in a deeper league. I would aim to add at least one of them to create at worst good depth with league winning chance from them. These players present good opportunity right now and have plenty of room to grow and become guys that you talk about years from now when reminiscing over a past fantasy football championship.