“League winner” is a term thrown around a lot, but what exactly makes a league winner?
A top talent
In an offense set up to convert that talent into the maximum possible production
I didn’t mention opportunity, because opportunity can be fluid as the season progresses. Injuries, reevaluation of the depth chart, and changes in personnel or coaching can present very different situations than the ones we expected when setting preseason ranks and projections.
Think of it as gasoline (surrounding situation) and matches (talent/ability). Even if the gasoline and matches are far apart right now, events can intervene to move them close enough to ignite the fire. What we should be identifying now are the players that represent an explosion of fantasy points if the matches and gasoline get in contact. Even if the events necessary seem remote in possibility at this juncture, only a small percentage of players have season-changing ceilings. While those events could be unlikely, we see unlikely scenarios unfold every single season. The good news is that because most, if not all fantasy players see the best-case scenario as improbable, if not impossible, a lot of potential league winners are available after you use your premium picks.
Who are the potential league winners available outside of the top 50 picks?
Mecole Hardman, WR, KC (ADP: 10th round or later)
Hardman turned 41 targets into 538 yards and six touchdowns last year. He was also a rookie who only converted to wide receiver two years before entering the league. Patrick Mahomes II missed two games and most of a third. Hardman should be much more prepared to play wide receiver in the NFL this year, and he has the best deep passing quarterback in the league. It would take a Sammy Watkins or Tyreek Hill injury to really unlock Hardman’s upside, but if he comes into the season a better player than the one we saw last year, he could get part of the way there himself. We’ve already seen Watkins perform with maddening inconsistency, and teams are going to try to take away Hill (and Travis Kelce), leaving Hardman with one of the best matchups on the field. Hardman doesn’t need to be a full-time player or get more than five targets a game to get well over 1000 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns.
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