Who was Jacksonville wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker before last season?
What about then-Chiefs quarterback Tyler Thigpen or Ravens running back Le’Ron McClain before the 2008 season?
They were nobodies. Yet each emerged from obscurity to become a key fantasy contributor. There are a handful of players this preseason — guys who weren’t on anybody’s fantasy radar a month ago — who are making some noise, a sign that they could be the next to make names for themselves.
WR, Tampa Bay
Williams is expected to be the Buccaneers’ No. 1 wide receiver this season, ironic considering he wasn’t even the highest receiver selected by Tampa Bay in April’s draft. (Second-rounder Arrelious Benn was.) Williams, a fourth-round pick out of Syracuse, caught three passes for 83 yards in Saturday’s loss to Jacksonville.
RB, Tampa Bay
Now that ex-Giants running back Derrick Ward has been shown the door, Huggins is the Buccaneers’ clear-cut No. 2 running back. The rookie, who spent most of 2009 on Tampa Bay’s practice squad, has rushed for 97 yards this preseason and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. It wouldn’t be shocking if Huggins stole a chunk of carries from the fragile Cadillac Williams.
WR, St. Louis
Two weeks ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Amendola was the most impressive wide receiver in Rams training camp. Then St. Louis’ No. 1 wide receiver, Donnie Avery, suffered a season-ending knee injury, opening the door for Amendola, an undrafted second-year player, in the starting lineup.
Muhsin Muhammad has retired and former USC star Dwayne Jarrett failed to prove himself during his first NFL seasons. LaFell and Jarrett are vying to start opposite Steve Smith, but the reports out of Charlotte have been far more positive about LaFell, a rookie from LSU.
RB, New Orleans
An undrafted rookie, Ivory made some highlight reels after the Saints’ win over San Diego on Saturday, when he caught a pass in the flat and raced 76 yards for a touchdown while stiff-arming and running over several defenders. New Orleans is looking for someone to replace the production of bruiser Mike Bell, who left for Philadelphia in free agency.
These players’ average draft positions have risen in recent weeks:
Wes Welker, WR, New England
After tearing his ACL in January, Welker appears to be ready for the season opener.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago
His 89-yard TD run two weeks ago has some believing he’ll return his 2008 form.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston
Houston’s backfield picture has come into focus, and Foster leads the pack.
Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego
With Vincent Jackson out, Floyd has a grip on the team’s No. 1 WR job.