The NFL player you need most to win your fantasy football leagues

      August 29, 2013 @ 16:45:00 PDT

It isn't Jimmy Graham. It isn't Aaron Rodgers. It isn't even Calvin Johnson or Adrian Peterson.

Unfortunately, I don't know his name yet. I just know that it isn't any of them.

This player hasn't shown his face yet. He won't until the season has started. No one will have seen him coming.

That's because no one has drafted him. (OK, maybe like six people have, because they play in a 16-team, 23-player league or a 12-team, 28-player league ... or something.) He'll be free, or some relative approximation of free. Plucked from free agents. Claimed off waivers. For practically nothing.

Don't believe me? Check your league's MVPs, or list of commonly owned players on championship teams, at the end of the season. Every year, a couple of names (or more) at the top of that list weren't called on draft day.

So, if no one knows who he is, how are you supposed to get him? By understanding that you almost certainly don't have him now. By using your open mind.

Don't tell me that you don't remember these sudden studs.

You know all those players you haphazardly dismissed at your draft? It'll probably be one of them. Someone who takes advantage of the absence of an injured or benched starter or who unexpectedly fills a major void.

This concept isn't mine.

Baseball HQ founder Ron Shandler (exciting new venture: Shandler Park) for the past few years has sponsored what he calls the Black Swan Caucus at a series of spring seminars known as the First Pitch Forums. The objective: to name players who could come from the proverbial "nowhere" to be difference-making fantasy baseball assets.

Sometimes this type of player surprises even his coaches. The fantasy gods will forgive you if you didn't see him coming.

How good do you think the team you drafted is?

Add to it a 1,500-yard, 12-TD running back or a quarterback who puts up 24 fantasy points per game. How does it look now?

As long as you didn't lose your league at the draft, then you most certainly have a chance to win it. Did you take Aaron Hernandez? Did you pick three Carolina Panthers running backs? Did you reach for most of your players, because you wanted to feel like the smartest person in the room? Then you should be fine.

When the time comes, when a difference-maker reveals himself -- with a big game, in a great situation -- don't be afraid to go get him. He's the kind of player who wins leagues for fantasy owners.

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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