There's a lot that goes into building a successful fantasy lineup. While we like to spend a lot of time patting ourselves on the back for getting big games from players like Tom Brady and Julio Jones, often it's the unheralded player who can make the biggest difference. That's why we're celebrating the Small Victories -- the lesser-known players who may have contributed to your weekly fantasy football glory and those who could help lead you to the winner's circle in the future.
That was then...
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings: After Thielen suffered an injury in Week 15, only the bravest of souls took a chance on him in Championship Week. But fortune favors the bold and those fantasy managers were rewarded with 202 receiving yards, two touchdowns and 32.60 fantasy points. Thielen has been Minnesota's best receiver over the past few weeks, but not even the biggest truthers among us would have predicted such a huge performance. In this case, take the success and enjoy it.
Charles Clay, TE, Buffalo Bills: Clay has been a non-factor for much of the fantasy season but he turned it up at the right time and saved his best games for the fantasy playoffs. The Bills tight end scored twice in Week 16, giving him four touchdowns in three games and making it three straight weeks with double-digit fantasy points. For anyone who lost Rob Gronkowski down the stretch, Clay was an excellent life preserver.
Cameron Meredith, WR, Chicago Bears: Meredith has been a nice receiver streaming option for much of the season, but he also came up big for fantasy enthusiasts in the playoffs with a pair of 100-yard performances. He saved is best game of the season for Week 16, when he posted a season-high 135 receiving yards with a touchdown. There are plenty of questions to be answered about the Bears offense going forward, but it looks like Meredith has earned himself a solid role.
This is now...
Alex Collins, RB, Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks offense hasn't been the second-half juggernaut we're used to seeing, partially because of a number of injuries in the backfield. Enter Collins, who is the next man up for Pete Carroll's crew. Collins' next assignment: The dreadful 49ers run defense. As the current lead back in a run-heavy offense, the rookie from Arkansas should have plenty of opportunities to be a playmaker.
C.J. Uzomah, TE, Cincinnati Bengals: No A.J. Green. No Tyler Eifert. No Giovani Bernard. Time to meet C.J. Uzomah. The Bengals' back up tight end has understandably been an afterthought in the offense, but he has a good matchup against a Ravens defense that has struggled against tight ends recently. With a diminshed number of weapons available to Andy Dalton this week, there's a good chance for Cincinnati to get Uzomah more involved.
Tom Savage, QB, Houston Texans: Savage didn't exactly light things up last week, but with another week of game action under his belt and a much better matchup coming this week against the Titans, he'll be a much more intriguing play. It would certainly help if Lamar Miller is available to give Tennessee's defense something to think about. Regardless, Savage is worth a look in some of your DFS lineups this week.