Rising fantasy football stars

Justin Hunter has the physical talent to be an impact player, and will get plenty of opportunity in 2014. AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Recency bias is alive and well in the world of fantasy football. "Sure, you used to be a fantasy superstar, Doug Martin, but what have you done for me lately?"

Reliance on a small sample of data, even when it's the most recent information available, is a dangerous game. We see it every season. After years of mediocre play, a journeyman wideout is forced into action due to injury and catches six balls for 112 yards and two scores. Fantasy owners flood the waiver wire in an attempt to land the next NFL superstar wideout, who inevitably rewards them with only a handful of receptions over the next month.

Of course, that's not to say all small samples of data are useless. By monitoring the snap counts and usage of young players with high potential, we can stay one step ahead of our opponents on draft day.

These 10 players didn't generate much fantasy appeal early in the 2013 season, but a rise in playing time down the stretch put them squarely on the radar of savvy owners. Most of these players are primed for a bigger role in 2014, some for a fantasy breakout.

(Note: The statistics below are averages per game.)

1. Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans

Weeks 1-9: 10.1 snaps, 5.5 routes, 1.4 targets
Weeks 10-17: 37.6 snaps, 26.3 routes. 4.5 targets