The 2014 fantasy football season offered more sleepers on the waiver wire than any in recent memory. Several sleepers saved seasons and won championships, giving owners the answers they were looking for. It is time to celebrate those waiver wire heroes.
Playing the fantasy football waiver wire is a tricky game. It requires patience, foresight, and the ability to look at a player’s situation objectively. Remember, any starting quarterback or running back can look like a monster for one week in the right situation. Having the ability to see through that and find that diamond in the ruff that will shine for an entire season is a talent all in itself.
The fantasy season is over and it is time to start analyzing studs and duds. I went back and looked at all of the guys that fell through the draft and onto the waiver wire and the amount of talent available on the wire this season was stunning. If you picked up any of these players, the chances are good you were either in the playoffs a serious contender. While leagues vary in size of 6-16, I based this roster on a 10 team league standard. Without further a due I give you the 2014 All Waiver Wire Fantasy Football Team.
I used the preseason ADP from the collective rankings of experts over at FantasyPros.com. I felt that these preseason rankings offered the best perspective of expert analysis across the board.
Eli Manning, New York Giants – Coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, no fantasy player trusted Eli with a draft pick and guess what? Watching Eli play on Week 1 would have led you to believe that everyone was correct in their analysis although he did put up double digits. However, Eli’s slump only lasted one week because he came back in Week 2 and put up 19 points in standard scoring leagues. Only once all season did Eli not produce double digits and during the fantasy playoffs the guy was absolute money! A little receiver out of LSU named Odell Beckham Jr. certainly helped, but it was more than just one guy that helped Eli finish in the top ten this season among fantasy QBs.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins – Tannehll got little respect coming into the season which was ridiculous in hindsight. Tannehll finished in the top 15 last season and looked great down the stretch. Ranked 18th in coming into the season, Tannehll finished as the 10th overall QB in fantasy, a five spot improvement. Tannehill scored a TD in every game this season but one and had six TDs during the fantasy playoffs. As long as the Dolphins keep the coaching staff in place I predict that Tannehill will finish between 5-8 next season among fantasy QBs.
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens – Nobody and I mean nobody saw this one coming. A journeyman backup, Forsett seized a golden opportunity in Baltimore behind a pretty darn good rushing line. Forsett was on nobody’s radar in the preseason with Ray Rice expected back. Even after Rice was gone for good, most predicted that Bernard Pierce or Lorenzo Taliaferro would be the man. Instead, Forsett took ownership of the running game and finished eighth overall among fantasy RBs. Unfortunately Forsett ran out of gas during the fantasy playoffs, leaving a bad taste in a lot of owners’ mouths yet you can’t disregard what he did through the entire season to get them there.
CJ Anderson, Denver Broncos – It is scary to think what Anderson could have done if he got the starting job in week 1. Anderson put up ridiculous numbers after taking over the starting spot and benefitted from an offense that shifted more emphasis on its running game. Anderson put up a whopping 56 points in the last three weeks of the season and went on a tear in the finale for 28 points in standard leagues. If Denver comes back next year with this same offense and Anderson in place as the starter, he could break records in 2015. Even scarier is that you could have gotten this guy for nothing off of the waiver wire.
Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants – Pundits are making some big comparisons to ODB and while most of the time I’d dismiss it as hype, it is hard to argue with them. He had the best rookie season for a wide receiver since Randy Moss and he didn’t even play all sixteen games! He broke records for fantasy points through his first 12 games for a wide receiver. Like Anderson, imagine if he played a full season! Since Week 5, ODB went on a tear giving owners only one subpar week in week 6 against the Eagles. The guy went on a historic tear for a Giants rookie WR in the fantasy playoffs, putting up 19, 32, 26, and 24 points in the last four weeks. Some are predicting that ODB could be a top five draft pick next year. I would be a little worried about Victor Cruz taking away some of those numbers, although I think ODB is the real deal and probably crowned some new champions in 2014.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I was lucky enough to grab this guy on waivers which was a feat in itself since I had the best record in the league to that point. In other words, everyone in my league and others passed on this guy allowing him to fall to me. Evans was ranked 40th coming into the season and finished 11th overall among fantasy WRs in standard scoring. He finished ahead of Calvin Johnson, Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson, AJ Green, and Kelvin Benjamin. What impressed me most about Evans is that he was quarterback-proof. Whether it was Glennon or McCown, he scored TDs. I can’t even begin to imagine the kinds of numbers he will put up with a good to great QB. He slumped a bit in the playoffs, although he did deliver 4 TDs through the last four weeks of the season. Not bad for a guy you got for nothing off of the wire.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts – Fleener became an instant fantasy star when Dwayne Allen went down and Andrew Luck started connecting with his old college teammate. Even with Allen in the fold, Fleener had a pretty consistent season and finished sixth among fantasy TEs. His two-TD game in the final week of the season made him a waiver wire steal for owners lucky enough to cash in on a fantasy championship.
Buffalo Bills – Give Jim Schwartz a head coaching job now! What he did with that Buffalo defense was simply remarkable. This was a unit ranked fifteenth coming into the season that finished second overall…above the Seahawks, Niners, and Texans. The Bills had a few clunkers but they offered you consistency throughout the season if you were bold enough to take a shot on them. They were the only defense to average double digit points a game besides the Eagles defense/special teams all season.