If you want to have any kind of success in fantasy football you need to do at least one of two things. The first is have a good draft. The draft is the foundation you build your championship on. If you mess up the foundation you have to try and build one and win games at the same time. The second is managing your waiver wire pickups. If the draft is the foundation then the waiver wire is the building material. Take a moment look at your league team standings. Look at the teams who made the playoffs, who made late runs, and ultimately won it all. I can guarantee that they did well in those areas. It is almost impossible to succeed without them.
The injuries this season made waiver wire management more important than ever. Not only was it more important than ever, it also gave a look at players we never would have thought about. If it wasn’t for the waiver wire, no one outside of Kansas City would have any idea who Spencer Ware is.
Each fantasy season sees it shares of sleepers and bust. Each season comes with huge disappointments as players production rapidly declines without any notice. How many of you hung on to Peyton Manning way to long? The first round wasn’t good for any one. Charles, Lynch, Bell, and Luck all were lost for the season at some point. Eddie Lacy never showed up, CJ Anderson was passed up by Ronnie Hillman, and how bad was Jeremy Hill? Make no mistake, the waiver wire won many championships this year.
It’s time to take a look at the Fantasy Football 2015 All Waiver team. The following will be my list of top waiver pick-ups, both starters and at least one back up. We will look at the traditional fantasy lineup. One quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and a tight end. I am not going to look at team defense or kickers, because quite frankly I don’t find them nearly as important. You may disagree and that is okay. Most likely you didn’t lose because of a kicker or defense.
There is no arguing that quarterback was the deepest position this season, as it is just about every season. Quarterback is so deep that many who finished in the top 10 were not drafted at all. This position will probably be the one that you could argue against because there are so many players that you could make an argument for.
Starting Quarterback – Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Bortles finished 4th overall in scoring and he was the 4th best quarterback as well. Not bad for a guy that wasn’t even notice until close to the half way point of the season. The quarterbacks who had better seasons than Bortles were named Brady, Newton, and Wilson. That’s right folks, Blake Bortles outscored Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck. Sure you will make excuses for the injuries that teams may have had but Bortles lead the Jaguars. Bortles threw for almost 4,500 yards and was tied for 2nd in TD passes with 35. He averaged just over 18 fantasy point per game. He scored double digit point in 87% of his starts. 57% of his starts he scored over 20 points. It would be hard to make an argument against Bortles. I am targeting Bortles as my starter next season. Most drafts will have him fall to the second half the draft. Not a bad place to grab your teams signal caller. Not that there are actual signals in fantasy sports, but you get it.
Back-Up Quarterback – Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Palmer could easily be at the top of this list but he shouldn’t have been on the wire at all. He was only left off of teams because of his injury history. Coincidentally it’s the fact that he played 16 games that gets him on this list at all. Also tied for 2nd in touchdowns, Palmer threw for over 4600 yards. He threw 11 interceptions, which is average among starting quarterbacks. He led the Cardinals the second best record in the NFL making them a SuperBowl favorite.
David Carr, Jameis Winston, and Ryan Fitzpartick all has great fantasy seasons. Statistically they come in just behind Palmer and Bortles. In fantasy football all that matters are statistics. Would I pick any of them for NFL MVP? Not at all. However I would wait on picking my QB next season if were you. Plenty of good passers to go around. Use those early picks on skill positions.
The running back position took the biggest injury hit this season. It was the first time I had ever felt like I should have drafted handcuffs for my handcuffs. The large amounts of injuries introduced us to names we never heard. When all the dust was settled we had two clear cut winners who couldn’t be at more opposite ends of their careers.
Starting Running Back – Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
Freeman made a reputation for making big plays his rookies season but lost the starting job in his second year to rookie Tevin Coleman. However, Coleman went down with an injury the second week of the season and Freeman got his shot. Freeman finished the season as the #1 fantasy football running back despite missing time as he dealt with his own injury woes. He rushed for over 1000 yards and first in total touchdowns. If you picked Freeman up it would have been hard for you to lose going forward. If you are in a keeper league then Freeman is your keeper. Even if you drafted him, he is a steal. He will be a first round pick next season.
Starting Running Back – DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers
At one time Williams was one of the most coveted fantasy running backs. However injuries and father time seemed to take its toll while he was in Carolina. Williams surprised everyone one breaking out for 127 yards on 21 carries in the first week of the season. He followed that up with 77 yards and 3 touchdowns the next week against San Francisco. In week #3 Bell came back from his suspension and Williams was forgotten. In week #8 Bell was lost for the season and Williams took over again. Even though he basically missed 5 games he still managed to end up 4th overall at the running back position. Let’s play the “what if game” with Williams. Williams averaged just over 11 fantasy point per game. Had he scored that average in the games he missed he would have finished #2 overall. Williams ran for just over 900 yards and was tied for 1st in touchdowns alongside Freeman with 11.
Backup Running Back – David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
This guy is special. I can guarantee had he started all season he would have been #1 overall. Johnson finished 7th overall even though he spent most of the season as the backup. Johnson had 60 less carries than the starting runback but outscored him in fantasy by 70 points. Johnson averaged double digit fantasy points despite the fact that he only score double digits in 50% of his games. That is what keeps him on the bench. His scoring came in bunches but only 50% of the time. Johnson showed that he could carry the load when Chris Johnson, the starter went down at the end of the season. Another keeper if you have room. This guys will be starting next year.
Backup Running Back – Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys
Run DMC started the season behind Joseph Randle and was a fantasy after thought. Like Williams, the injury bug gave McFadden a poor reputation. However, by week #5 Randle was nowhere to be found and McFadden found his way back to fantasy stardom. In the final 11 games, McFadden averaged just over 11 points per game. Those stats tell me that he would have been in the top 10 had he started all season. He rushed for almost 1100 yards but only found the end zone on three occasions which is what provides the gap between him being an all waiver starter and an all waiver back-up.
Danny Woodhead was the best back in San Diego, however that was primarily because of his receiving skills. He finished near the top of the list, but it’s hard when you score in bunches to be relied upon week after week. West in KC did a good job of filling for Charles as did Ware when he filled in for West. Duke Johnson made a little noise and I would keep an eye on Charles Sims as well, he made some noise despite play behind the muscle hamster. There was also no surprise to see Hillman eventually pass Anderson in Denver.
Wide Receiver is probably the hardest position to judge because scoring comes in bunches for just about everyone who isn’t drafted. It’s hard to find a good week to week receiver when there are so many on the field to choose from. It would have been more difficult if it wasn’t for some late season heroics.
Starting Wide Receiver – Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
I have been telling everyone for years that Seattle doesn’t have a passing quarterback and they don’t have any good receivers. Guess who has two thumbs and is eating crow tonight? This guy writing this blog. No wide receiver scored more points in the second half of the season than Doug Baldwin. If there was an award for most improved player it would have to go to this guy. He averaged just over 5 points per game in the first 8 games of the season. Through the final 8 games of the season he averaged more than 17 points per game. Head and shoulders above the rest to close out the season Baldwin is clearly the best waiver wire had to offer this season. He finished 7th in WR which is pretty good considering most leagues start up to three receivers, meaning you need to land in the top 30 to be a starter. 14 touchdown receptions was a good for a first place tie. The most impressing thing however is that he scored 12 of those touchdowns in the final 8 games. I am not sold that he is drafted in first half next season but I would be scared to let him go to another team. Think about that next September.
Starting Wide Receiver – Ted Ginn Jr, Carolina Panthers
Ginn was available on the waiver wire all the way until the end of the season. For some reason this guy was easy to overlook even though he was best receiver on the best team in the NFL. He averaged just over 8 points a game and score 10 touchdowns. He finished the season at 24th overall which means he was must start in leagues with 10 or more teams. Note to self, don’t forget about the players who are easy to forget. Those are the players who will beat you.
Starting Wide Reciever – Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars
Hurns ended the season at 14th overall and had over 1000 yards receiving. He did that as the second option in Jacksonville behind Allen Robinson. Who would have thought that two players from Jacksonville would make the all waiver team? Hurns wasn’t on the list for long, he quickly became a must start by the end of the season. Like Ginn, Hurns scored 10 touchdown but he had almost 500 more yards which helped him finish near the top of the list. Jacksonville’s offense is for real.
Backup Wide Receiver – Michael Crabbtree, Oakland Raiders
There are plenty of Raiders fans who are going want Crabbtree as a starter for this blog. He did finished in the top 20, but I would argue he was a tad more inconsistent than others on this list. Probably not noticeably, but just a tad. He scored 9 touchdowns which is great but not quite as many as Ginn or Hurns. He also scored double digits in less than 50% of his games. I get that I am cutting hairs here. At the end of the season he still should have been a starter in just about every league. At the very least a low two, definitely a high three.
Backup Wide Receiver – James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Seems like there is a comeback theme to this list. Like Williams, Jones was once at the top of the WR list. Then he went to Oakland and disappeared before coming back home to Green Bay. His homecoming started off strong, but cooled as the season went on. I would put more of the blame on the lack of running game and to many injuries making it difficult to run the offense. Jones accumulated over 800 yards this season and had 9 touch downs. If you are in a playoff bracket he might be someone to look in on. If everyone is healthy next year I don’t expect to see Jones back. Only time will tell.
As I stated earlier, WR’s are hard to judge, it’s really a game by game comparison once you get out of the top 10 or so. With that being said there were a few other guys who made a little noise this season. Willie Snead drew some waiver attention as well as Kemar Aiken. Aiken may have been a little more dangerous had Flacco not gone down.
Tight end is the stingiest position in the history of fantasy football. The reason it is such a shallow pool of talent is because it’s in the middle of a transition. Historically TE’s have been big blockers and short yardage targets. However, for the last several years we have seen a shift as TE’s are starting to be go to weapons. Tony Gonzalez really led that revolution. Even the shallow pool still have a few picks in it.
Starting Tight End – Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
In his previous 4 season Barnidge had a total of 44 receptions, 603 yards, and 3 touchdowns. This season Barnidge had 70 receptions, 1043 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He was 3rd overall at the wide receiver position by just one point. The guy was a scoring machine, from the time he broke out in week three until McCown was finally done for the season. While the #2 TE is going to be on this list also, Barnidge still gets the start due to his consistency. Double digit fantasy points in 50% of his games means you were getting something from him every week.
Backup Tight End – Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Reed’s stock has dropped the last couple of years, mostly because he has not been able to stay on the field. However this season he appeared in all 16 games. Reed ended up finishing the season as the #2 TE, but part of that was due to some huge games. His consistency was just behind Barnidge which is why he is the backup. The emergence of Kirk Cousin really took Reed to another level. If Cousin starts in Washington next season I would expect Reed to finish among the best once again. Reed could easily slide into the starting spot if you don’t want risk picking one of the Browns.
Backup Tight End – Tyler Eifert Cincinnati Bengals
Eifert was not on list long, but he deserve a spot on this team. The biggest knock here is the fact that he was so TD dependent. He didn’t get a ton of yards and if you were not in PPR he needed a touchdown to make it worth starting him. The plus side was that he did score 13 touchdowns which is great for TE. He was out a couple of games due to injury. He could have very easily moved up a couple of spots battling Reed and Barnidge for top waiver TE.
Well there you have it, not much of a surprise. With the exception of the wide receiver section I expect to see an entirely new all waiver team next season. This year’s all waiver teams should have been 100% owned. Let’s hope we do a little better next season. Well not too much better, I need to have something to write about.