Key #3: The Waiver Wire

Draft day for fantasy football leagues is the one day everyone in the league is paying attention to their roster for most leagues.  After that you will see owners put too much faith into players they drafted and refuse to give up on players that they love or believe in for the season even when all odds are against them.  This is the #1 reason that will make a good fantasy owner different from a bad fantasy owner.

Going into the preseason draft your big board is compiled of players with history of being great along with later round flyers with the BELIEF that these players could become productive for the upcoming season.  You will always see rookies be taken high, along with other young players that have had outstanding preseasons in the NFL.  The problem with this is that not often do you see these late round flyers pan out.  Factoring in the fact many of these players will become over-hyped, it becomes difficult for fantasy owners to pull the plug on players they invested a draft pick on.

I’m here to tell you that if you are going to sit on all of your bench players that aren’t producing in hopes they turn it around, then you are missing a key part of the fantasy season that will give you a strong opportunity to not only win on a week to week basis when dealing with bye weeks, but also picking up the breakout stud for the season that can turn your team from good to great.

Let’s take a quick look back to this year and see at the players that were probably on your waiver wire going into the year.

1. Julius Thomas, TE– At a position where after Jimmy Graham and an injured Rob Gronkowski there is no real stud, Julius Thomas exploded in one of the greatest offenses ever assembled and is the #3 scoring TE so far this year.  There was a little hype behind the player, but most didn’t believe in him because of all of the other weapons on the team and the lack of production shown at any other level of football (he was a basketball player in college).  If you were able to pick him up after his week 1 performance, then I’m guessing you never had to worry about who you were starting at TE the whole year, which is a luxury in fantasy football.

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR– A 2nd year player out of South Carolina, Jeffery showed some of his talent the previous year, but the Bears offense had failed to prove a #2 WR could produce efficient stats to be a solid start in fantasy football.  Jeffery proved the critics wrong as he is the #7 overall WR scorer so far this year and with Josh McCown stepping in for an injured Jay Cutler, Jeffery actually became the #1 option over superstar Brandon Marshall.  Keeping the mindset that the #2 WR couldn’t produce in Chicago kept owners from picking up a star WR.

3. Knowshon Moreno, RB– The Moreno hype started to pick up later on into the preseason so he may have been drafted in your league, but for the most part he was perceived to be the #3 RB in Denver.  He ended up winning the job out of the preseason, and when rookie Monte Ball proved his pass blocking and ability to hold onto the ball was unpolished, Moreno became the clear cut starter.  He is the #4 RB in scoring so far this year, and he is that running back everyone hopes to get lucky with in the draft.  Unfortunately, most leagues didn’t draft him, and this is where owners that make their living on the waiver wire became huge winners.

4. Philip Rivers, QB– He used to be a top 5 or 6 quarterback for fantasy purposes, but the last 2 years have been poor for Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.  Mostly undrafted in standard leagues, Rivers emerged early as a productive starting QB for fantasy owners, just like the good ol’ days.  He’s #6 in fantasy scoring for QBs, and people who had to deal with the inconsistency of Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, etc., hopefully all make a waiver claim for Philip Rivers.

5. Kansas City Defense– Probably the most important position to not get comfortable with because of the randomness of who will be good, Kansas City defense went undrafted in most leagues and in clearly the #1 scoring defense this year.  They have put up stat lines that could have won weeks for fantasy owners.  Don’t forget to pick up defenses mid-season.

All of the players mentioned were mostly undrafted in fantasy leagues, and all of them became star players for fantasy owners.  These are prime examples of waiver-wire additions that will become every week starters for your team for the whole season.

The waiver wire, however, has an even more important role for you.  Bye weeks in the NFL lead to tough decisions for fantasy owners when their star players have the week off.  Chances are by the time these decisions have to be made you have a small sample size of who is legit and who is not of who you drafted for your bench.

This is the time you need to cut ties with players that 1. have the big names but are older and haven’t produced (Greg Jennings) and the flyers on young players who have yet to do anything (Monte Ball).  This doesn’t mean these players will not turn it around at some point during the year, but it is your duty as a fantasy owner to win at any costs each and every week.  Holding onto guys that aren’t producing and didn’t have THAT MUCH promise in them before the start of the year (example being Ray Rice) is a waste of roster space.  As mentioned, you are not dropping Ray Rice or Roddy White in week 5 just because they aren’t producing.  These guys have an outstanding track record of being elite players in the league and to give up on them after spending such a high draft pick is absurd.  With that said, you cannot get attached to where you drafted a player.  By week 10, dropping Ray Rice or Roddy White actually might have been a decision you had to make.  For the most part, that decision has not hurt you this year, and most likely will not by the way things are playing out.

Fantasy football comes down to gut calls.  Throwing statistics at you from all sorts of angles can become confusing and sometimes even make decisions harder.  I’m here to tell you when dealing with rostered players, you need to look at what the player is doing on the field this year and what you expect from him going forward.  This is when watching football and doing weekly research on what other experts are saying is key.

As for the simple, direct analysis, you have a duty to try to get a win each and every week.  Getting a roster ready during bye weeks can get tough, but never forget that falling in love with someones potential can and most likely will become costly.

Also factor in that when dropping a player that you aren’t sure about letting go of, think about how quickly your league will add him.  This is a smart way of stepping away from your own personal feelings about a player and deciding if he really is that valuable.

So, summarizing my #3 key to winning your league, be active on a weekly basis on the waiver wire.  Use your knowledge accumulated by watching and reading/listening about the NFL to factor in what to expect of your players you are considering dropping.  Not only can the waiver wire be a place to add the next star, but it is also a place that you can add a player for a week or two that will put up solid stats in a time of need for your team.  Do not fall in love with players.  Stay active and alert.

Ryan Jackson

About Ryan Jackson

My name is Ryan Jackson and I love fantasy sports. I graduated from the University of Maine in 2014 with a degree in Journalism, and I am now a graduate student at Quinnipiac University working on a sports journalism degree.