In Fantasy Football, it all comes down to the wire
Obviously the draft establishing your fantasy football team is important, but championships are won or lost on the wire.
The waiver wire is where we find breakout players, the perfect situational plug-in or the desperate roster-filler to at least make your team look competitive before kickoff (‘sup Ryan Mallett?).
Here’s my All-Waiver Wire Team, the guys you weren’t paying attention to early, who may have saved your season – and will likely not sneak by anyone in next year’s drafts.
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Miami – Tannehill wasn’t anybody’s No. 1 option at fantasy quarterback, and in some leagues (like my standard one) didn’t even get drafted as a backup. But on Yahoo! he was ranked 11th among quarterbacks going into Week 16, when he racked up nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns in what was championship week for many leagues.
RB: C.J. Anderson, Denver – Injuries tore through the Broncos’ backfield until it was finally Anderson’s turn. The 90 yards on Nov. 9 showed promise. The 167 yards with a TD Nov. 23 and 168 yards the following week delivered on that promise. Three touchdowns on Dec. 7 and the second-year man was taking over from Peyton Manning as the team’s main offensive threat.
RB: Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland – If you wanted to get points from the Browns’ backfield, you were targeting free agent arrival Ben Tate and rookie Terrence West in the draft. But Isaiah Crowell, an undrafted free agent, burst onto the scene in Week 1 with two TDs against the Steelers, and after a midseason lull, started finding paydirt again, convincing the Browns they could part ways with Tate.
WR: Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants – The rookie out of LSU sat at 188th in the Yahoo! pre-draft rankings. But with Victor Cruz going down for the season in Week 6, Beckham became the Giants’ go-to receiver. He exploded in Week 14 with three TDs and ensured he won’t see triple digits in next year’s preseason ratings.
WR: Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati – Sanu was the third receiver on the Bengals’ depth chart coming into the season, but injuries kept Marvin Jones from ever seeing the field and star A.J. Green was out for a few weeks. Not only did Sanu post some monstrous lines like a 10-catch, 120-yard, one-TD performance against the Panthers in Week 6, he also managed a passing touchdown – to quarterback Andy Dalton, no less – in Week 3, the second scoring pass of his career. He settled down a little toward the end of the year, but I’ll be looking at this guy for a late-round pick next year, if for nothing more than the entertainment factor.
TE: Coby Fleener, Indianapolis – Three years ago, I thought I was pretty clever, snatching up Fleener in his rookie season. He’d played at Stanford with fellow Colts rookie Andrew Luck, so I figured he would make the perfect security blanket. That didn’t really pan out, and Fleener barely made the top 200 on Yahoo! going into this season. But half a dozen of Luck’s league-leading 38 TDs had gone to Fleener over 15 games and 718 receiving yards is nothing to sneeze at either.
K: Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona – Any decent kicker can be a waiver wire gem under the right conditions, since many players only carry one on their roster and plug and play the best available when their first guy hits his bye week. The Cardinals’ injury troubles at quarterback may have helped Catanzaro rack up his 28 field goals (through Week 16) when the offense sputtered.
DEF: Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings outperformed expectations in the real world, and in fantasy terms, they delivered with 40 sacks, 13 interceptions and five defensive TDs, tied for third in the league, as of Week 16, even though just 35 percent of Yahoo! owners had them rostered.
Evan Bevins owned two fantasy football teams this year – the Beta Ray Bills and the Jet Jaguars. The names were their most impressive accomplishments.