Waiver wire wellspring

In the last two weeks, I’ve given you the names of a dozen players you can trade for to turn your season around. With time running out, I now want to turn to the last remaining way to improve your team as you head into the home stretch of the fantasy season – the waiver wire. I believe that working the waiver wire can win you a championship.  

Many people believe you need to have the best selections in their respective fantasy football draft to win their league. This is simply not true.  The top picks in a draft generally gets you the top players from the previous year. Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara were drafted in the first round this year because of their track records.

I don’t want to minimize the importance of a good draft, but consider that after 11 weeks, McCaffrey is RB24, Cook is RB15 and Kamara is RB10. Meanwhile, James Conner is RB5. He was undrafted in some drafts. And Cordarrelle Patterson is RB12, and he was on every waiver wire during the regular season. These are based on PPR rankings.

Again, there’s no doubt that a good draft gives you a big boost heading into the regular season in fantasy football. But a fantasy championship is won through the waiver wire. Not only is the waiver wire a great tool on a week-by-week basis but also if you’re lucky enough, you can land the next Kamara and have him as a keeper for the following year.

In 2017, I had the first pick in my home league and drafted David Johnson. He was injured in the first quarter of the first game and never returned that season. I lost the first four matchups that year, while I scoured the waiver wire each week. In week 4, I picked up Kamara. The rookie RB had gotten off to a slow start but was emerging in New Orleans.

The same week that I got Kamara, I traded for Mark Ingram. This coincided with the surprising departure of Adrian Peterson that same week. Ingram, at age 28, set new career highs with 1,124 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Kamara added 728 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns and led the NFL with a 6.1-yard average per carry.

And that’s just what the tandem managed as rushers. Adding in what Ingram and Kamara did as receivers shows just how great the duo now known as “Boom and Zoom” became in 2017. Kamara caught 81 passes for 826 yards. Ingram had 58 receptions for 416 yards. Kamara was AP Rookie of the Year, and my fantasy team won a championship.

Four years later, I found myself without either of my starting running backs. As I’ve shared in this column three weeks ago, I lost first-round pick Derrick Henry to an injury in week 8. The best-case scenario has him returning in week 17. Carson, who had a neck injury and didn’t play after week 4, opted to have season-ending surgery. It’s back to the waiver wire.

Without my top running backs, I have been looking for temporary solutions to win each week. I picked up James Conner on waivers on November 6th, Devonta Freeman on the 10th, Ingram on the 11th, D’Ernest Johnson on the 12th (for a second time), Jeff Wilson on the 17th, D’Onta Foreman on the 17th and David Johnson on the 24th.

All of those acquisitions were made in the last three weeks. Before that, I picked up Alexander Mattison and used him effectively on two different occasions. I also picked up A.J. Dillon back in October but foolishly traded him for Myles Gaskin right before Aaron Jones was injured. I had also acquired Devantae Booker while Saquon Barkely was out.  

My point is that you must always utilize an opportunity to make a transaction and better your team for the following week, or for the season. In my case, I have managed to win two of my last three matchups since the Henry injury to improve my record to 7-4 in my home league. I’m currently tied for second place, but I’ve got a long way to go for a title.

Breakout players are bound to happen. Be ahead of the curve and find them on the wire. Each year, many of the best fantasy players are not even drafted in most leagues. A great example is Patterson, the Atlanta running back who came out of nowhere to achieve RB1 status. He was averaging 17.6 fantasy points per before he was injured in week 10. 

Speaking of breakouts, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not even drafted in some leagues when he broke out in 2018. That same year, Nick Chubb broke out in a big way for Cleveland. He was available on the waiver wire before the breakout. Chubb was playing behind Carlos Hyde but got his chance after the latter was traded midseason.

If you’re still in contention in your fantasy league, don’t go to sleep at the wheel. Even though we’re entering week 12, it’s still not too late to find the next potential breakout player or fantasy stud. Always utilize the tools given to you to win in fantasy football. The best thing about the waiver wire is it costs you literally nothing to use it.

Follow Thomas L. Seltzer, AKA Doubting Thomas, on Twitter @ThomasLSeltzer1.

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