Well, we have made it to Week 17 and the final installment of this year’s Waiver Wire Report. Before we get to the players to think about if you are in one of the league’s out there that still plays their championship this week, I would like to thank everyone for reading my inaugural season writing the Report. I had a lot of fun putting it together and look forward to being right here next season to try and help you uncover some waiver wire gems throughout the season.
Since we are smack dab in the season of giving, I wanted to focus part of this week’s report on the best players we covered here during the season, a Waiver Wire Report All-Stars, if you will. Taking a look back, I was pleased that I consistently at least mentioned a lot of the players that ended up on the All-Star team a week or two before they really emerged, which is the ultimate goal - beat the competition to the punch on the real difference makers. Sure, we had just as many misses and pretenders along the way, and we’ll single out a few of those culprits for derision as well.
After that we’ll touch on a couple of players for this week’s games, just in case you need to make a few more moves to seal the deal in your fantasy league. As for me, my fantasy football season is done. I ended up coming up short in the playoffs with both of my championship contenders, as my RB trio of Doug Martin, Trent Richardson and Jamaal Charles collectively hit the wall. I can’t complain too much, as they helped get me into the money in the first place, but I sure would have liked them to keep things rolling just a little bit longer. Both of my teams led their respective leagues in scoring but ran into opponents who got hot at the right time, and as we all know that can make all the difference in Head-to-Head leagues. Dez Bryant absolutely killed me last week, and I am sure a lot of his owners are smiling this week as he simply dominated when it counted the most. But enough about me and my team’s, let’s get to the season finale of the Report for this year.
2012 Mastersball Waiver Wire Report All-Stars
Russell Wilson, SEA – Wilson was the easy choice to be the Quarterback on this list. He was the first player we profiled this year way back in Week One, and even though it took a few weeks for Pete Carroll to take off the training wheels, once he did Wilson more than exceeded any expectations that anyone who was savvy enough to grab him could have had. Once the Seahawks opened up the game-plan, Wilson really took off. He was an absolute stud down the stretch, and if you held on to him through his early season struggles, you had a very good chance of hitting it big in the playoffs, especially in two-QB leagues.
Josh Freeman, TB – Freeman was dropped in many leagues after starting the season in a little bit of a funk. He was our top QB in Weeks 7 and 8 after back-to-back stellar efforts. He followed those up with a nice string of games before becoming an interception machine in the fantasy playoffs. Still, he finished as a Top 12 QB on the year, ahead of many names drafted or kept ahead of him.
Sam Bradford, STL – Bradford was on and off the list all year, which speaks to the lack of trust that fantasy players had in the Rams signal-caller. He was a big target of ours heading into the fantasy playoffs and he didn’t disappoint, particularly against the Vikings in Week 15.
Alfred Morris, WAS – Morris was another member of our Week One class who can clearly stake his own claim to being the most valuable pickup of the year in many formats. As the preseason came to a close, it was as usual still unclear who Mike Shanahan would turn to to be his starting running back. In most drafts Roy Helu and Evan Royster were selected well ahead of the unheralded Morris, who went undrafted in many shallow formats and was at best a late round dart in deeper leagues.. The first signs that Morris was a player to keep an eye on came when the Redskins released Tim Hightower prior to the season. After he received 28 carries in Week 1 and scored two touchdowns, there was no looking back for Morris. While he didn’t really have any truly monster weeks, he also didn’t have to many stinkers either. The biggest accomplishment for Morris is that he actually made the Redskins RB a position you could trust again, at least for one season.
Marcel Reece, OAK – Reece won’t be listed on a lot of other people’s year-end lists, but he makes ours here because I think he really qualified as a Mastersball special. I will give credit where credit is due, by reminding you all again that it was our own Greg Morgan who first put Reece on my radar back in Week 3. We profiled him in Week 5 as a player who could produce when the inevitable Darren McFadden injury hit and we correctly hit on him as the guy to get in Week 10 when Taiwan Jones was still in the conversation. Reece had a four week stretch where he produced quality numbers that would help his owners navigate the last remaining bye weeks on the schedule. He was indispensible in the one league where I had him and started him for three of those weeks.
Knowshon Moreno, DEN – Moreno got a cursory mention from us way back in Week 2 after he scored a touchdown in the season opener. After that he disappeared for the rest of the year until becoming a waiver wire darling following the season-ending injury to Willis McGahee in Week 11. I have to admit I whiffed on Moreno in Week 12, hyping Ronnie Hillman instead. If you were smart enough to take a $1 shot on him that week you got one of the biggest difference makers in this year’s playoffs.
Andre Brown, NYG – Brown was a true waiver wire find this year, as there was very little buzz on him in the pre-season as everyone was scooping up David Wilson as their Ahmad Bradshaw insurance policy. Brown had a monster Week 3 as that week’s cover boy, then put together a nice 5 week run in mid-season as the goal-line back for the G-men. Only a broken leg stopped him from finishing higher up the ranks, and it would have been real interesting to see if he could have helped reverse the team’s fortunes down the stretch.
Bryce Brown, PHI – We identified Brown as Shady McCoy’s new handcuff way back in Week 3, so hopefully you had him on board when McCoy went down late in the year. He was the ultimate boom-then-bust waiver wire pickup this year as his 347 yard, 4 TD numbers in Week’s 12 and 13 carried a bunch of lucky owners into the fantasy playoffs where he promptly turned into a pumpkin again. He needs to figure out how to hang onto the football, but it’s pretty clear the Eagles will integrate him into the offense next season.
Randall Cobb, GB – I thought hard about putting Cobb on this list, as he was drafted in every league I played in this year. Still, he was our cover boy in Week 2 based on the fact that the Greg Jennings injury was a reminder that Cobb was the future at WR for the Packers and “the future is now.” He was available in plenty of shallow formats that week, and those that ended up with him on their roster got a Top 10 WR for the last two-thirds of the season.
Cecil Shorts, JCK – While I can’t claim to have given Shorts much early season love, we did tell you to grab him coming out of the Jaguars bye in Week 7. Lack of movement from the masses in standard leagues compelled us to write him up again the following 4 weeks until it was finally clear he wasn’t going away. A late season concussion took some wind out of his sails come playoff time, but there is no denying he was one of the better waiver wire finds this year.
Danario Alexander, SD – These awards aren’t really meant to just pat myself on the back for some good calls, but those guys I hit on earlier than most I admit hold a special place in my mind looking back. I profiled Alexander in Week 9 when he was scooped off the scrap-heap by the Chargers and again in Week 10 after the coaching staff sang his praises and before he truly broke out to become everyone’s cover-boy in Week 11. He’s been a difference maker ever since, even in Week 15 when his goose-egg likely derailed some owners championship dreams.
Josh Gordon, CLE – While Gordon doesn’t quite rank up there as the difference maker that some of the other names on this list were, the odds are that he was undrafted in more leagues than any of them. He also was the best Week 1 WR call that we made, as he emerged as a go to player for the Browns as e predicted. Truth be told, Brandon Weeden’s shortcomings were all that held back Gordon from putting up even better numbers than he did in his first year.
James Jones, GB- Jones will get more love elsewhere than I will give him here, and mainly it’s because I didn’t really buy into him until it was too late for you to likely cash in on his best stretch of the year. Then he kind of faded again, so many didn’t even start him for his Week 15 playoff explosion. Still, you can’t deny a guy a spot somewhere on this list when they tally 13 TD’s and leapfrog many other highly drafted WR’s in the final rankings. It’s a reminder that when you are taking late round fliers, look for those on high-powered offenses with elite QB’s.
Andre Roberts, ARZ – You could have won a ton of money before the season if you could have predicted that Roberts would have as good or better a year than Larry Fitzgerald. Perry Van Hook was right on the money by making sure I included Roberts in Week One’s report.
Ryan Broyles, DET – Broyles was another of my pre-season sleepers who eventually paid off once injuries got him on the field. Unfortunately a second major knee injury cut things short, right after many people paid a king’s ransom to add him to their squad, leaving an unfortunate empty and bitter taste.
Heath Miller, PIT – We have to give another shout-out to Perry Van Hook, who got Miller onto the Week One list. In a down year overall for TE’s, Miller proved to be one of the most consistent, if somewhat boring players at his position all year. Still, in two-TE leagues, he would have been gold as your second starter as his week-to-week consistently had him finish as a Top 5 TE at season’s end.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN – It wouldn’t be fair of me not to include Rudolph on this end of year edition as I hyped him relentlessly in the early parts of the season. He ended up scoring 9 touchdowns on the year, and if he could have received more consistent quarterbacking he would have been able to avoid the 4 zero’s that were sprinkled in throughout the year.
Brandon Myers, OAK – Myers quieted chugged along, finally getting some respect for owners in the middle of the bye weeks before paying off big with some late season heroics. He faded with the rest of the Raiders in the playoffs, but when it was all said and done he finished as a Top 12 TE on the year. Not bad for someone who was all but ignored the first half of the season.
Dennis Pitta, BAL – Pitta was a hard guy to trust on a weekly basis, but he had some nice production early in the year and then capped things off with a monster day in Week 15. He got me to the championship after I followed my own advice and scooped him off the wire and started him that week.
There are other names that we considered but for whatever reasons didn’t make the cut. Some of these include: Vick Ballard, Bilal Powell, Nick Foles, T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery, Mikel Leshoure and Jonathan Dwyer. Some weren’t quite the difference makers of those listed, and some like Danny Amendola, Pierre Garcon and Andy Dalton were widely owned players that weren’t true waiver darlings. Then there were the many misses along the way, guys who just didn’t deliver the goods or teased us with their supposed promise. Yeah, I am looking at you Kevin Ogletree, Stephen Hill, Ronnie Hillman, David Wilson, Rashad Jennings, Jahvid Best, Brian Hartline and of course the king Titus Young.
So that’s this year’s All-Star team and with it we will close the books of the 2012 fantasy season. Again, I had a blast and I hope you guys enjoyed reading the column as much as I did writing it. As promised, we will close things out with a quick look at guys to grab if you are playing for keeps this week:
Michael Vick, PHI – Vick get to finish out the season as the Eagles QB and he has plenty of reasons to go out and try to put on a show heading into free agency. The Giants defense has been torched the last few weeks so the matchup is right for Vick to end things up with a bang.
Colt McCoy, CLE – McCoy will likely get the starting nod in the season finale against the Steelers. If you are desperate in a two-quarterback league you could plug in McCoy and hope for the best. The problem is he doesn’t have the arm to get the ball downfield, so don’t expect too much here.
Ben Tate, HOU – We have been telling you for weeks to grab Tate if you had a Week 17 game, and here we are with a Colts defense that just got torched by the Chiefs for gobs of yards last week. Throw in the fact that Arian Foster left last week’s game with an irregular heartbeat, and you have all the reasons you need to give Tate a look this week. The same goes for Justin Forsett actually.
Ryan Grant, GB – Grant will get a lot of attention after his 2 TD game last week. While his return to prominence for his former team is a nice story, be wary of thinking lightning will strike twice here. The Vikings still play the run tough and Alex Green will likely return to push Grant into more of a timeshare.
Montario Hardesty, CLE – Trent Richardson injured his ankle last week and was already battling through a litany of nagging injuries. The Browns have no reason to trot him out there this week, so expect Hardesty to get the lion’s share of carries against a good Steelers defense. Hardesty has actually looked pretty good in spot duty the last few weeks, and with the Steelers eliminated from the playoffs, he could have more success than normal. He makes a pretty good flex bet if you are desperate.
Lamar Miller, MIA – Miller is another name we said to stash for this week and he showed that he can produce if given the touches. He turned 10 carries into 73 yards last week, and figures to get the ball at least that much this week against the Patriots.
Jason Avant, PHI – There is a chance that Avant is sitting out there in your league and I think he could really do some damage this week against the Giants pass defense. I think he rides the Vick bandwagon to fantasy relevance this week.
Greg Little, CLE – I don’t really believe too much in Little, but I can’t deny that he has been producing better stats of late and has more experience with McCoy than just about anyone else on the team. McCoy looked for him often last week and that at least puts him on the WR3 radar this week.
Jordan Shipley, JCK – We highlighted Cecil Shorts and his tremendous season earlier and now we will talk about the guy who will step into his spot this week. Shipley led the team in targets and yards last week and gets a gift of a matchup against the Titans. He’s going to get the targets and I like him better than Little in PPR leagues.
Delanie Walker, SF – Vernon Davis suffered a concussion last week and hasn’t yet been cleared to play this week. If he sits out, then Walker will get a run with the offense. I have always been a fan of what Walker brings to the field, and the Niners have plenty to play for this week. If Davis sits, then Walker could do some damage against the Cardinals.
Lance Kendricks, STL – I profiled Kendricks last week, and he made me look smarter than I am thanks to an 80 yard touchdown reception. The Seahawks defense is tough, which forces teams to turn to their TE’s for help. Kendricks should put up decent numbers again this week.
Chargers – I got beat last week by a team that plugged the Chargers in against me. With the Raiders on the docket this week, they have a good chance at another big week.
Okay – I have stretched the word limit on this installment far enough! Good luck those of you still playing and we’ll see you again next year!