The waiver wire/free agency – where gems are found and players that are doing nothing on your bench are thrown – right before they become next week’s hero! Depending on how your waiver wire/free agency is set up, either by standard waiver rules, or by first come and first serve basis, being able to navigate this highly important part of fantasy football is key to winning. The trick of course, is knowing when to grab someone, and when to let people slide by. For those owners that grabbed CJ Anderson, great move. For those that grabbed Jonas Gray on the heels of a 200 yard, four touchdown game, sorry! Even worse is the owner who was smart enough to grab someone like Odell Beckham Jr. in the draft, watch him not play for a couple of weeks, and then drop him for someone who was actually playing in those first couple of weeks! You will hit and miss with free agents, it is inevitable, but making smart moves can lead to a title.
In this article, I have listed some of the smartest waiver/free agent pick-ups of the year. I know that some leagues are deeper than others, so not all these players were necessarily out there in all leagues, and yes I know some of you were smart enough to maybe grab a couple of these players at your draft, but these are players that were most likely out there in most league.
CJ Anderson: First Montee Ball underperformed, and then got hurt. Then Ronnie Hillman, who looked very good, got hurt. That is when CJ Anderson ran with this job, both figuratively and literally. In 8 games, starting in week 10, Anderson had 767 yards rushing, 290 yards receiving, and 10 total touchdowns: Good for 165 total fantasy points in an eight game span. There is a good chance that Anderson helped many fantasy owners win titles this year, and in the process has put himself squarely on the map as a RB1 in next year’s draft. Assuming the Broncos keep him the starter, Anderson can be safely kept in keeper leagues in 2015.
Odell Beckham Jr: There is a good chance that Beckham may have been drafted in your league, but then dropped early as he missed the first four games of the year. There is also a good chance he was not drafted, as he missed the entire offseason for the Giants and those first four games. He came back in week five and looked decent in limited time with 44 yards and a touchdown, but then in week six laid an egg with two points. What he did from there was unbelievable. Beckham was an unstoppable force the rest of the way and finished the year with 91 receptions, 1305 yards, 12 touchdowns, seven 100 yard games, and from week five on, had only one week below 9 points. Beckham will challenge to be the top wide receiver drafted in 2015, and is solidly entrenched at this point as a WR1. In keeper leagues, Beckham can be safely kept in 2015.
Justin Forsett: First Ray Rice was suspended, then Bernard Pierce was left in the dust. Lorenzo Taliaferro took some yards and touchdowns, but overall could not take the job away from this guy, who was probably not drafted on your league. Forsett stepped into this job in week one of the season with over fourteen fantasy points and never looked back. In standard leagues he had 9.5 points in one week, and was in double digits in 11 other weeks. A consistent source of points he only had two weeks below six and a half points! Forsett finished the year with 1266 yards rushing, 263 yards receiving, and 8 total touchdowns. For those of you that were able to grab him early, you were rewarded the entire year with Forsett.
Brandon LaFell: After a strong pre-season LaFell MAY have been drafted in your league, depending on how big your league is. After weeks one and two, when he scored zero points, there is a good chance he was back on the market. Either way, whoever ended the year with him, ended the year with a receiver that they were able to plug into their lineups and get decent numbers out of from week to week. LaFell had seven double digit games, and ended the year with 73 receptions and 953 yards in his first year in the New England offense. Another off-season to work with Brady, should make LaFell be drafted in more leagues in 2015, and should help him improve on his career year this year.
Jordan Matthews: Although he was drafted in the second round of the 2014 draft, there was not as much hype for Matthews on fantasy rosters early in the season as there was on some other rookies. His first eight weeks were mediocre at best, minus the one game where he had two touchdowns. Over the second half of the season he became someone that was started in many leagues. Over that span in the second half of the season, with Sanchez at QB, he had 599 yards and six touchdowns. Matthews shuld be a big part of the offense in 2015, and if Maclin were to leave in free agency, look for his numbers to really go up in Chip Kelly’s offense.
Other good pickups include Matt Asiata, Tre Mason and Denard Robinson. Asiata was inconsistent from week to week but still had 812 total yards and 10 touchdowns. Mason had 913 total yards and 5 touchdowns while Robinson had four consecutive games where he scored over 11 fantasy points in week 7-10.
This article was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter: @BigNoahd05