Top 6 Waiver Wire Surprises In Fantasy Football

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Our buddy James Blews over at the Fantasy Football Toolkit(http://fantasyfootballtoolkit.com/) has written a great and insightful piece on the waiver wire surprises in fantasy football for 2013. Along with some other insightful weekly articles and their podcast show, James and the Toolkit have an exceptional piece on the waiver wire, and provide you with an abundance of tools and resources (http://fantasyfootballtoolkit.com/waiver-wire-mining-for-fantasy-football-gold/). I strongly encourage everyone to check out the Fantasy Football Toolkit. Enjoy!

Top 6 Waiver Wire Surprises In Fantasy Football

In fantasy football every year, there seems to be a handful of NFL talent that goes unnoticed and undrafted, only to find starting places in our rosters.  This year was no exception, as the waiver wire provided much needed support in the times of injuries, poor draft decisions and bye weeks.  Let’s check out the top 13 players in the NFL that fit the bill for our fantasy football teams; as well as what the future holds for them next season.

Josh McCown (QB – Chicago Bears)

It’s interesting to see the difference in the Bears from a few years ago compared with today.  Back then, they were a run-first, heavily defensive-minded squad who looked to win games by simple attrition.  Today, they boast a quarterback duo that, together, would be ranked third overall for quarterbacks in fantasy football!

For next season, the Bears are in a pickle.  Because of the way Jay Cutler’s contract is structured, they would need to renegotiate right now, or lose him simply because his resigning would drive them into the stratosphere for salary caps; and they aren’t going to franchise him.  So they’ll resign McCown, right?  Not necessarily!

See, the Bears made a big mistake and signed McCown to the absolutely league minimum.  If they had offered him literally one dollar more (I’m not kidding…instead of the $840,000 salary, if they would’ve given him $840,001), he wouldn’t be a full free agent.  Because of the collective bargaining agreements, it all amounts to Chicago needing to dump Cutler next season and possibly combating with a decent salary (think veteran quarterback money, not the $840,000 that they offered him this year).

Zac Stacy (RB – St. Louis Rams)

At the beginning of the season, the lead rushing job in St. Louis had nothing to do with Zac Stacy.  Daryl Richardson was what some fantasy football owners in deeper leagues were betting on.  However, injuries and production changed the starting running back role, and Stacy became ‘it’.

For next season, I think Zac Stacy should be considered a strong play.  Possibly a RB1 in deep, deep leagues, but definitely a RB2 or Flex player for sure.  During the last 7 games, Stacy has put together some top ten fantasy numbers; 3 100+ yard rushing games, averaging about a touchdown in each contest.

Since the Rams are still a young, developing team on both sides of the ball, I think you can expect Zac Stacy’s situation to improve as the offense does.  This will probably mean that you’ll see Stacy go from a waiver wire golden child to a third round or higher grab!

Alshon Jeffery (WR – Chicago Bears)

Alshon Jeffery was less-than-average as a rookie.  However, this was a Chicago Bears offense that didn’t have a lot of impact for fantasy football owners.  Fast forward to this year!  Jeffery is now nearly tied with fellow Chicago Bear wide-out, Brandon Marshall, in the #4 and #5 spot for fantasy football wide receivers.

This past week was a bad one for Jeffery, in Cutler’s return.  The five targets he saw were his fewest since Week 6 with Cutler under center.  Jeffery still finished with 5 receptions for 70+ yards and a touchdown, or 13+ fantasy points.  This has basically been his bounded averaged (minus Week 12’s low-point and Week 13’s high-point) since the Bears’ Week 8 bye week.

Next season, I think you count on Alshon Jeffery to be something solid.  However, it might depend on who’s under center.  As mentioned above, it is looking more and more like neither Cutler nor McCown will be quarterback come next September.  Even so, he is going to be ranked right alongside Brandon Marshall in the top ten for fantasy football wide receivers – a big change from the start of this season.

Charles Clay (TE – Miami Dolphins)

When Dustin Keller went down with a horrific knee injury for the season, I think a lot of Miami Dolphins’ fans didn’t find much value in Charles Clay.  Surprise, surprise!  Clay’s numbers at the beginning of the season were HUGE to start the season.  Through the first five games, Clay had grabbed 297 yards receiving, 2 touchdowns in the air and another rushing touchdown in Week 2.

Does Charles Clay become a lot of peoples starting tight end next fantasy season?  YES!  And why not?!  In a world that is moving closer and closer to a pass first league, Miami is becoming a pass-first team.  Clay is showing that he catch deep balls, as well as short passes and make YAC happen.

Next season, I can see him in the top 10 in tight ends, as I believe this year he will be doing the same.  By the way, expect him to bounce back from last week’s one catch, six yard performance and possibly hit his stride of 60 yards and a touchdown versus Buffalo.

Steven Hauschka (K – Seattle Seahawks)

I know that kicker isn’t a position that a lot of us think of as having some waiver wire goodness but even now, there are simply some great options on the waiver wire for kicker and for getting extra points.  Steven Hauschka was one of these players ever since week one.

Leading into most drafted, Hauschka was ranked anywhere from 11th fantasy kicker, the whole way down to #18 overall.  What made him initially attractive in my mind was that he would be on a scoring team AND he had a late bye week, so I didn’t have to think about the change.  What was surprising, was that he went from less than 10% owned in NFL.com public leagues up to now nearly 70%; a nearly 10-point fantasy average does that.

This year, he is currently ranked #4 as a fantasy kicker.  Next year, expect him to start the season ranked about the same, and it is a justified rank for sure.

Carolina Panthers Defense

The Carolina Panthers Defense started off this fantasy football season ranked in the bottom part of the league (most experts placed them at #20 or below).  In fact, their first two weeks against Seattle and Buffalo yielded a terribly low amount of points for the defense…and so the waiver wire was where they stayed.

Week 3, the Giants came to town, and everything changed for the Carolina Defense.  This was a 7 sack game for the Panthers, along with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery.  From there on out, the defense was able to create at least one turnover in every game, until Week 14 against the Saints.  Last week’s ‘redemption’ win against the Jets pulled them back up to their 11+ point averages in fantasy football.

For next year, expect their ranking to fall.  It’s as simple as salary cap hits and how aggressive the Panthers will be in picking up free agents and draft picks in the off-season.  Until we see that, since there is more than one person involved, I really can’t say anything more than expect the Panthers to be in the top ten in defensive rankings entering the 2014 draft.

About the Author

James Blews owns and writes for the Fantasy Football Toolkit (http://fantasyfootballtoolkit.com).  He has played fantasy football for around 15 years, and is just as good at it as eating cookies…and he loves cookies!

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