Winning With The Waiver Wire


“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Michael Jordan

The more you play fantasy football, the more you notice that the better players are always making something happen. Whether that be through trades, scouting the waiver wire, or tinkering with their starters and bench players, one of the biggest keys to winning fantasy football involves movement. Brad Pitt said in World War Z that “Movement is life”. While we aren’t fleeing for our lives from reanimated flesh eaters in the fantasy football world, the NFL is not only changing week to week, but day by day. A good draft will get you far, and there are occasions where it will let you make the playoffs. I drafted a team on to test out the site(it is great by the way), but I couldn’t keep up with that team. I checked in half way through the season and modified some of my lineup, but the next time I checked in was during the semifinals. I had made it, but I ended up loosing by a few points even with having two inactive players in the game. Of my eight years of playing fantasy football, I have never had a team make the championship without making any moves on the waiver wire or trading.

Sadly, there is a large percentage of fantasy owners who will dip out on their season because they drafted Trent Richardson with their first pick, or Aaron Rodgers was hurt for half of the season. If you are reading this, whether you are an expert or 2013 was your first year playing fantasy football, I want you to realize that this is an unacceptable attitude. I ensure you that you can be better than that mindset, and you can still have a great season even with your high draft picks under performing or injured. The waiver wire isn’t easy. You have to be very active on it to get the most out of it, and there will be a lot of trial and error, but playing the waiver wire is one of the most important factors for not only making the championship, but for winning the whole shabang.

You may be saying to yourself, “Jack, that is all well and good, but I don’t understand how waiver wire players could replace a Julio Jones or an Aaron Rodgers”. Well, I am sure glad that you specifically brought up that Julio Jones example! One of my fantasy football drafting strategies was to have two elite wide receivers on the same team. I drafted Randall Cobb and James Jones(you can argue about his “eliteness” but he is still a very strong player), Julio Jones and Roddy White, and Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker. Can you guess which team or teams didn’t make the playoffs? If you said the team with Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker, than you would be correct! Surprisingly, my Bronco wide receiver lead team finished 7-6. I am currently in the championship with my Randall Cobb and James Jones team with a 10-3 regular season record, and I am playing for third place with my Julio Jones and Roddy White team that finished the regular season 9-4. So when I say that your season isn’t screwed after loosing key players, I hope you are starting to believe me. I am going to go through what it took to make these teams a championship contender to further my belief in the importance of the waiver wire.

10-3 Team With Randall Cobb and James Jones


Randall Cobb looked like he was off to a strong start scoring 49 points in four weeks in standard scoring leagues, but his injury in Week 6 would remove him from playing the rest of the 10 games left in the fantasy season. James Jones wasn’t having a bad season either with 42 points in the three weeks he touched the ball, but having an injury in the same game as Cobb, Jones was sidelined for several weeks. Even though Jones was able to play for fantasy owners in the later part of the season, Jones could not be considered a reliable fantasy starter as he was still getting over his injury, as well as the loss of Aaron Rodgers. Jones had two touchdowns in the first four weeks that he played, but he has only had one touchdown since. David Wilson was my second overall pick for this team and Randall Cobb was my third, so if I told most people those two guys were in my first three picks, they probably wouldn’t believe I would be playing for the championship right now. Here is a look at my team and the order it was drafted in.

Adrian Peterson
David Wilson
Randall Cobb
Reggie Bush
James Jones
Andrew Luck
Montee Ball
T.Y. Hilton
Ben Tate
Josh Gordon
Golden Tate
Kenbrell Thompkins
Jordan Cameron
Justin Blackmon
Mike Nugent
Yes. Having Adrian Peterson as your first pick does help, but there are eight other players that you need to score you points. As you can see, Randall Cobb, David Wilson, Montee Ball, T.Y Hilton, Ben Tate, Golden Tate, Kenbrell Thompkins, the Packers defense, and Justin Blackmon did not have the greatest of seasons for fantasy purposes. So of my 16 picks, nine players were essentially busts. Of the 16 players I drafted, only four of them were still on my Week 16 roster which is listed below.

Drew Brees
Zac Stacy
Edwin Baker
Danny Amendola
Vincent Jackson
Marcedes Lewis
Larry Fitzgerald
Mason Crosby
Adrian Peterson
T.Y. Hilton
Jordan Cameron
Jarrett Boykin
Jamaal Charles
James Jones
It almost looks like an entirely new team doesn’t it? It turns out that of my originally drafted team,only25% of them were on my Week 16 roster, and that includes the fact that I traded James Jones,and then picked him backup when the team I traded him with dropped him. This league was one ofthe most active in trading that I have ever been a part of, and trades actually accounted for a ton ofthe players on my final team.One of the first trades I did in this league was trading Kenbrell Thompkinsfor Drew Brees. This obviously made a huge difference in my season, and for many players this doesnot seem logical. I ensure you that there was no collusion of any sort for this trade, and it did not

have any vetoes in the league. The rational I believe that the person who made this trade with me

had at the time was that they owned both Brees and Phillip Rivers, and Phillip Rivers had scored over

20 fantasy points in three of the first four weeks. If you combine that with the fact that Kenbrell

Thompkins had scored 16 and 18 points in Week 3 and Week 4, and the owner of Brees had a weak

wide receiver core, this trade does have some logic to it.  The next trade I made at the time seemed

to beneficial, but I ended up coming in a little short. I had picked up Mike Tolbert off of waivers when

he had his hot streak, and I made a deal with one of the league members of Mike Tolbert, James

Jones, and Josh Gordon for Danny Amendola, Vincent Jackson, and Mike James. This was mainly to

build depth, but with Mike James suffering a season ending injury and Amendola being inconsistent,

my opponent got the better of this deal with Josh Gordon. He did however drop Tolbert and Jones,

while Jackson and Amendola remained on my team.  I was also able to pick Jones backup, so the deal

ended up building the depth I wanted even though Josh Gordon has been insane. My final trade of the

season help propelled me into fantasy glory. One of the players in my league had Aaron Rodgers and

Josh McCown, and the waiver wire was not very friendly for quarterbacks. I decided to offer him a t

rade involving Andrew Luck, and several variations later, we were able to land a deal. I traded Andrew

Luck, Reggie Bush, and Golden Tate for Larry Fitzgerald and Jamaal Charles. I didn’t need Luck so

trading him did not hurt me at all,  and while Reggie Bush performed pretty strongly throughout the

year, I was worried about him getting injured and being overused in the later part of the season.

Golden Tate had remained on my bench for most of the year, so I had no problem giving him up.

Being able to have both Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson made my team look unstable.Like I said,

trades were the major part of my success for this team. I took some risks, but I think most of them

paid off. The key with trading though is that you need to have an intuition about what the players you

want are going to do in the next couple of weeks. If a player has been under performing for several

weeks and you think he has some nice matchups coming up or other factors that will improve his

performance, you need to pounce before he does what you are expecting him to do.My best pick ups

from the waiver wire were Zac Stacy and the Panthers defense. I also still have Jarret Boykin on my

team who had a few key games.For this team, I made 31 acquisitions. That means I added 31

different players to my team throughout the season. If your break the acquisitions down by a 16 week

season, that means I picked up and dropped around 2 players a week.Next, I will show you my team

of Julio Jones and Roddy White

9-4 Team With Julio Jones and Roddy White 


I did one trade for this league, and the only player I kept on the team from that trade was Eric

Decker, so the percentage I had of players on my roster from trades was less than 1 percent. Julio

Jones looked like he was going to give Calvin Johnson a run for his money as the top receiver for

2013, but his injury was devastating to many fantasy owners. As Julio was my second pick and Roddy

White was my third, this looked like another team that was heading for disaster. Below is the order in

which I drafted this team.

Adrian Peterson
Julio Jones
Roddy White
Reggie Bush
Rob Gronkowski
Andrew Luck
Giovani Bernard
Rashard Mendenhall
Fred Jackson
Rueben Randle
Bilal Powell
Kenbrell Thompkins
Zach Sudfeld
Santana Moss
Steven Hauschka

As you can tell from my chart above, the waiver wire is one of the biggest reasons for my success. My key pickups were Keenan Allen, Nick Foles, the Chiefs defense, and Jordan Cameron. Close to 60% of my team in Week 16 were picked up from the waiver wire. While I didn’t necessarily have anyone match the production of Julio Jones, I formed a more well rounded team that helped puck up the slack. I also traded under performers like Roddy White, and I cut people I had received in trades like Lamar Miller. While my 10-3 team appears to be more about trading picking up the right players, this team cultivated a strong record through removing dead weight. I wasn’t going to wait for Roddy White to be the third overall pick I expected him to be, and receiving Eric Decker helped my season. I may have lost the Bengals defense at the time, but the person I traded them to dropped them two weeks later, and I picked them back up. I just dropped them this week to play the Lions because of their matchup with Minnesota. Sure, it would have been great if I could have went to a championship with my second and third rounds picks, but you can’t get over attached to a name. If someone has been under performing for you, you need to do some research and try and figure out if they will bounce back. If you don’t think they will, you need to trade him or cut him before he has no value at all. To summarize my season, these were most important lessons I took away from the waiver wire and trading.

1. Even if you have a great record or even a loosing one, constantly play and observe the waiver wire

2. Don’t be too attached to a name. If your stud is a dud, don’t be afraid to drop him

3. Compare a players risks to his rewards, and don’t be afraid to make a decision.

I hope this can inspire those who need it for the 2014-2015 season. Just remember. Movement is life. I would also like to give a special shout out to James Blews of The Fantasy Football Toolkit for his great book that he has published. As you saw, I have become a big fan of the charts you can create from Google docs because of  James advice!

Coach Jack

Categories: Fantasy Football, Fantasy Football Strategy

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1 reply


  1. 2013 Fantasy Football Strategy Review « Your Fantasy Football Coach

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