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Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Football 2013: Waiver Wire Pickups of the Year

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Fantasy Football: Waiver Wire Pickups of the Year

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons will play the final game on the Week 16 schedule Monday, and with many notable players in the game (Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Tony Gonzalez) many fantasy football league titles may have yet to be decided.

I have chosen not to go full-force with a Week 17 edition of “Waiver Wire Pickups”, since most fantasy leagues will be over and it will have little value to the majority of owners. Instead I have decided to take a look back and put together a list of the top waiver wire pickups of the year.

As is the case every year, injuries and dismal performance by teammates opened the door for multiple players to make a difference and be weekly starters for fantasy owners. But players that emerged and sustained value for the longest stretch of weeks clearly moved to the top of my list, with some priority given to those who had their most productive games when the stakes were highest for fantasy owners as the regular season ended and the playoffs got going (I’ll call it “Money Time”).

I’d like to take this space to thank faithful readers of my “Waiver Wire Pickups” each week this season. I hope taking a look at this list since early September, from reading every word about every player or maybe just skimming the list for further insight into someone specific, has provided some value and helped you do well in your league. Most importantly, I hope you’ll come back on Mondays in 2014.

Without further ado, here are my top waiver wire pickups for 2013.

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Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Foles attempted just one pass in the first three games of the season as Michael Vick opened the season as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback, but he had at least 15 fantasy points (ESPN scoring) in all nine games he started and finished between Week 5 and Week 16 along with multiple passing touchdowns in seven of those games. Foles is potential candidate for NFL MVP, and any owner that added him would surely nominate him for a similar honor in fantasy football circles.

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Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams

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Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Stacy entered the season as a popular dark horse sleeper, but he had just one carry in the first four games before moving into a significant role in Week 5. From that point on the rookie out of Vanderbilt had at least 53 rushing yards in 10 of 11 games through Week 16, and he saved his fantasy grace with a rushing touchdown in the one outlier over that span. Stacy has a chance to be one of the first 5-10 running backs drafted in 2014.

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Rashad Jennings, RB, Oakland Raiders

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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Darren McFadden’s annual injury woes opened the door for Jennings to play a key role for fantasy owners, and from Week 9-Week 13 he had at least 11 fantasy points in four of five games and he had 88 rushing yards in the one game where he didn’t reach that point total over that span. An ill-timed missed game in Week 14 may have hurt some owners at a critical stage of the season, but Jennings did rebound nicely in Week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs (23 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns).

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Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Wright left a lot to be desired in the touchdown department, with just two all season, but from Week 2-Week 13 he had at least 54 yards in every game and at least five catches in 10 of those 11 contests. Wright’s best game of the season came in Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals (12 receptions for 150 yards), and his value was excellent in PPR leagues (89 receptions through Week 16).

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Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Allen’s touchdown catch against the Oakland Raiders in Week 16 gave him five touchdown receptions during the fantasy playoffs in most leagues (Week 14-Week 16), and after a slow start to the season he had at least 67 receiving yards or a touchdown in 10 of 12 games from Week 4-Week 16. Allen may have been drafted in deeper leagues and then dropped after a poor first three games, so any savvy fantasy owner that has able to react quickly and add him reaped significant rewards.

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Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos

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Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas became an early waiver wire sensation with five receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, and he ended the fantasy season strongly with 15 catches and two touchdowns from Week 14-Week 16. Thomas surely went from near total availability in fantasy leagues to nearly 100 percent ownership in the span of a week or two, so owners that were unwilling to spend a lot of blind bidding money or unable to beat their league mates to putting in a waiver claim likely missed out on having him during his breakout season.

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Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Clay came out of nowhere to be a top-10 fantasy tight end this year in most scoring formats, and he ranked highly at the position across the board in receptions, yards and touchdowns. I would not bet on a repeat in 2014 if Dustin Keller returns healthy for the Dolphins, but Clay definitely belongs on the list of this year’s most surprisingly productive players as well as a top waiver wire pickup for those that bought in.