The Top Waiver Wire Pickups of 2018

12/28/2018Chris Cichon

The draft itself is the cornerstone of roster construction in fantasy football. If you selected Le’Veon Bell early without handcuffing with James Conner or started off with a combination like Leonard Fournette/Dalvin Cook it was probably an uphill battle all season. However, by properly spending FAAB money on players with favorable opportunities (and with a bit of luck of course) you hopefully put yourself in a better position to succeed. All you need to do is earn a spot in the playoffs and from there, hopefully some of these players mentioned below put you in a position to compete for a championship.

Below is a breakdown of guys who probably were not picked in your drafts that played a pivotal part at some point or even all of your fantasy football season. The ADPs listed and the fantasy scoring is based on numbers from FantasyPros.


Mitch Trubisky: Currently QB14, was QB24 in drafts

-QB1 Week 4 vs Tampa Bay (19 of 26 for 354 yards passing, 6 TD passes, ran for 53 yards.)

-QB5 Week 6 vs Miami (22 of 31 for w/ 3 TD passes and 316 yards passing, ran eight times for 47 yards)

-QB2 Week 7 vs New England (26 of 50 w/ 2 TD passes 333 yards passing, 6 carries for 81 yards rushing and a rushing TD)

-QB8 Week 8 vs Jets (16 of 29 w/ 2 TD passes 220 yards passing, 6 carries for 51 yards)

-QB1 Week 10 vs Detroit (23 of 30 w/ 3 TD passes 355 yards passing, 3 carries for 18 yards w/ a rushing TD

-QB5 Week 15 vs Green Bay (20 for 28 w/ 235 yards passing 2 TD passes, 16 rushing yards)

Look at this game log! Trubisky rewarded fantasy players who might have had their QB on a bye week (Cam Newton in Week 4, Drew Brees in Week 6, Aaron Rodgers/Ben Roethlisberger/Russell Wilson in Week 7, Matt Ryan/Phillip Rivers in Week 8 and Deshaun Watson/Kirk Cousins in Week 10.) The young signal caller’s longterm prospects could be suspect but with another year in Matt Nagy’s offense he should be considered at top-15 fantasy QB in 2019.

Baker Mayfield: QB13 Weeks 3-16 when he became starter, was QB27 in drafts

-QB6 Week 7 vs Tampa Bay (23/34, 215 yards passing, 2 TD passes, 43 yards rushing)

-QB5 Week 10 vs Atlanta (17/20, 216 yards passing, 3 TD passes, 20 yards rushing)

-QB4 Week 12 vs Cincinnati (19/26, 258 yards passing, 4 TD passes, -4 yards rushing)

-QB8 Week 16 vs Cincinnati (27/37 284 yards passing, 3 TD passes, 16 yards rushing)

If you sniffed out the favorable matchups for Baker and inserted him over your regular starting QB in any those weeks above, the Heisman Trophy winner and new face of Cleveland delivered. Regardless of the potential future coaching changes in Cleveland, Baker will probably be drafted in 2019 as a QB1 in 12-team or 14-team leagues.

Running backs

Philip Lindsay: RB12 in PPR leagues currently, RB106 ADP

-RB12 Week 7 vs Arizona (14 carries for 90 rushing yards, TD. One catch for six receiving yards)

-RB11 Week 8 vs Kansas City (18 carries for 95 rushing yards, TD. Three catches for 17 receiving yards)

-RB4 Week 11 vs Los Angeles Chargers (11 carries for 79 yards, 2 TD. Four catches for 27 receiving yards)

-RB4 Week 13 vs Cincinnati (19 carries for 157 yards, 2 TDs. One catch for two yards)

Royce Freeman got all of the preseason hype but it was Lindsay who took control of the Broncos' backfield immediately in Week 1 with 15 carries, finishing his season with double-digit carries in all but two games (he's out this week with a wrist injury). Lindsay is the No.1 waiver wire pickup of the 2018 fantasy football season and as long as his recovery process goes smoothly in the offseason he will likely be a second round pick in drafts next year.

Nick Chubb (Shallow leagues): RB15 in PPR leagues, RB43 ADP

-RB11 Week 4 vs Oakland (three carries for 105 yards rushing, 2 TDs)

-RB4 Week 10 vs Atlanta (20 carries for 176 yards rushing, 2 TDs. Three catches for 33 yards receiving, TD)

-RB3 Week 12 vs Cincinnati (28 carries for 84 yards, TD. Three catches for 44 yards receiving, TD)

-RB9 Week 14 vs Carolina (13 carries for 66 yards, TD. Four catches for 17 yards.)

I debated adding Chubb to this article after speaking with Fantasy Insiders Editor-in-Chief Ben Gretch who said in all of his leagues Chubb was not dropped at any point. However, in two of my leagues he was dropped after Week 3 and I suspect there are some out there reading this article who were in a league where an owner decided to cut bait too early as well. In the first three games of the season, Chubb carried the ball just seven times for 41 yards and no TDs, while Carlos Hyde logged a whopping 61 carries.

Once Hyde was traded on Oct. 19, it opened the door for Chubb to become the workhorse RB in this offense as he logged 18 or more carries in the five games after the trade and is just 28 yards away from logging a 1,000-yard season in his rookie campaign.

TJ Yeldon: RB20 in PPR, ADP RB63

-RB10 in Week 4 vs NYJ(18 carries for 52 yards and a TD, adding 3 catches for 48 yards and a TD)

-RB5 in Week 5 vs KC (10 carries 53 yards, 8 catches for 69 yards and a receiving TD)

-RB10 in Week 7 vs Houston (12 carries 28 yards rushing, 5 catches 40 yards and a receiving TD)

His numbers certainly weren’t outstanding, but as a bye week fill-in player you certainly could have done worse than Yeldon. With Fournette playing just two games in the first eight weeks, Yeldon saw double-digit carries in five times. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season and after being a healthy scratch in Week 16 vs Miami, it might be safe to say his time in Jacksonville is over.

Wide receivers

Tyler Boyd: WR15 in PPR currently, WR111 ADP

-WR12 in Week 2 vs Baltimore (six receptions for 91 yards, TD)

-WR4 in Week 3 vs Carolina (six receptions for 132 yards, TD)

-WR9 in Week 6 vs Pittsburgh (seven receptions for 62 yards, 2 TDs)

-WR3 in Week 8 vs Tampa Bay (nine receptions for 138 yards, TD)

-WR8 in Week 12 vs Cleveland (seven receptions for 85 yards, TD)

Boyd is looking unlikely to play in Week 17, and if that is the case he will finish the season with over 1,000 yards receiving and seven TD receptions. He found more success with A.J. Green garnering the opposing secondary attention and when Green went down in Week 8 with the toe injury Boyd finished as a top-10 WR just one more time before suffering a knee injury in Week 15. Boyd emerged as the clear No.2 WR in this offense ahead of preseason darling John Ross and even finished ahead of Green in terms of catchable target percentage:

Adam Humphries: WR24 in PPR, WR110 in ADP

-WR2 Week 9 vs Carolina (eight catches for 82 yards, 2 TDs)

-WR10 Week 13 vs Carolina (seven catches for 61 yards, TD)

-WR17 Week 16 vs Dallas (10 catches for 79 yards)

Make that a third consecutive season where Humphries has 55 receptions or more and the 71 catches he has through Week 16 is a career high. Personally I knew I was drafting him when his former Clemson coach Dabo Swinney spoke very highly about his former WR on ESPN over the summer.

DeSean Jackson is likely on his way out, which should open up even more opportunity for Humphries if he resigns with the Bucs. The TB QB situation is murky but Humphries has the track record now to be a reliable possession WR and a PPR darling in fantasy football.

Tight ends

Vance McDonald: TE11 in PPR, TE25 ADP

-TE1 Week 3 vs Tampa Bay (four catches, 112 yards receiving, TD)

-TE8 Week 6 vs Cincinnati (seven catches, 68 yards receiving)

-TE5 Week 10 vs Carolina (four catches, 44 yards receiving, TD)

-TE9 Week 11 vs Jacksonville (three catches, 27 yards receiving, TD)

While McDonald’s production tailed off in the two weeks prior to the fantasy playoffs (as well as the fantasy playoffs themselves), he was a strong streamer option this year and a solid bye week fill-in during Weeks 6, 10 and 11. Fellow Steelers' TE Jesse James is set to hit free agency in the offseason and if he ends up leaving, McDonald could be in line to build off the career highs he set this year in receptions (47) and receiving yards (571).

Chris Herndon-TE15 currently, TE69 ADP

-TE9 Week 6 vs Indianapolis (two catches for 56 yards receiving, TD)

-TE9 Week 7 vs Minnesota (four catches for 42 yards receiving, TD)

-TE3 Week 16 vs Green Bay (six catches for 82 yards receiving, TD)

If you were bold enough to start Herndon in your fantasy championship game he saved his best for last and may have even had the best catch of the season among all pass catchers.

The rookie out of Miami should be one of the key weapons in Sam Darnold’s arsenal next year and while he might not be drafted as a fantasy starter he certainly warrants a late-round draft pick to back up one of the few studs at the position.


Ka'imi Fairbairn: The top kicker in fantasy football through 16 weeks, K25 ADP

Fairbairn was probably not drafted in your league unless someone had the correct hunch that he would be as great as he’s been this year. Fairbairn leads the NFL in FGs (35) with a league-leading 12 of them coming between 40-49 yards. As long as Deshaun Watson stays healthy in 2019 he should be one of the kickers drafted over the summer in your league.

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