Every year, fantasy football leagues are won and lost on the waiver wire and 2012 was no different. In fact, you could argue that the 2012 Waiver Wire was like having a second team or farm club where talented players are stashed. The question has to be raised, could a team full of 2012 waiver wire additions compete in a standard league against fully stocked drafted teams? The quick answer that comes to mind is no, but look deeper into it and you might change your mind, or at the very least, consider it. The following is our 2012 All Undrafted Fantasy Team. To qualify for a spot on this squad, you were required to be undrafted, or out of the Top 200 in last year’s final ADP Rankings. We’ll use ESPN’s ADP Rankings from last years drafts as the standard for which all players are held to.
While starting just 8 games in 2012 and playing in just 13, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick finished the 52nd ranked player in ESPN’s final Fantasy point totals from 2012. If you were lucky enough to grab Kaepernick off waivers midway through the season, you were rewarded with his magnificent play down the stretch, particularly that epic Sunday Night Week 15 playoff match up at New England where 75 points were scored. If you picked him up in a keeper league you still have a smile on your face from ear to ear.
If I would have asked you before the season who Vick Ballard was would you have been able to tell me? Be honest. The answer is most likely no. Nobody expected the Colts to be good in 2012, let alone make the playoffs after finishing 2011 with the worst record in the league. The Colts were a team full of rookie surprises, we’ll get to another one in a second in addition to Ballard. Ballard rushed 211 times for 814 times and 2 TD’s while catching 17 balls for 152 yards and a score. Ballard didn’t take over the starting gig in the Colts backfield until midway through the season or else these numbers could have been even higher.
You know that kid in high school that was a great athlete, with great work ethic and heart that everyone pulled for but knew he was never going to make it because he was too small? Ya, that’s Danny Woodhead. Oh wait.. he actually did make it and is also a solid fantasy performer to boot. When you look at Woodhead you think, “How the heck is this guy in the NFL?” He’s not the fastest or best route runner, he doesn’t have superior strength or size, what he does have though is “it”. Whatever “it” is, he has IT. He always seems to get the job done when it counts as evidenced by his 2012 season. Woodhead finished the season as the 145 ranked player after going undrafted in probably every fantasy league out there. Woodhead’s value got a big boost in PPR formats as he was usually in on 3rd downs last season in New England.
Back on the theme of Colts rookie standouts, enter T.Y. Hilton. Hilton was a 3rd round pick out of Florida International by the Colts and was off everyone’s radar heading into 2012. Hilton outperformed his undrafted ADP, catching 50 balls for 861 yards and 7 TD’s. Hilton is a big play receiver as evidenced by his gaudy 17.2 yards per catch last season. Hilton also added tremendous value as a punt returner for leagues that award points to individual players for return TD’s.
In what has to be one of the best names in all the NFL, Cecil Shorts proved to be a fantasy stud in 2012 helping many teams to fantasy championships in the second half of the season. Shorts finished 2012 with 59 receptions for 979 yards and 7 TD’s. That’s unbelievable from a player picked off the waiver wire beginning around Week 8 or so. Shorts racked up four 100-yard games in his last eight to go along with four TD’s and a low yardage game of just 54. Shorts is on a lot of fantasy players sleeper lists this season and deservedly so.
Stand up and raise your hand if you knew who Brandon Myers was before the season. I take it most of you are still sitting in your computer chair right now while reading this. Myers turned in a fantastic 2012 season and was a PPR format monster for fantasy teams in 2012. Myers finished the season as Carson Palmer’s number one target in Oakland, collecting 79 receptions for 804 yards and 4 TD’s. It’s amazing Myers had those numbers, not just because he was an unknown, but because who else did the Raiders have to throw the ball to last season with Darren McFadden hurt? Albeit, Myers collected a lot of his stats in the 4th quarter of garbage time, perfect for the fantasy world. Stats are stats, do we care how or when we get them? Myers is still somewhat under the radar heading into 2013 after joining the New York Giants in the offseason to replace the departed Martellus Bennett.
Like every season, there are a ton of kicker’s who can be plucked from the waiver wire and be productive. In most leagues, there are multiple teams that solely play the match ups week to week when it comes to kickers so I won’t spend much time on Shayne Graham of the Texans. When rostering a fantasy kicker, you obviously want guys who are on teams with good offenses. When Rookie Kicker Randy Bullock tore his groin in the preseason the Texans kicking job opened up. Graham being the veteran he is, slid in smoothly to have a very nice fantasy season.
The Cincinnati Bengals are our choice for the best undrafted Defense from last season. There were a few competitors in the Chargers and Rams, but ultimately we went with the Bengals. When selecting a fantasy defense, you look for teams that can get pressure on the quarterback. Pressure leads to sacks, interceptions and fumbles. The Bengals supplied plenty of pressure in 2012 finishing 3rd in the league in sacks with 51. The Bengals defensive line is tremendous with all-pro DT Geno Atkins leading the way. Atkins has a few partners in crime in defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. In the offseason, Cincinnati added free agent DE/LB James Harrison from rival Pittsburgh to further boost the pass rush. It looks as though the Bengals will be back after the quarterback in 2013. In addition to targeting defenses that get pressure on the QB, it’s also wise to look for a defense that has a dangerous return man, the Bengals have just that in Adam “Pacman” Jones. Cincinnati’s defense should be a hot commodity in 2013 so don’t expect to pluck them off your waiver wire this year.
Our flex selection is not only a player that went undrafted, but wasn’t even on an NFL team until Week 7. Can you name him? It’s Danario Alexander, WR for the San Diego Chargers. Alexander signed with the Chargers in Week 7 off the scrap heap and went on to have an excellent season. Alexander has always been considered a great talent, injuries have been his kryptonite thus far throughout his career. DA84 finally got pass the injury bug in 2012 to post 37 catches for 678 yards and 7 TD’s in just 8 games. Alexander filled the void of the departed Vincent Jackson as the big play deep ball receiver the Chargers sorely missed in the beginning of the year. For fantasy owners, if you were lucky enough to snag Alexander off the waiver wire you were rewarded as he finished the 139th ranked player in just 8 games in 2012.
The 2012 PFR All-Undrafted team might not be able to compete with the fully stacked drafted teams for an entire season, however, I guarantee that if you lined up opposite this team in a Week 15 or 16 playoff matchup last season you certainly would have been a little nervous. A lesson to be learned, always take a shot on a player who looks promising, worst case scenario you drop him, best case scenario you have the next Colin Kaepernick on your squad for free.
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