Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati
There were not many things that went well for Cincinnati this season, but one that did go well is Boyd, who emerged as a viable offensive threat and was an early season “Waiver Wire Wonder.” After a quiet opening game, Boyd put together a three-game stretch where he averaged over 100 yards, scored twice and caught 23 passes in those three games. For the rest of the season, he had under 75 yards receiving only once and for the season he scored seven touchdowns. His season ended early, cut down by injury in Week 15, but up to that point he was a viable fantasy starter, and even missing those last two games he finished the season as a Top 20 fantasy producer at the position.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville
The group of players in consideration here as “Waiver Wire Wonders” for the season drops off after Boyd as far as wideouts. We will, however, give out a couple honorable mentions. The first is to Westbrook. He opened the season with five catches and 51 yards, and backed that up in Week 2 with an 82-yard performance that saw him score a touchdown. His best game was a Week 4 outing that saw him register nine catches good for 130 yards. Beyond that, he was inconsistent, but in those deep leagues he was a decent WR3/WR4.
Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Drafted but most likely dropped, Anderson also gets a honorable mention for his late-season heroics. His only decent game over the course of the first 10 weeks was in Week 5 when he lit up Denver for two touchdowns and 123 yards receiving. The middle of the season was a lost cause, with him missing a couple of games due to injury. Finally healthy in Week 14, that began a stretch of three games in a row where he found the endzone on his way to 312 yards combined in those contests.
Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh
Starting the season on the sideline, McDonald had a breakout game in Week 3 where he went for 112 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay. Fantasy owners were right to make him a “Waiver Wire Wonder,” though he never really put together a top-notch game the rest of the season. His next best game was Week 6, a seven-catch effort that netted him 68 yards, but beyond that he was a consistent performer who caught 3-4 passes good for 20-45 yards each week. The tight end position was up-and-down, so having consistent numbers was a good thing for those who were able to grab and own McDonald.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay
As in the wide receiver position, we have a couple honorable mentions at the tight end position. When O.J. Howard went down for the season, Brate stepped into the starting role and much like McDonald, was a model of consistency though on a lower level. He never had more than three catches and never had more than 40 yards receiving, but he was never shut out.
Ian Thomas, Carolina
Another player who scored a starting role when the starter went down was Ian Thomas. The loss of Greg Olsen provided the playing time, and those able to grab Thomas late in the season enjoyed a good bit of fantasy impact. Over the last five games of the season, Thomas caught 25 passes for 246 yards and he hit paydirt twice over that stretch.
Cody Parkey, Chicago
By now, everyone has seen the montage of Parkey banging the uprights an incredible six times this season, including one final kick where a fingertip at the line pushed his final kick to the upright then crossbar before bouncing back onto the field. Prior to that, the journeyman kicker was an early season “Waiver Wire Wonder” for Chicago. In the first four games of the season, he hit nine field goals while the Chicago offense was scoring a ton and he collected 12 extra points. Fantasy owners grabbing him at that point were frustrated by the inconsistency, but he made for a solid backup fantasy kicker. For the fantasy “regular season,” which is up to and including 14 weeks, Parkey was just outside the Top 10 as far as all fantasy kickers, connecting for 21 field goals and 36 extra points.