As we inch another week closer to the end of the NFL regular season, and with most fantasy competitions in the rear view, we are going to dig right into this year’s “All Waiver Wire Team.” The last couple years have gotten a little crazy at the end and we’ve missed out, but we are getting a head start on this year’s version. We are kicking out half the listing with a week left to play.
This column was loosely created based on the All-Madden Team, John Madden’s All-Star team and not the video game that bears his name. And yes I realize this reference puts a stamp on my age, but so be it! The basis of his end of the season “best” team was that he had to have been an announcer to see that player at least once during the season. As such, players qualifying for my All-Waiver Wire team had to appear in my weekly article at least once over the course of the season. I’ve taken some artistic license in a couple of instances, but for the most part we will be sticking to that rule.
With that ground work in place, we are also going to split this up over two weeks. This week we will take a look at quarterbacks, tight ends and kickers. As always, thanks for your patronage and be sure to come back next week as we finish things up with the position players.
On to the Wonders!!
One of this author’s long-standing approaches to fantasy drafting is that there will ALWAYS be some quarterbacks who slip through the cracks and become top-notch fantasy performers. My general draft day approach is to bulk up on position players early, then use three or four selections in Rounds 8-12 on available quarterbacks while keeping an eye on who is still available in the last rounds and early free agency periods. This may fly in the face of my next statement, which is to say that it seems that as we near the end of the 2022 fantasy season, there are a lot of fantasy teams that drafted Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen that made deep runs in the playoffs. Projected as the Top-2 at their position on draft day, they did not disappoint. And yet in the first few weeks of free agency, we came up with some solid players to pluck off the waiver wire.
Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders
Our first All-Waiver selection is Carson Wentz. Washington was not sure whom was going to open the season as the starter, and even after it was announced there were plenty of questions surrounding the selection. Undrafted in most leagues, Wentz came out on fire, lighting up Jacksonville for 313 yards and four touchdown passes. The following week in Detroit, he was just as hot, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns. That was enough for astute fantasy owners to jump on board, though he cooled over the next two games. In Week 5 he lit up Tennessee for 359 yards and two touchdowns, installing further confidence in those who picked him up. Unfortunately, his ride would end the following week with a broken finger, an injury that put him on the sideline essentially for the rest of the fantasy season. As we are going to see with a lot of players in this year’s year-end story, many wonders we will talk about are players who got hot and stayed that way for a few weeks, then faded away. Fantasy owners had to be astute and quick to ride the hot hand, but ready to dump a player when his five minutes of fame was over.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Next on our list is Jimmy Garoppolo. Over the course of his career, this player has equally had a lot of great luck and a lot of terrible luck and there were plenty of both to go around this season. Assuming a role as the backup in San Francisco, he found himself on the field in Week 2 as Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury. He quickly acclimated himself and went on a stretch of nine games where he averaged just under 250 yards passing and a shade under two touchdowns per game. He was a perfect QB2 and player to cover a bye week, nothing too high, but nothing too low. He was right in the middle and very consistent. Then came Week 13 and his season-ending injury. The fantasy gods giveth, then taketh away.
Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Our last quarterback to make this list is Geno Smith. I would be auditioning for an upcoming Captain Obvious commercial by saying Seattle made the right decision in moving on from Russell Wilson, but no one could have predicted that it would be Smith to take over the reins in Seattle and hold onto them for the entire season. Like Wentz in Washington, many took a wait-and-see approach to the announcement that Smith would be the game one starter, and rightly so. Smith went under the radar the first couple of weeks, throwing for less than 200-yards in those first two games, but then came a spark that got the fantasy world interested. He threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3 against Atlanta, then another 320 yards the following week in Detroit. He kept things going the next week in New Orleans, lighting up for 268 yards and three scores. From there he was off to the races, only twice in the next 11 games throwing for less than 200 yards. So consistent was his fantasy scoring that he ended up as the No. 7 quarterback in most scoring formats. Not bad for a player largely undrafted on fantasy draft day.