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Fantasy Football: Waiver Wire Year in Review

A look back at the hits and misses covered in our weekly waiver wire article series.

The 2021 NFL season was a crazy one. Fantasy Football champions were either incredibly fortunate that their draft class stayed healthy at the right times, or they were masters of the waiver wire. I would argue, this year, the waiver wire was the most important ever. Looking back, it's likely you had one or more of these waiver wire warriors on your championship roster. 

But they weren't all hits. There were also a few misses. Here are some of the highs and lows from the 2021 waiver series. 

Waiver wire hits

Rashaad Penny

If you picked up Penny, you probably won your fantasy league. Penny was first made the waiver wire article in Week 14.

We've always wondered what Rashaad Penny could do if he could just stay healthy, and Sunday's glimpse was encouraging. Penny led the backfield playing 41% of the team's snaps and logging ten carries. It's a soft matchup ahead vs. the Texans, and Penny could be worth throwing some FAAB on in deeper leagues. He's 94% available.

Penny ran for 137 yards and two TDs vs. Houston, so here's what I said in Week 15: 

Ok, remember when I said there was no must add for this week? Rashaad Penny may be. 

Maybe.

We all know Pete Carroll loves to run the ball. We also all know Rashaad Penny is extremely talented. And finally, we all know Rashaad Penny has trouble staying healthy.

That being said, I will pat myself on the back now for playing him in my DFS lineups last week and hesitantly tell you to put down a fair amount of FAAB in case he continues to lead this backfield. He has now put together two very strong starts in a row and, should he remain healthy, he is the one player that could make a huge difference down the stretch. His remaining matchups? Rams, Bears, and then for your Week 17 title game? The Detroit Lions. It's a risk that he won't make it that far, but it's a bigger risk if your challenger picks him up first, and he does. Consider playing the block even if you can't start him. Penny is available in 79% of leagues.

It turns out that "maybe" was a "must." Penny accumulated 320 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns between Week 16 and Week 17. League-winner. 

Amon-Ra St Brown

Speaking of league-winner. Who saw this one coming? St. Brown was the top WR waiver add on my list two weeks in a row- also appearing for the first time in Week 14. Here's what we said first: 

St. Brown caught 10 of his 12 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown and was a centerpiece in this offense. He's available in 96% of leagues. It's not an easy matchup with Denver ahead, but I don't care. I believe!!

St. Brown accumulated 365 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 14-17. Oh, and he used his legs, too—accumulating another 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground. It turns out it didn't matter if Goff or Boyle threw him the ball. St, Brown was always meant to be the centerpiece of this offense. Another league-winner. 

Elijah Mitchell

Mitchell made the very first waivers article of the year.  

After Raheem Mostert left the game early with a knee injury, Eli Mitchell saw the bulk of the workload for San Francisco. Mitchell ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts in the plug-and-play run game for the Niners. Trey Sermon was a late healthy scratch, and Mitchell was favored over JaMycal Hasty, who received only one carry. Mitchell was highly efficient at 5.5 yards per carry vs. a bad Detroit run defense, and with news that Raheem Mostert will miss a minimum of eight weeks plus the uncertainty with rookie Trey Sermon, Mitchell should be added in all formats.

Though he missed five games with injury, he still finished as the RB4 for the season on a per-game basis. In Week 17, he racked up 21 PPR points for your championship match.    

Cordarrelle Patterson

Sure, Patterson faded down the stretch, but you were probably able to pick him up for $0 of FAAB if you made the move in Week 2, which is when he first appeared in our waivers article. You still had a chance in Week 3, though:

Patterson made this article last week as a deep league stash. He impressed Sunday, finding the end zone twice- once through the air and once on the ground. Patterson has now seen 7 carries in each of his first two games for a total of 66 yards, and he's caught seven of his eight targets on the season for 71 yards. Patterson should continue to function as Atlanta's gadget player in the absence of Julio Jones. He's available in 85% of leagues, and you can play him at RB or WR on most platforms.

Patterson ended the fantasy season as the RB 9, and all the while, you were also able to roster him at WR. 

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Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Dalton Schultz

Schultz first made the Waiver Wire article in Week 3

If you want a piece of the Dallas offense, here's your chance. Schultz is available in 98% of leagues, and Monday night, we saw Prescott target him seven times. Schultz had six catches for 80 yards and found the end zone twice. Schultz finished the 2020 season as the 11th best TE in PPR leagues, and there's no reason to think that can't happen again with a full season of Dak Prescott, as Schultz has already season 15 targets across the first two games of the season.

Schultz finished the season as the TE3, and on a per-game basis, he was TE5. Schultz also provided double-digit PPR points every week of the fantasy playoffs with a total of 22 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns in Weeks 15-17. Boom.

Hit honorable mentions; Sony Michel, D'Onta Foreman, Hunter Renfrow, Tim Patrick, Darnell Mooney, Ronald Jones, Russell Gage, KJ Osborn

Waiver wire misses

Adrian Peterson

Ouch. I mean, I guess we knew we could get burned, but with the loss of Derrick Henry, there wasn't a lot out there on the wire. Unfortunately, the AP experiment ended as quickly as it started. 

So, here we are, Derrick Henry coaches. 36-year-old Adrian Peterson will be how we spend our FAAB. I feel a little sick about it—like that time I bought Christian Louboutin pumps only to have the heel get stuck in a New York City grate, but I'm doing it anyway. You just can't walk around New York City without a trendy pair of shoes, and you can't win a fantasy football championship without a running back. Those are the facts. The Tennessee Titans offensive line and scheme put Peterson in a good situation for success. And let's face it, Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs of all time, and Christian Louboutin pumps are timeless. Bet on a classic, pry open your wallet and make the gamble.

Unfortunately, our fancy high-heel got stuck in another grate. 

Donovan Peoples-Jones

This one was a case of inconsistency and bad timing. Every time I thought it was DPJ time, well, it just wasn't. We listed him for Week 6, and luckily he hit the next week he played (Week 9), but that was just about all he did for us. This now makes me cringe:

Donovan Peoples-Jones appeared in this article last week, and he made good with a huge day on Sunday, hauling in four of his five targets for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Peoples-Jones saw the most snaps on Sunday, and he has played 70% of the snaps on the season. OBJ left the game with an injury, and though he returned, he could remain limited on Thursday in a short week. Throw in the injuries to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and DPJ becomes a must-add this week. He's available in 98% of leagues.

Baker struggled all year, as did the Browns, and DPJ was not on your playoff roster. 

Cleveland Browns Donovan Peoples-Jones

Cam Newton

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time! Here's what I wrote in Week 11:

Cam Newton touched the ball seven times on Sunday. He scored twice. Carolina toppled Arizona 34-10, and the Panthers have found their quarterback (again). Christian McCaffrey is healthy, Robby Anderson caught some passes Sunday, and this week Carolina faces a Washington defense that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs (28.2 per game). The arrow is pointing up for Cam Newton, a mobile QB with a favorable schedule ahead with matchups vs. Miami and Atlanta and two with Tampa Bay. Newton is available in 84% of leagues.

Well, we all know how that turned out. By Week 16, Newton was barely even taking snaps.   

Waiver wire miss honorable mentions: Mike White, Ricky Seals-Jones, Bryan Edwards,

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