This was one of the healthiest seasons in recent memory across the fantasy landscape, with few major injuries to fantasy-relevant players. That, of course, was a welcome development from both human and fantasy perspectives. It also, in part, created one of the weakest groups of Waiver Wire All-Stars that the fantasy community has seen in some time.
The community itself is also responsible for a down year on the waiver wire. Why? Well, consult the final average draft position report of the summer from 4for4, which was taken on September 4, two days before the start of the season, and you’ll find that fantasy owners were particularly savvy drafters in 2018. Players who could’ve made Waiver Wire All-Star Teams in years past, such as Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb and Tyler Lockett, were drafted in nearly all competitive leagues. You’ll find two of them on our Return On Investment All-Star Team, and the fact that all three didn’t make it drives home just how well the fantasy community drafted this season.
It may not have been a banner year for the waiver wire, but there were still a few gems, particularly at the running back position, and every position gave us at least a handful of players who could have started most weeks. In building the 2018 Waiver Wire All-Star Team, we looked for players who were not drafted in a majority of leagues, and then followed the starting roster parameters in a standard fantasy league: one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, and one flex.
Baker Mayfield, Browns
Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen both received consideration for what they did in December, but it was their fellow rookie Mayfield who was part of the fantasy discussion all season. Mayfield officially took over as Cleveland’s starter in Week 4, but he earned the job the previous week, taking over for an injured Tyrod Taylor and leading the Browns to their first win in 21 months. Mayfield set a new rookie record with 27 touchdown passes, breaking the mark previously held by Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning. He racked up 3,725 yards and 7.67 yards per attempt, while throwing an acceptable 14 interceptions. Mayfield was even better after the Browns made a coaching change at midseason, throwing for 2.254 yards, 8.91 YPA, 19 touchdowns and eight picks in eight games. He finished the year ranked 16th among quarterbacks in total points in standard-scoring leagues, and tied for 14th in points per game among quarterbacks who started at least 13 games.
Phillip Lindsay, Broncos
After a quiet summer that had Lindsay nowhere near the fantasy radar during draft season, he burst onto the scene in Week 1, running the ball 15 times for 71 yards and catching two passes for 31 yards and a touchdown. The next week, he racked up 107 yards on 114 carries. By Week 4, it was clear that he and not fellow rookie Royce Freeman, who had an average draft position in the middle of the fourth round in 12-team leagues, was the back to own in Denver. Lindsay finished the season with 1,037 rushing yards on 192 carries, 35 receptions for 241 yards, and 10 total touchdowns. He ended the fantasy season—which does not include Week 17—ranked 11th among running backs in standard leagues and 13th in PPR formats. Given that he was undrafted in nearly all leagues and made his presence felt right away in Week 1, he’s the truest Waiver Wire All-Star for the 2018 season, the captain of this year’s Waiver Wire All-Star Team.
James Conner, Steelers
This one is a bit of a stretch considering that Conner was getting drafted in a lot of leagues, particularly at the tail end of draft season. Still, he went undrafted in more than 50% of leagues, which makes him eligible for the Waiver Wire All-Star Team. Given that, he was an absolute shoo-in after the season he put together. He may not have been there for his fantasy teams in the playoffs but e carried them through the regular season, running for 909 yards on 201 carries, catching 52 passes for 467 yards, and scoring 13 touchdowns in his first 12 games of the season. He ranked sixth among backs in points per game in standard leagues and seventh in PPR formats, and was sixth in both in total points, despite missing three games. If you had Conner, you not only made your league’s playoffs with few exceptions, but you may have even won a regular season title. And if you handcuffed Jaylen Samuels to him, you may be celebrating a 2018 fantasy championship.
Gus Edwards, Ravens
Edwards wasn’t on the fantasy radar until the middle of November when, from out of nowhere, he split carries with a healthy Alex Collins. Edwards ran for 115 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries that day, immediately placing himself at the top of the waiver wire going into Thanksgiving week. From that point through Week 16, which covered another five games, Edwards ran for 463 yards and a touchdown on 93 carries, totaling 10.46 points per game in standard leagues. He gave his owners double-digit points in three of those five games and scored a total of 26.9 standard-league points in Weeks 15 and 16. He may not have had the impact of Lindsay or Conner, either over the full season or on a per-game basis, but he was a huge add for playoff-bound owners who grabbed him after his breakout game.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals
Like Phillip Lindsay, Boyd is a pure, unadulterated waiver-wire gem. He had a quiet Week 1, but put up lines of 6-91-1 (catches-yards-touchdowns) in Week 2, 6-132-1 in Week 3, and 11-100 in Week 4. He would go on to finish the season with 76 receptions for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns, ranking 16th among receivers in standard-scoring leagues and 15th in PPR formats. The only receiver ahead of him in standard leagues taken later in the fifth round was Tyler Lockett, who had a 12th-round ADP, while all 14 players ahead of him in PPR leagues were off the board by the middle of the fifth round. Boyd was a season-altering addition for every single one of his fantasy teams.
Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
Like James Conner, Godwin is a tiny bit of a stretch since he was getting drafted in many leagues by the end of the summer. He did enter the season with an ownership rate south of 50%, though, and given the slim pickings at receiver for the Waiver Wire All-Stars, we’re going to give Godwin a spot on the team. He was generally a boom-or-bust player, totaling fewer than 60 yards in 12 games this season. He salvaged three of those games with touchdowns, however, and scored in four of his first five games, making an immediate impact for any fantasy owner who bought into his potential early in the season. Godwin ended the year with 59 receptions for 842 yards and seven scores, ranking 24th among receivers in standard leagues and 26th in PPR formats.
Robby Anderson, Jets
Anderson wasn’t merely drafted in 100% of leagues. He was the 39th receiver off the board by ADP, ahead of players like Calvin Ridley, Tyler Lockett and D.J, Moore. So how can he possibly be eligible for the Waiver Wire All-Star Team. Well, he had such a dreadful start to the season, catching eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in his first four games, that he found himself on the waiver wire in most leagues by midseason. When Sam Darnold returned to the Jets lineup in Week 14, however, it wasn’t hard to see the value that Anderson brought to the table. He went on to be a playoff star, hauling in 20 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns from Week 14 through Week 16. He found the end zone in all three games and saved his best for championship week, catching nine balls for 140 yards and a score.
Adam Humphries, Buccaneers
Two Buccaneers receivers on the same Waiver Wire All-Star Team? Yep, it’s true. First, we told you right at the outset that it was a weak season on the waiver wire. Second, though, this isn’t simply a default pick. The Buccaneers ranked first in the league in passing yards, second in yards per attempt, and tied for third in passing touchdowns. This aerial attack put up numbers all season, no matter if it was Jameis Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, and that’s the sort of environment necessary to put two receivers on the same Waiver Wire All-Star Team. Humphries sort of picked up where Godwin left off. While the latter was a star over the first third of the season, the former took over in the middle third. From Week 9 through Week 13, Humphries had 33 receptions for 386 yards and five touchdowns. That comes out to 13.72 points per game in standard leagues and 20.32 points per game in PPR formats. For sake of comparison, only five receivers—Davante Adams, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones and Tyreek Hill, scored more than 20.32 points per game in PPR leagues over the full season. Humphries was a legitimate WR1 for the second half of fantasy football’s regular season, which earned him a spot on this year’s Waiver Wire All-Star Team.
Eric Ebron, Colts
Ebron was largely an afterthought in fantasy drafts this season, stuck behind Jack Doyle on the Colts’ tight end depth chart. While Doyle was the 11th tight end off the board in a typical fantasy draft, Ebron went undrafted across most of the fantasy landscape. In leagues where he was drafted, he was no more than a late-round flier, ranking 21st at the position in ADP behind Charles Clay and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, among others. Ebron hit paydirt in the Colts’ first two games, making him one of the early priority players on the waiver wire this season. Aided by multiple injuries to Doyle, Ebron led all tight ends and tied Davante Adams for second in the NFL with 13 receiving touchdowns, trailing only Antonio Brown. He caught 66 passes for 750 yards, finishing the season ranked fourth among tight ends in both standard and PPR leagues, behind Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz.