Every fantasy football league has some players that were expected to be stars. However, the fantasy playoff contenders and champs have Waiver Wire Gems.
For a player to be considered a Waiver Wire Gem, they must have been picked up off the waiver wire. To be picked off the waiver wire, they must be an undrafted player. Assuming a standard size league and draft, any player outside the top 192 (12 team, 16 round) is undrafted. That means players such as James Conner, Nick Chubb, and Eric Ebron are ineligible. They were, on average, late round draft picks, not waiver wire pick-ups.
Here are five players that come to mind based off that criteria:
FantasyPros overall ADP (average draft position) and ranks will be used in this article.
#5 – Adam Humphries – Tampa Bay Bucs
Humphries currently sits at WR28 overall and was ranked WR103 with an overall ADP of 320.
Humphries took a bit longer to break than some of the other players on this list. After the Week 5 bye, he has been a steady WR2 in all PPR formats. He offers owners a stable floor while offering a modest ceiling. Even the strongest of teams would start a player like Humphries in the flex spot this season.
The real reason Humphries made the list was the timing of his break-out. From Weeks 8-13, the heart of the fantasy playoff stretch, Humphries led the Bucs in catches, was second in yards and has more TDs (5) than all the other Bucs WRs combined.
Even though he currently sits at WR28 overall, if you remove the first 4 games before the bye, Hump has been a legitimate WR2. With the bulk of his points coming at the most important part of the fantasy season.
#4 Chicago Bears Defense/Special Teams
The Bears D/ST has been a difference maker for fantasy teams this season, there is no doubt about it. They were drafted as the 13th D/ST off the board with an overall ADP of 194. The Chicago Bears D/ST is currently ranked #1 overall, by a wide margin.
While most teams tend to stream at D/ST, Chicago has offered a stable floor of points each week. Much due to their ability to create turnovers and score touchdowns.
While their total sacks on the season (45) are respectable, good for 4th in the NFL. They have been creating turnovers and scoring touchdowns in epic fashion as they are 1st in both interceptions (26) and touchdowns (6).
The Bears D/ST average about 13 points a game and had 10 of their 14 performances end in double-digit fantasy points. These are low-end RB2 numbers, from your D/ST slot. D/ST rarely is a difference maker in fantasy football and the Bears have been every bit a difference maker for their owners this year.
#3 Tyler Boyd – Cincinnati Bengals
Boyd was one of the bigger surprises this fantasy season as everyone assumed the 2017 #9 pick overall, John Ross was going to be the guy playing second fiddle to A.J. Green. After all, Ross ran the fasted 40-yard dash of all time at 4.22 and spent the entire 2017 season injured.
The anticipated Ross breakout kept Boyd off draft boards this fall. He was ranked WR117 with an overall ADP of 360. Boyd is currently WR14.
Even when Green was healthy, Boyd wasted no time proving he was the true WR2 on the Bengals scoring 74 fantasy points in the first four weeks. He continued to put up numbers, posting 10 double-digit fantasy days this season. Boyd proved himself to be an every week start until his recent knee injury.
#2 – Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders
Cook came out of nowhere this season. As a seasoned veteran with nine years of experience, a break-out was the last thing fantasy owners expected. Cook was ranked TE20 with an overall ADP of 193. Cook is currently the TE5.
The tight end position has been a wasteland this year for fantasy owners. Streaming has been almost impossible and week to week consistency at the position has been rare. While Cook hasn’t necessarily lit the world on fire (like Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce) he has already surpassed his career highs in receptions (63) and yards (848) in only through 14 games.
You can chalk up Cook’s success to the Raiders lack of weapons, Raiders OC favoring the TE position, or even just luck. One thing is for sure, if you scooped up Cook off waivers early this season, you got yourself a top 5 TE.
#1 Phillip Lindsay – Denver Broncos
Lindsay has been nothing short of spectacular this season. As an undrafted free agent out of the University of Colorado Boulder, he was literally on no one’s radar. He was ranked RB103 and had an ADP of 374.
While at Colorado, Lindsay rushed for 4,487 yards. However, he is undersized (5’8″ 184 lbs) with below average athleticism (28th percentile SPARQ score). It is no surprise he was overlooked.
Lindsay is one of those rare players that defies all quantifiable metrics of expected success and simply knows how to run the football. With the ball in his hands, he runs like an elite back. Lindsay averages 5.4 yards per carry and is only nine yards away from breaking the 1,000-yard mark with nine touchdowns to boot.
He currently checks in at RB13, an area where experts pegged guys like Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon to finish the season. Lindsay has proven to be a must-start week to week and may have saved many fantasy owners’ seasons.