The Waiver Wire Oscars
By John Kerwin
It pains me to say this, but we have finally reached the culmination of the 2013 NFL season. Fantasy leagues across the world have come to an end, and individuals are scattering among daily sites to fuel their fantasy addictions. Many have succumbed to another season without a championship, but the select few have risen to the top of their respective league(s) and celebrate in triumph. I find that it is only fitting that we pay our dues to the waiver wire acquisitions that made our year eventful. I have created award categories to help commend the players at each skill position for their contributions to our success. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year, and I invite you all to continue to stay active in the Football.com community this offseason, because we won’t be slowing down, my friends.
The inspiration for the theme of these awards stems from the subtle outline of a movie theme that was used throughout the series this entire season, and will only grow more clever as time progresses… enjoy.
The “Rocky” Award
This award can’t be won by just anybody, because it takes a certain underdog that continued to fight and persevere through the entire season to earn this. If there is a player that took the hits and overcame his stature to rise above the individuals around him, it has to be Julian Edelman. He managed to haul in over 100 receptions this year, and was also able to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in his final game. During a season in which Rob Gronkowski was absent a vast majority of the year and Danny Amendola didn’t live up to his preseason hype, it was Edelman who emerged as the go-to receiver in the potent Patriots passing attack. As a guy that was completely overlooked as a primary option when Wes Welker departed, Edelman proved to the entire NFL that they forgot about an essential part of the Patriots offense. Nobody is going to underestimate a receiver in the middle of his prime heading into next year, but be grateful if his production enhanced your lineups this past season.
The “Rookie of the Year” Award
The title of this award is self-explanatory, but I will note that the best rookie waiver wire addition is a bit deceiving. A certain somebody is being passed over for this award because of an upcoming honor; foreshadowing. The man who gets to spot here is Keenan Allen, and I must personally give a round of applause to this young man. Allen not only filled the shoes of the WR1 position for the Chargers, but he lit the fantasy world ablaze as a waiver wire acquisition. He was able to net over 1,000-yards receiving this season and set a rookie receiving record for the Chargers organization. Allen also proved to be a lethal threat in the red zone with eight touchdowns this year and continued to build rapport with Philip Rivers as the season progressed. He is going to be a star for the Chargers for years to come, and we will one day be able to look back and remember the production we got out of him as a waiver wire addition.
“The Back-up Plan” Award
There is always at least one running back every season that emerges in the cloud of uncertainty during the absence of a starter, and Darren McFadden gets hurt every year. This is exactly why the Raiders are luck to have such a capable player coming off the bench like Rashad Jennings. Jennings was so much more efficient with his touches that the Raiders actually demoted McFadden to spot duties once he returned. Even though Jennings overall statistics weren’t eye-popping as a whole, he came on strong for fantasy owners from the middle of the season and into the home stretch. All six of his touchdowns came in a six-game stretch in which Jennings was feeding owners with free points off the waiver wire. It is guys like this that give a lot of struggling teams the piece needed to turn a season around. Jennings may never be a consistent force for years to come in the NFL, but he has made many games count during the present.
“The Dark Knight” Award
Nick Foles was quite the dark horse option at the quarterback position this season with all the revived hype surrounding Michael Vick and Chip Kelly’s new offensive schemes. All it took was Vick’s annual injury bug to reappear, and Foles took the reigns and never looked back. He was the knight in shining armor that the Eagles have been looking for and was able to set an NFL record for touchdown to interception ratio in a single season. The 27 touchdowns and two interceptions is uncanny, but it was the ability to command the offense and really bring together all the offensive weapons in such an explosive manner that set Foles apart from Vick. He was able to protect the ball and guide the Eagles into the playoffs with a head of steam. This may be one of many awards and accolades to come for Foles, because it looks like the future is now for this talented phenom.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” Award
There is nothing worse than riding a roller coaster of a fantasy player for a majority of a season, but unfortunately, we have no other option sometimes. There always has to be that guy that plays games with your emotions throughout the entire year, and this season that man is Jordan Reed. I was a very big fan of Reed coming out of the University of Florida as a versatile tight end for the Redskins. I was even surprised at how quickly he was able to make an impact as a fantasy relevant option. The problem is that even though Reed played so "Good" at times, it was the Redskins offense just playing "Bad" and becoming a detriment to his fantasy capability. The situation simply turned "Ugly" when a concussion lingered for weeks late in the season. Many of us hung onto him holding out for the playoffs, but it wasn’t meant to be. This will not deter me from investing stock in Reed in the future, but I hope to have a more consistent result.
“The Godfather” Award – MVP
This acronym has been used all over the sports world and various competitive leagues, but crowning an individual in a team sport like football is unparalleled. I had to spend minimal time contemplating the result of this category, because Zac Stacy played like a hero the entire second half of the season. The Rams backfield situation was very murky at the start of the year, and there were a plethora of options at the organizations disposal. Many wanted to see opportunities for Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson, but some of like to see the rookies get their shot. I can say that each and every one of us is thankful that Stacy was able to get his chance, and he undoubtedly made the best of it. Even though he came up just shy of 1,000-yards rushing, he was able to accumulate seven touchdowns and cleared the century mark four times. The Rams weren’t afraid to let him carry the load, and we should expect to continue to see the same for years to come. Stacy helped out fantasy owners in a big way down the stretch, as he racked up over 100-yards and found pay dirt in each of the final two games of the season. On behalf of the entire fantasy community, I would like to thank Zac Stacy’s mom, because through her son, we can definitely see that she has got it going on.