Identifying Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups
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Identifying Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups

4. Be aware/wary of rookies
NFL is not college football. What a shock, huh? Even though a guy tore it up in school doesn't mean he'll have an automatic adjustment to the next level. Even for these players that we think "suck", they have to be pretty good to still be getting a paycheck from the league. That's something you can't say for the vast majority of college players who tried and never made it. Tim Couch, hello? Some of the NFL's worse are better than some of college's best. That's how big a step it is. Sure, I didn't take Boldin, but I usually like rookie pickups. There is a measure of mysteriousness and unpredictability that makes the mind wonder of what could be. It is like an infant. They could grow up to be a successful mogul. Or they could be working for minimum wage at a box factory. Yet, if that newbie player has an opportunity, it may not be bad to take a flyer on him and see what happens. Note that I said "may not". Know that more will be more struggles than success. That goes double for rookie QBs. Ben Roethlisberger is an extreme rarity in today's game. To learn and lead a whole NFL offense in your first year is SUPPOSED to be extremely hard and major growing pains are certain to follow. In almost all cases, rookie quarterbacks will spend their first season just getting their feet on the ground.

5. Don't dig too deep
Last year, I had big problems with quarterbacks. Sure, I had Culpepper, but we start two QBs in my league. To put it lightly, my options to fill that 2nd QB slot was absolutely putrid. Ken Dorsey, David Garrard and Mark Brunell were just a few of the names I plugged into my lineup throughout the year. Why? Well, I play in a 12-team league, where each roster had 20 players. Truth be told, my league was so deep, if I wanted a full lineup on Sundays, my second quarterback would have to come from this crop of winners. But, don't dig if you don't have to. The depth of an 8 or even 10 team league is drastically different from my situation. Just because someone came out of nowhere and had a good week doesn't mean he has to be a part of your team. Before you pick him up, make sure you examine your other options on the wire. Is there someone who got dropped because he is slumping, but has a history of constant production? He would definitely make a better pickup over the player having beginner's luck. If you are in a relatively shallow league and that newbie is still producing 2-3 weeks later, he will probably still be sitting in your market and THEN would be a good time to see what he can do.

6. Look for team needs
My last rule should be self-explanatory. I'll use another real-life situation because I like to talk about my life. A team in my 2004 league was able to draft Randy Moss, Andre Johnson and Javon Walker. Also, he was able to pick up Brandon Stokely and Mushin Muhammad early in the year. So, even though it may have been tempting to pick up a player like Clayton or Lee Evans, he didn't need them. With the quality and depth he had at that spot, he could afford to let those guys go to another team in order to fix other parts of his roster. This happened in the 2005 NFL Draft, too. Aaron Rodgers had the talent of a top-three selection. But, after he was passed by the first 5 or 6 teams, he fell way down in the draft. Why? Because the teams that passed him up were not starving for a QB. Rodgers has a lot of upside, but coaches needed more work on other parts of their franchise. In the end, if the players up for the taking are of pretty equal value, look for what you could personally use the most.

Unless you draft with 11 people in a comatose state, you are going to have a very hard time winning a league solely with players you drafted. Always keep up with who is available in your league's market because you never know. Yesterday's afterthought could be tomorrow's fantasy stud. The players that I listed at the start of this column are proof of that. The same will be true in 2005. There will be more players who come out of the woodwork to give your team that unexpected boost that you need. There will be another Brees, Burleson and Witten just a few clicks away. Don't let someone else beat you to them.

It is only an opinion.