I'm asking a question I kind of already have my own answer for, but I'd love to hear some input.
WHICH POSITIONS ARE BEST & WORST FOR FINDING A BREAKOUT GUY IN MIDSEASON?
QB? - Any QB worth anything is already on a roster by now. Picture the starting QB of any of the 32 NFL teams getting injured & knocked out for the season. Is there even one that would probably step in and be a star? One you would scramble to get? I can't think of one. At best, a Griese or a Volek would be "solid."
Recent out of nowhere QBs ...
2004 - Drew Brees (OK fantasy starter), Volek (good stretch run, startable depending on matchups)
2003 - Delhomme (was OK, not a beast)
2001? 2002? - Todd Bouman in MIN one year was gold
1978 - Kurt Warner
Of all of these, only Warner was anything approaching a league leader
RB? - To me, this is where the action is. If a RB gets fumbleitis or gets hurt, the backup can very often get plugged in and be a major fantasy player. The talent pool at RB seems bunched much tighter than other spots and the position (for FF at least) seems like it's in large part about opportunity. For instance, Maurice Morris could be a huge fantasy boon for somebody for the next few weeks. Say LT gets hurt, Turner could easily be a top 10 RB.
Recent out of nowhere RBs ...
2003 - Rudi Johnson, Dom Davis
2004 - Droughns, McGahee, Bettis, Nick Goings
2005 - Mike Anderson, Gado (down the stretch was very startable), Willie Parker (only seemed to be drafted last year by Cafe regulars)
Most of those guys ended up with top 20 RBs season stats, some in limited weeks/action
WR? - Perhaps I'm overlooking some guys, but I can't think of a 1200 yard, 10 TD receiver that was on most fantasy waiver wires in week 2 for as long as I've been playing fantasy football. Or even any top 20 season WRs that weren't on fantasy squads after initial draft.
Recent out of nowhere WRs ...
2004 - Lee Evans, Drew Bennett
2005 - Jurevicious' 10 TDs in SEA were good, under 700 yards though ... especially since they were all during DJax' absence so people could realistically have started JoeJu during that stretch.
These three were best examples I could think of and they weren't Top 20 at season's end
TE? - Biggest breakout TE ever was Gates - even he was on some rosters early. Name another one to have significant numbers.
K? - Rackers won some people some games last year, but the kicking game is crazy unpredictable and so little separates the #1 kicker from the best kicker on the waiver wire.
DEF? - First off, team defense I find to be the only spot you can successfully play a new WW pickup each week and do great. PLindsey's rankings will help with this, or at this point whoever's playing OAK or TEN will be great. But after week 3, the great defenses have revealed themselves, so you're not getting an every week defense. (I don't believe you even need / want one in FF anyway, but that's a separate discussion.)
Lots of this depends on how your waiver wire works. If you have a first-come, first-served WW (you don't all have to wait til Tuesday or something like that), then I believe you can snatch up valuable guys based on injuries throughout the season.
All this is to put forth a hypothesis of mine: Over the season there will be great RBs available on the WW, and really no QBs or WRs.
That being said, an extension could be ... if you do great work on the wire through the season getting productive RBs, then you can ship them off for quality WRs and QBs, a position where you can't really help yourself much after the draft.
What do you guys think? There are startable RBs who will emerge this season who are on your WW right now. I don't think there are many at other positions.
(Man, this turned out longer than I thought.)
... in my opinion, of course - but that should always go without saying.
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The answer to your question is also the key to that age old question of why RBs are valued so heavily. When a WR steps up he still has to compete with others in the passing game, so his impact is limited.
But when a RB loses his job, often the person replacing him will instantly have the opportunity to be a focal point of the O. Add to that the reason that a lot of RBs get replaced for injury issues more than performance issues.
So replacement RBs will have better odds of bursting onto the scenes.
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S. Alexander - didn't start until Ricky Watters got injured in week 3 of the '01 season. Has been on fire ever since (not including present)
LJ - sure I don't need to say more
Muhsin Muhammad - wasn't riding the bench but as Steve Smith's #2 was not doing much. Once Smith broke his leg Muhammad went off to the tune of 1400+ yds and 16 tds.
RB's will have better production in this scenario because of the nature of their position. They have to get looks and touches. If the starting RB goes down you have no choice but to use the backup. If the #1 receiver goes down you can still throw to other receivers or utilize the TE more or throw more screen passes etc. There just aren't many other options with RBs.
Challie wrote:WR? - Perhaps I'm overlooking some guys, but I can't think of a 1200 yard, 10 TD receiver that was on most fantasy waiver wires in week 2 for as long as I've been playing fantasy football. Or even any top 20 season WRs that weren't on fantasy squads after initial draft. Recent out of nowhere WRs ... 2004 - Lee Evans, Drew Bennett
First of all, 1200yd and 10TDs is ridiculous to expect off the waiver wire. You need to curb those expectations. Below, I've listed some guys that could've been WW guys or could've been drafted late and put up great campaigns...not 1200 and 10 (some did), but starter numbers.
2001 - Marty Booker
2002- Peerless Price, Koren Robinson, Rod Gardner
2003 - Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith
2004 - Muhsin Muhammad, Michael Clayton, Drew Bennett, Brandon Stokely, Ashley Lelie
2005 - Joey Galloway, Antonio Bryant
It all depends on who gets knocked out midseason. Biggest impact players are probably RB but only if a guy on their team ahead of them goes down. QBs generally are no good if they aren't starting and won't be good if they start. WRs usually don't suddenly start producing. More likely they have 1 huge week and then fade back into obscurity.
When a starter gets injured for the season then you will see someone step up. I think Muhammad and LJ have been the two most notable finish in the top 5 for their positions after being number 2 guys on their team or on the bench. I think you just have to get lucky and hope that a top tier guy goes down so a second or third tier guy will take his place.
Last year I picked up Brunell and Bledsoe as QBs, who both wound up being top 10 quarterbacks. This year Grossman and Pennington are popular pickups.
I also picked up Anderson and Parker last year like you mentioned but I'm not sure if anyone's emerged yet this year. I have Maroney and Jones-Drew as pickups this year but that's because I'm in a league where return yards count. It's actually harder I think for a good RB to be on the WW since people load up on them, even backup RBs, to use them as handcuffs or whatever. Even surprises like Gore and Chester Taylor were high mid-round draft picks.
As for WRs there was Boldin, Housh, Fitz last year who were top tier and Bryant, Jurevicius and McCardell were decent. I'm not sure who's emerged this year since I haven't been looking for any.