Thursday, December 2, 2010

2010 Waiver Wire All-Pro Team

It never fails. Every season a handful of players who've gone undrafted, or who've toiled on the waiver wire, emerge from the scrap heap to achieve fantasy relevance. Occasionally, like Miles Austin in 2009, they even attain fantasy stardom. But this is absurd. I can't recall a year where more top-end talent could be had via the waiver wire. That guy who always misses your draft? Instead of obnoxiously making his selections via text message, he could have just punted, and picked up a championship-caliber squad amidst the empty beer cans and chewed up chicken wings of your draft day leftovers. My collection of All-Pro fantasy misfits are all players who most likely spent time on the waiver wire, available for anyone to claim.

QB: Michael Vick
After making a mockery of the Philadelphia quarterback controversy, Michael Vick's become the Robert Downey, Jr. of the NFL. We knew he had big time potential, but it appeared his demons would prevent it from ever being realized. We wrote him off and erased him from our memories, only to witness the triumphant return of a super hero. Vick's per-game production is easily tops among NFL quarterbacks, and he's a human highlight film. In his seven full games, he's accounted for 20 touchdowns, averaged 338 yards of offense, and given us a fantasy performance for the ages.

RB1: Peyton Hillis
After playing the undercard in the Brady Quinn trade, Peyton Hillis (above) entered the preseason taking reps behind rookie Montario Hardesty and 2009 breakout star Jerome Harrison. Through 11 games, his 13 touchdowns are tied for the league lead among running backs. His bulldozing running style has catapulted him to cult icon status. America hasn't seen this kind of domination since Chuck Norris hung up his steel toed cowboy boots. On draft day he was a blocking fullback. Today, he's a matchup-proof superstar.

RB2: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Into the season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was just another name in a muddy New England backfield. Well, actually three names. "The Law Firm" has quietly ascended to the level of a reliable No. 2 fantasy running back. He's scored or topped 120 combination yards in eight of his last nine games, giving us a dependable Patriots' running back for the first time since Corey Dillon. Tom Brady gets the press and Danny Woodhead gets the giggles, but "The Law Firm" has been a rock in the New England backfield.

WR1: Brandon Lloyd
Better late than never, right? Journeyman Brandon Lloyd had teased us in the past with the occasional acrobatic catch, but he'd never put anything serious together. In his first seven seasons, he'd maxed out at 48 catches, 733 yards, and six touchdowns. However, he's completely bucked conventional wisdom in his eighth season. With five games remaining, he's already crushed all of his previous bests, with 58 catches for nine touchdowns and a league-leading 1,122 yards. It's bewildering. You just can't make sense out of nonsense.

WR:2 Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson is easily the most unlikely name on this list of unlikely names. That's because prior to your draft, you'd probably never heard of him. God didn't even know who he was. For reference, I grabbed a fantasy draft magazine off my desk, wiped off the layer of dust, and cracked it open to the Buffalo Bills' team page. Johnson's listed as the sixth wide receiver, on an anemic offense without a quarterback. Through 11 games, his 796 yards and nine touchdowns slot him as the No. 8 fantasy wideout in standard scoring leagues.

WR3: Mike Williams (TB)
As a fourth rounder out of Syracuse, rookie Mike Williams was the 13th wide receiver drafted in April. He wasn't even the first receiver drafted by his own team (Arrelious Benn was taken early in the second). However, Williams is in a heated battle with the glitzy Dez Bryant for the honors of top rookie wideout. His 701 yards and six touchdowns through 11 games are good enough for 13th among wide receivers in standard scoring leagues. Austin Collie and Kenny Britt were in the contention for this spot, but injuries derailed their seasons.

TE: Marcedes Lewis
Without much fanfare, the 6'6", 275 lb. Marcedes Lewis' eight touchdowns have propelled him to the No. 2 fantasy tight end ranking. He trails only the great Antonio Gates. Vernon Davis and Tony Gonzalez have just eight scores combined, and in a year where Jermichael Finley and Dallas Clark have been lost to injury, and Visanthe Shiancoe and Brent Celek have flopped, Lewis has been a stalwart at the position.


QB: Matt Cassel
An uncanny connection with Dwayne Bowe has resulted in 22 passing touchdowns for Matt Cassel, just one off the league lead.

RB: Mike Tolbert
Mike Tolbert's bowling ball physique, combined with rookie Ryan Mathews' inability to stay healthy, has resulted in nine touchdowns in his past ten games.

RB: LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount represents the second Tampa Bay rookie to make the team. He's surpassed the creaky Cadillac Williams on the depth chart and become useful matchup play.

RB/WR: Danny Woodhead
The versatile Danny Woodhead, of HBO's "Hard Knocks" fame, has scored or reached 90 combo yards in six of nine games.

WR: Mario Manningham
With Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith ailing, Mario Manningham has eased fantasy owners' pain by scoring in four of his past six games.

TE: Jacob Tamme
In the five weeks since Dallas Clark's season ended, Jacob Tamme ranks No. 1 in catches, yards, and touchdowns among tight ends. His 56 targets are 22 more than any other tight end over that span.

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