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2019 NFL Waiver Wire Recap (Fantasy Football)

Jan 7, 2020

Parker was 2019’s waiver add of the year.

Draft day is important, but fantasy leagues are often won on the waiver wire. Whether your league uses a free-agent acquisition budget (FAAB) or a traditional waiver system, it’s still your job to figure out who’s a fantasy asset and who’s a one-week wonder.

Today, I’ll be going through some popular waiver options from last year, and I’ll give them a grade on a five-point scale. I emphasize season-long value in my grading, but clutch performances in the fantasy playoffs get rewarded as well.

No. Meaning
5 They were a league-winner. You couldn’t lose without them.
4 Season-defining contributor. You could start them on most weeks or in the playoffs.
3 Frequent contributor. You could start them on some weeks.
2 Spot contributor. You could start them over injured players or players on a bye.
1 One-game wonder. You couldn’t trust them again.
0 Non-factor. If you added them, you were confused.

There aren’t going to be too many fives — I’m reserving those for someone like 2014 Odell Beckham. Similarly, there won’t be too many zeroes. Those are for players like 2019 Pharaoh Brown. Who? Yeah, exactly. It’s for the players we never talked about. Let’s get started.

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Early Season

Marquise Brown (WR – BAL)
Antonio Brown’s cousin erupted in Week 1 for 147 yards and two scores. That he did so on just five targets should’ve been more cause for concern, but he quickly proved he had a role in the offense in Week 2, earning 13 looks from Lamar Jackson on his way to 86 yards. Then Jackson threw his way nine times in Week 3, but Brown caught just two of those passes for 49 yards.

Brown had an impressive 27 targets through three weeks. Unfortunately, those would account for 38 percent of his season total. Hollywood finished the year as the half PPR WR46 after opening it as the WR4. He wasn’t bad for a rookie, but he didn’t have the season we’d hoped for after an impressive first two weeks.

Grade: 3

Terry McLaurin (WR – WAS)
F1 McLaurin began the season on a tear. He put up touchdowns in three of his first-ever NFL games, and the rookie opened his career with five consecutive games with at least 50 receiving yards. He was even getting enough volume for that performance to be sustainable, as he averaged 7.6 targets per game through those five appearances. Although he missed Week 4 with a hamstring injury, he was still the overall WR10 after Week 6.

Unfortunately, Jay Gruden’s firing and Dwayne Haskins’ struggles limited the rest of McLaurin’s 2019. Interim head coach Bill Callahan emphasized Adrian Peterson and the running game after Week 5, and excluding Callahan’s first game, McLaurin only scored twice under his new coach. However, he racked up enough receptions and yardage to finish as the WR27, a low-end WR2 showing. That’s a very respectable rookie debut.

Grade: 3.5

D.J. Chark (WR – JAC)
Like McLaurin, Chark got off to a hot start in 2019. He put up 146 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, catching passes from both Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew. He followed it up by scoring in Weeks 2 and 3, adding 131 yards along the way.

While Chark could be somewhat boom-or-bust, he kept booming up until late in the year. Chark’s two best performances came in Week 5 and Week 11, giving him value throughout the season. Chark missed Week 15 with an injury and couldn’t do much afterward, but he still finished as the WR16, giving him high-end WR2 value. That’s hard to come by on waivers.

Grade: 4

Will Dissly (TE – SEA)
Remember this guy? Dissly looked like Seattle’s answer at tight end through the first four weeks. He didn’t flash in Week 1, but he logged 11 receptions, 112 yards, and three scores in Weeks 2 and 3, vaulting him onto the fantasy radar. He kept things up in Week 4, notching seven catches for 57 yards and a score. By this point, he was the TE5 and a consensus option at TE1. He was beating out eventual top-five tight ends Darren Waller and Zach Ertz.

But tragedy struck in Week 6 when Dissly tore his Achilles’ tendon, marking the end of his 2019 season. Dissly finished the year as the TE33, but his 10.4 points per game were still top-10 numbers at his position. While it was still a good move to add Dissly, unfortunately, injuries happen.

Grade: 2.5 

Daniel Jones (QB – NYG)
Everyone laughed at General Manager Dave Gettleman when he took Jones sixth overall. Then Jones came in for a benched Eli Manning and looked fantastic. In his first career start, he lit up Tampa Bay for 336 passing yards and two touchdowns, adding another 28 yards and two scores on the ground. With 34.2 fantasy points, he was Week 3’s QB2.

People who jumped on Jones got burned, however. He scored just 14.3 points the next week, and while he would have some big games later in the year, he could never string together consistent QB1 performances. He finished as the overall QB23, although his 17.5 points per game would’ve put him at QB12 had he played the whole season. That said, more than half of his 24 passing touchdowns came in just three games, and he was little more than a high-upside streaming option this season.

Grade: 2

Mid-Season

Ty Johnson (RB – DET)
Johnson appeared on the fantasy radar when Kerryon Johnson went down in Week 7. The Lions put Kerryon on injured reserve, so it was Johnson’s time to shine. He had filled in for Kerryon when he went down, totaling 57 yards on 14 touches. It seemed like he’d have a chance at RB2-type numbers as Detroit’s starting back. Then, in Week 8, Tra Carson led the Lions in carries, out-touching Johnson 12 to eight.

The Lions clearly never trusted Johnson, and they would continue to experiment with other guys until Kerryon’s late-season return, including Carson, J.D. McKissic, Bo Scarbrough, and Wes Hills. None of them except Scarbrough ever put up RB2 numbers.

Grade: 1

Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN)
The ex-Dolphin took over Marcus Mariota’s starting job in Week 7, and he successfully led the Titans on a mid-season recovery that took them to the playoffs. While Derrick Henry was also instrumental in the turnaround, Tannehill was still a big piece in Tennessee’s newfound offensive success — the quarterback scored at least twice in all of his starts.

He finished as the QB21 on the year, but given that he only started 10 games, that’s very impressive. And if you look at just the weeks he started, Tannehill is the overall QB3 behind Lamar Jackson and… Ryan Fitzpatrick (I’ll bite — Miami’s early-season bye gave Fitz an extra game through this span), and he was the QB4 during the fantasy playoffs. If you drafted someone like Jared Goff or Baker Mayfield, Tannehill could’ve been your saving grace.

Grade: 4

DeVante Parker (WR – MIA)
After years of disappointment, Parker finally broke out. He was only 12 percent owned in Yahoo leagues as late as Week 8, but the receiver began to put things together once Miami re-committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 6. Parker averaged 4.5 catches, 49.75 yards, and .75 touchdowns from Weeks 6 to 9, making him the overall WR13 through that span.

But once the Dolphins announced that fellow receiver Preston Williams would miss the rest of the year, Parker exploded. He was the WR2 from Week 10 onward, averaging 16.5 fantasy points per game. Parker finished the season with 72 receptions, 1,202 yards, and nine touchdowns, putting him at WR7 on the year. I doubt he’ll do it again, but most Parker owners can probably sleep well with their 2019 fantasy championships in hand.

Grade: 5

Zach Pascal (WR – IND)
An undrafted free agent in 2017, Pascal finally proved himself for the Colts in 2019. The Colts were hard to predict coming into this season, especially after Andrew Luck’s surprising retirement. But Pascal beat out the likes of Parris Campbell and Chester Rogers to earn a role in Indy’s offense, and injuries to T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron, and Devin Funchess helped put him on the fantasy radar.

Pascal finished as the WR49 on the season, but he put up a pair of 100-plus yard performances and scored 10-plus fantasy points five times. He may not have won you a championship, but he could’ve helped you win a few games along the way, which is more than a lot of other guys can say.

Grade: 2.5

Derrius Guice (RB – WAS)
This guy is injury prone. If someone drafted him in your league, they probably dropped him after he landed on IR with a knee injury following Week 1. But Washington brought him back for Week 11, and he played well in a timeshare with Adrian Peterson. His solid performance in Week 11 (13.4 points) piqued some fantasy owners’ interests, and after a disappointing Week 12 (4.3 points), he ran wild against Carolina in Week 13 (26.7 points).

Unfortunately, Guice went down again in Week 13. It was yet another knee injury for the 2018 second-round pick, as the 22-year-old sprained his MCL. He’s young enough to bounce back, but we’ll have to wait and see if he can ever play a full season.

Grade: 1.5

Bo Scarbrough (RB – DET)
Scarbrough was the only Kerryon Johnson handcuff worth adding this season. The Cowboys’ seventh-round pick from 2018 took over in Week 11, logging 55 yards and a score on 14 carries. Matt Patricia continued to trust him with a heavy workload, as he averaged 19.3 carries per game until Johnson’s return in Week 16.

Scarbrough made the most of his opportunity in Detroit. From Weeks 11 to 14, the four games he started, Scarbrough was the RB29. Although he averaged only 8.8 points per game, he never scored fewer than 7.5 points through that stretch. Those numbers won’t win you a matchup, but they could’ve helped you survive some injuries or bye weeks.

Grade: 2

Late Season

Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA)
As with Guice, someone in your league probably drafted Penny only to drop him after he got hurt early in the year. People expected Penny to compete with Chris Carson for the starting role, but up until Week 12, he hadn’t been much competition. However, Penny exploded for 129 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Eagles that week, which put him back on the fantasy map.

He even followed up his strong Week 12 with an even better Week 13. Against the Vikings, Penny ran for 74 yards and a touchdown, adding 33 yards and a score through the air. But in Week 14, Penny suffered a significant knee injury that included a torn ACL, ending his season.

Grade: 1.5

A.J. Brown (WR – TEN)
Brown got some hype earlier in the year, but most of his hype came late. Brown had an impressive rookie debut, catching three passes for 100 yards against Cleveland, which caused him to make some Week 2 waiver wire lists. After a pair of disappointing showings in Weeks 2 and 3, he reemerged in Week 4 with a 94-yard, two-touchdown performance, but he wouldn’t flash that upside again until after Week 11. That’s when Brown’s performances in Week 12 (21.5 points) and Week 14 (31.1 points) made him a must-add.

The Titan finished the regular season strong, working his way up to WR15 on the year. He finished as the WR1 between Week 12 to Week 17, outscoring Michael Thomas. Brown strung three impressive games together for the fantasy playoffs, and if you added him before your quarterfinal game, he might have carried you to a championship.

Grade: 4

Raheem Mostert (RB – SF)
The San Francisco backfield was weird this year. Kyle Shanahan used three backs — Mostert, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman — with some frequency. While we got more value out of this committee than we get from others, that’s more of a credit to Shanahan than anything else. Mostert played as San Francisco’s third guy for most of the year, and although he had big games in Week 2 and Week 8, he didn’t see consistent usage until Week 12.

He was the RB24 on the year, beating out both of his San Francisco teammates. That said, from Week 12 onward, Mostert finished as the RB7. He ended the year by scoring touchdowns in six consecutive games, adding 85.8 yards per appearance — and those stats include a game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Grade: 4

Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)
Remember Gerald Everett? I guess the Rams don’t. He was a decent streaming option this year, but after he went down in Week 12, the Rams started Tyler Higbee and never looked back. Although I still liked Everett and wasn’t that high on Higbee, I’ll admit it, that was a mistake.

Higbee exploded for four-consecutive 100-yard games at tight end, which is unheard of. He ended the year as the overall TE8 despite not getting hot until late in the year, and he finished as the TE1 between Weeks 13 and 17. Finishing as a TE1 in each week of the fantasy playoffs is very impressive for a late-season waiver guy, especially at this position.

Grade: 4

Mike Boone (RB – MIN)
After the Vikings lost Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, speculation ran wild about how much Boone could produce in Week 16. Minnesota played Green Bay’s bad run defense that week, and Boone had just gashed the Chargers for two touchdowns a week prior. People expected Boone to be a league-winner.

Those people were wrong. Boone finished Week 16 with 33 total yards, giving him 3.8 fantasy points and an RB52 finish. While he exploded again in Week 17, that was probably too late for your fantasy Super Bowl. Boone might’ve cost you a title if you put him in your championship lineup.

Grade: 1

Breshad Perriman (WR – TB)
The ex-Raven got the opportunity of a lifetime when Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Scotty Miller all went down for Tampa Bay. Perriman was only the WR48 on the year, but between Weeks 14 and 17, he was the WR2.

Perriman caught just five passes per game, but he turned those limited opportunities into 419 yards and five touchdowns, including three games with 100-plus yards. He could’ve won you your semifinal matchup outright, as three of those touchdowns came in Week 15 against the Lions. I hope you found a spot for him on your roster during the playoffs.

Grade: 4

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

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