As the fantasy football season wears on, GM's everywhere are constantly scanning the waiver wire for injury assurance, replacements or even upgrades. Every year, there are a significant amount of players that contribute on a level that not even the most experienced of NFL experts could have predicted. Thus, a fantasy waiver wire scramble ensues for their services.
Now that we have reached the quarter point in the season, we can start to get a better idea of how personnel situations are unfolding with NFL teams, and whether a breakout fantasy star is a legitimate candidate for consistency. The last thing a fantasy owner wants is to pick up a player after a massive week of production, by means of bidding or waiver priority, only to have that player's stock dwindle throughout the rest of the season.
In deciding on a waiver wire pickup, it is important to consider not only how they have done so far, but also their chances of consistent playing time, the team's offensive trends and the players around them. Waiver pickups are always a risk, but they can also be the kind of risk that could eventually crown you the champion of your league.
Here are the top five players to take a waiver wire risk on in your fantasy football league.
Heading into this season, the Cardinals likely weren't at the top of anyone's list to be drafted as a fantasy defense. After a 4-0 start to the season and several very impressive defensive performances, the Cardinals defense is officially for real.
The effective blitz packages that they have put together have resulted in an impressive 16 sacks so far and most certainly played a huge factor in the league high six fumble recoveries. Add to the equation the four interceptions and we've got one of the best defenses in the league through four weeks.
Taking into consideration both that defensive performance, the two blocked kicks so far on special teams and the always dangerous Patrick Peterson returning punts, this Arizona Cardinals D/ST is a must have if available in your league.
When Todd Heap left the Baltimore Ravens several years ago, the hope was that one of the younger tight ends would step up and assume his role. That time has finally come and that tight end is Dennis Pitta.
With Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game constantly improving, so to will the number of targets Pitta will receive. Much of the defensive attention in any given game is placed on Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice. As a result, the Ravens can exploit the mismatches that Pitta creates, much like they have been able to do so far this season.
He has shown the ability to get open in such situations and make the necessary plays, becoming one of Flacco's more reliable targets with 18 receptions and two TD's.
Brian Hartline is one of those players that fantasy owners will rush to pick up based on his massive 12 Rec, 253 Yard, one TD performance in Arizona on Sunday. However, due to the situation he is in, the pick up would be smart for more reasons than just one game's numbers.
Hartline is entrenched as rookie QB Ryan Tannehill's number one receiver and he will continue to see the majority of targets, as he has shown an uncanny ability to get open. Despite not possessing the most explosive speed, he has surpassed the 100-yard mark in two of four games and had a catch of over 20 yards in all four.
While teams are sure to stack the box to both stop the running game and pressure Tannehill, Hartline is left with single coverage on the outside. So far this year, he has taken full advantage of that, and is a great spot starter or even flex starter in any fantasy lineup moving forward.
Cam Newton and Greg Olsen have created quite the connection in Carolina. Not having many threats on the outside other than Steve Smith, Newton has often relied on Olsen to make plays, and he has not disappointed.
In 4 games, Olsen has hauled in 20 catches for 256 yards and one TD. While the scoring output leaves something to be desired, those numbers will come in due time considering how many passes are coming his way.
Olsen gives Newton a big, fast target that he can rely on, as he is already almost half way to reaching his receiving yardage totals of last year.
On pace for the best season of his career, Olsen is a great waiver wire pickup for a need at the TE or flex position.
Bills TE Scott Chandler has only hauled in 12 passes so far this season, but has turned four of them into touchdowns. If you can count on a few catches and at least one touchdown per game from your TE, you are in good position as a fantasy player.
With the way that the Bills offense is designed, having smaller receivers and more of a finesse running game, Chandler becomes the "go to guy" in the red zone. Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown a good connection with him and looks to his big frame in those very situations.
The Bills offense has shown the ability to move the ball well this year, both through the air and on the ground. For Chandler, that just means opportunities inside the red zone and more touchdowns for his fantasy owners.