Whether a fantasy owner is currently in the playoffs, just beginning the postseason or has one week remaining in the regular season, the waiver-wire pickups from this point forward are crucial, to say the least.
Thanks to a few standout games from little-known players or those that may have been previously overlooked, there is still a bit of fantasy treasure out there on the waiver wire in most leagues.
One of these players is bound to give your team a boost.
*All ownership percentages and scoring based on NFL.com leagues.
How the Cardinals quarterback is still owned in just 21.8 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues is shocking enough, but the numbers that Carson Palmer has put up over the last three weeks are even more surprising.
Palmer may have thrown two interceptions on Sunday in a 24-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but he put up his third straight game over 17 fantasy points (two of which reached the 20-point plateau) along with his third straight 300-yard, multi-touchdown performance.
If any owners are still struggling to find replacements for Andrew Luck or Matt Ryan, Palmer will face St. Louis this weekend, who ranks 19th against the pass and has given up 18 passing touchdowns this season.
OK, everyone who saw this coming, raise your hand. If you raised your hand, you're lying.
Josh McCown has put up two straight weeks with 18-plus fantasy points with 300 or more yards and multiple touchdowns. If it weren't for Palmer, McCown might be one of the biggest revelations of the last two weeks.
The only problem with McCown is that when Jay Cutler is healthy, he will likely be back on the bench. But if Cutler is out for another week, expect McCown to put up another huge point total against an atrocious Dallas Cowboys passing defense that has given up 295 yards per game and 22 touchdowns, which rank 31st and 21st in the NFL, respectively.
After Stevan Ridley's struggles holding on to the football (isn't that his only job?), many fantasy projections had all but handed Brandon Bolden the keys to the Patriots running game. But then there was Shane Vereen, yet again, with his first double-digit game since Week 1.
While it may seem like a high percentage by most standards, almost 40-percent availability in NFL.com leagues is a tough find for a starting running back this time of year.
Vereen's matchup against the Cleveland Browns may not look great, but his presence in the passing game with 37 yards receiving and a touchdown against Houston means his versatility should still allow him to score fantasy points for owners who start him.
No, Montee Ball is not the No. 1 running back for the Denver Broncos; that title still belongs to Knowshon Moreno. But what Ball has done is put up double-digit points in two of the last three games and earned a chance to share the backfield once again with Moreno.
Making Ball's numbers this past weekend even more impressive was the fact that he ran for over 100 yards for the first time in his rookie season.
The former Wisconsin back will face off with three defenses that rank outside of the top 15 in rushing yards allowed per game. That stretch begins with the Tennessee Titans, who are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the second-most rushing touchdowns allowed this season with 16.
Brian Hartline is probably one of those guys that was drafted in most fantasy leagues but has since been dropped due to his, well, inability to surpass the 70-yard receiving mark in most games.
But with the sudden emergence of Mike Wallace—some might call it finally living up to expectations—on the other side of the field, Hartline is getting open looks of late and making the most of them.
Hartline may still be a tough start because the stats could very well be an outlier rather than a sign of consistency, but with Mike Wallace taken in over 80 percent of NFL.com leagues, Hartline could very well put up similar numbers to his flashier counterpart.
Remember when the Patriots signed Danny Amendola to fill the role of current Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker? Well, Julian Edelman has outscored both of them in fantasy football the last two weeks.
Edelman has found more wide-open spaces—try to refrain from singing the Dixie Chicks—since the return of Rob Gronkowski. While his streak of double-digit points doesn't seem likely to continue against Cleveland and Miami, the mismatches he creates with several other threats now showing up in the passing game should help him remain consistent.
Players like Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles may look like fantasy gold, but the real stars are the ones that show consistency. Since his emergence in Week 11, Ladarius Green has looked like the heir apparent to Antonio Gates and one of Philip Rivers' favorite targets.
Green is still owned in less than one percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues and has put together two straight games with a touchdown against Kansas City and Cincinnati. Need assurance that Green will be the right decision for your team? Matthew Berry of ESPN has some high praise for the breakout star:
I have seen the future and it's name is Ladarius Green.— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) December 1, 2013
While his ownership numbers are relatively high for a tight end at over 50 percent, if Brandon Myers is still available, fantasy owners would be remiss to overlook his recent production.
Myers might not be one of the most consistent targets for Eli Manning, but the Giants tight end has yet another good matchup against the San Diego Chargers, who rank 28th against the pass. Myers may at least be a good spot start for this week.