The 2012 fantasy season has come to an end for me. I'll be traveling next week for the holidays, so this is my final column of the year. I want to thank all of you who stopped by and read my advice on trading players this season. I hope you found some of my inane babbling useful.
In the final edition of The Feeding Frenzy, I will take a look back and a look ahead to 2013. First, I will look at the players I think were the Top 5 waiver wire pickups of the season. Now I know in some leagues a couple of these players may have been drafted, but the fact is if you go back to August and look at the information available, they weren't being selected in a majority of drafts.
Finally, I'll look ahead to next season and five players I'm high on for 2013. Obviously things change, but these are five guys that as of right now are high on my fantasy radar for next year.
So if you're still playing in your fantasy championship games, I wish you luck. I also hope everyone has a great holiday season. As for me, if this is the end of the line, I'll see you all in the funny papers.
Here are my five top waiver wire pickups from the 2012 season:
Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle -- Wilson was expected to be a game manager in his first year as a starter in the NFL. He was anything but that as Wilson has eclipsed 20 fantasy points in seven of 14 fantasy starts this season. Wilson has gotten better as the year has gone on too, averaging 25 fantasy points since Week 8. Through 14 games, Wilson has outscored bigger name quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers. For those who believe you shouldn't use a high draft pick on a quarterback, Wilson adds more fodder to their argument.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver -- Moreno was a late addition to fantasy teams, but if you were fortunate enough to get him, it has paid off. Since Moreno started against Kansas City four weeks ago, he has averaged 19 points in points per reception formats. Even more importantly, Moreno has done most of his damage during fantasy playoffs, rushing for 237 yards and two scores over the last two weeks. Moreno may not be done yet. He gets the Cleveland Browns and their 18th ranked rush defense in Week 16. I said to sell Moreno after his first start. I was dead wrong. Peyton Manning got me again. First Joseph Addai, now Moreno.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay -- There were talks of Jones being traded during the summer, but, rather than leaving Green Bay, Jones became one of the Packers top receivers. With both Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson battling injuries all year, Jones stepped up and leads the NFL with 12 receiving touchdowns through 14 games. He has scored double-digit fantasy points 10 times this year, so owners who snagged Jones off the waiver wire certainly got their money's worth.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville -- On draft day, the names of other Jacksonville receivers Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson were called, but Shorts came off the waiver wire to easily outproduce both of them. Shorts has topped 15 fantasy points in points per reception leagues nine times this year, including in each of the last five games he's played. With 925 yards and seven scores in 13 games, Shorts was easily one of the top waiver wire pickups of the year. The fact that Shorts has put up those numbers in Jacksonville makes his breakout season all the more impressive.
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh -- Miller wasn't drafted in a majority of leagues but he's going to finish the year as a Top 10 fantasy tight end, despite Ben Roethlisberger missing three games. Miller was a revelation in points per reception formats, scoring double-digit fantasy points 10 times so far in 2012. Miller also emerged as one of Roethlisberger's favorite red zone targets, scoring eight touchdowns in 14 games. After years of being known as a blocker, Miller finally broke out as a top-flight fantasy tight end.
Looking ahead to next season, here are five players I'm high on and will be monitoring closely over the summer:
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami -- Tannehill has been outshined by other rookie quarterbacks, but I think there's a lot to like about the Miami signal caller. Tannehill was thrown into a situation where the Dolphins have one of the least-talented groups of receivers in the NFL. Still, Tannehill has displayed a live arm and good pocket presence. Also, Tannehill only started 20 games in college, so while he was inconsistent in 2012, his best days are still yet to come. I expect Miami to spend a lot of money upgrading its receiving corps in the offseason. I like Tannehill as a QB2 with a high ceiling heading into next year.
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis -- I really like Ballard, but my fear is he'll have a lot of hype heading into next year's fantasy drafts. Ballard has gotten better as the season's gone on, and one reason for that is the Colts' offensive line has improved. Early in the year Ballard simply had no holes to run through. However, when he does have a hole, Ballard hits it quickly and runs with power in the open field. Ballard has rewarded fantasy owners by scoring double-digit fantasy points in six of his last nine games. He has a bright future in what should be one of the NFL's best offenses for years to come.
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego -- Remember him? I wrote in July that I already had Brown rated as the Chargers' No.1 receiver and he certainly looked like it in his brief preseason action. Then Brown broke his ankle and never saw the field in 2012. Make sure you don't forget about Brown next year. I saw him play a lot at San Diego State, and I believe he has the physical skills to become one of the top receivers in the NFL. The Chargers need to find a new quarterback because Philip Rivers would probably be a backup in Buffalo at this point, but Brown is a future stud.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago -- I really believe if Jeffery had stayed healthy he would have been one of the top fantasy rookies of 2012. In points per reception formats, Jeffery has scored double-digit fantasy points in four of the eight games he's played this season. That's pretty impressive for a rookie that plays on an inconsistent passing team. I believe with another offseason to work on his game, Jeffery will make a big jump in 2013. Brandon Marshall is a beast but Jeffery is an emerging star in his own right. I think those two will make up one of the NFL's top receiving tandems next year.
Robert Housler, TE, Arizona -- Some liked Housler as a possible sleeper this year, but, when a team's quarterback situation is so dismal that Larry Fitzgerald is being benched, Housler doesn't have a chance. Still, Housler has given owners a reason for optimism over the second half of the season, catching 35 balls for 289 yards since Week 7. That's not bad considering he has high school quarterbacks throwing to him. Housler is an athletic tight end with good hands, so if Arizona finds a quarterback in the offseason, I think he could be next year's version of Brandon Myers; a guy who goes from the waiver wire to a Top 15 fantasy tight end.
Phillip Rivers isn't going anywhere. Give him a new coaching staff and put some talent around him and then see where he is, but I wouldn't write him off just yet. He'll be in prime position to get in the draft next season because he will fall so far in drafts, just don't draft him as your starter.