It’s a well known fact amongst fantasy football enthusiasts that the marquee free-agent/waiver wire pickups are made in Weeks 1 and 2.  If a lesser known player blows up for 2 straight weeks, he’s rightfully snapped up by the time waivers clear Wednesday morning.  If you’re in a cut-throat, no-holds-barred free agency league, said player is already owned by the manager with the most expensive smart phone on the fastest network (can you hear me now?).

Injuries happen (RIP Jamaal Charles’ anterior cruciate ligament) and keeping a high waiver priority is key as the season goes on.  While just about all of the top undrafted players are taken already, by the end of Week 3 you can forget about picking up this years’ Brandon Lloyd or Peyton Hillis.  They gone.  The only players you’re picking up post Week 3 are TE/K/DST bye week replacements, injury fill-ins and these cubic zirconias in the rough.

Now the undrafted players who have already found their way into starting lineups for fantasy teams world-wide, those are your diamonds in the rough.  We’re talking Cam Newton QB CAR, Willis McGahee RB DEN, Devery Henderson WR NO, Ryan Fitzpatrick QB BUF, Ben Tate RB HOU etc.  These guys will directly contribute to your fantasy success for several weeks to come.  You acted fast or drafted late in the order, hence giving you a higher waiver priority so you’re good to go.  Sure there will be some pickups who flame out and do little to help your squad, but these guys will be solid for quite a while.

The cubic zirconias are what’s left on the waiver wire.  Undrafted or dropped players who still can make a difference this season.  Yes, they do exist, and depending on your situation some of these players may be worth adding now.  Let’s break it down by position:

QB

1. Chad Henne QB  MIA

2. Matt Hasselbeck QB TEN

3. Andy Dalton QB CIN

If your backup is Matt Cassel QB KC or Kyle Orton QB DEN, it’s time to take a SERIOUS look at one of these guys.  Henne has been flat out great his first 2 games.  I’m surprised he’s still available in 59% of Yahoo! leagues.  And have you seen the love connection between Hasselbeck and Kenny Britt WR TEN?  Brings music to my ears and seeing that he’s available in 74% percent of leagues, you should tune in as well.  Dalton is a first year starter who’s got some decent stuff, although he suffered a hand injury and isn’t worth an add just yet.  Keep an eye on the kid, though.

RB

1. Roy Helu RB WAS

2. Ronnie Brown RB PHI

3. Deji Karim RB JAX

The low-down on Helu is that he could be in line for a major bump in touches very soon.  Don’t be surprised when this kid is starting during the 2nd half of the season (available in 67% of leagues).  Ronnie Brown is one LeSean McCoy RB PHI injury away from being a must start player.  If you own McCoy, you’re crazy not to have this handcuff currently available in 76% of leagues!  As for Karim, the guy can play.  It’s a shame JAX sucks so bad.

WR

1. Michael Crabtree WR SF

2. Steve Breaston WR KC

3. Danario Alexander WR STL

Crabtree is an awesome athlete who can make a real difference down the stretch.  Why he’s available in 53% of leagues I don’t know.  He’s one to stash on your bench til he gets it together.  Breaston is 1 good matchup away (Week 5 vs IND) from breaking out.  He’s always had the skills, just never really had the opportunity.  When he goes off for 9 rec 120 yards and 2 TDs, I can’t wait to say I told you so.  Alexander had a huge Week 2 and shouldn’t be available in 85% of leagues.  Outrageous.

TE

1. Marcedes Lewis TE JAX

2. Chris Cooley TE WAS

3. Jermaine Gresham TE CIN

Lewis was drafted rather highly in most leagues but now resides on the waiver wire in 45% of all leagues.  He’s injured, but come November this guy should be hauling in TDs like he did last year.  He has one big game go out and get him.  Cooley has been injured as well but he can still produce when called upon.  If you just lost Aaron Hernandez TE NE he could be a decent filler.  As for Gresham, the kid is a serious talent in the mold of Antonio Gates.  He’ll NEVER produce like Gates, don’t get me wrong, but he will have a few huge weeks.

So keep an eye on these cubic zirconias in the rough.  They may not win you a championship, but they’ll help you out on a bye week somewhere down the line.  As always, stay on your toes.  Check player news on Tuesday nights and before gametime on Sundays, Mondays and the occasional Thursday.  Good luck.

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