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Working the Wire: The Best Players Left Undrafted

Mark Stopa

Mark Stopa

Mark Stopa has been sharing his fantasy insights for Rotowire since 2007. Mark is the 2010 and 2012 Staff Picks champion (eat your heart out, Chris Liss) and won Rotowire's 14-team Staff League II in consecutive seasons. He roots for the Bills and has season tickets on the second row, press level to the Rays.

On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, several Rotowire writers got together for the annual Staff League Auction. You can view the results here. For "Working the Wire," the point isn't to discuss whose team looks the best after the auction (which nobody outside of the league cares about anyway). The point is to gauge, in a league with 11 owners who know what they're doing (the 12th team, Team Henry, was on ESPN's AI), which players were drafted in the endgame and which players went undrafted altogether. Did a league of "experts" get it right in the endgame? Or were mistakes made?

Here are my thoughts: (I apologize if some of this is duplicative of prior articles. As I've said before, not much changes in pre-season.)

Matt Moore, QB, Panthers: Nobody on waivers jumped out at me than Moore. He's still relatively unproven, but Moore showed signs of breaking out in December, tossing 8 TDs and zero INTs the last four games of 2009. The Panthers are still a run-oriented team, but Steve Smith is an elite WR, and his talents certainly won't hurt Moore. I'd be surprised if Moore isn't picked up as a backup QB in this league before the season starts. Among QBs who were drafted in this league who I'd have passed on in favor of Moore are: Alex Smith, David Garrard and Mark Sanchez.

Derek Anderson, QB, Cardinals: With what we know right now, I don't think I'd have drafted Anderson above Smith, Garrard, Sanchez, or any other QBs who were drafted in this league. But with the Cardinals recently-announced decision to start Anderson in their next pre-season game, Anderson is worth a flyer in deeper leagues. At minimum, it's a situation worth monitoring, essentially for the same reasons I profiled Matt Leinart a few weeks back - stud WR to whom to throw, division of bad defenses, great weather conditions in the winter. Also, even though he's done nothing since, I still have Anderson's 2007 season stuck in my head (29 TDs, 3,786 yards). Yes, that was largely a product of Braylon Edwards freakish season (1,289 yards, 16 TDs, before he forgot how to catch), but with Fitz on the roster, who's to say that can't happen again? I'm not saying the chances are high; heck, we don't even know if Anderson is starting. But even if they're only 10% or so, that's more than we can say for a lot of QBs who are being drafted in leagues.

Kareem Huggins, RB, Bucs: Cadillac Williams' injury history is well-documented, as, except for last season, he's been unable to stay on the field basically his whole career. Meanwhile, Huggins has drawn rave reviews in Tampa, so much so that he's emerged as the favorite for the backup role, ahead of a free-falling Derrick Ward. Among the RBs who were drafted who I'd have passed on in favor of Huggins are Ward, Rashad Jennings and Larry Johnson (looks washed up; may not even make the Redskins roster).

Danny Ware, RB, Giants: I'm becoming more and more inclined to think Brandon Jacobs is on a downward spiral from which he'll never recover. If I'm right, then Ware is behind only Ahmad Bradshaw for carries behind a really good offensive line. Among the RBs who were drafted in this league who I'd have passed in favor of Ware are Larry Johnson and Derrick Ward.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints: Devery Henderson was my last selection, and I came really close to taking Moore instead. Yet somehow, several other WRs were taken after Henderson, and Moore remained unclaimed. With respect to my colleagues, this is a glaring mistake. Everyone realized that Robert Meachem's value is down due to injury concerns - he went for only $5 despite a breakout 2009. Meachem's injury concerns, along with the Saints explosive offense, is precisely why Moore should have been drafted, certainly before WRs like Nate Washington, Josh Morgan, Demaryius Thomas, Mike Thomas, Arrelious Benn, Chaz Schilens and others. In retrospect, I wish I found a way to pair Henderson and Moore.

James Jones and Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers: Four Colts receivers were drafted, all for $3 or above - Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez. The Packers are just as explosive offensively, yet only Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were drafted. What gives? You can't argue that the Packers have Jermichael Finley taking away touches, either, since Dallas Clark's impact on the Colts is the same as Finley's in Green Bay. People are drafting four Colts WRs because they saw what happened last year with injuries - Collie and Garcon emerged as studs. But last year is over; the same thing could just as easily happen this year in Green Bay. Among the WRs who were drafted who I'd have passed on in favor of Jones and Nelson are: Nate Washington (little upside on Titans passing offense; Jones would have been better for Team Cole since he had Jennings already); Josh Morgan, and Demaryius Thomas.