The waiver wire can make or break any fantasy football player's season. The feature used in most, if not all, fantasy football clients allows general managers to pick up players that were either not drafted or dropped by other teams in the league. As the NFL season is very unpredictable and countless players either perform above or below their expectations, the waiver wire allows savvy general managers to remedy mistakes made in the draft by staying active on the waivers. Players that start on the waiver wire could end up winning a team their fantasy football championship.
At the end of every week, general managers may make changes to their team for the coming week. The players they drop go to the waiver wire. General managers from other teams can put in a request to sign one of the players. The complicated part of this process is who actually gets the player if multiple people want to sign him.
The waiver order decides which team will get the desired player. The waiver order at the start of the season is based on the draft order as the last pick in the draft will get the first chance at picking up a player. Once a general manager signs a player off of waivers, they go to the back of the order. For this reason, some GMs may stay dormant at the top of the waiver order to wait for an injury or breakout star to make sure that they are able to snatch up the next big scorer for their team.
One key way to find quality pick-ups on the waiver wire is to look at matchups. If your QB1 is on a bye, and your backup is facing the best defense in the NFL, it may be smart to look to waivers for a one-week loan of another quarterback. For this situation, look for quarterbacks facing lowly defenses to try to take advantage of a high scoring week.
This strategy is especially useful for your Defense/Special Teams slot. While some defenses are high scorers no matter the matchup, there is a good chance that general managers will have to swap out their defense at least one time other than their team's bye week. Looking at the offensive statistics for each defense's opponent will help managers make an educated decision on which D/ST to pick up for a week.
Injuries also greatly affect the activity on the waiver wire. This point is true for all positions, but especially running backs. As the player that has the most opportunities to score, running backs are a hot commodity on the waiver wire. When starting running backs get injured, even if just for a single game, managers will rush to the waiver wire to try to pick up the next man up who will take most of the carries.
League managers can choose specific days and times for their waiver wire to process, but most leagues use a standardized time. The waiver wire generally will process the requests of the general managers around 4 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. This setting allows managers ample time to adjust their lineups before the Thursday night games.