"The fantasy football team you draft is almost never the same fantasy football team you have once the postseason hits."
That statement has never been more true than in this season, as numerous prominent players have been sidelined due to injuries and a number of lesser knowns have broken out. These situations prove the value of the waiver wire, which has been an absolute treasure chest for owners who have been diligent and attentive in their weekly transactions.
With most postseason schedules now into the second week, it's more important than ever to follow the five points for postseason success in that quest for a championship.
One of the main components of these points is to stick with your studs. But in a season that has seen such a carousel of depth chart alterations, it could be difficult for owners to decipher their true studs from player who might have had one or two solid stat lines.
With that in mind, we've listed 10 players that were on the waiver wire this season but have become close to must-start options in the postseason's final two weeks.
Derek Anderson, QB, Cleveland: The biggest and most productive sleeper of the entire season, Anderson went from second on the Browns depth chart to superstar in less than a few weeks. In fact, Anderson has 10 fewer points on NFL.com than Peyton Manning as we head into Week 15. He's been so productive that there's even been talk the team could deal Brady Quinn in the offseason. With contests against Buffalo and Cincinnati on the slate, Anderson will no doubt lead countless owners to the top of the fantasy mountain.
Justin Fargas, RB, Oakland: Fargas went from buried on the Raiders depth chart to the team's featured back this season, and he's been solid with two touchdowns and a total of 46 fantasy points on NFL.com in his past three starts. He did fall back to earth a bit in last week's loss to Green Bay and sustained bruised ribs, but the Southern California product is still slated to start in Week 15. I'd add LaMont Jordan as insurance, but Fargas has become a borderline No. 2 fantasy back or flex starter in most formats.
David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville: Garrard seems to have been the quarterback no one in fantasy football believed in a few weeks back, but he's proven his worth with 58 points on 783 yards and five touchdown passes in his past three starts. Garrard, who has thrown one interception all season, has outscored studs like Brett Favre and Carson Palmer since Week 12 and should be considered a low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback. He'll face a tough Pittsburgh defense in Week 15, but Garrard still warrants a very prominent role.
Earnest Graham, RB, Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers could have a backfield committee next season, because there's no chance on earth Graham won't be involved in the offense with Cadillac Williams. Graham has rushed for nine touchdowns this season -- that's tied with Marion Barber and Jamal Lewis for third-most in the NFL at his position -- and he's scored at least once in five consecutive contests. He should continue his statistical dominance of the opposition over the next two weeks against Atlanta and San Francisco.
Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay: Grant went from a reserve on the New York Giants roster to fantasy football stud in Green Bay in less than one season. An afterthought to start 2007, Grant passed Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn and Vernand Morency on the depth chart and has been a statistical monster for owners. In fact, Grant has the second-most points on NFL.com over the past three weeks at his position (LaDainian Tomlinson is the lone back with more). Regardless of the opponent, Grant should be active in the final two weeks.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay: Jennings started the season on the waiver wire in some leagues based on his injuries and the emergence of rookie James Jones. But owners who held onto to him have reaped the rewards of his statistical success. Believe it or not, Jennings has been the most productive wideout on NFL.com since Week 12 with 247 yards and four touchdowns. The Western Michigan product is tied for fourth overall in receiving touchdowns (11), and he has found the end zone in all but two contests this season.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver: "Breakout" Brandon went off against Kansas City in Week 14 with 10 catches, 115 yards and two touchdowns, and he is second only to Jennings in fantasy points on NFL.com since Week 12. Marshall has made the most of his opportunities since Javon Walker went down with an injured knee, as he has recorded over 1,000 yards and a career-best six touchdowns in 13 contests. With starts against Houston and San Diego next on the schedule, Marshall should continue to make some serious noise.
Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona: Once considered the No. 1 quarterback in all of fantasy football, Warner has been a nice starter for owners since Matt Leinart when down for the season. The veteran is 13th in fantasy points on NFL.com for the season despite the fact that he has started just eight times, and he's fifth in points at the position in the past three weeks. With contests against vulnerable defenses from New Orleans and Atlanta over the next two weeks, the Warner Machine is a tremendous option in all formats.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta: The lone bright spot in what has been a lost season for the Falcons, White has recorded an impressive 19 catches for 325 yards and three touchdowns in his past three starts. Regardless of what is an unattractive quarterback situation with Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich all at the helm, White is still on pace to produce over 1,200 yards and six touchdowns. He does have a tough matchup in Week 15 against Tampa Bay, but White finishes with Arizona and should be active in most cases.
Jason Witten, TE, Dallas: Witten was drafted in most leagues with 12-plus teams, but he was on the waiver wire in some smaller formats after a 2006 that saw him find the end zone one time. Now a prominent option in the game plan of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Witten has recorded career bests in receptions, yards and touchdowns, and there's still three more contests on the schedule. With games against Philadelphia and Carolina ahead of him, Witten's success should continue in Dallas' high-octane attack.
Waiver wire focus
Chris Brown, RB, Tennessee: Brown is second on the Tennessee depth chart behind LenDale White, but he has scored in consecutive weeks and faces a Kansas City defense in Week 15 that is awful against the run. The veteran should at least be considered in larger formats or as insurance for fantasy football teams that have White.
Nate Burleson, WR, Seattle: Burleson has scored in consecutive weeks in the absence of D.J. Hackett, who remains out of action due to injuries. The Seahawks have been hot in the pass attack in recent weeks, so Burleson is well worth a look as a reserve or even a No. 3 fantasy wideout in some leagues with 12-plus teams.
Samkon Gado, RB, Miami: I had Gado in this spot last week, but I wanted to include him once again so owners know how valuable he can be down the stretch. He found the end zone twice in last week's loss to Buffalo, and chances are he could remain the Miami starter with Jesse Chatman's status in serious doubt.
Jabar Gaffney, WR, New England: It's unreal how the Patriots offense has turned even the most insignificant wideouts into viable fantasy football starters, but that's the case with Gaffney. The Florida product had 122 yards against Pittsburgh and has now scored a touchdown in three consecutive weeks.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis: No one seems to know when (or if) Marvin Harrison will return from an injured knee, so Gonzalez seems locked into a prominent role for the Colts. He totaled 134 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday night's win over Baltimore, and he's available in most NFL.com leagues.
LaMont Jordan, RB, Oakland: Fargas remains atop the Raiders depth chart, but he's never had to handle such a rigorous workload at the NFL level. That makes Jordan, who has seen more work over the past two weeks, an important handcuff for fantasy footballers who have Fargas and not much backfield depth.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego: Rivers has not been consistent at all this season, but he tossed six touchdowns in his past three starts. He is expected to start in Week 15 despite an injured knee, so Rivers could make some noise against a Detroit defense that's been vulnerable to the pass this season.
Sage Rosenfels, QB, Houston:Matt Schaub's status for Thursday night's contest against Denver (8 p.m. ET, NFL Network) is in doubt, so Rosenfels could make another start in his absence. He was impressive in Week 14 against a solid Tampa Bay pass defense with 209 yards and three touchdowns.
Aaron Stecker, RB, New Orleans: There's a chance that Reggie Bush could miss the remainder of the season with an injured knee, so Stecker could top the Saints depth chart for the final three weeks. He's not as explosive as Bush, but Stecker can be a viable flex starter in some leagues down the stretch.
Darius Walker, RB, Houston: Ahman Green is out for the season and Ron Dayne has an injured ankle, so Walker could move up the depth chart and start for the Texans in Week 15. He's not an elite back to be certain, but Walker is a viable flex starter in larger formats against a bad Denver run defense.
I need to start two backs from Earnest Graham, Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch. Suggestions? -- G. Singh, Canada
M.F.: Graham has become a must-start back and Lynch has a solid matchup in Cleveland, so I'd have to reserve the unproductive Gore in this situation.
Should I start Donovan McNabb or Kurt Warner in Week 15? -- G. Edwards, Salt Lake City, Utah
M.F.: McNabb has been inconsistent all season, while Warner has a tremendous matchup against a vulnerable New Orleans pass defense. As a result, I'd side with Warner.