Fantasy Football Definition of Waiver Wire
The waiver wire is a tool used in professional sports used to gauge a team's interest in a certain player. The waiver wire is also the official means that teams have to make moves when the trade deadline has already passed. In fantasy football, the waiver wire refers to the same thing -- a list of players still available for acquisition in your fantasy league.
We fantasy football managers have to deal with the waiver all season long if we want to have long term fantasy success. The waiver wire in fantasy football is "where the free agent players live". Some leagues will collect any players recently dropped by your league's teams and sort them into "waiver" status for a few days. When these players are in "waiver" status, fantasy football managers cannot immediately add the player to their roster. Instead, these teams have to make a "waiver claim" for that player. Some sorting method is then used to determine what teams gets to claim the player -- usually it is the team with the least wins that enjoys first pick on waiver players, though sometimes other methods are used to determine, such as draft order or waiver order.
In the NFL, the "waiver wire" is literally an email passed among teams to determine their interest in that player. In fantasy football, "waiver wire" refers to your specific league's list of waived players. You'll often see "waiver wire reports" or analysis by fantasy football writers. These articles are valuable for those fantasy managers that don't have the time or the desire to stay on top of every player in the NFL -- that means that most of us will use "waiver wire" advice at some point during the season. These reports usually warn managers about players who should be avoided, suggest players that could be handy additions to your squad, or suggest a player you MUST add if available.
Fantasy football roster strategy doesn't end at the draft, and neither should your ability to alter your strategy if you find yourself down early in your league. Don't be surprised if you find yourself adding a waiver wire blue plate special one week, earning some good points, and rotating him back out within a couple of games. Unlike the NFL, fantasy football managers have the option of utilizing players like toys.
Try not to go waiver wire crazy. For all the bluster in fantasy sports about utilizing the waiver wire, I still feel that a solid draft and a well thought out roster is a better long term strategy than sniping all season out of the waiver wire.
See also: Waive