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Player value in dynasty football reminds me of watching ocean waves. They ebb and flow, always in a state of flux. Competitive dynasty players anticipate these movements before they happen and act by picking up, buying, or selling players as the situation demands. Dynasty general managers have previously been at the mercy of regular waiver segments to assist in dynasty pickups, but these fail to account for the long-term view necessary to dynasty success. This weekly column will focus on identifying assets that will help dynasty teams build for the future, as well as players that may plug a hole at a position of need on an otherwise strong squad.
Welcome to Waivers of the Future! Whether you are a contender or rebuilder, this article will seek to help you put yourself in the best position to have success in your dynasty league by helping you to make preemptive pickups.
Budget percentages are to give the reader guidance regarding how the writer would prioritize these players. However, you know your league best. If you think you can get away with bidding less than recommended or nothing at all, go for it!
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
10-15%| Nick Foles, JAX- Foles was a quarterback this column recommended stashing away last year. Jacksonville opted not to franchise tag Foles and he signed in free agency with the Jaguars to become their starter. Though the offense tends to be conservative and relies heavily on the run, one can see how Foles is an upgrade to Blake Bortles and will at least be serviceable for those fantasy general managers who need a quarterback
5-10%| Joe Flacco, DEN- With Lamar Jackson clearly the future in Baltimore, Flacco went to a team that needed a bridge option until Drew Lock is ready to go. Flacco won’t put up gaudy stats, but on a team with decent offensive weapons and an above-average defense, a season of 20-25 touchdowns and 3,500 passing yards is within reach. As a bye week or injury fill-in, that may be enough to keep a contending team afloat in the short-term.
1-5%| Eli Manning, NYG- You’ll probably be making the patented Manningface if you have to roster him, but he’s available on many dynasty waiver wires. At least he’ll have some quality surrounding talent in Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley.
1-5%| Case Keenum, WAS- Keenum will get the start, but don’t expect him to keep the job all season. Washington also has a bottom-five offense in the NFL currently, so the upside of rostering Keenum is very limited. Keenum really should be rostered or started only in emergencies.
(This position is razor thin on the waiver wires the writer has looked over…)
20-40%| Damien Williams, KC- Perhaps your waivers were locked all offseason and someone threw Damien Williams back to the wire after his playoff performance, believing that Kansas City would use premium draft capital on the position. This column recommended stashing him away after what he did in the fantasy playoffs and that was the correct call. Williams was signed and currently holds the extremely valuable lead back role for the team. While it is doubtful he will have the talent to hold off both LeSean McCoy and Darwin Thompson for the entire year, he will be a strong running back two in the early going because of this offense’s potency.
5-10% Sterling Shepherd, NYG- Shepherd has his best chance to contribute with Odell Beckham Jr gone and Golden Tate serving a four-game suspension. The offense may not be outstanding, but Shepherd can get a desperate team by in the short term.
1-5% Willie Snead, BAL- Snead’s season-long appeal may hinge on how far along Myles Boykin is in his development. Snead was quietly Baltimore’s leading receiver last year and will have the lead role to begin the year.
1-5% Ted Ginn Jr Jr., NO- The wire for receiver is thin, but Ginn is out there in many leagues. When he can stay healthy, he has a defined role in one of the better offenses in football and is good for a few catches a week.
10-20%| Darren Waller, OAK- For now, Waller is the starter in Oakland, who uses its tight end heavily in the passing game. He did have a good camp and has been developing for several years after converting from wide receiver.
5-10% Jordan Akins, HOU- Over the summer Jordan Thomas quietly won the starting job in Houston. However, both he and Kahale Warring were recently put on injured reserve. Jordan Akins becomes the last man standing. Their lacking tight end usage is concerning. However, in an offense that will be potent as long as Deshaun Watson stays upright, he might be able to serve as a bandaid for teams that need help at the position.
(May be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)
20-25%| Jacoby Brissett, IND- Brissett was a recommended stash last year and that may pay off big for fantasy general managers who acted upon that advice. Andrew Luck unexpectedly announced retirement two weeks before the season, vaulting Brissett into the starting job. It now makes perfect sense why the Colts refused to consider trading Brissett. While they certainly took a downgrade from Luck, it is doubtful that the offense or defense will be as poor as it was in 2017. Because of the overall quality of the team and coaching staff, Brissett is still worth going after with a sizeable portion of your budget if you missed the opportunity to grab him on the cheap.
5-10%| Teddy Bridgewater, NO- Bridgewater could very well be the future starter for the Saints or another team in the future. The Saints signed him to another one-year deal in the offseason, showing that both team and player are content with maintaining the status quo. We probably have not seen the best of Bridgewater yet and should be excited about it if we can land him on our dynasty teams.
1-5%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- The Rams chose to keep Brown around and should Gurley get hurt again, Brown is most likely to earn the majority of the running game work. He has looked great in limited opportunities behind Todd Gurley and has the skill set to carry the load if Los Angeles has to trust him to be their lead guy in a committee.
1%| Ameer Abdullah, MIN- Though many of us love Alexander Mattison’s long-term potential, it is not certain that Mattison would get the first crack at starting if Cook were to get banged up. Abdullah still has the traits of a good NFL running back, and in this offense, he could surprise if given a shot at being the featured runner.
1%| Rod Smith, NYG- Smith landed behind Saquon Barkley and though he is not a special athlete, he is a runner who would be competent on his touches in the way that he was when Zeke was suspended in 2017. He would probably be functional as a potential flex play if Barkley were to go down, albeit in a poor offense.
1-5%| Justin Watson, TB- Recall that Watson made the initial 53-man roster last year, despite how crowded Tampa Bay’s wide receiver corps already was at that time. Watson takes over the slot role with the departures of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. Jameis Winston prefers short-to-intermediate throws, meaning Watson could get more work than we anticipate this season.
10-20% Adam Shaheen, CHI- Trey Burton is looking increasingly doubtful for Thursday’s tilt with the Packers. Shaheen has had his own troubles staying healthy but has flashed when he has been on the field, especially in red-zone work. He’s been kicked to the curb in many dynasty leagues. However, now that Shaheen is entering his third year, this could be the time we see him come into his own.
10-15%| Ian Thomas, CAR- Thomas has been tossed back out on some waiver wires. However, when the box score is examined it is clear that he actually acquitted himself well when Greg Olsen was out last year. Thomas will need seasoning, but with Greg Olsen near the end of his career, Thomas is worth holding.
Watch List| Jared Stidham, NE- It is notable that New England cut backup Brian Hoyer and will roll with the rookie. Stidham performed well in preseason and shows promise to be the next in a long line of developmental quarterbacks for the Patriots. He is worth rostering in deep leagues because his perceived value will only grow with time.
Watch List| Chad Kelly, IND- It is a long shot, but if Brissett drops the ball, a talented Kelly waits in the wings. The only downside is that Kelly has had a variety of character issues both in college and the NFL that suggest he might not be mature enough to handle the opportunity, which is why he is not higher on the list.
Watch List| Jordan Wilkins, IND- Wilkins has the misfortune of being behind Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines in the pecking order. However, Wilkins, when developed, should be a more promising do-it-all back than Marlon Mack or Nyheim Hines. Keep an eye on this young man, especially if injuries occur ahead of him on the depth chart.
Watch List| C.J. Procise, SEA- Injuries and a crowded depth chart have pushed Procise out of favor with this regime, but it looks like he has shown enough to hang on the roster yet again. The skill is there, but at this point, it will take some injuries to Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny to get Procise a chance. On a run-heavy offensive team, that could pay off for fantasy general managers willing to add him should one or both get hurt.
Watch List| Richie James, SF- James is buried on the depth chart but remains one of the author’s favorite deep stashes. He has the skills to eventually play from any receiver position in this offense. His trademark skills are being very shifty and great on contested catches, despite his smaller size.
Watch List| Deon Cain, IND- It is a shame that Cain tore his ACL in year one because he is a technician and has the potential to become what Roddy White was in his prime. The loss of Luck hurts, but Cain is more of a long-term stash anyway. This team could look very different at quarterback when Cain gets his shot.
Watch List| Juwann Winfree, DEN- Winfree was a camp standout this year, catching everything that came his way. With DeSean Hamilton disappointing and also being nowhere near the athlete that Winfree is, we could see Winfree inherit that role in the future.
Watch List| Emmanuel Butler, NO- Like Winfree, Butler made a name for himself in camp practices and has a disappointing role player in Tre’Quan Smith ahead of him on the depth chart. Butler currently resides on the practice squad. If Butler can stick with this team for another year or two, he has a great chance to step into that role.
Watch List| Auden Tate, CIN- Tate has not been able to make his mark yet. However, heading into his second season and with an often banged-up A.J. Green ahead of him, Tate is likely to get to show off his prowess as a big-bodied red-zone threat.
Watch List| Javon Wims, CHI- Wims was constantly making plays throughout the preseason last year, so much so that the Bears dared not put him on the practice squad. He was doing the same in this camp again this year and there may be more opportunity for him with Kevin White gone or if injuries should strike.
Watch List| Demetrius Harris, CLE- Harris was stuck behind Travis Kelce but landed behind David Njoku in free agency. We have heard reports that Njoku is not growing the way we had hoped and with him headed into his third year, that is concerning. Harris is an underrated talent, one that has traits similar to Kelce. If Njoku were to get hurt or was not able to complete his assignments, Harris is a name we want to keep on waiver wire speed dial.
Watch List| Jeremy Sprinkle, WAS- Jordan Reed cannot stay healthy, Vernon Davis is aging, and Sprinkle is an able blocker and receiver. He is someone we want to monitor for now and pick up if we see him start to get more opportunities.
Watch List| Anthony Firkser, TEN- Could the Titans have made a significant discovery last year with the undrafted Firkser? It’s a possibility. He has size, reliable hands, and the ability to box out defenders in the middle of the field. Jonnu Smith and Firkser could become quite the duo when Delanie Walker moves on in a few years or if Walker once again fails to complete the year due to injury.
Watch List| Foster Moreau, OAK- Moreau is going undrafted in many dynasty rookie drafts, but he should at least be on our radar. He is a good pass catcher and a great blocker. Jon Gruden has shown the propensity to target his tight end heavily and there is no one on the roster that is a long-term lock to hold the job.
Watch List| Alizé Mack, NO- Mack is now on the practice squad. Mack impressed as a receiving tight end. With Jared Cook in the later stages of his career, things could time out right for Mack to take his place when Mack is more developed.