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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 week twelve of Waivers of the Future! Whether you are a contender or a rebuilder, this article will seek to help you put yourself in the best position to have success in your dynasty league by assisting you in making preemptive pickups.
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching or past in most dynasty leagues. Weeks 10-13 are the most common dates for trade deadlines across dynasty leagues that do not allow year-round trading. That means that once the deadline passes, your only way of acquiring players for the remainder of the year is via the waiver wire. This tends to inflate the amount of capital you need to spend to secure a player. That said, do not be afraid to be aggressive with your spending at this point. The wire is razor-thin by this time in the year and any player you can secure for your team with waiver dollars is going to be of help. You should never end the year with a waiver budget leftover unless it is going to roll over to your next league year.
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!
IN THE SKY
Players on this list have previously appeared in this article as pickups, but have had value spikes at points in the season that make them unlikely to be out there in your league. If they are still available and you need help contending, consider spending 30-50%+ of your budget on them.
IN THE CLOUDS
Players on this list are probably also rostered but are worth less than 30% of your budget.
- Jacoby Brissett
- Gardner Minshew
- Teddy Bridgewater
- Malcolm Brown
- Adrian Peterson
- Frank Gore
- Giovani Bernard
- Matt Breida
- Raheem Mostert
- Damien Williams
- Darrel Williams
- Wayne Gallman
- Chase Edmonds
- Sterling Shepard
- Demarcus Robinson
- Ted Ginn Jr
- Phillip Dorsett
- Auden Tate
- Zach Pascal
- Darren Waller
- Jason Witten
- Jordan Akins
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
15-25%| Ryan Tannehill, TEN- Tannehill has played moderately better than Marcus Mariota and the Titans have gotten three wins with him at the helm. The scheme by Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith still does not seem to fit the strengths of the player personnel, which has been problematic for this offense when they play against quality defenses. The Titans return from their bye for a divisional matchup against the Jaguars in week 12.
15-20%| Mason Rudolph, PIT- Rudolph’s weapons (namely James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Diontae Johnson) are all hurt and Rudolph’s limitations as a passer are beginning to show. He will be the quarterback for the Steelers for the remainder of the year, barring injury, so that is something. Rudolph has a good matchup against the Bengals this week, so if you have to play him, it is an ideal time to do so.
5-15%| Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA- You can play Fitzpatrick, but just be aware that he is at a high risk of turning over the football and getting benched. It has happened a couple of times already this year. The Dolphins play the Browns this week, which has been a little bit of a tougher matchup as of late, but one that is not as scary as the one with the Bills last week.
5-10%| Chase Daniel, CHI- Daniel is back in action after Trubisky’s hip injury that may hold him out for a time. Daniel may actually be a better facilitator of the offense anyway. The Bears have a favorable tilt against the Giants this week, one that general managers should not fear should they need to start Daniel.
5-10%| Brandon Allen, DEN- With Flacco placed on IR, the team had no choice but to roll out an inexperienced Brandon Allen. Surprisingly, Allen has been relatively sound, though not amazing. The Broncos have another tough game ahead, facing the Buffalo Bills.
1-5%| Ryan Finley, CIN- The Bengals need to see what they have in Finley in a lost year. Finley is not looking particularly ready for the challenge, but fantasy general managers may need to plug him in on a week in which we are missing the Chargers, Chiefs, Vikings, and Cardinals fantasy quarterbacks. The Bengals will play a very banged-up Steelers team this week.
1-5%| Jeff Driskel, DET- Driskel has bounced around the league but has ended up in a spot that is fairly fantasy-friendly and will encourage him to be an aggressive downfield passer. Matthew Stafford’s season is very much in doubt and Driskel could earn work for the remainder of the season if Stafford’s back gets him shut down for the year. The Lions will play Washington, who has not been able to shut down anyone defensively for some time.
1%| Taysom Hill, NO- Hill has his own package of snaps in every contest and has a high upside to score on any given week because of the potency of this offense. He is a last-resort option at the position, but for some in very deep or superflex leagues, putting him in is better than taking a zero. The Saints play a demoralized Panthers team that has slackened defensively in recent weeks.
25-50%| Brian Hill, ATL- Ito Smith was placed on IR recently and Devonta Freeman remains sidelined with some sort of foot sprain. That will mean an extended audition for Brian Hill, albeit on a team that is sputtering. The Falcons will square off again the Buccaneers, who have a tough run defense, but can be exploited in the passing game.
15-20%| Bo Scarbrough and J.D. McKissic, DET- The Lions decided to use recently acquired Bo Scarbrough extensively in the ground game and McKissic handled the pass-catching work. It will depend on if your scoring system places a higher emphasis on carries or catches as to which will be more valuable, but their roles are clear at this point. The Lions will play a soft Washington defense, which is great if you need to use one of these two as a spot starter.
1-10%| Jonathan Williams, IND- Marlon Mack broke his hand and should be out for a few weeks. With Jordan Wilkins sidelined, the team was forced to call on Williams in a tough matchup. He came through with 116 rushing yards and figures to be a good choice against the Texans this week IF Wilkins cannot go on Thursday night. Monitor this situation closely and do not waste too much of your budget on Williams in the event that Wilkins plays.
10-15%| Allen Lazard, GB- Lazard has been filling in to supplement a banged-up receiver group and may have value even with Devante Adams back, as evidenced by six targets in their most recent contest. The Packers come off their bye to face the 49ers.
10-15%| Chris Conley, JAX- Despite a losing effort to the Colts, Conley got target volume and appears to be a viable play going forward. The matchup against the Titans secondary is not one about which to worry.
1-10%| Keelan Cole, JAX- Cole is clearly the third target in the offense and also will fade in importance when Dede Westbrook returns. Still, it is ok to ride the wave while it lasts. He will face a corner group in the Titans that does not strike fear into the hearts of its opponents.
1-10%| Tim Patrick, DEN- Patrick came back from a broken hand to catch four of his eight targets. While opportunities in this offense are not extremely valuable, Patrick will be second only to Courtland Sutton in the passing game pecking order and that is worth something. The Broncos play a tough Bills pass defense this week.
5-10%| Ross Dwelly, SF- George Kittle is banged up and that might stretch on for a time. Ross Dwelly came in and performed admirably in Kittle’s role over the past two contests. As this offense is one that often utilizes its tight end, Dwelly might be able to fill a hole for you until Kittle is back. The 49ers play the Packers, and while the matchup is not as easy as last week’s, it is not one to avoid.
5-10%| Ryan Griffin, NYJ- Consistency is likely to be spotty from week to week because it is the Jets offense. However, this past week, Griffin showed why he is a capable replacement for Chris Herndon, converting his five targets into over 100 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders are up next and actually present another good matchup in which to deploy Griffin.
1-5%| Anthony Firkser, TEN- Could the Titans have made a significant discovery last year with the undrafted Firkser? It is 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. Walker suffered an ankle injury in week six and Firkser has become a contributor in the games since. We will see where Walker is in his recovery later this week, but Firkser is a very interesting addition for both now and the future. The Titans play the Jaguars this week.
1%| Jaeden Graham, ATL- It was Graham who assumed the pass-catching tight end role, not Stocker. While Graham was not extremely involved, he caught both targets and could become more involved in matchups in which Atlanta falls behind and must throw the football. The Falcons get a favorable passing matchup this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
(Might be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)
None this week due to positional scarcity. See other quarterback sections of this report for suggestions.
1-5%| Mike Davis, CAR- With the waiver wire so thin at this position, fantasy general managers may have to begin thinking about players in productive situations that are also not rostered because they are not thought of as future starters. Enter Mike Davis, who was cut by the Bears and signed by the Panthers. An accomplished runner, Davis would become a lot more interesting if McCaffrey were to go down. He was inactive last week as he gets up to speed in the offense, but should take over for Reggie Bonnafon soon.
1-5%| Gus Edwards, BAL- Edwards also falls into the category of valuable backup who is unlikely to be rostered in dynasty leagues and is not getting many touches now, but he would benefit greatly if the lead back were to go down. Mark Ingram has been banged up before, so Edwards having fantasy relevance this year is not impossible.
1-5%| Deon Cain, PIT- Cain gets bumped up here from the watch list because he was elevated to the Steelers’ active roster after being stolen from the Colts’ practice squad. That move shows that they value Cain highly. With the starting group in front of him pretty banged up, Cain has a chance to show what he can do with an organization known for cultivating receivers.
15-25%| Foster Moreau, OAK- Moreau came up from the watch list earlier this year because of continued involvement in the game plan, despite the presence of Darren Waller. 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. Moreau has scored multiple touchdowns and has been involved in most games so far this year, which is encouraging for his future prospects.
10-15%| Jeremy Sprinkle, WAS- Sprinkle was elevated from the watch list based on the fact that Jordan Reed is now on injured reserve and his career is in jeopardy after sustaining another concussion. Vernon Davis is also dealing with a lingering concussion and is rapidly aging. Sprinkle has proven to be 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 now that the season is lost for Washington.
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.
(Might be available in 30+ roster spot leagues.)
Watch List| Jarrett 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- Kelly will move back down to the watch list due to Jacoby Brissett being recovered enough to play, but keep Kelly in mind. Kelly has talent, but the downside is that he 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. The talent is such that we should keep him on our radar and perhaps on our roster now that he is only one injury away from relevance.
None this week, as the position is depleted. See other running back sections for pickup recommendations.
Watch List| Byron Pringle, KC- Pringle moves back to the watch list with Sammy Watkins returning to the lineup. Pringle is a very good route runner and the coaching staff was complimentary of his improvement and professionalism towards improving his game this offseason. The quality of the offense also makes him worthy of consideration.
Watch List| Richie James, SF- James is getting more work in the passing game and has the skills to eventually play from any receiver position in this offense. Kyle Shanahan values this kind of multiplicity in his offense. James’ trademark skills are being very shifty and great on contested catches, despite his smaller size.
Watch List| Juwann Winfree, DEN- After a recent injury to Tim Patrick, Winfree had a chance to play a part. He was a camp standout who may have more upside for the team long-term than DeSean Hamilton. Winfree also should be counted on more with Emmanuel Sanders traded away to the 49ers. He is one to keep an eye on for 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 he can stick with this team for another year or two, he has a great chance to step into that role.
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 camp again this year and there have been some games in which Wims has been on the active roster and has even been targeted.
Watch List| Alizé Mack, PIT- Things just keep getting better for Mack. He is now on the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad after spending time with the Steelers and Saints earlier in the year. Mack is a good prospect who impressed over the summer as a receiving tight end in the Saints’ camp. If Travis Kelce were to get hurt, Mack would become even more intriguing to fantasy general managers.
LOST AT SEA
Brian Hoyer, IND- Brissett is back in the game.
Justin Watson, TB- The writer had hoped to see Watson more involved by this point in the season, but Watson is not catching on with this new regime. If you have been speculatively holding on, it is time to let go if you have better options or need the roster spot for someone else.
Rhett Ellison, NYG- It sounds like Engram could be ready to roll this week and Ellison himself is dealing with a concussion.
Luke Stocker, ATL- Jaedan Graham will catch passes for Atlanta in Hooper’s absence and Stocker will continue in a blocking capacity.