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 12 of Waivers of the Future! As general managers head into the stretch before the playoffs, there have been some significant injuries that are sure to send shockwaves across rosters. Joe Burrow appears to have torn his ACL and Rex Burkhead has seemingly met the same fate. La'Mical Perine left the game with a knee injury. Both Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills exited Sunday’s contest with leg injuries. While this is unfortunate for general managers who were counting on these players, there is no choice but to replace them in lineups and keep on keeping on. This column will offer some suggestions for those who are in the thick of the race and need to patch up their teams, as well as suggestions for those who are out of contention and need ideas for players to stash for future seasons.
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.
- Andy Dalton
- Jerick McKinnon
- Adrian Peterson
- Devonta Freeman
- Boston Scott
- Giovani Bernard
- Myles Gaskin
- Jordan Wilkins
- Malcolm Brown
- Gus Edwards
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
- Russell Gage
- Jeff Smith
- Tim Patrick
- Logan Thomas
- Dalton Schultz
- Robert Tonyan Jr
- Mo Alie-Cox
- Trey Burton
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
Contending and Rebuilding 1-10%| Taysom Hill, NO- Hill has been named the starter for the injured Drew Brees, so his outlook has improved significantly. We should see some Winston sprinkled in, but Hill will still be the more valuable of the two to play. The depleted Broncos defense in Week 12 offers Hill a better-than-normal chance for scoring. The Falcons in Week 13 also should scare no one away from starting Hill if needed. This is probably the last week you have to get Hill if he is still out there in your league.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| P.J. Walker, CAR- Teddy Bridgewater has a knee injury and it is unclear if he will be able to play going forward. XFL standout Walker will take his place in the lineup should he be unable to suit up. Walker has demonstrated in limited duty that, while not as efficient as Bridgewater, he can still do many things that support the offense. The Vikings in Week 12 have gotten more formidable in the last few weeks and could be problematic for Carolina’s offense. The Panthers will have a bye in week 13.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Nick Foles, CHI- Despite getting carted off on Monday night football, it appears Foles avoided serious injury and is likely to be the starter when the Bears take on the Packers in Week 12. In Week 13, they will play the Lions, who are giving up a ton of pass yards. Foles is an inconsistent and streaky decision-maker, but he has some quality weapons such as Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller who can help elevate his play.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alex Smith, WAS- His comeback story has been amazing and he will get the chance to start for at least a couple more games with Kyle Allen’s ankle dislocation. The banged-up Cowboys secondary is not one to fear in Week 12. In Week 13, however, the Steelers present a frightening matchup that should be avoided at all costs.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jake Luton, JAX- Gardner Minshew is out with a broken thumb, giving the team an extended look at Luton. The Browns in Week 12 have enough of a pass rush that you will want to avoid starting Luton unless you are desperate. The Vikings in Week 13 have stiffened and one should avoid starting Luton against them unless there is no other choice.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Finley, CIN- Joe Burrow has suffered a significant knee injury that will keep him off the field for the remainder of 2020. That leaves 2019 fourth-round pick Finley at the helm for Cincinnati. We will see if Finley is overmatched with a week to prepare. He looked lost coming off the bench in the Cincinnati loss to Washington. The Giants in Week 12 is a good test to see if Finley can function against a softer defense. Week 13’s contest against the surging Dolphins is not a contest in which to use Finley.
Contending 5-15%, Rebuilding 1%| James White, NE- White is probably not out there in your dynasty league, but if he is, he is worth consideration in an increasingly thinning running back market. With Rex Burkhead’s injury, it is possible we will see a heavier workload for White, especially in passing down situations. The Cardinals and Chargers are not overly scary matchups for running backs.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Salvon Ahmed or Malcolm Perry, MIA- Matt Breida was eased back into action with only 11% of the snaps. One has to think that percentage will grow in the coming weeks, but if it does not, Malcolm Perry will be in a mostly even snap timeshare with Salvon Ahmed. Ahmed will get the between-the-tackles work and some pass-catching responsibility and Perry will work as the third-down pass-catching option. It is hard to trust either, but with the waiver wire as thin as it is, one may have no choice. The Jets and Bengals over Weeks 12 and 13 present easy matchups, so at least these two backs have that going for them.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE- Peoples-Jones will get more work going forward with the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. Peoples-Jones is more advanced than a typical rookie in terms of route running and body positioning. The Jaguars in Week 12 are a plush matchup if you have to start Peoples-Jones. The Titans have not been able to stop the pass consistently and also present a plush matchup for the young wide receiver.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Austin Mack, NYG- Mack was getting more opportunity with Golden Tate in the doghouse, but Tate looks to be back in good graces with the team. However, a Darius Slayton injury could keep Mack in the lineup. Looking ahead, the Giants play the Bengals in Week 12. That is a good matchup for Mack if Slayton’s absence is extended. The Seahawks in Week 13 are also generous in terms of allowing pass yards.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| David Moore, SEA- Russell Wilson is cooking and Moore is catching touchdowns on occasion. While the low-target volume can leave Moore with little-to-nothing on a given week, he also can make your day on a deep score. In Week 12, the Eagles leaky secondary should be a good matchup for Moore. In Week 14, the Seahawks will take on the Giants, who also give up a lot of air yards.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Marvin Hall, DET- With Kenny Golladay out, Hall is getting very limited targets, but he is maximizing them with either lots of yardage, a deep score, or both. Take a flier on Hall if you need big upside. Hall has a favorable matchup with the Texans in Week 12. In Week 13, the Lions will play the Bears, who defend the pass much better, so start Hall only if you really need help.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Damiere Byrd, NE- While Jakobi Meyers is rightfully getting all the attention in this receiver group, there may be another option for desperate fantasy general managers. Byrd has multiple years of experience and prior rapport with Cam Newton from their time together in Carolina. The speedster proved this past Sunday that he can get the better of defensive backs who do not properly account for his quickness. Arizona’s corners have been easy pickings this year, so that lends itself to playing Byrd in Week 12. In week 13, New England will face the Chargers, who just gave up lots of air yardage to the struggling New York Jets.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Willie Snead IV, BAL- Despite having the more talented Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin on the roster, it is Snead who seems to be earning Jackson’s targets and trust when Mark Andrews is not open. An easier schedule is approaching in the fantasy playoffs for Baltimore, which could make Snead even more valuable. Next week, the Ravens will play the formidable Steelers. In week 13, they will take on the Cowboys, who have more trouble defending the pass than most teams.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Dan Arnold, ARI- In the wasteland that is trying to find a tight end off the waiver wire, Arnold may be a stopgap for your team if nothing else. The Patriots and Rams are two matchups that are not very good, but one may have little choice but to count on Arnold.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Cameron Brate, TB- While he can just as easily give you a zero, he is also proving he is a fine emergency option that can score touchdowns here and there.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jacob Hollister, SEA-Greg Olsen’s injury opens the door for Hollister to get additional work. We will see if it actually comes to fruition. It is worth picking up Hollister with a minimal bid to find out. The Week 12 and 13 matchups of the Eagles and Giants are good if you need to throw Hollister in as a desperation play.
(These are pre-emptive running back options that will have value if the starter goes down and that are not as likely to be owned. The writer sees them more as short-term options. For those that have long-term appeal, please see the other sections of this report.)
The waiver wire for running backs in dynasty leagues is, as usual, razor-thin. Here are some backups that are widely available in most leagues that have a big upside if their starter is injured.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Benny Snell, PIT- Snell went back to being a preemptive pickup after James Conner resumed his usual workload in Week 2. Due to Mike Tomlin’s preference to give carries to one runner, he is one that we need to have on the back end of the roster in case of a James Conner injury.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| C.J. Prosise, HOU- The Texans signed him to their practice squad and then promoted him in Week 2. David Johnson is banged up and on Injured Reserve. Only Duke Johnson Jr stands between Prosise and a starting job. Prosise also struggles with injury, but if he were to get an opportunity in this offense, he might be able to make the best of it with his diverse skill set.
These are a few free-agent running backs that are waiting for a call from a needy team. These players could provide fill-in value depending on their landing spot. If you have roster space, they may be worth holding on to in anticipation of a future opportunity. They are prioritized by how likely the writer believes it is that they will be given a shot to compete on a new team.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Bilal Powell
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Rod Smith
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Spencer Ware
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kenneth Dixon
(Could be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)
None this week. Please see other quarterback sections of this report for pick-up ideas.
None this week. Please see other running back sections of this report for pick-up ideas.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Tyler Johnson, TB- A recommendation in Matt Waldman’s The Replacements, Johnson got increased opportunity against the Bears a few weeks back and showed he could win contested balls. He also caught a touchdown against the Packers. Johnson is merely a name to keep in mind if injuries devastate the Buccaneers receiving corps or the Antonio Brown experiment ends due to misbehavior off the field.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Griffin, NYJ- As much time as Chris Herndon has missed due to injury, he might as well be named Chris Hernia. While Griffin also is not the poster child for robust health, he is experienced and basically free on all but the deepest of waiver wires. Sam Darnold developed a great rapport with Griffin last year before Griffin’s season-ending injury in December. If that carries over and Herndon gets dinged again, that will be a recipe for fantasy success.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Vance McDonald, PIT- McDonald is oft-injured and the Steelers signed Eric Ebron in the offseason. Those two things are the reason McDonald has been tossed back to the waiver wire in dynasty leagues. We should remember that Eric Ebron also has a checkered past when it comes to injury. There is also another path for McDonald to become relevant again. If the Steelers continue to modernize their offense and run more two-tight end sets, McDonald and Ebron could both be equally as valuable. One can pay a fraction of the price of Ebron to roster McDonald and see if either of these scenarios play out.
(Could be available in 30-or-more roster spot leagues or leagues with large taxi squads.)
Watch List| Jake Fromm, BUF- Considering Josh Allen’s struggles as an accurate passer and his propensity to sacrifice his body, Fromm is not being rostered nearly enough in dynasty leagues. Fromm will have to work his way up the depth chart, but is the most promising of all three quarterbacks the Bills have in terms of decision-making and accuracy.
Watch List| Josh Rosen, TB- Rosen has bounced around quite a bit in his short career, but he is still one of the more talented backup quarterback prospects in the league. He is signed to the Tampa Bay practice squad where he will get to work to rehabilitate his career. That is one of the better moves he could have made. A year or more to sit and learn behind Tom Brady and work with quarterbacks coach Clyde Christiansen is ideal for the young signal-caller.
None this week. See other running back sections of this report for ideas of whom to pick up.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List | Jon'vea Johnson, DAL- Some teams are so good at evaluating talent at one position that they have an embarrassment of riches. Dallas is a great example of a team that evaluates receivers well. As a result, the talented Johnson lies buried behind Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Noah Brown. Dallas did not have the room to hold on to Johnson and put him on the practice squad. Other needy teams monitoring the situation might be willing to give Johnson a spot on their 53-man roster eventually. It is a long shot, but this camp standout two years running is worth monitoring to see if he gets a true opportunity elsewhere.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Kaden Smith, NYG- Evan Engram is often banged up and Smith has demonstrated surprising competency for New York when called upon to fill in. Could he be the future for the team at the position? It is certainly possible and worth taking a flier on.
LOST AT SEA
Jameis Winston, NO- It was presumed that Winston would start for Drew Brees, who will be out for the foreseeable future with multiple fractured ribs. This seemed like a sound assumption because Winston relieved Brees when he was knocked out of the Week 10 game. Instead, the team decided to name Taysom Hill as the starter. While Winston is still likely to see some action on designed plays, he loses the luster that he would have if he were getting a starter’s workload. Keep him only in the deepest of leagues.