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 two of 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.
This is the week when overreaction or underreaction to what has happened in Week 1’s slate of games will become a temptation for owners. There are three things that will help general managers as they approach waivers this week:
1. Take time to process what happened. Ignore the box scores and highlight plays. If you have time, go back and watch the games. If you don’t have time, make sure you are listening to voices that are taking the time to do detailed, film-based analysis. Footballguys’ Matt Waldman is one of the very best at this particular aspect of review.
2. Consider the contextual information. This also will take some digging. Looking at snap counts to determine a players’ usage, reading post-game press conferences for player and coaching staff insights, and considering other performance-related data that may be available can be helpful. If you do not have time to do this, I suggest following someone like Footballguy Dwain McFarland, who responsibly looks at trends and presents them with the necessary context.
3. Act accordingly. Both paralysis or cutting players who did not perform to expectations will put a general manager in a bind. This column and many others on Footballguys this week will strive to give you actionable advice on what to do one way or the other.
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.)
Contending 5%, Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA- Fitzpatrick is clearly a caretaker quarterback that will be holding down the fort while the Dolphins develop Tua Tagovailoa. He is also one of the most prolific backups in the league, which is why he has been successful for so long. He is capable of multiple touchdown outings, but he can also throw interceptions with his daring and aggressive style of play. He did the latter in Week 1, despite the favorable matchup, which makes him harder to trust going forward. The week two tilt against the Bills will be a much tougher test. The Jaguars in week three is not an especially daunting faceoff.
Contending 3%, Rebuilding 1%| Tyrod Taylor, LAC- It is not Justin Herbert time just yet. Tyrod Taylor will be given the mandate of playing it safe, not turning over the football, and managing the game while the Chargers win close games using their stingy defense. Taylor does have rushing ability, which will give him a little more upside than some of the other quarterbacks on this list. The Chiefs in week two could be more of a problem for Taylor and company, but the Panthers in week three should be a soft target for streaming Taylor.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Dwayne Haskins, WAS- Haskins has hit the waiver wire in some dynasty leagues after tumultuous performances in his rookie year. Washington named Haskins the starter and will give him the chance to show the new regime he is worthy of being the future of the franchise. While the writer is skeptical that Haskins will be a starter beyond this year, there is no shame in using Haskins in the same manner that the Washington Football Team is using him-- as a stopgap option. He will play the Cardinals in week two, however, and that should be a favorable contest for the young quarterback. The Browns in week three is also a juicy matchup for those who need to play Haskins.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Mitchell Trubisky, CHI- Trubisky might have hit your waiver wire after Foles was traded for earlier this year. He won the starting job over Nick Foles in Chicago’s camp. That may not be saying much, considering that camp reports indicated neither quarterback stood out. Though he has demonstrated limited processing capacity, Trubisky does have quality weapons such as Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller who can help elevate his play. The Giants in week two are an ideal matchup for any quarterback. The Falcons in week three are only a little better against the pass.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Taysom Hill, NO- Hill is not the starter, but he earns high leverage work in the red zone as a versatile wrinkle in the offense. He is a safe bet to give you at least some points each week and has one-to-three touchdown upside in any given week. That is preferable to taking a zero at the position. The Raiders may not be the toughest matchup in week two, but the Packers have come out of the gate with a tough pass defense. That will be who the Saints face in week three.
If you play in a superflex or are desperately in need of a quarterback who might earn starting work in future weeks if the starter struggles…
- Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Case Keenum, CLE
- Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Nick Foles, CHI
- Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kyle Allen, WAS
- Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Marcus Mariota, LVR
All of these guys are generally available on the waiver wire and reside behind starters who have tenuous holds on their jobs. The writer prioritized them this week by how likely they are to replace the starter. The closest to taking over after Week 1 is Case Keenum. Baker Mayfield was horrendous against the Ravens and has a short leash before he is replaced. Each has flaws and weaknesses of their own - but again, when desperate for a quarterback to fill a lineup spot, options are limited.
Contending 10-25%, Rebuilding 1%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- Brown indeed proved to be the most used and most valuable running back for general managers to have rostered in Week 1. While not a flashy runner, Brown proved tough for the Cowboys to bring down and hard to stop at the goal line. The Eagles have lost some of their pass rushing and interior pop due to injuries, so they are not nearly as daunting in week two. The Bills in week three are stalwarts and do not make for an advisable start for Brown.
Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 5-10%| James Robinson, JAX- The writer of this column clearly overestimated Chris Thompson’s experience and underestimated Robinson’s athletic ability giving him a chance to compete for starting work. While Robinson does have some limitations to his game, it looks like Jacksonville has decided to give him a shot. The Titans in week two are a rather neutral matchup. The Dolphins were abused by the run in Week 1 and should not pose a major problem for the running game when the Jaguars face them in week three.
Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Benny Snell, PIT- The writer likes Kerrith White better, but the Steelers seem enamored with Snell, whom they drafted last year. There has been talk that Snell has re-shaped his body in the offseason and is much faster than what he showed in his rookie year. That had better be the case because he looked more like Benny Snail in his first campaign. While skeptical that Snell has become leaps and bounds better, the writer acknowledges that he is currently the direct backup to James Conner, who has not stayed particularly healthy throughout his short career. In fact, Conner sprained his ankle against the Giants in Week 1, and his status for the next game is up in the air. Snell was competent in relief of Conner and few backs on the waiver wire will get as many carries because of Mike Tomlin’s preference to give carries to one runner. The Broncos and Texans are next on the schedule and neither are daunting opponents.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Boston Scott, NO- Scott played well down the stretch last year when injuries to Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard cleared the way for him. This year, he has earned the direct backup role to Sanders and could be extremely valuable to fantasy general managers. Sanders was not able to go in Week 1, which meant substantial work for Scott. He himself suffered an undisclosed injury but was able to return to the game. The Rams and Bengals are not daunting rushing defenses over the next couple of weeks.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Myles Gaskin, MIA- Gaskin was the unexpected leader of the backfield against New England. The writer is skeptical that this will continue, but the Jordan Howard hamstring injury makes it possible for a more extended role for Gaskin. The Bills in week two are to be avoided, but the Jaguars in week three are ok for general managers to start Gaskin if needed.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Adrian Peterson, DET- As predicted, the backfield is a three-way split, but Peterson is being given the lion’s share (see what I did there?) of the carries. After DeAndre Swift’s critical drop that cost the Lions the game, it will be interesting to see if the team is less inclined to give Swift work. The Packers and Cardinals are not fearful opponents for Detroit’s rushing prospects.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Peyton Barber, WAS- This situation became less confusing after Week 1. Peyton Barber is the lead back on the ground with Antonio Gibson getting about a third of the work. That workload could decrease if Gibson shows more dynamism, but for now, Barber’s veteran presence will win the day in this backfield. The Cardinals and Browns are games that we can feel comfortable starting Barber in if necessary.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Olabisi Johnson, MIN- Justin Jefferson does not appear ready to make the leap to starter just yet, so Olabisi Johnson will occupy that role for now. The Vikings have a low-volume passing offense and Johnson is likely the fourth pass-catching option in that attack. Johnson has proven to be consistent, if not spectacular. The Colts allowed the Jaguars to carve them up, so that trend may continue into week two. The Titans’ secondary may be without Adoree' Jackson in week three, so Johnson is not the worst play.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Russel Gage, ATL- Gage is not going away as the possession receiver for this team, and the targets that we presumed would go to Hayden Hurst instead were gobbled up by Gage. The Cowboys and Bears have defenses that are generous to slot receivers, so play Gage if you need help.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Adam Humphries, TEN- Humphries spent much of last year injured, but really came on for Tennessee late in the year. They are a run-first team, but if their pass offense takes a step forward this year, Humphries could be fantasy relevant as a spot starter for dynasty teams. This is especially true in leagues in which first down conversations are rewarded because Humphries excels at moving the chains. Tennessee has Jacksonville and the hapless Vikings pass defense for weeks two and three, which are two very soft passing matchups.
Contending and Rebuilding, 1-5%| Dan Arnold, ARI- Kyler Murray and Arnold seemed to have an instant connection. When he was added, he scored twice in three games for Arizona. Red zone offense was a problem for the Cardinals in 2019 and Arizona may have inadvertently discovered that the big-bodied Arnold could be one of the remedies. Arizona has not boasted a fantasy-relevant tight end in years, but Arnold might become the first one in ages as the Arizona offense morphs into a higher octane unit. Arnold was not targeted often against San Francisco, but that could change with splendid Washington and Detroit matchups incoming.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Logan Thomas, WAS- Washington surprised this offseason by pushing aside incumbent Jeremy Sprinkle for veteran journeyman Logan Thomas. Thomas scored against the Eagles and it appears Thomas could have spot starter value against the Browns and Cardinals, both of which struggle to cover the tight end.
(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%| Darrell Williams and Darwin Thompson, KC- Both backs are likely to get used this year anyway. However, if Clyde Edwards-Helaire were to get dinged, Williams and Thompson would get the lion’s share of the work in an offense in which they would be the lowest priority for defenders that are stretched defending the likes of Patrick Mahomes II, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins. Both are worth holding if you have the roster space to spare.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Giovani Bernard, CIN- Joe Mixon is locked up to a shiny new contract, but he has not proven to be the most durable back. That could pay off massively for Giovani Bernard, who will have the benefit of working in an offense that will be reinvigorated by Joe Burrow. Bernard has long been a player with the ability to do more, but the Bengals have been content to use him in an ancillary role. If he were to get that chance and the offense was actually functional, it could be very profitable for general managers who used an open roster spot on this lottery ticket.
Contending and Rebuilding, 1%| Ryan Nall, CHI- David Montgomery was able to play in Week 1 despite a groin injury sustained in preseason practices. If Montgomery were to re-aggravate that strain or suffer a more substantial injury, Nall could absorb his between-the-tackles workload while Tarik Cohen does his work as a satellite back. Nall is a very no-nonsense, north-to-south runner, but he has a great deal of power to his game.
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%| Devonta Freeman
- Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Lamar Miller
- 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 10-20%| Marquez Valdez-Scantling, GB- Allen Lazard established himself as the second wide receiver, but that designation is not set in stone. Before injuries, Valdes-Scantling was considered an up-and-comer. Valdes-Scantling had a tremendous camp and seems to be ready to give Lazard a run for his money. He caught a deep touchdown against the Vikings and could have easily had more if he had not dropped two passes.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Keelan Cole, JAX- Cole has flashed on and off throughout his career. In part, that is due to the volatile nature of his quarterback play. Jacksonville is likely to have to pass more this season in garbage time, which could create opportunities for Cole to produce yet again. He had five receptions and a score in Week 1, which could mark the beginning of a productive year for Cole.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Auden Tate, CIN- A.J. Green is healthy right now, but he cannot seem to stay that way. That could lead to a lot of work for Tate alongside Tyler Boyd. Tate had, by all accounts, one of the more impressive training camps of any Bengal. He has shown flashes of what he can do as a big-bodied red zone threat in the past.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Dante Pettis, SF- Pettis was not putting in the work he needed to last year and received tough love from his coach. It appears he has taken that coaching to heart and had a camp in which he flashed vast improvement. With Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk banged up, the door is open for Pettis to seize a significant role in the passing offense. Things did not go as planned in Week 1 for the 49ers, so we will give Pettis another chance before we send him back to the waiver wire and out of this column’s recommendation.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1%| Mohamed Sanu, FA- Sanu was cut from the Patriots, but that does not mean he is a bad player. The Patriots had so much redundancy at the position and wanted to save cap room. Look for Sanu to land somewhere he has had prior experience or is a good scheme fit, such as Atlanta or San Francisco.
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 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- Fromm is not being rostered nearly enough in dynasty leagues considering Josh Allen’s struggles as a passer. 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.
Watch List| Chad Kelly, FA- Chad Kelly could very well be the most intriguing and high-upside quarterback name on this entire list, but character issues and immaturity make him a volatile asset. If he can learn lessons and increase in practical wisdom, he has the physical skills to develop into a starter. We will see if there is another team out there willing to give him that shot on their practice squad.
Watch List| Justin Jackson, LAC- Jackson has battled injuries during his NFL career, but some very impressive college tape has fantasy general managers holding out hope that Jackson could emerge, even if it is on another team.
Watch List| C.J. Procise, HOU- The Texans signed him to their practice squad. David Johnson and Duke Johnson Jr have not always been the picture of health and now that Duke Johnson Jr is banged up, we might see Procise get promoted. Procise 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.
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%| Mo Alie-Cox, IND- With Trey Burton already injured, Cox is just one step away from the starting job. Jack Doyle has not been completely healthy for the last couple of years either, so the basketball convert could get a chance to shine in an offense that likes to utilize its tight ends.
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 to find out.
LOST AT SEA
(PLAYERS WHO RECENTLY APPEARED IN THIS COLUMN, BUT HAVE HAD THEIR VALUE DECREASE TO THE POINT THEY HOLD NO VALUE IN ALL BUT THE VERY DEEPEST OF DYNASTY LEAGUES.)
- Chris Thompson, JAX- We could revisit Thompson if he has more involvement going forward, but based on what we saw in Week 1, it is the James Robinson show.
- Bryce Love, WAS- He was a healthy scratch in Week 1. Until he ends up on the active roster, we can send him back to the waiver wire.
- J.D. McKissic, WAS- He was barely used in Week 1. It may take an injury situation to change that, so for now, we will send McKissic packing.
- Robert Tonyan Jr, GB- He was not targeted in a matchup in which the passing game was firing on all cylinders.