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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 7 of Waivers of the Future! Stop me if you have heard this before, but we had a rough week for injuries. Miles Sanders, Mark Ingram, Jonnu Smith, and others were injury casualties. The wire continues to produce a few players to plug into your ravaged lineups. See if you can fill those holes and keep soldiering on!
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.
- Jerick McKinnon
- Adrian Peterson
- Devonta Freeman
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
- Russell Gage
- Logan Thomas
- Dalton Schultz
- Mo Alie-Cox
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 1%| Andy Dalton, DAL- Dak Prescott is done for the season after a compound fracture in Week 5. Dalton took over an offense with lots of weapons and one that will play from behind quite a bit because of a flailing defense. While Dalton is no Prescott in terms of skill, he is an experienced starter, and one of the better waiver wire quarterbacks we will see available this year. Washington and Philadelphia with lacking secondaries are up over the next two weeks. These will be favorable passing matchups for Dalton. Dalton will likely be unavailable after this week, so get him if he is still out there.
Contending 10-15%, 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. The Rams matchup next on the docket is one to avoid, but the Cardinals defenders will present a more optimistic picture for Fitzpatrick and Co.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Nick Foles, CHI- Chicago finally had enough of Trubisky and made the switch to Foles a few weeks ago, despite a winning record. While Foles is himself an inconsistent and streaky decision-maker, he has some quality weapons such as Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller who can help elevate his play. The Rams in Week 7 is a matchup to fear, but the Saints contest in Week 8 really is not.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kyle Allen, WAS- Allen was able to start but was abysmal against the Giants. That does not bode well for him against the Cowboys and the Giants again over the next two weeks. However, you may have no choice but to start him.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Joe Flacco, NJY- Flacco will play as Sam Darnold rehabs a right AC sprain. There are limited passing options in this offense currently and the offensive line will do Flacco no favors. The Bills and Chiefs are up next and should be difficult draws. Play Flacco only if you absolutely have to.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Case Keenum, CLE- Baker Mayfield sustained a rib injury in Week 5 and then was yanked in Week 6. That move may have been just to preserve Mayfield or it may have been related to his poor play. If he should get the start, Keenum can be serviceable against the Bengals in Week 7, but do not trust him against the Raiders’ suddenly aggressive defense in Week 8.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Taysom Hill, NO- Hill is not the starter, but he sometimes 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 Panthers in Week 7 have Hill’s general managers feeling more hopeful they will get production. The Bears in Week 8 are a tougher defense to crack.
Contending 15-20%, Rebuilding 1%| Boston Scott, PHI- It looks like Miles Sanders had a significant knee injury that will keep him out for a while. Scott has been great in spot duty for Sanders the last two years and will be one of the more valuable backs to be available on the wire this season. Favorable matchups against the Giants and Cowboys also reward those that use their budgets to acquire his services.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-15%| Giovani Bernard, CIN- Joe Mixon has not proven to be the most durable back. Mixon is currently dealing with an undisclosed chest injury and left the game in Week 6 with a foot injury before returning later in the contest, testing it, and leaving again. If the injuries finally become too much for Mixon and he misses significant time, Bernard could be serviceable for general managers.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| D’Ernest Johnson, CLE- With Nick Chubb out, Johnson has been getting more involved. Kareem Hunt can be counted on to get the bulk of the work, but Johnson may pick up some of the slack. He is a developing runner who has some nice wiggle to his repertoire. He will have a good chance of clean-up duty when the Browns face the Bengals in Week 7. In Week 8, Johnson may struggle against the surging Raiders.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Gus Edwards, BAL- Mark Ingram’s ankle injury opens the door for J.K. Dobbins, but it also means more usage for Gus Edwards. Edwards is a no-nonsense north and south runner, but that can have value with defenses preoccupied with defending Lamar Jackson and his many weapons. After their bye, they will face the Steelers and Colts in Weeks 8 and 9.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- Some of the luster has come off Brown as the Rams have started to feed Darrell Henderson increasingly, but Brown will still get work and the waiver wire is thin. The Bears in Week 7 do allow rushers to gash them, so this could be a better contest in which to use Brown. Week 8 against the Dolphins is also worth a look if you desperately need a running back.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-15%| Travis Fulgham, PHI- All the wide receiver injuries have promoted Fulgham to the active roster and he has made the most of it so far. DeSean Jackson is due back this week, but it is likely Fulgham will continue to play the Alshon Jeffery role in the offense anyway. Pick up this Matt Waldman recommendation and see if Fulgham can keep building on his Week 5 and 6 performances. The Eagles face the Giants in Week 7 and the Cowboys in Week 8 and both have lacking secondaries. This is likely your last chance to pick up Fulgham.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Jeff Smith, NYJ- This passing game is not pretty, but Smith is getting targeted often. Trailing often in games creates an opportunity for Smith to rack up receptions. The Bills and Chiefs over the next two weeks should continue the trend of making the Jets trail. This is likely your last shot to pick up Smith,
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Tim Patrick, DEN- Lock is back and that is good news for Patrick. Patrick is not anything special, but he has had lots of situations to earn playing time over the last several years and seems to always be a serviceable option. The Chiefs and Chargers are ahead and do not have suffocating secondaries. This is probably your last chance to nab Patrick.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| David Moore, SEA- Russell Wilson is cooking and Moore is catching touchdowns. 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. The still-building Cardinals defense and depleted 49ers secondary present favorable opportunities for Moore to keep the scoring streak alive.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Anthony Firkser, TEN- Jonnu Smith has been dealing with an ankle injury and may have aggravated it in Week 6. He did not return to the game after the trainers taped his ankle. Meanwhile, Firkser stepped in to have a productive week as the pass-catching tight end. The Titans high-octane offense will have to be clicking on all cylinders to neutralize an aggressive Steelers pass rush in Week 7. In Week 8, the Bengals have a leaky defense against which it will be a little easier to move the ball.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Trey Burton, IND- Since returning from a foot injury, Burton has been excellent. It is unclear how long Mo Alie-Cox could be out, but as long as he is unable to play, he will not cut into Burton’s target share. If Burton himself stays healthy, he will continue to be one of the heavier-targeted options who is also commonly available on the wire. After the Colts’ bye, they will face the Lions and Ravens in Weeks 8 and 9.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Cameron Brate, TB- Brate has been serviceable in the past when counted on, and with Rob Gronkowski primarily playing blocker, we could see Brate reprise the O.J. Howard role. The Raiders and Giants are up next for Brate. The Raiders are matching up well with tight ends these days, but the Giants present an opportunity for Brate to have a productive day.
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 Seahawks and Dolphins in the next two weeks are at least neutral and good matchups respectively for those who need to plug-and-play Arnold.
(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%| Ryan Nall, CHI- David Montgomery was able to play in Week 1 despite a groin injury sustained in preseason practices. In Week 2, he had some sort of stinger that kept him out for a quarter of play. If Montgomery were to re-aggravate either injury or suffer a more substantial problem, Nall could absorb his between-the-tackles workload. 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%| 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. See other running back sections of this report for pick-up ideas.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Tyler Johnson, TB- A recommendation in Matt Waldman’s The Replacements, Johnson got increased opportunity against the Bears and showed he could win contested balls. He also caught a touchdown against the Packers. While Godwin and Mike Evans look like they will be good to go going forward, Johnson is a name to keep in mind if injuries once again devastate the Buccaneers receiving corps.
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.
Watch List| C.J. Prosise, HOU- The Texans signed him to their practice squad and then promoted him in Week 2. David Johnson and Duke Johnson Jr have not always been the picture of health. 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.
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
(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.)
C.J. Beathard, SF- Like Smith, we may come back to Beathard if Jimmy Garroppolo’s high ankle sprain crops up again.
Chad Kelly, FA- Cut from the Colts practice squad two weeks ago, it looks like there currently is not a team willing to take a chance on him. You can revisit Kelly if he signs somewhere.