Final roster spots are the most liquid commodity for dynasty teams. The tide of the weekly churn for those spots due to the waiver wire points to a transient approach. Unlike future rookie picks, which have no limit on the number a team can collect, roster spots are finite. Each week of the regular season and periodically with waiver runs in the offseason these roster spot players will be tested to justify their continued spot. With trade deadlines beginning in most leagues over the next month, picking a team direction with trades. But final roster spots are pivotal to align with team direction in the closing weeks of the dynasty season as well.
Insulation and Upside.
These are the tenets for contending teams to maximize their final roster spots. Especially once the trade deadline has passed, the trade value of those final players is not as important. Plenty will change before trading opens up in the offseason. Protecting and insulating your contending roster and lineup is paramount.
Truly strong teams I refer to the principle of the double lineup as a goal. Essentially, you want to get to the point of having a decent lineup on your bench most weeks. If the lineup is 1-2-3-1 with a flex at the skill positions, for example, there would still be a mirror of that which can compete with plenty of teams in the league, on your bench after setting your lineup. This insulates your team, especially in-season and in the closing weeks, from 1-2-3 injuries that could derail non-insulated playoff teams at a critical moment.
The other tenet is upside. The What if? of one thing occurring (typically an injury) on the player's depth chart and your stash player surging to prominence. You want a shot-in-the-arm type appeal from your bench-stash spots to both aid your own team pushing for a title but also play keep away as this type of player on the waiver wire means they could be picked up by your competition in the playoff push or the postseason itself.
Finally, here is a list of contending team-centric players at the skill positions to fit the criteria above for final roster spots. Shallow-league availability was not considered, but rather 25+ man roster availability in at least a cross-section of dynasty leagues and going deep enough to provide options for all dynasty teams for consumption:
The low-level current starting quarterbacks available in 1QB formats are likely low-upside options in general. Taysom Hill would be a notable exception who may begin starting this week for the Saints with Jameis Winston out for the season. If depending on a lone quarterback in start-1QB formats, seek a decent (or better) QB2 for the stretch run if playoff bound. The worst-case scenario is being beyond the trade deadline, losing your QB1, and limited to (likely) middling waiver wires options of the week at best. Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr are two potentially affordable veterans if ancillary aspects on a non-contending squad. Tyrod Taylor and Tyler Huntley are two mobile options to consider as well, with Huntley needing an injury to be an upside infusion later in the season.
Primary backup running backs are the theme here. This week's backup could be next week's strong streamer (or for the rest of the season). Ensure no primary backups are available on the waiver wire in your league. Some of the lower Roster Rate backs (outside RB60 on MFL) with upside in their profile and/or situation includes Ty Johnson, Carlos Hyde, Jeremy McNichols, Rhamondre Stevenson, Salvon Ahmed, Jeffery Wilson, and Rex Burkhead.
Wide receivers are more nuanced as simply an injury in front of them on the depth chart is not enough for many ancillary options in the NFL to be strong streaming candidates in dynasty leagues. Be selective with which offenses and high-upside for the rest of the season stash you make via trade or waiver wire additions. Some which warrant consideration on the lower-end of the Roster Rate spectrum include:
- Rashod Bateman (higher end)
- Rondale Moore (higher end)
- K.J. Osborn
- Gabriel Davis
- Nico Collins
- Van Jefferson
- Bryan Edwards
- Zay Jones
For tight ends, we are looking for the highest upside injury-away options or underrated starters who could get on a run of production late in the season.
For non-contending teams, the theme is talent and/or pedigree to stash into the offseason. If there are notable free agents on the depth chart, including themselves, this is also a factor. The key is getting some probability chance they are worthy of keeping through your annual rookie draft or having clarity you want to keep him after NFL free agency and the NFL Draft are complete in the next 5-6 months.
- Mac Jones: Expect wide receiver upgrade(s) in the offseason. Promising
- Mitchell Trubisky: Rushing upside, chance for starting job in 2022.
- Jordan Love: Completely Aaron Rodgers-dependent if Love is to gain Packers' starting job.
- Marcus Mariota: Mobile with a profile as an NFL starter, could be the next Ryan Tannehill or Jameis Winston to follow starter-backup-starter career arc pattern.
- Ronald Jones II: Free agent, Day 2 pedigree, a chance for a lead role with a team change.
- Trey Sermon: Day 2 pedigree with essentially a redshirt rookie season in the works, patience is warranted as stiffest competition for 2022 on the roster is Round 6, Elijah Mitchell.
- Ke'Shawn Vaughn: Lone Tampa Bay running back under contract for 2022, Day 2 pedigree.
- Michael Thomas: Lost 2021 season (the second one in a row), locked in with Saints contractually for 2022, a desirable landing spot for a quarterback.
- Will Fuller V: Free agent in the offseason, lost 2021 with an injury, WR1 upside if connecting with a quality quarterback with next landing spot.
- Jalen Reagor: Round 1 pedigree, quality upside if Eagles acquire a more pass-centric quarterback.
- Tyler Johnson: Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are notable free agents, could be Mike Evans and Tyler Johnson atop the Tampa Bay depth chart for 2022.
- Evan Engram: Flashes with Giants, but athleticism has been generally stunted by short routes and questionable quarterback play during rookie contract. 2022 free agent.
- David Njoku: Another Round 1 pick entering free agency, Cleveland added Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant during Njoku's rookie stint with the Browns to cloud opportunities. High-level athleticism if finding a high-volume landing spot. 2022 free agent.
- O.J. Howard: Injuries and the addition of Rob Gronkowski have not helped Howard reach his potential in Tampa Bay. 2022 free agent.
- Blake Jarwin: Lost starting job to Dalton Schultz with untimely 2020 early-season injury, now Schultz a 2022 free agent. Possibility for Jarwin to be the starter on a high-level Cowboys offense next season.