Join the Footballguys Daily Update
Start your morning with our roundup of the most important stories in football - with the fantasy insight you need to make league-winning decisions. Delivered straight to your inbox, 100% free.
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 the Week Sixteen edition of Waivers of the Future! Whether you are a contending or rebuilding team, this report will endeavor to spark some ideas about whom you might want to claim.
The fantasy playoffs are underway! The wire is thin, so do not be afraid to bid aggressively and shoot your shot this late in the game!
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 20-50%+ of your budget on them, depending on your league.
Carson Wentz, IND| 85% rostered on MFL|
Latavius Murray, BAL| 66% rostered on MFL|
Rashaad Penny, SEA| 82% rostered on MFL|
Alexander Mattison, MIN| 77% rostered on MFL|
Tony Pollard, DAL| 91% rostered on MFL |
Marquez Callaway, NO| 63% rostered on MFL
Tim Patrick, DEN| 66% rostered on MFL|
Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE| 52% rostered on MFL|
Tyler Conklin, MIN| 70% rostered on MFL|
IN THE WATER
Taysom Hill, NO| 77% rostered on MFL| Contending 20-40%, Rebuilding 1%|
Hill’s frequent turnovers can be a problem in leagues that heavily penalize interceptions and fumbles, but he makes up for his poor decision-making with his rushing and big=play ability. In Week 16, the Saints will square off against the Dolphins, whose pass defense has vastly improved in recent weeks. In Week 17, they will play a much more lenient Carolina Panthers defense.
Cam Newton, CAR| 56% rostered on MFL| Contending 20-40%, Rebuilding 1%|
Newton is probably the best of the available options still left because of his rushing ability. It will get slightly easier than it has been in recent weeks for Carolina when the Panthers face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16. In Week 17, they will have the Saints, who are a bottom-dweller in pass defense.
Drew Lock, DEN| 26% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 1%|
Lock was able to relieve an injured Bridgewater and could be in line to finish out the fantasy season at quarterback for the Broncos. While he does make turnover mistakes, he has been fairly prolific as a fantasy signal-caller in the past. It also does not hurt that he has some very quality options in Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Jerry Jeudy. In Week 16, the Broncos will take on a softer Raiders defense. In Week 17, they will also draw a relatively easy passing matchup against the Chargers.
Tyler Huntley, BAL| 21% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%|
Lamar Jackson suffered an ankle injury that held him out in Week 15. If he should miss yet another week, Tyler Huntley will play in his place. Huntley is not an amazing replacement and is prone to turnovers, so keep that in mind in leagues in which interceptions or fumbles are heavily penalized. That being said, like Jackson, he has the ability to make plays with his legs, which makes him more valuable than the average replacement. The Bengals matchup in Week 16 is not an ideal one. Should Jackson not be back by Week 17, the Steelers will play the Rams, which is also a poor matchup for the Ravens offense.
Davis Mills, HOU| 29% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1-10%|
Mills will start for the rest of the year according to a report that surfaced two weeks ago. This makes sense, as the Texans begin to turn to evaluation mode. We saw Mills earlier in the year when Tyrod Taylor was injured and that is a good frame of reference for what his upside is going forward. Fortunately for Mills, the Jaguars are the opponent in Week 16. In Week 17, he will have to face one of the better pass defenses in the NFL when he plays against the 49ers.
Sam Ehlinger, IND| 5% rostered on MFL| Contending Watchlist, Rebuilding 1%|
Ehlinger had some great moments in preseason action. He split first-team reps with Jacob Eason before suffering a knee sprain that placed him on injured reserve. Since returning, he has seen limited regular-season action, including a very brief appearance in Week 13. Carson Wentz is not a sure thing as a reclamation project, so it would be good for quarterback-needy dynasty teams to roster Ehlinger and see if he continues to develop.
Jake Fromm, NYG| 6% rostered on MFL| Contending Watchlist, Rebuilding 1%|
Fromm was stolen off Buffalo’s practice squad and backed up Mike Glennon on Sunday. He ended up in the game at one point. Despite the downgrade in organization for Fromm, it is still an interesting situation. Daniel Jones struggles in some of the areas in which Fromm excels. Jones is also likely out for the remainder of the season with a neck injury. Fromm is the most promising quarterback the Giants currently have in terms of decision-making and accuracy.
Josh Rosen, ATL | 3% rostered on MFL| Contending Watchlist, Rebuilding 1%|
It is not encouraging that Rosen has bounced around quite a bit in his short career, but he is still one of the league's more talented backup quarterback prospects. He is also behind Matt Ryan and can continue to learn from another quality veteran as he did last season in Tampa Bay behind Tom Brady.
If you play in a superflex or desperately need a quarterback who might earn valuable fantasy starting work in future weeks if the starter struggles or is hurt, consider picking these quarterbacks up for free or a minimal bid. They are listed in order of the writer’s preference:
Case Keenum, CLE| 13% rostered on MFL| (Currently on COVID-19 list)
Mitchell Trubisky, BUF| 21% rostered on MFL|
Blaine Gabbert, TB| 2% rostered on MFL |
Chad Henne, KC| 4% rostered on MFL |
Jeff Wilson, SF| 67% rostered on MFL| Contending 20-40%, Rebuilding 1%
Elijah Mitchell’s knee injury likely means we will not see him any time soon. That opens the door for Wilson to be a league-winner. He will play the Titans next week, which has admittedly been a tough rushing matchup in recent weeks. Wilson will face a much softer opponent in Week 17 when the 49ers take on the sagging Texans.
Craig Reynolds, DET| 23% rostered on MFL| Contending 20-25%, Rebuilding 1%
Just when we thought there would be no clear lead runner for the team, Reynolds has emerged the last two games with double-digit touches and is likely to continue in that role as long as Deandre Swift remains out. The Falcons and Seahawks are favorable draws for Week 16 and Week 17.
Duke Johnson Jr, MIA| 10% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%
COVID recovery has complicated the picture, but for now, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed have taken a back seat to Johnson, who earned 22 carries in Week 15. It is risky to count on week-to-week usage to remain the same. However, if your team needs to roll the dice on a player that could get double-digit carries, Johnson may be your only choice at this point in the season. The Saints are a better run defense to have to face in Week 16. The Dolphins will play the Titans in Week 17. Tennessee has been very stout against the run in recent weeks.
The Titans’ run game got complicated again when Jeremy McNichols returned from injured reserve. Basically, you are taking a large risk by starting any of the three, because their usage has not been consistent from week to week. However, with all the injury situations out there, general managers may have few available choices. Week 16 will hold a less-than-desirable matchup with San Francisco. The Dolphins have also made strides in run defense and are not a favorable draw in Week 17 for this team.
Eno Benjamin, ARI| 23% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 5-10%|
Benjamin is a back the writer likes more for the long-term. Chase Edmonds is back from injury, so Benjamin’s limited role may dry up for this year, but he is worth stashing with the idea that he may get a greater opportunity in the future.
Justin Jackson, LAC| 38% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1%|
Austin Eckler has been a fumbler in recent weeks. It will be something to monitor going forward. Jackson has the between-the-tackles and receiving skills to carry the load for the Chargers if called upon.
Gabriel Davis, BUF| 55% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-20%, Rebuilding 1%
Davis has been on fire with Emmanuel Sanders out of the lineup. As long as Sanders continues to miss, Davis is a great play. Over the next two weeks, the Bills will play the tougher Patriots defense and a more permissive Falcons pass defense.
Byron Pringle, KC| 27% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 5-20%
He is a Matt Waldman favorite, but beyond that, he is also in an extremely good organization. He is clearly over Demarcus Robinson for the WR3 spot. Mecole Hardman has been something of a disappointment with the opportunity he has had, so it is not beyond imagination that by more usage or by injury, Pringle could end the year as the #2 WR in the offense. Do not worry about Josh Gordon encroaching on his role. Pringle should be rostered everywhere as an emergency fill-in option.
Tyler Johnson, TB| 23% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%|
A recommendation in last year’s iteration of The Replacements, Johnson showed last season he could win contested balls. While not technically a starter, Johnson has become more relevant with Antonio Brown’s multi-week injury situation and now Brown’s suspension for violating COVID protocols.
Josh Reynolds, DET| 38% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%|
Reynolds was released by the Titans, but resurfaced in Detroit and was the leading receiver on Thanksgiving Day. He followed up with a healthy seven targets in Week 13 and has been getting between four to six balls thrown his way each game since. At a point in the year when any waiver wire help is hard to come by, he is worth considering both for the short- and long-term. The Falcons and Seahawks are on tap over the next two weeks for the Lions. Neither has a particularly scary secondary.
Collin Johnson, NYG| 6% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 5-10%|
The Jaguars’ new regime cut Johnson and New York picked him up off waivers. Both Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney have had trouble staying healthy this year. Also, Sterling Shepard’s season just ended again due to injury and Darius Slayton has been banged up regularly. Johnson could easily get more involved going forward. Johnson flashed somewhat in his limited work during his rookie season, so he is worth a speculative look.
Josh Palmer, LAC| 29% rostered on MFL| Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
As injured as Mike Williams has been throughout his career, we could see rookie Josh Palmer step in and play Williams’ rebounder role in the offense at some point this year. Williams has been dealing with a knee issue on and off, so that time could come sooner rather than later.
Tyron Johnson, LVR| 3% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1%|
Johnson was added to the Raiders practice squad as a potential developmental option to replace Henry Ruggs. He is very speedy and should be someone we watch with interest as the team heads in a new direction without Jon Gruden.
Foster Moreau, LVR| 38% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 5-10%
Moreau is a capable blocker and receiver. Darren Waller’s injury could keep him out for a little while longer, so Moreau is a good choice for desperate teams. The Broncos and Colts lie ahead on the slate over the next two weeks. The Broncos do not defend the tight end well, but the Colts secondary is more stout against them.
Ricky Seals-Jones, WAS| 43% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%|
Logan Thomas suffered a season-ending ACL and MCL injury. Seals-Jones had himself been sitting with a hip injury, but has returned to the lineup. He will be extremely valuable to general managers who need help at the position down the stretch because the offense targets tight ends more often than some others in the league.
Harrison Bryant, CLE| 19% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 5-10%|
Bryant has a bright future and may become what the team hoped David Njoku would develop into. Bryant is starting to get increased targets and is worth stashing away for the day when Njoku and Austin Hooper are no longer on the roster.
Kaden Smith, NYG| 2% rostered on MFL| Contending Watch List, Rebuilding 1-10%|
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. Kyle Rudolph is a mere stopgap for the team. We will see if the team lets Engram move on this offseason and if they trust Smith enough to let him take the role of starter. He is currently dealing with a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve, so his value is almost exclusively to rebuilders.
Out to Sea
Taylor Heinicke, WAS| 62% rostered on MFL|
He is currently on the COVID list, so his future for the remainder of the fantasy playoffs remains uncertain. If you have the bench space and are quarterback needy, you can hang on. However, teams that need someone for today in a short bench league can go ahead and send Heinicke back to the waiver wire.
Boston Scott, PHI| 57% rostered on MFL|
Miles Sanders appears to be healthy enough to start the Week 15 contest that was moved to Tuesday night. We can let go of Scott and revisit him only if Sanders gets dinged again.
Teddy Bridgewater, DEN| 63% rostered on MFL
The head injury looked serious enough to end his season. He has not done much in recent weeks anyway. It is okay to send him back to waivers at this point.