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 four 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.
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.
Jameis Winston, NO| 82% rostered on MFL
Mike Davis, ATL| 96% rostered on MFL
Ty'Son Williams, BAL| 89% rostered on MFL
Latavius Murray, BAL| 86% rostered on MFL|
Alexander Mattison, MIN| 78% rostered on MFL|
Tony Pollard, DAL, DAL| 90% rostered on MFL |
Marquez Callaway, NO| 65% rostered on MFL
IN THE WATER
Sam Darnold, CAR| 65% rostered on MFL| Contending 5%, Rebuilding 1%|
Darnold has looked reinvigorated since landing in Carolina and has lots of great weapons with which to work, something that could not be said at any prior point in his NFL career. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Darnold could continue to have a Ryan Tannehill-like resurgence in his new environment. The week four matchup against a questionable Cowboys secondary is an additional incentive to keep rolling him out there. The week five contest versus the Eagles is also no reason to be afraid of starting him.
Teddy Bridgewater, DEN| 67% rostered on MFL| Contending 4%, Rebuilding 1%|
Bridgewater has been better in Denver than he was at his previous two stops. He takes care of the ball, which is a delight to those playing in leagues in which interceptions are heavily penalized. Bridgewater has some very quality options in Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. Hopefully, he will add Jerry Jeudy to that list when Jeudy is able to return from injury. Denver has a much tougher draw against the Baltimore Ravens in week four. The Steelers are ahead in week five and they have been middling in the pass defense category.
Taylor Heinicke, WAS| 40% rostered on MFL| Contending 3%, Rebuilding 1%|
Ryan Fitzpatrick is on injured reserve with a hip subluxation and will not be back for several weeks, if at all this season. Taylor Heinicke has familiarity with the system and started under Ron Rivera when Cam Newton was hurt in Carolina. He also had one start last year. He will not be anything special, but he could be serviceable in certain matchups. The Falcons in week four promise to be a better opportunity for Heinicke and Washington. The contest with the Saints in week five is not a favorable matchup for Washington.
Carson Wentz, IND| 60% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%|
He has earned the injury-prone label and has not played particularly well the past couple of years. He is dealing with two sprained ankles currently. It should also be noted that Wentz has chosen not to vaccinate and is at greater risk of missing time due to that fact. However, he is back with the head coach who was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles in Wentz’s career year. The Eagles did a great job that year of disguising Wentz’s weaknesses and playing to his strengths. Perhaps we can see that version again in Indianapolis. In week four, he will draw the Dolphins, whose secondary does not look very good right now. The Baltimore matchup in week four is much more daunting.
Davis Mills, HOU| 19% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 5-10%|
Mills relieved Tyrod Taylor in the second half of the contest against Cleveland. Mills will get the start for the foreseeable future. Mills is a rookie in one of the worst-managed organizations in football, so we cannot expect too much, but there is more upside in the unknown than in some of the other prospects on this list. The Bills in week four is not a matchup in which to play Mills. The Patriots in week five is a more neutral matchup.
Jacoby Brissett, MIA| 23% rostered on MFL| Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1%|
Tua Tagovailoa will be out for a while with broken ribs. Brissett has not looked great in his relief over the past two games. Though Brissett has starting experience with the Colts, he was very average in his time as the starter. He is really recommended only if you desperately need help. In week four, he will take on his old team, Indianapolis, who still has a stout defense. After that, Miami will play the Buccaneers’ fierce pass rush, so play Brissett only in an emergency.
Sam Ehlinger, IND| 2% 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. 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, BUF| 0% rostered on MFL| Contending Watchlist, Rebuilding 1%|
The development of adding Mitch Trubisky to the roster is concerning. But it may just be that Trubisky is more ready for backup duty than Fromm, and the team is in a contention window. Fromm will have to work his way up the depth chart, but he is the most promising backup the Bills have in terms of decision-making and accuracy.
Josh Rosen, ATL | 5% 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:
Mitchell Trubisky, BUF| 21% rostered on MFL |
Gardner Minshew, PHI| 22% rostered on MFL
Drew Lock, DEN| 32% rostered on MFL |
Tyler Huntley, BAL| 8% rostered on MFL |
Blaine Gabbert, TB| 2% rostered on MFL |
Chad Henne, KC| 4% rostered on MFL |
P.J. Walker, CAR| 7% rostered on MFL |
Case Keenum, CLE| 5% rostered on MFL |
Justin Jackson, LAC| 51% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
Injuries have held back Jackson. Most recently, he suffered a groin injury in a preseason contest. However, he is the primary backup to Austin Eckler, and if he can suddenly have a stint when he stays healthy and Eckler does not, Jackson could pay off big for patient fantasy general managers.
Tony Jones, NOS| 57% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
Jones is now the primary backup to Alvin Kamara, with Latavius Murray cut late from the team. Jones is in his second year with the Saints, so the familiarity with the system and playbook is more likely to be there than for a rookie runner. Also, Jones was able to have an impressive 82-yard performance in the preseason against the Ravens. He is worth stashing because his value would skyrocket if Kamara got dinged.
Malcolm Brown, MIA| 43% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%|
Brown is not flashy or as explosive as some other backs in the NFL, but he could easily lead the Dolphins’ running back group in yardage and touchdowns at the end of the year, simply because he understands how to take what yardage is there and he does not lose yardage trying to make a bigger play. If Myles Gaskin goes down again, Brown will still split carries with Salvon Ahmed but will become much more interesting in a two-way split rather than a three-way split.
Peyton Barber, LVR| 22% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%|
Barber continues to get the between-the-tackles carries while Josh Jacobs sits with a foot injury. Though Kenyon Drake holds more fantasy value because of the pass-catching aspects of his game, Barber is still worth thinking about in standard leagues or PPR leagues in which you do not want to take a 0 at the running back position.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE| 33% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 20-40%
Peoples-Jones jumped up the list when Odell Beckham Jr missed the first two contests. With Jarvis Landry now ruled out for quite some time, People-Jones is the primary starter next to Beckham. It is primarily a run-first attack, but there will be games in which Peoples-Jones has more value. His long-term value has never been higher. The contests against the Vikings and the Chargers are unlikely to make Cleveland deviate from their winning game plan.
Byron Pringle, KC| 21% 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. He should be rostered everywhere.
Tim Patrick| 41% rostered on MFL| Contending 20-40%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
Patrick is a low-ceiling, high-floor pickup. The ankle injury Jeudy sustained was serious and is likely to sideline him for the foreseeable future. K.J. Hamler also hurt his knee against the Jets and it is unknown at this time how long he will be missing. Patrick will now have even more opportunity for fantasy relevance with increased snap counts and targets.
Collin Johnson, NYG| 8% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%|
The Jaguars’ new regime cut Johnson and New York picked him up off waivers. This writer is not convinced that Kenny Golladay will stay healthy and live up to his paycheck in the Big Apple, which makes Johnson worth consideration. Also, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton were hurt in week three, which might allow Johnson to get more involved. Johnson flashed somewhat in his limited work during his rookie season, so he is worth a look.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, TEN| 0% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%|
Tennessee lost both A.J. Brown (hamstring) and Julio Jones (unknown) in the week 3 game, and it is unclear if they will be available next week and beyond. Someone has to catch passes, despite it being a run-first offense. With both Brown and Jones out, it was Westbrook-Ikhine drawing the majority of targets. If Jones and Brown miss time, you might think of playing Westbrook-Ikhine, especially in formats in which three or more receivers are starting. With the Titans facing the lowly Jets in the upcoming week, you could do worse. In week five, Tennessee will also have a less challenging matchup against the Jaguars, so if Jones and Brown also miss that one, he is startable in a pinch.
Josh Palmer, LAC| 28% rostered on MFL| Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
As injured as Mike Williams has been, we could see rookie Josh Palmer step in and play Williams’ rebounder role in the offense at some point this year. Palmer was impressive in camp, so he may get an opportunity sooner rather than later.
Tyron Johnson, JAX| 7% rostered on MFL| Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
Johnson switched teams this offseason, and while he went to an inferior organization, he may have landed in a situation with greater opportunity for him. Laviska Shenault Jr Jr is not known for his robust health and Marvin Jones Jr has also spent some of the offseason banged up. There will likely be an opportunity for Johnson at some point this season, especially if he can ingratiate himself to Trevor Lawrence with the limited looks he will get in the meantime.
Tyler Johnson, TB| 18% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%|
A recommendation in last year’s iteration of The Replacements, Johnson showed last season he could win contested balls. Johnson is merely a name to keep in mind if injuries or COVID devastate the Buccaneers receiving corps or if Antonio Brown’s off-field issues once again become a problem.
Harrison Bryant, CLE| 23% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%
With multiple injuries at the wide receiver position for the Browns, the ancillary pass catchers are getting more involved. 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.
Kyle Rudolph, NYG| 18% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%|
Rudolph signed a short-term deal this offseason and will serve as the primary option until Evan Engram can return from injury. Do not count out Rudolph because he is old -- he has been very good in the red zone and could become a favorite of Daniel Jones when the Giants are in scoring range. The Saints in week four should probably find Rudolph on the fantasy bench. The Cowboys' secondary in week five is not scaring anyone who might be considering playing Rudolph.
Dan Arnold, CAR| 28% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%|
Dan Arnold’s landing spots get better every year! While not the most talented player, Arnold has landed in a situation where he could very easily put up a career year. He landed this time in Carolina with Sam Darnold, who is working to rebuild his career. While Joe Brady did not utilize the tight end very much last year, that could change with a competent Arnold leading the group. The Cowboys are on tap in week four and it is not a particularly challenging matchup. The Eagles in week five are also a secondary to exploit.
Chris Manhertz, JAX| 0% rostered on MFL| Contending and, Rebuilding 1%|
Manhertz has a new team and came out of camp on the top of the depth chart. It does not hurt that he has a rookie quarterback using him as a security blanket option. Jacksonville will face the Cardinals and Bengals, which is a mixed bag. It does not help that while Manhertz had a productive week one, he was blanked in week two. Start him only if desperate.
Tyler Conklin, MIN| 22% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1%|
With Irv Smith done for the year, Conklin will step in to receive some of the volume that Smith would have gained. Conklin is not a revelation at the position, but he has proven to be serviceable. The Browns defense may be a bit tougher, so do not necessarily trust Conklin in week four unless you want to bank on volume coming through. In week five, Minnesota gets a divisional matchup, but it is against the Lions sans their best corner.
Kaden Smith, NYG| 4% rostered on MFL| Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-10%|
Evan Engram is often banged up (he was yet again this offseason), 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.
Out to Sea
Tyrod Taylor, HOU| 40% rostered on MFL|
Taylor is likely out for at least three more weeks with a hamstring injury. There also is a complicating factor. Will the Texans be able to stay competitive or will they want to see more Davis Mills? If you play in a league where quarterbacks are a scarce commodity, you may hang on to Taylor; but in traditional dynasty formats, he is not worth keeping to see if he will make it back into the starting lineup.
Jacob Eason, IND| 19% rostered on MFL|
Wentz is attempting to play on two bad ankles and Brett Hundley passed him on the depth chart, so we may revisit adding Eason. He can head back to the waiver wire.
Elijah Mitchell, SF| 83% rostered on MFL|
A significant shoulder injury opened the door for Trey Sermon to become the starter, so unless he falters, Mitchell is of little value to our teams.
Trenton Cannon, SF| 5% rostered on MFL|
Cannon can safely be dropped until such time as injuries push him back up the depth chart.
Devin Duvernay, BAL| 17% rostered on MFL|
Yes, he scored a touchdown this week, but on two total targets. Unfortunately, his already limited role is likely to disappear when Rashod Bateman comes back.
K.J. Hamler, DEN| 60% rostered on MFL|
A knee injury that ruled Hamler out of week 3’s contest is likely to mean he is not worth rostering going forward, at least not in the short-term. Rebuilding teams may want to continue to hang on, but contending teams can move forward.
Chris Manhertz, JAX| 0% rostered on MFL|
Despite James O'Shaughnessy’s injury, the offense is just so bad that there is very little target volume to go around. It is safe to drop Manhertz in all but the very deepest of leagues.