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 five 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| 80% rostered on MFL
Sam Darnold, CAR| 76% rostered on MFL
Mike Davis, ATL| 95% rostered on MFL
Latavius Murray, BAL| 83% rostered on MFL|
Alexander Mattison, MIN| 88% rostered on MFL|
Tony Pollard, DAL, DAL| 91% rostered on MFL |
Marquez Callaway, NO| 66% rostered on MFL
IN THE WATER
Teddy Bridgewater, DEN| 66% 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. The Steelers are ahead in week five and they have been middling in the pass defense category. Bridgewater will face the Raiders in week six. Las Vegas is better against the pass, but still a middling unit. Please note that Bridgewater was unable to finish his last contest because of a concussion.
Taylor Heinicke, WAS| 47% 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 contest with the Saints in week five is not a favorable matchup for Washington. The Kansas City defense that Heinicke will square off with in week six is more lenient against the pass.
Carson Wentz, IND| 59% 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. The Baltimore matchup in week five is much more daunting. In week six, the Colts face the Texans, which is a pass defense in disarray.
Davis Mills, HOU| 23% 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 Patriots are one of the top pass defenses in the league in terms of yards allowed, so you may not want to use Mills in week five. Week six In Indianapolis is a more reasonable time to consider using Mills.
Jacoby Brissett, MIA| 27% 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. 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 5, Miami will play the Buccaneers’ fierce pass rush, so play Brissett only in an emergency. Assuming Tagovailoa is still not fit to play in week six, we will see Brissett play against the Jaguars’ lenient pass defense.
Drew Lock, DEN| 2% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1%|
If Bridgewater is unable to go next week and you need a spot starter, you will want to grab Drew Lock. Lock is mistake-prone, but has a big arm and is capable of hitting the big play from time to time. See Bridgewater’s outlook if you want to consider upcoming matchups.
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| 31% 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 |
Samaje Perine, CIN| 30% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
Perine will likely carry the load for at least a week or two with Joe Mixon out. He's a bigger, straight-line runner, but even that kind of player can have value with as many touches as he will likely see. The Packers and Lions matchups coming over the next couple of weeks are not scaring anyone in terms of stuffing the run.
Tony Jones, NOS| 54% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1-5%|
Jones is now the primary backup to Alvin Kamara. Jones is in his second year with the Saints, so the familiarity with the system and playbook are 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. Note that Jones himself sustained an ankle injury in the week four contest. His status is unknown.
Peyton Barber, LVR| 66% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%|
Barber will fade to the background with Josh Jacobs back, but foot and ankle injuries can come back with a vengeance. We saw while Jacobs was hurt that Barber got the between-the-tackles carries. Though Kenyon Drake holds more fantasy value because of the pass-catching aspects of his game, we have seen that Barber will hold some value if Jacobs re-aggravates his injury.
Damien Williams, CHI| 44% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%|
Williams may inherit the starting job courtesy of a David Montgomery knee injury. Williams had value as a Chief and won championships for many fantasy players in 2018. While the Bears are not the Chiefs in terms of having a prolific offense, Williams will at least have ample carry opportunities. The Raiders and the Packers over the next two weeks are not great units in terms of rush yards allowed.
Ameer Abdullah| 3% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%|
With Dalvin Cook’s re-aggravation of his ankle injury, we could see Ameer Abdullah get more work and possibly even become the starter if Alexander Mattison also gets banged up. Abdullah has proven to be a career backup caliber player, but he is one that has some ability as a pass catcher, which cannot be said for all running backs.
Justin Jackson, LAC| 47% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%|
He has not been the healthiest himself, but he is the primary backup to Austin Eckler. 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.
Malcolm Brown, MIA| 44% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, 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.
Tim Patrick| 71% 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 and will miss the rest of the season. Patrick will now have even more opportunity for fantasy relevance with increased snap counts and targets. Grab him now, as he is unlikely to be around next week on waivers. The Steelers and Raiders are the next teams on tap and the outlook is the same as was listed for Teddy Bridgewater above.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE| 31% 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 and Beckham struggling to stay on the field, People-Jones is the primary starter. It is largely 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 Chargers and Cardinals are unlikely to make Cleveland deviate from their winning game plan of running the football and passing sparingly.
Byron Pringle, KC| 20% 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.
Josh Reynolds, TEN| 25% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%|
Tennessee lost both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones to hamstring injuries in the week 3 game and it is unclear when they will be healthy enough to return. Someone has to catch passes, despite it being a run-first offense. With both Brown and Jones out, it was a finally healthy Josh Reynolds drawing the majority of targets against the Jets. If Jones and Brown miss extensive time, you might think of playing Reynolds, especially in formats in which three or more receivers are starting. In week five, Tennessee will have a less challenging matchup against the Jaguars. The Bills contest in week six is not an especially great one for Tennessee’s offensive outlook.
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. The 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 going forward. Johnson flashed somewhat in his limited work during his rookie season, so he is worth a look.
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| 6% 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 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| 20% 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.
O.J. Howard, TB| 39% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%
Rob Gronkowski is going to miss time with a punctured lung and broken ribs. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are most likely to absorb the tight end targets left in his absence. Howard has been a massive dynasty disappointment for his general managers but has been serviceable in a sheltered role with Tampa Bay. Perhaps he can step up later in his career, much like Delanie Walker. The Buccaneers have easy Dolphins and Eagles matchups in the next two weeks.
Harrison Bryant, CLE| 22% 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.
Tyler Conklin, MIN| 49% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%|
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. In week five, Minnesota will get a divisional matchup, but it is against the Lions sans their best corner. In week six, Conklin will face a Panthers defense that does not allow much passing yardage.
Dan Arnold, JAX| 28% rostered on MFL| Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%|
Dan Arnold is once again on the move! He was traded mid-week to the Jacksonville Jaguars. While it is not a great organization, he at least gets a quarterback upgrade and was utilized from the get-go. Jacksonville will play lax Titans and Dolphins pass defenses over the next two weeks.
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 Cowboys secondary in week five is not scaring anyone who might be considering playing Rudolph. In week six, the Giants face the Rams, so that’s not the best time to use Rudolph.
Ricky Seals-Jones| 0% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1%|
Seals-Jones is the very definition of a veteran journeyman, which is why Logan Thomas’ knee injury could open the door for more work. The other options on the roster are inexperienced rookie John Bates and undrafted free agent Sammis Reyes. The Saints and Chiefs matchups are a mixed bag for Seals-Jones. He is likely only an emergency option for those desperately needing a plug-and-play option.
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
Ty'Son Williams, BAL| 86% rostered on MFL
He was a healthy scratch in week four. Unless you have very deep benches in your league, it is okay to let go of Williams, who does not seem like he was able to make good on his big opportunity
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, TEN| 0% rostered on MFL
Tennessee’s primary receiver was the finally healthy Josh Reynolds. Westbrooke-Ikhine was basically invisible as the Titans ran the ball and spread around their passes.