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 seven 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| 78% rostered on MFL
Sam Darnold, CAR| 86% rostered on MFL
Mike Davis, ATL| 92% rostered on MFL
Darrel Williams, KC| 88% rostered on MFL|
Devontae Booker, NYG| 82% rostered on MFL|
Latavius Murray, BAL| 86% rostered on MFL|
Alexander Mattison, MIN| 90% rostered on MFL|
Tony Pollard, DAL, DAL| 92% rostered on MFL |
Marquez Callaway, NO| 70% rostered on MFL
IN THE WATER
Teddy Bridgewater, DEN| 70% 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. The practice window just opened for Jeudy, who was designated to return from injured reserve. The Browns in week seven are tough and have been a top-three unit in pass yards allowed. The Broncos will get an easier matchup against Washington in week eight.
Taylor Heinicke, WAS| 66% 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 opponent (Green Bay) in week seven is more stout against the pass. Their defense ranks eighth in pass yards allowed, which does not bode well for a minimal volume quarterback such as Heinicke. The Broncos in week eight are a top-five unit against the pass, so Heinicke is not a recommended play in the short term.
Carson Wentz, IND| 71% 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 playing through 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. San Francisco, Indianapolis’ opponent in week seven, is a top-ten pass defense unit, so that matchup could be a little more difficult. It will get much easier in week eight against the porous Titans secondary.
Davis Mills, HOU| 28% 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 Cardinals are a top-fifteen pass defense unit through five games, so it is a neutral matchup for Davis and company in week seven. Stay away from Mills in week eight when he faces an aggressive Rams defense.
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 | 4% 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| 20% rostered on MFL |
Gardner Minshew, PHI| 20% rostered on MFL
Drew Lock, DEN| 30% 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| 6% rostered on MFL |
Case Keenum, CLE| 7% rostered on MFL|
D'Ernest Johnson, CLE| 19% rostered on MFL| Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%|
Kareem Hunt was not able to put weight on his leg as he left the field on Sunday and Nick Chubb was ruled out well before game time. That could mean we see more D'Ernest Johnson in the upcoming Broncos and Steelers contests. Johnson had a career high in carries and yards last year when Kareem Hunt missed time. He is nowhere near as dynamic as Hunt or Chubb, but since the Browns have a quarterback with an injured non-throwing shoulder and they favor running the ball anyway, it is likely Johnson will be more of a factor, at least for a few games.
Herbert and Williams may inherit joint work with David Montgomery suffering a knee injury that will keep him out for several weeks. Williams had value as a Chief and won championships for many fantasy players in 2018. Meanwhile, Herbert started this past week when Williams contracted COVID-19 and was unable to play. The Buccaneers are stout against the run, so week seven may be a time to bench either of these two. The 49ers are also good at defending the run, so it may be best to only use either of these two in an emergency in week eight.
Dwayne Washington 2% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%|
While Tony Jones remains on IR, Washington becomes the primary backup to Alvin Kamara. Washington has prior NFL experience and while he will be no Kamara, he can be competent and marginally fantasy relevant if called upon.
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| 44% 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| 73% 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 Browns and Washington 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. Denver is surprisingly a top-six pass defense, so the Browns may continue to lean more on the run game in that contest in week seven as well. The contest against the Steelers is more likely to make Cleveland pass.
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. Do not worry about Josh Gordon encroaching on his role. Pringle should be rostered everywhere.
Collin Johnson, NYG |10% rostered on MFL| Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%|
The Jaguars’ new regime cut Johnson and New York picked him up off waivers. The writer was not convinced that Kenny Golladay would stay healthy and live up to his paycheck in the Big Apple and it appears that has come to pass with Golladay suffering a knee injury in week five. Kadarius Toney injured his ankle in week six. Also, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton have been banged up regularly, which means Johnson can 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| 26% 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. Williams was a game-time decision in week six, so that time may be sooner rather than later.
Tyron Johnson, JAX| 5% 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 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| 36% 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. In week seven, Tampa Bay will face the Bears, a middling pass defense. In week eight, they will have a tough test against the Saints defense.
Ricky Seals-Jones, WAS| 14% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10, Rebuilding 1%|
Seals-Jones is the very definition of a veteran journeyman, which is why Logan Thomas’ knee injury opened the door for more work. The other options on the roster are inexperienced rookie John Bates and undrafted free agent Sammis Reyes. The Packers contest in week seven is not going to be as generous. The Broncos contest in week nine is an even worse matchup, but with the shortage of starting tight ends, general managers may not have a choice.
Dan Arnold, JAX| 50% rostered on MFL| Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%|
While it is not a great organization, Arnold at least gets a quarterback upgrade and was utilized from the get-go after being traded a couple of weeks ago. In week seven, the matchup against the Seahawks is not particularly scary. In week eight, the matchup against the Bills should be avoided.
Harrison Bryant, CLE| 21% 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| 51% 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 the seventh week, the Vikings will face the 31st-ranked Dallas pass defense. In week eight, they will face off against the Ravens, who have been below average when it comes to pass defense.
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 Panthers matchup in week seven is a bad time to put Rudolph into the lineup. In week eight, the matchup becomes more favorable when the team faces the Chiefs.
Kaden Smith, NYG| 3% 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
Brandon Allen, CIN| 5% rostered on MFL|
Joe Burrow ended up being okay to play after suffering a throat contusion in week five. We will send Allen back to the player pool unless Burrow gets dinged again.
Jacoby Brissett, IND| 26% rostered on MFL|
Tua Tagovailoa was able to return this past week, so we can send Brissett back to the waiver wire.
Mike Glennon, NYG| 2% rostered on MFL|
Daniel Jones cleared the concussion protocol and will be able to start going forward. Glennon is not worth retaining in most cases.
Samaje Perine, CIN| 38% rostered on MFL|
Mixon seems to have gotten over the ankle injury and Perine contracted COVID-19. Perine is worth keeping in deep leagues in case of a Mixon injury, but it is okay to cut him loose in more shallow formats.
Josh Reynolds, TEN| 26% rostered on MFL|
Julio Jones is back this week. We will see if he can stay healthy and not re-aggravate his hamstring issue. Until such time as that happens, Reynolds can be tossed back to the player pool.