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It is rare to hear a seasoned dynasty owner remark that rosters in their league are large enough. As long-term fantasy prognosticators, we are always looking for a deeper sleeper, a height-weight-speed maven, or a player that can rise from the depths of the insignificant to regular playing time. The July-August time frame is the perfect time to refine the list of players to monitor. I say monitor because whether the dynasty league has 20 roster spots or 50, there will always be players we wish we could claim but must keep eyes on them from afar instead. Having a refined watch list makes the early season developments so much easier to process and track. Instead of scrambling across your different leagues to organize the available players you were fond of a month or two ago, they are already listed. The watch list feature on myfantasyleague.com is a valuable tool and, when used effectively, can give an owner that extra edge in navigating the waiver periods in-season.
As for the players themselves, the dynasty waiver wire is mostly filled with commodities that will be of little use. I commonly discuss bottom-of-the-roster and waiver wire prospects with a 'tell a story' mentality. Can you create a plausible storyline in which they because a viable fantasy entity. Sometimes that is more situation-based and other times we are just not sure how talented they truly are from a limited sample size in college and especially early in their NFL careers. In this list, nearly 50 players are listed with varying degrees of 'plausible' stories towards fantasy viability. The important part is the neverending search for more watchlist players. I preach to have too many options for your final roster spots. That mentality will create a thirst for more knowledge and more players than your leaguemates and over time that leads to undercovering a player or two from the waiver wire or in the final round or two of a rookie draft. That is a tremendous advantage.
Many dynasty owners, new and old alike, that I interact with do not use the watch list much, if at all, in a majority of their leagues. I was hesitant to use the feature up until the last couple of seasons. More than thinking ‘I do not need something this simple, I know what I am doing’, it was a matter of negligence. I knew the tool was there, yet failed to take the five minutes to initially set it up. Myfantasyleague has now made the syncing of all of your leagues even more simple by showing the status of the player you search in every league, not just the one in which you currently reside. Back to the basics of using the watch list:
Now is not the time to skimp
When in doubt, put too many options on the watch list. When an owner is in more than a league or two, the in-season waiver period can be crammed between work, taking the kids to soccer practice, and attempting to hit the gym. You probably will not have the sprawling amount of time you would like to leisurely comb through the free agent lists contemplating about their future roles and individual upside. Having a strong list of candidates from July and August will serve as a jumping off point. Like losing weight or getting a date with that person you have admired from afar, the biggest challenge is taking the first step.
Putting a player on the watch list does not have to be the culmination of a long love affair since he was born. Like I mentioned in the opening, more is better. I have a league or two with more than 30 names on my watch list. The back-of-the-roster churn would never allow for 90% of those players to ever see my active roster, but options are a good thing. If nothing else, it keeps these players in front of you, just a click away from your add/drop screen. When the season hits, maintenance is far easier than beginning this process. Who were the backups to the backup running back in Houston again? Cierre Wood and Dennis Johnson will already be on your list from preseason time.
One final ‘administrative’ tip before getting to the fun part, the players, is to have a method of note-taking when not at your home base. Everyone is most comfortable in their man cave compound when a desktop or laptop at hand, but that is not always the case when you hear about a player to check out. When out and about or at work, find a method that works to jot down a player name. I like to text myself or save a draft in my email. The mind has a funny way of completely forgetting that name even an hour later when you return to the compound and sit down at your home base.
The depth of a dynasty league will determine how many of these players are available at any given time, but remember that players on a roster today could be tomorrow’s waiver wire inhabitants. Be aware and be active. Those are two important factors to building a strong and deep dynasty roster for the long-haul.
Most leagues make it tough to roster more than three quarterbacks and the attractive options on the waiver wire are usually ‘lipstick on a pig’ options. That said, here are some to keep an eye on as the season kicks off:
Terrelle Pryor – His mobility and lack of stable options in front of him in Oakland give him a shot to flash as fantasy-relevant this season. At a minimum, the Raiders should see what they have with Pryor with a string of starts.
Brock Osweiler – Of all the true backups in the league, Osweiler may be the most intriguing as he would inherit Demaryius Thomas and more in the passing game and according to reports has cleaned up some of his mechanical and finer points since being drafted.
Mike Glennon – How many times have we heard that Josh Freeman is on the hot seat this offseason? Glennon has his own bag of deficiencies to work on, but could see time as the starter this season if things get ugly with Freeman like late in 2012.
Tyler Bray – Has the arm talent but little else at this point. Alex Smith has the feel of a short-term fix in Kansas City, which makes Bray viable as a possible starter in the next year or two. Would take a big roster, but considering the lack of other young options with his pure throwing ability Bray a worthy player to watch.
At the running back position, an owner typically has to dig deeper than the other skill positions. These are likely at least third-stringers on a depth chart and lack difference-making atheticism. That said, it is also a position with a good amount of turnover from week-to-week and season-to-season. An injury or two in front of them can vault them to an every-week fantasy starter with the ability to gain a valuable piece via trade.
Cierre Wood – Wood has less straight-line speed than Dennis Johnson, another Texans running back worth tracking, but his very good three-cone time translates more to a lead back skillset. With Ben Tate likely out of Houston after this season, this backfield is one for dynasty owners to monitor going forward.
Dennis Johnson – Johnson has a little more straight-line juice than fellow Texan flyer Cierre Wood, but his high three-cone time suggests he may have more success as a returner and situational space player than future centerpiece. With Ben Tate’s future in Houston doubtful when he contract runs out this coming offseason, Johnson deserves a watch list spot in a developing backfield.
C.J. Anderson – The Broncos back is down the depth chart, but has flashed ability early this preseason. He is athletic enough and was efficient enough in college to keep on the radar in deeper leagues. Think 30 or more roster spots to consider Anderson for a roster spot at this juncture.
Kenjon Barner – Has some intrigue as a spread-option fit in Carolina. Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have struggled to be high-value fantasy options with Cam Newton dominating the goal line work, but neither have been a model of health either. Barner could provide some situational value as the depth chart clarifies itself.
Jeremy Stewart – He was a surprise to me breaking down Oakland games last season. A relative unknown to all but the most plugged in dynasty owners, Stewart showed balance and between-the-tackles skill. Given the track record of those ahead of him on the depth chart (Darren McFadden, Rashad Jennings, Latavius Murray), Stewart could see significant work again.
Brandon Bolden – The Patriots, like Mike Shanahan offenses, can make many running backs viable. Bolden is down the depth chart, but his play in 2012 and strength of the New England run game as a whole means an injury or two thrusts Bolden into prominence.
Chad Spann – I expected Spann to stick on a team coming out of college, but he has bounced around quite a bit before his current destination with the Jets. Like Jeremy Stewart, the options ahead of Spann on the depth chart have missed plenty of career games, which may be the exact thing needed for Spann to show his stuff. Spann was very productive in college, but his underwhelming athleticism limits his ultimate ceiling in my opinion.
Michael Hill – Hill has flashed this preseason in a limited role. His balance and power inside is a positive sign on a team that could be searching for production at times this season. Ryan Mathews is running out of chances in San Diego and Danny Woodhead projects as a passing-down maven more than early-down workhorse.
Receivers are my favorite position to mine from the waiver wire. At least three see significant playing time on every NFL team, meaning 96 players are in the mix on a weekly basis. Also, there are some good athletic profiles available from this list. Having a good quarterback helps (see: Jarrett Boykin and Charles Johnson), but having a lack of continuity on the depth chart helps as well (see: Tommy Streeter and Aaron Mellette).
Austin Pettis – He has sticky hands, underrated size and athleticism, and the Rams depth chart is far from settled at receiver. Brian Quick has underwhelmed in the 18 months since being drafted and Pettis could find himself on the field quite a bit this season. His limited ceiling long-term would make him more of a quick flip player to mine value with the last receiver spot on a dynasty roster.
Brice Butler – Butler has the physical attributes, went to USC, and is in one of the most wide-open receiver depth charts in the league. The quarterback position is also up in the air, but if Butler has what it takes, he should see the field sooner rather than later. He is one of my favorite stashes in leagues with rosters of 24 or more.
Tommy Streeter – He has the size and speed to play on the outside in the NFL and, outside of Torrey Smith, has a clear line of vision to significant work in Baltimore. That said, he is rather raw, which explains why he is available in most leagues with more than 22 roster spots.
Charles Johnson – Johnson is one of my favorite stashes. He checks all the prospect boxes of production, athleticism, size, and landing spot. The Packers groom their receivers well, but patience is required here as Johnson could be toiling at the end of the bench for the next couple of years. One name to remember that came up in his list of comparable players: Miles Austin. Receivers with the complete profile of Johnson do not come along every year. He is well worth holding in deeper leagues.
Aldrick Robinson – Outside of size, Robinson has an outstanding athletic profile. He also represents probably the best pure deep threat on the Redskins roster at the moment. Considering Pierre Garcon has missed time and Leonard Hankerson has underwhelmed to this point in his career, a significant role catching passes from Robert Griffin III III is a real possibility.
Jarrett Boykin – Like with Charles Johnson, the Packers (read: Aaron Rodgers) can be an assembly line of fantasy receivers. If Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb were to miss time, Boykin and not Johnson, would get the first look in the short-term.
Aaron Mellette – I would not be surprised if Mellette passed Tommy Streeter on the Baltimore depth chart early in his career. Mellette does not have difference-making athleticism, but his strong college production is a good predictor of future fantasy worth for later round draft picks.
Corey Fuller – Past Calvin Johnson on the Detroit depth chart is quite a bit of uncertainty. Fuller offers deep speed that left the team with Titus Young. Ryan Broyles is more of a slot option and Nate Burleson is taking up space more than providing optimism for the future at this point in his career. On a team that is one of the most pass-heavy in the NFL, Fuller is a worthwhile final receiver on deeper rosters.
Ricardo Lockette – He has been an athlete to watch at the receiver position for two years now. Lockette’s workout numbers and measurements prior to the 2011 NFL draft were impressive and small school prospects are notorious for being slow-starters to fantasy relevance. Now, Lockette enters his third season and the 49ers receiver group is far from settled. Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham, and Austin Collie are the veterans that have shown production in their past, but all have their own set of warts. Jonathan Baldwin joins the fray and Quinton Patton was drafted in the middle rounds. Lockette and Baldwin project as the best deep options of the bunch to pair with strong-armed Colin Kaepernick.
Greg Childs – Childs was a hot dynasty name prior to yet another severe injury last season. He has the size and athleticism to be an ascending fantasy name with any string of health. Outside of an aging Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings receiver corps has room for Childs to see work when he gets back up to speed. Reports this offseason have been positive for Childs and in leagues of 25 or more roster spots, Childs is a name to keep on speed dial if he is 100% early in the season.
Mark Harrison – From what I have heard Harrison is on the roster bubble in New England after battling injuries since the draft. His size and athleticism are in the realm of Andre Johnson and Greg Little, making him an attractive flyer to monitor even if he floats out in free agency before finding a new destination early in his career.
Brandon Kaufman – I was a fan of Kaufman as deep sleeper prospect. Landing in Buffalo was a decent spot and his college production and size are worthwhile reasons to keep Kaufman on the radar. With Da'rick Rogers rumored to be on the roster bubble, Kaufman making the roster would be a boost to his value.
Marcus Easley – Easley, like Greg Childs, was a hot dynasty name not too long ago. He has been one of the top performers of the Buffalo offense in the preseason. Robert Woods and Steve Johnson look like locks ahead of him on the receiver depth chart, but opportunity is there for Easley to stick or flash enough to be relevant elsewhere if he can remain healthy.
Jacoby Ford – A forgotten player of late due to injuries, but Ford flashed some Steve Smith-like deep play ability earlier in his career. The window may be closing on him, but the lack of clear-cut options in front of him on the Raiders depth chart keeps him on the watch list for now.
T.J. Moe – He had some initial allure as a slot machine with more quickness than straight-line speed. Landing on the injured reserve list has pushed Moe to the waiver wire in most leagues. Moe has a non-traditional skill set, which could be maximized in future years in New England if the opportunity presents itself. He is a free addition if an owner can stash him in an IR spot for this season and evaluate the landscape next summer when roster decisions have to be made.
Justin Brown – Brown has more size than Pittsburgh starters Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders if he can stick on the roster. On the flip side, Brown’s lacking long speed, burst, and college production make him a long-shot to become a future dynasty asset.
Patrick Edwards – As a water bug type player, he could have value in a high-volume Detroit attack that is not too different from his Houston days in college. While I think his diminutive size and lack of true difference-making athleticism limits him long-term, an injury to Ryan Broyles in the short-term could boost Edwards to fantasy-relevant.
Marquess Wilson – Wilson has the athleticism to make some noise early in his NFL career. The Bears have a crowded receiver group with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery entrenched as starters, which means Wilson will likely need a change-of-scenery to realize his potential. He is a longer-term hold to see what he ultimately becomes, reserved for only the deepest of leagues.
Nick Toon – He projects as a Marques Colston-like option to many, but has more deep speed and overall athleticism. Kenny Stills many be the better fit to see situational snaps as a pure deep threat in the New Orleans offense this season (think former Saints Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem), but Toon has the higher ceiling as a pure talent down the line now that he is finally healthy.
Kenny Stills – Stills has flashed his down-the-field ability this offseason and projects and the third receiver with the Saints out of the gate. The big question is whether his game develops into more than Devery Henderson or Robert Meachem did in prior versions of the offense. I doubt it, which tempers his value to a role player.
Devon Wylie – He has struggled with injuries in his football career, but has those ‘phone booth’ moves that could match well with Andy Reid’s offense and Alex Smith’s short-area accuracy. Dexter McCluster could play a similar role in the offense, so monitor Wylie’s health and how McCluster and non-Dwayne Bowe receivers perform early this season.
Chad Bumphis – He was productive in college and has a short and stocky build. As an undrafted free agent without off-the-charts athleticism, he needs some help to get on the field, but Miami’s receivers can accommodate, especially with the departure of long-time slot man Davone Bess this past offseason.
Julian Edelman – With the uncertainty across the entire New England passing game, Edelman is a worthy gamble. While not a high upside option in his own right, Edelman has hung around the Patriots organization for a while and is a solid jack-of-all-trades asset.
Austin Collie – Collie was once one of the most efficient receivers in the entire NFL. He has great hands and the ability to get open in the slot or as an outside receiver. The 49ers are lacking quality options in the passing game and, with a string of health; Collie has a chance to reemerge into fantasy prominence. The good news with having Collie on a dynasty roster in 2013 is we will know early whether there is something there or not, an owner can cut bait by October if Collie does not regain his early-career form to see the field with regularity.
Stephen Williams – He flashed with some big plays down the field this preseason. Williams did not see much action in Arizona earlier in his career, but Seattle is a fresh start for the tall and rangy receiver. Russell Wilson’s skill getting out of the pocket to make big plays fits with Williams’ ball skills.
Tight ends range in value from dynasty league to league because of scoring, starting requirements, and shear ability to roster a third one regularly. Considering the lack of solidity to the dynasty rankings past the second-ranked tight end, there is room for new additions in the coming couple of seasons into fantasy prominence.
Vance McDonald – In short roster leagues, McDonald could be on the waiver wire. Even if he is on a roster, tagging him on the watch list is a good idea. He is clearly behind Vernon Davis in San Francisco in the short-term, but he has enough athleticism and upside to warrant consideration as a TE3/4 if rosters allow. He will be more of a receiving weapon than Delanie Walker and with the passing game upheaval going on with the 49ers; McDonald could be of use right out of the gate.
Julius Thomas - Thomas had quite a bit of hype as the next Antonio Gates type of basketball convert before injuries pushed him down rankings. Now healthy again, Thomas is making some noise in Broncos camp and in preseason action. Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen are also in the mix at tight end, but Thomas is the name to know in dynasty circles.
Luke Willson – Willson has athleticism to burn and the Seattle offense is an enviable one to land in. Zach Miller has been a shell of his Oakland version since arriving there and Anthony McCoy is out for the season. The Seattle brass has referenced that they know what Willson can do in the passing game while the rest of his skills need refinement.
Dion Sims – The recent injury to Dustin Keller has bumped up the current value of Sims, but he still is under-the-radar to all but the most in-tune dynasty owners. Ryan Tannehill is a worthy young signal-caller to be catching passes from and Sims, more than the other options at tight end in Miami, offers that ‘we just do not know yet’ upside to monitor.
Joseph Fauria – One of my favorite deep-level prospects from the 2013 class, Fauria is a super-sized tight end with strong college production, huge hands, and the ability to play the ball at its highest point. Brandon Pettigrew has been an annual disappointment in the passing game for the targets he receives and Tony Scheffler is more oversized receiver than traditional tight end. I doubt Fauria sees much playing time as a rookie, but the stars could aligned for a more prominent role in 2014 in a pass-happy offense lacking red zone options outside of Calvin Johnson.
Nick Kasa – He is a good blocker and one of the few red zone options on the roster. There is no obvious starter on the roster with David Ausberry and Mychal Rivera as the pass-catchers above Kasa on the depth chart and Richard Gordon the veteran blocker.
Chase Coffman – He was very production in college, but never grabbed a hold of any significant role in his original NFL stop with Cincinnati. He has a chance to grow into a role behind Tony Gonzalez, who could be out of the picture by 2014. Outside of Roddy White and Julio Jones, there are targets to be had in one of the better offenses in the league. It probably takes close to 30 roster spots to consider Coffman, but if he is on the roster when Gonzalez ultimately retires, he will be snatched up from the waiver wire quickly.