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Waivers of the Future: Free Agency Edition

Your guide to making preemptive waiver pickups in the context of dynasty fantasy football.

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. Owners have previously been at the mercy of regular waiver segments to assist in dynasty pickups, but these fail to take the long-term view necessary to dynasty success.  This segment (which will become a weekly feature in season) will focus on identifying assets that will help dynasty teams build for the future.

Note: Budget percentages will be added to the inseason version of this report for both contending and rebuilding teams as an extra guidepost.

 

THE SHORELINE (20 OR FEWER ROSTER SPOTS)

QB

Robert Griffin III, WAS- He’s fallen far and may not be the physical specimen he once was, but there are still many things to like about Griffin. He’s recently been cut by the Redskins and is drawing a great deal of interest from needy teams.

Colin Kaepernick, SF- Whether it’s with the 49ers or elsewhere, I believe Kaepernick is going to get another chance to start in 2016. There’s high upside there if he finds a situation where the coaching staff crafts a system around his strengths instead of asking him to fit into their mold. The Jets and Browns are two teams rumored to be interested in Kaepernick.

Brock Osweiler, HOU- After not getting the money he wanted from the Broncos, Osweiler headed to the Texans. It wasn’t exactly how we expected it to go down, but Osweiler will get his chance to start.

RB

Javorius Allen, BAL-He showed pretty well in his rookie year on a team that didn't have much going for it. Forsett’s age (he’s turning 31 in October) and recent injury leave Allen in a prime position to get a significant portion of the carries in the Baltimore backfield if Baltimore doesn’t take a runner early in the draft.

Karlos Williams, BUF- The rookie got some starts in 2015 and did some great things with his touches. With the oft-injured LeSean McCoy ahead of him, we’ll likely hear Williams’ name called again in 2016.

Jay Ajayi, MIA- Lamar Miller exited to the Texans, bolstering Ajayi’s dynasty value. However, the Dolphins were reportedly a contestant in the C.J Anderson tender war, making us think they may not trust Ajayi to be the primary ball carrier.  Ajayi is still in line to have the featured role in what should be a very exciting Adam Gase designed offense-- at least until draft day.

Matt Jones, WAS- Alfred Morris departed in free agency, leaving Jones to showcase his skills as the lead man in Washington. The rugged runner should continue to improve and develop in year two.

Jerick McKinnon, MIN- Adrian Peterson's time in Minnesota is drawing to a close, and the athletic project is losing the project tag with how well he's played when he has seen action.

WR

Marvin Jones, DET- With Calvin Johnson retiring, Detroit felt a strong need to go out and fill the void opposite Golden Tate. While he won’t completely fill the shoes of Megatron, unlike Cincinnati, Detroit will definitely look to make him a focal point in their offense.

Cody Latimer, DEN- We saw Latimer become more involved when Manning wasn't at the helm. We don’t know who will be captaining the ship for Denver in 2016, but we can expect Latimer to become more involved regardless.

Sammie Coates, PIT- He was very raw coming in, but the physical gifts are definitely there. In an explosive Steelers offense and with Martavis Bryant about to serve a year-long suspension, we can’t count him out.

Cordarrelle Patterson/ Charles Johnson, MIN- Both Minnesota wideouts have a ton of upside but were underutilized by their current team. Both need a change of scenery and if they get it, we could see the things that made us so excited about them in the first place bubble back to the surface.

TE

Dwayne Allen, IND- Allen stayed in Indy and though the dynasty community is low on him as a whole, I look for him to rebound with a healthy Andrew Luck under center.

Ladarius Green, PIT- Pittsburgh was one of the most exciting landing spots Green could have found. He will undoubtedly get another production bump from the Martavis Bryant suspension.

Coby Fleener, NO- The Fleener signing was one of the bigger surprises of free agency. With the big money New Orleans paid, we can expect him to be a featured piece of their passing game.

Zach Miller, CHI-Chicago traded away the disgruntled Martellus Bennett to the Patriots. Meanwhile, Miller quietly signed a 2 year deal to remain with the team. He showed well when Bennett was out last year and becomes much more interesting now that Bennett has been dealt away.

 

THE SPLASH (MORE THAN 20 BUT FEWER THAN 40 ROSTER SPOTS)

QB

Blaine Gabbert, SF- A laughing stock for many years, Gabbert showed development and poise during his time as the 49ers starter in 2015. There’s a very real chance he could be the starter for that team in week one, especially if Kaepernick leaves.

Mike Glennon, TB- I’ve always thought that Glennon played well in his rookie season and that Tampa was perhaps a little too quick to move on from him. He’ll likely have his chance elsewhere soon.

Jimmy Garoppolo, NE- Groomed behind Tom Brady, Garoppolo has learned from one of the best in the business. Some other team (or New England themselves) will give him a shot to start.

Ryan Nassib, NYG- Eli Manning has stayed surprisingly healthy, so Nassib has rarely gotten to show what he can do. Nassib is heading to free agency in 2017 and will more than likely pick a team where he has a chance to start.

RB

Jeremy Langford/ Ka'deem Carey, CHI- Forte is likely to leave, so both of these backs will benefit. Both had moments in 2015 in which they shined, so it's hard to say which one will take the 1A role.

Christine Michael, SEA- WIth Lynch finally hanging it up, everyone assumes Rawls will be the man when he returns from injury. Don't discount Michael, who quietly played very well in his return to the team. If Michael has finally put the bone-headedness behind him, I could see a scenario in which he, not Rawls, becomes the lead back.

Zach Zenner, DET- An injury marred his rookie season, but he was outplaying fellow rookie Ameer Abdullah at that point. With Joique Bell cut, we could see Zenner secure his role this upcoming year.

Robert Turbin, DAL- “Turbo” is an average talent, but any back that has a shot at significant playing time in the Colts offense is worth a look. He’ll be backing up the aged Frank Gore in 2016.

Andre Ellington, ARI- Talent was never the question-- it’s been the injuries that have derailed Ellington. It may not happen with Arizona, but at some point I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellington once again producing as a starter.

WR

Seth Roberts, OAK- We heard the buzz in camp and it didn't die down when the regular season came. Roberts is behind Cooper and Crabtree, but he is one injury away from being able to step into a number two role in a productive situation.

Travis Benjamin, SD- Benjamin landed in a great situation where a secondary wide reciever to play opposite of Keenan Allen was sorely needed. We saw that he could fill that role nicely last year in Cleveland. He'll likely do even better this year with Phillip Rivers throwing him passes.

Jeff Janis, GB- In the nightmare that was the Packers’ 2015 season, Janis had more opportunity than usual, but failed to latch on the way I had hoped he would. I believe the Packers will rebound in 2016 and simply getting on the field may have been enough to jumpstart the development of the metric freak.

Brandon Coleman, NO- With Colston finally getting cut, Coleman is the most likely name currently on the Saints roster to step up and fill that void. If he can get rid of the dropsies this offseason, he’ll have a fantastic chance to do it.

Rishard Matthews, TEN- In an offense that has yet to establish clear passing options outside of Delanie Walker, Matthews could become a dependable target for Marcus Mariota.

TE

Jace Amaro, NYJ- Injury robbed him of a chance to show out in his sophomore year, but we could see that change on a blossoming Jets offense.

Vance McDonald, SF- I personally am not a fan of his game, but I cannot deny that there was some improvement in 2015 and that the tight end situation for the 49ers is wide open for 2016.

Ben Watson, BAL- His resurgence with the Saints last year was intriguing, and his landing spot on a tight-end needy Baltimore squad could give Watson some sneaky value this year.

 

THE DEEP (40+ ROSTER SPOTS, OR LEAGUES WITH LARGE TAXI SQUADS)

QB

Mark Sanchez, DEN- There’s a remote possibility that Sanchez ends up starting if Denver is forced to take a rookie in the draft.

Chase Daniel, PHI-  The fact that Philadelphia made him the highest paid backup in the NFL is interesting. The Eagles intend Sam Bradford to start the season for them, but with Bradford’s injury, we know that Daniel could crack the starting lineup at any point in the season.

Johnny Manziel, CLE- Cutting Manziel from Cleveland may be the start of the “career-near-death experience" that Manziel needs to straighten up. The talent (especially the rushing ability) is there and his price (basically free in dynasty leagues right now) makes him a very interesting addition.

Garrett Grayson, NO- He’s a little short for the quarterback position, but he’s very smart and poised. Sound familiar? That’s because he’s sitting behind Drew Brees, who had a very similar profile. I look for him to be Brees’ eventual replacement.

Brett Hundley, GB- The Packers had genuinely good things to say about his development in year one. He’ll sit behind Rogers for several years, but he’ll get his shot, either with the Packers or someone else.

RB

Charles Sims, TB- Doug Martin got his extension, but I still see Sims as someone who will have a role in that Buccaneers offense, especially as a pass catcher.  

David Cobb, TEN- The trade for DeMarco Murray relegates Cobb to the bargain bin. Injury and a woefully inept team hid the potential of Cobb last year, but it’s not hard to imagine Murray getting hurt (he has a storied injury history after all) and Cobb getting a shot at the primary job.

Terrell Watson, CIN- A big and athletic back, Watson would likely step into the Jeremy Hill role if Hill were to miss time.

Corey Grant, JAX- Here’s another athletic back who is buried behind Ivory, Yeldon, and Robinson on the depth chart. Yet we only need to look to what happened with David Johnson this past year to see that sometimes injuries break just right and allow a buried player to emerge and show what they can do.

Juwan Thompson, DEN- Thompson has the frame and skillset as a runner to carry a significant portion of the rushing duties if Anderson gets dinged yet again. We should see an uptick in carries for Thompson anyway to spell Anderson, but an injury to Anderson would fully unlock Thompson’s potential value.

Malcolm Brown, LA- It may take a Gurley injury or a change of team for him to become relevant, but there's a lot to like based on his tape and his excellent showing in the '15 preseason.

Dreamius Smith, SD- He's somewhat raw, but has the athleticism and power to make a splash if he does see time.

WR

Chris Hogan, NE- Stuck in a tepid Buffalo offense for the last three seasons, Hogan has shown flashes of what he could do with a better situation. He's got that situation now in New England. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to me if Hogan produces better than most expected in 2016.

DeAndre Carter, NE- We can say with confidence that both Baltimore and New England know how to scout talent. Carter started as an undrafted free agent in Baltimore, where Steve Smith took him under his wing. After being cut and spending some time with the Raiders, Carter drew interest from the Bengals, but ultimately made it onto New England's squad. With a real need for quality receivers on this team, it would be easy to envision a scenario in which Carter is promoted and rises quickly.

Tre McBride, TEN- He's basically “Amari Cooper lite” in my eyes, and with very few established receiving options in Tennessee, McBride has a fighting chance, however small.

Kenny Bell, TB- The Matt Waldman favorite could step in when Vincent Jackson's time is up in Tampa. The skillset is nearly identical.

Tyrell Williams, SD- This raw small school prospect has my attention. His height, speed, and movement skills are very intriguing. Malcolm Floyd retiring could be just the thing he needed to stick on the active roster.

TE

Erik Swoope, IND- Dwayne Allen ended up sticking around,, but we know he hasn’t exactly been the picture of health. If he were to go down again, the very athletic and developing Swoope may see the field, especially with Coby Fleener no longer standing in the way.

Derek Carrier, WAS- Carrier was getting some playing time when Reed was hurt, but he tore his ACL. I like what I see on tape and think that he could emerge if Reed were to miss time yet again.