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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 in-season article) 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.

THE SHORELINE

(MAY BE AVAILABLE IN 25 OR FEWER ROSTER SPOT LEAGUES)

QUARTERBACK

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Sam Bradford, MIN- While there is slightly more optimism regarding Teddy Bridgewater’s injury recovery coming out of Minnesota, it’s still likely that Bridgewater will miss a significant part of the 2017 season. Luckily for the Vikings, they dealt for a more than serviceable option in Sam Bradford. Lost in the shuffle of the 2016 season was how well Sam Bradford played, especially considering he had to move to a new team and system on relatively short notice. He’s been not only an underrated option for the Vikings, but for fantasy, too! He may have been tossed back to your waiver wire in anticipation of Bridgewater returning. If you, like the Vikings, need a viable option for your team, Bradford can be your guy.

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Tony Romo, DAL- I’ve seen Romo get dropped in some of the more shallow dynasty formats in which I play, but with news that he could end up in Denver or Houston, Romo’s stock is beginning to rebound. Landing with the Broncos would be great for Romo’s value, but any gig will bring Romo’s value up. While Romo is no longer in his prime, there’s enough left in the tank for Romo to be a decent low-end starter or backup for your fantasy team.

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Carson Palmer, ARI- Like Romo, Palmer is another QB I’m seeing hit the wires in my more shallow leagues. Yes, it’s pretty obvious from watching the film that Palmer’s physical skills are on the decline, but don’t forget that Palmer plays with one of the best receiving backs in the game and one of the most experienced and savvy wide receivers in football. Palmer isn’t the future for any dynasty team, but he can certainly be a bridge option until you’ve found your future at quarterback.  

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Mike Glennon, CHI- We had expected that Glennon would go to another team and be paid handsomely in free agency. Glennon chose the Bears, who will give him his first legitimate shot to start since his rookie year. He’s not afraid to sling it and can be a huge boon to the receivers on his team for that reason.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Jimmy Garoppolo, NE- Groomed behind Tom Brady, Garoppolo has learned from one of the best in the business. Recent reports indicate Garoppolo will stay in New England, but there’s always the chance a trade happens before Draft day or on the clock. While I’m not a huge fan of Garoppolo’s work, I do believe in making a speculative add with the chance that he goes to another team, increases in value, and then can be flipped for a pick. I’m also open to him being a bridge option depending on the landing spot.

RUNNING BACK

Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Rex Burkhead, NE- Having recently signed in New England, his value has skyrocketed in the dynasty community. It’s unlikely that he’s out there on the waiver wire in deeper leagues, but I have seen him still available in shallow formats. While he lacks break-away speed, Burkhead does everything else competently, making him the type of utility back that the Patriots covet.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Darren McFadden, DAL- He recently re-signed in Dallas, putting himself squarely behind Ezekiel Elliott on the Cowboys depth chart. While it’s disappointing he didn’t end up in Oakland with the starting gig, McFadden could have a major uptick in value if Elliott were to miss time for any reason.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Andre Ellington, ARI- Sadly, Ellington re-signed in Arizona and will remain a back-up to David Johnson. Much like McFadden, he is still a member of the high-value back-up club.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Knile Davis, PIT- Davis was signed by Pittsburgh, presumably to be the backup to LeVeon Bell and perhaps signaling the team intends to part ways with DeAngelo Williams. As often injured as Bell seems to be, fantasy owners want to own his backup.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10% | Kamar Aiken, IND- With Phillip Dorsett largely being a disappointment and both TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief struggling to stay healthy, this signing makes perfect sense. The coaching staff has already indicated they will give Aiken a fair chance to win the #3 role in that offense. If the Colts can return to their high-flying ways, Aiken can go from being a forgotten man in Baltimore to being an asset for both Indianapolis and our fantasy teams.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Justin Hunter, PIT- It’s interesting that when speaking of Martavis Bryant at the combine, the Steelers GM Kevin Colbert did so in the past tense. This may signal that Bryant is done in Pittsburgh, even if he is reinstated. While Hunter is viewed as a depth signing by many, Hunter has a chance to win the wide open number three role and to be very involved in the red zone passing game. As productive as the Steelers have been on offense in recent years, that could prove to be of value to fantasy owners.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Torrey Smith, PHI- A poor fit for the 49ers offense, Smith has moved on to a team that can utilize him much better than he ever was used in San Francisco. I postulate that though Smith is getting older, having a more competent quarterback and offense in Philadelphia could refresh Smith’s value.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Michael Floyd, NE- Many a disgusted owner has dropped him after the DUI incident and after the Patriots failed to use him extensively in their playoff run. While it’s likely he will face discipline for his incident, and it’s been disappointing to not hear any news on him early in free agency, my money is on Floyd landing either with the Patriots or finding a team that wants to take a chance on a supreme physical talent who is looking to redeem himself.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Robert Woods, LAR- I’m convinced that Woods is a better player than his statistics to this point would suggest. His quarterback play for the first two years of his career was abysmal. Tyrod Taylor coming to town for the last two improved things, but Taylor still had a bad habit of missing a wide open Woods down the field more often than not. I am not sure that gets immediately better with Jared Goff throwing Woods the ball, but I’m open to Woods having more long-term value if Goff can show steady improvement going forward.

TIGHT END

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Tyler Higbee- LA- Lance Kendricks has moved on to the Packers, causing Higbee to jump up in value. A fourth-round pick due to a checkered past, Higbee certainly has the talent to do great things in the league if given a better offense with which to work. Higbee could very well be the guy at tight end for the young Jared Goff in 2017.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Erik Swoope, IND- Jack Doyle re-signed with the Colts, but Dwayne Allen was traded away to the Patriots. I count this as a net gain for Swoope, who showed potential with some splashy plays in 2016. If the Colts don’t add a high pedigree tight end in the Draft, it leaves the door open for Swoope to be a receiving threat in what can at times be a potent passing attack.

THE SPLASH

(MAY BE AVAILABLE IN MORE THAN 25, BUT FEWER THAN 40 ROSTER SPOT LEAGUES)

QUARTERBACK

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Josh McCown, NYJ and Brian Hoyer, SF- Both of these guys are quintessential journeyman and have landed on teams that will likely struggle through the 2017 season. While that doesn’t necessarily sound like a situation in which there would be fantasy value, we must remember that these two have been serviceable in bad situations before. While their play may not translate into wins for their franchises, they may be able to get you a win or two as spot starters. They’ll both have lots and lots of garbage time to work with this year.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Colin Kaepernick, SF- No one seems to want the PR nightmare that is Colin Kaepernick starting for them, but one has to think that he’ll land somewhere as a high-quality back-up.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Brett Hundley, GB- Don’t forget about Hundley. Rodgers has taken a great deal of physical abuse in his career and has missed extensive time in years past. Don’t underestimate the cumulative impact of those injuries. Hundley has been groomed behind Rodgers for two years now and seems to be developing nicely. He’s going to eventually get a chance to start, either with the Packers or with another team.

RUNNING BACK

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Peyton Barber, TB- There’s a decent chance that the Buccaneers add a running back through the Draft, but I can tell a story in which Peyton Barber and Charles Sims start week one of 2017 in a timeshare situation. Barber showed well during a rookie season in which Doug Martin and Jaquizz Rodgers went down in front of him. That experience could prove to be the difference maker in the team’s decision to either add more help or to roll with what they have.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Zach Zenner, DET- The lack of quality run blocking by the Detroit line held back all runners in this offense in 2016. The Lions made securing better offensive linemen a priority in free agency.  Ameer Abdullah hasn’t panned out as a between-the-tackles runner yet, leaving the role wide open for someone to seize. That someone could be Zenner.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jonathan Williams, BUF- Williams is likely to serve a suspension for a DUI that he was charged with before the 2016 season. However, don’t forget about him! His quick feet and elusiveness shown at the college level make him an intriguing prospect if he ever sees extensive action as a pro. LeSean McCoy was injured and dinged throughout the 2016 season, showing signs of the wear and tear he’s sustained through his time in the NFL. If McCoy gets dinged again, look for the naturally talented Williams to share the rushing load with Mike Gillislee and perhaps earn a bigger role from that point forward.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Christine Michael, GB- While it’s safe to say that Michael will never become what the dynasty community (self-included) once thought he would be, It’s encouraging to see that the Packers have re-signed him. He flashed in some of his game action with them last year. If injuries were to strike ahead of him on the depth chart, Michael could competently fill in.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Malcolm Brown, LA- It may take a Gurley injury or a change of team for Brown to become relevant, but there's a lot to like based on his tape and preseason performances. He is the Rams’ second-string back at this time after Benny Cunningham moved on to Chicago.

Contending and Rebuilding 1% | Keith Marshall, WAS- Marshall was not healthy in his rookie season, but a year of rest should have reconciled that problem. With unimpressive options ahead of him (Rob Kelly and Matt Jones), Marshall should at least get a chance in a camp competition to show what he can do. When at his best, Marshall has an impressive blend of size, speed, and agility.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alex Collins, SEA- I really like Collins’ talent long-term. He’s someone I’m stashing wherever I can find room because I’ve seen flashes of more in his limited action. He has impressive foot frequency for a man of his size. Though he’s not imaginative as a runner, he’s a solid, consistent option that the Seahawks can turn to if Rawls and company can’t stay healthy long-term.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kendall Wright, TEN- Due in part to frequent injury and in part to the dysfunction that has existed in Tennessee, Wright never really did live up to the hype of being a first-round selection. There is a bevy of opportunity for a slot receiver in Chicago, and Wright may have additional motivation to perform with a fresh start and a team-friendly, prove-it contract.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Charles Johnson, CAR and Cordarrelle Patterson, OAK- We were hoping this pair would walk in free agency and join teams where both would have open depth charts on which to earn additional work. Thankfully, that happened. Both were at one time highly thought of dynasty assets possessing athleticism in spades. They’ll have a better chance at reviving their value on their new teams.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Cody Latimer, DEN- Latimer is buried behind the recently extended Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas and didn’t see much action in 2016. Cecil Lammey reported that he believes we may have to wait until he gets a new team to see anything out of Latimer. However, Latimer remains one of my favorite stash players because we’ve seen flashes of his talent from time to time. If he can get going either in the Paxton Lynch era or with another team, he could be a big hit for our dynasty squads.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jaelen Strong, HOU- Strong didn’t do much in the regular season. He didn’t win the #2 job from Will Fuller in 2016. However, his development in the offseason suggests to me that he could break out in the future if given the right opportunity. Brock Osweiler is out in Houston, so things are looking up for the offense. Strong’s talent is such that I’m taking notice and stashing him where I can.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Keyarris Garrett, CAR- The Panthers are still looking for quality wideouts and there is opportunity for the UDFA who has gaudy measurables and can high-point passes with ease. He's also a talented vertical route runner who can stretch the field. Don't forget about him!

TIGHT END

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Virgil Green, DEN- I was very excited about Green in the 2016 season, but things just didn’t pan out for him with Siemian at quarterback. I’m more confident that Paxton Lynch or another free agent option will utilize Green correctly and unlock his potential.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Dion Sims, CHI- Sims now sits behind Zach Miller, who has struggled to stay healthy while with Chicago. Sims has also had his share of injuries, but the athletic upside and cheap cost of acquisition make him a player on whom you can take a flier.

THE DEEP

(MAY BE AVAILABLE IN 40+ ROSTER SPOTS LEAGUES/ LEAGUES WITH LARGE TAXI SQUADS)

QUARTERBACK

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Trevone Boykin, SEA- Boykin is there and demonstrated in preseason action that he is competent enough to run this offense should Wilson actually miss time in the future. I liked what I saw in preseason and in limited work when Wilson got dinged last year.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| 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 if Sean Payton sticks around in New Orleans.

RUNNING BACK

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Orleans Darkwa, NYG- Darkwa is a dynasty favorite of fellow Footballguy Chad Parsons. He has better-than-average athleticism and pass-catching skills and has shown competency as a runner when the Giants have given him touches. He’s someone we want to keep an eye on in the long-term, especially if he changes teams. The Giants recently cutting Rashad Jennings and only having Shane Vereen and Paul Perkins ahead of him on the current depth chart is somewhat encouraging for his stock.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Dwayne Washington, DET- Washington is worth stashing long-term. The Lions offensive line really held him back when he was called on to start in 2016. I like Zenner better, but I’m also open to Washington landing the job in the future, as he has a talent level similar to Zenner.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Tyler Ervin, HOU- Drafted in 2016 by the Texans, the Darren Sproles-sized runner has shown his quicks and a willingness to run between the tackles and take hits. He remains someone to monitor in deep formats.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Daniel Lasco, NO- A SQARQ standout, Lasco is seemingly buried behind Mark Ingram. However, Ingram has not exactly been the healthiest of runners in his time in the league. Lasco has the skills to shine if he can find his way into the rotation.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Josh Ferguson, IND- The Colts did not take any running backs in the 2016 class, but they did sign a talented UDFA in Ferguson. Frank Gore isn’t exactly a spring chicken (turning age 34 this year) and despite being number two on the depth chart, Robert Turbin looks unimpressive, especially in the passing game. Ferguson is showing chops as a receiver out of the backfield. He needs to improve pass blocking, but there is some long-term potential here if he can do that. There’s a strong probability the Colts draft someone, but on the chance that their other team needs outweigh the need for a running back, take a flier on Ferguson

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Corey Grant, JAX- Here’s another athletic back who is buried behind Ivory and Yeldon on the depth chart. With a new regime on the way in, we’ll have to see if they also take a liking to Grant or if he’ll be released and have opportunity elsewhere.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Jalin Marshall, NYJ- A former five-star recruit, the UDFA got some game action and special teams work in 2016. There’s potential for more here. Just be aware that he’s suspended for the first four games of 2017 for a PED violation.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Tre McBride, TEN- He's basically “Amari Cooper lite” in my eyes. He’s back on Tennessee’s practice squad, but with few established options in the passing game, McBride might have a shot to catch on in ‘17 or beyond.

TIGHT END

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/Watch List| Jace Amaro, TEN- Injury robbed him of a chance to show what he was capable of in his sophomore year and the Jets decided to move on. Tennessee snapped him up and there really isn’t much behind Delanie Walker. This landing spot is mildly interesting and I could see a scenario in which Amaro finally delivers on his potential if things break right for him long-term. Those cheering for Amaro need to hope that Tennessee doesn’t go after tight end with a day one Draft selection.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/ Watch List| Seth DeValve, CLE- The metric freak is the current favorite to be the Browns’ tight end of the future. He’s out there in most leagues and should be stashed in case the breakout begins next year.

Contending and Rebuilding Stash/ Watch List| AJ Derby, DEN- If Virgil Green doesn’t catch on like I think he will, I’m open to the very athletic Derby being someone to look out for catching passes from Paxton Lynch. The fact that Denver dealt for him in-season in 2016 is a bit intriguing.

LOST AT SEA

(PLAYERS WHO RECENTLY APPEARED IN THIS COLUMN, BUT HAVE HAD THEIR VALUE DECREASE TO THE POINT THEY HOLD NO VALUE IN ALL BUT THE VERY DEEPEST OF DYNASTY LEAGUES.)

Ryan Nassib- There’s been a marked lack of interest in Nassib on the free agent market. If he does land anywhere, it will most likely once again be in a backup role. What we have seen of Nassib in the preseason hasn’t been that good. If you’ve been holding on, it’s time to free up a roster spot and let him go.

Karlos Williams- He had a chance to be the back-up to LeVeon Bell, but has since been cut by the Steelers. He’s quickly wearing out his welcome in the NFL.

Adam Thielen- I’m pretty sure Treadwell and Diggs will eat up the target share in this offense in 2017 and beyond. Sell while the perceived value in the dynasty community is still relatively high.