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 account for the long-term view necessary to dynasty success. This bi-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.
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.
- Josh McCown, NYJ
- Jay Cutler, MIA
- Jacoby Brissett, IND
- Jimmy Garoppolo, SF
- Brett Hundley, GB
- Kerwynn Williams, ARI
- Chris Johnson, ARI
- Tarik Cohen, CHI
- Javorius Allen, BAL
- Chris Carson, SEA
- Latavius Murray, MIN
- Eddie Lacy, SEA
- Wayne Gallman, NYG
- Elijah McGuire, NJY
- Andre Ellington, ARI
- Matt Breida, SF
- Alex Collins, BAL
- Darren McFadden, DAL
- Orleans Darkwa, NYG
- Austin Ekeler, LAC
- Mike Davis, SEA
- Rod Smith, DAL
- Peyton Barber, TB
- Kendall Wright, CHI
- Adam Humphries, TB
- Trent Taylor, SF
- Jermaine Kearse, NYJ
- Ted Ginn, NO
- Dontrelle Inman, CHI
- Dede Westbrook, JAX
- Ben Watson, BAL
- Ryan Griffin, HOU
- Vernon Davis, WAS
- Nick O’Leary, BUF
- Tyler Kroft, CIN
- Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term. Use minimal waiver priority/dollars or pick them up for free if you need help at the following positions.)
Nick Foles- With Carson Wentz done for the year, the Eagles will have to turn to a man who is no stranger to coming off the bench to produce. It’s been a few years, but Foles was asked to relieve the injured Michael Vick and lead the Eagles to the playoffs in 2013. He has one of the better offensive units in the league at his disposal and should be a decent start for needy teams going forward. The Giants and Raiders are exceptional passing matchups for Foles.
Blaine Gabbert, ARI- He has played within himself in relief of Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton and won games against contending Jaguars and Titans teams. He has favorable matchups against the Redskins and Giants ahead.
Trevor Siemian, DEN- Siemian may have been tossed back out there after losing his job to Osweiler earlier in the year. He has good weapons in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, which is more than can be said for some of the other quarterbacks on this list. The Colts and Redskins are on tap for Siemian and company.
T.J. Yates, HOU- He’s starting and he has some competent targets in Hopkins and Fuller. Yates is also not afraid to take risks with the football, which can be a double-edged sword. As he faces the Jaguars in week 15, Yates may struggle, but the Shazier-less Steelers defense in week 16 is a decent proposition.
Bryce Petty, NYJ- It’s a shame we’re seeing Petty after McCown’s career year, but a broken left hand is an injury through which McCown and the medical staff rightly deemed McCown could not play. Start Petty only if you have no other choice. The Saints and Chargers are his week 15 and 16 opponents.
Kerwynn Williams, ARI- We’ll toss his name back out there just in case he went back on the waiver wire after the acquisition of Adrian Peterson. With Peterson battling a neck injury, we are likely to see Williams take the between-the-tackles duties down the stretch. Washington and the Giants are not scary at all against the run.
Keelan Cole, JAX- It’s getting razor thin on waivers at receiver and Cole is one of the few widely available that might help you down the stretch. The Jacksonville passing game has been pretty active the last few games, and though Cole is getting few targets, he’s making the most of them. The Texans and 49ers defenses should give Cole some opportunity to come through for you in a pinch.
Trey Burton, PHI- We’ll need to monitor Zach Ertz’ status, but if he continues to have concussion symptoms, we could see Burton back out there catching passes from Nick Foles. Burton also has great matchups against teams that struggle to defend the tight end in the Giants and Raiders.
Ed Dickson, CAR- Greg Olsen continues to have problems with his foot and keeps getting pulled from game action. It’s possible that the Panthers show discretion and sit Olsen to give him more time to heal. If they do, we can plug Dickson back in, who played well in relief of Olsen. The Packers and Buccaneers are not incredibly stout against the tight end.
(Pre-emptive running back options that will have value if the starter goes down and that are not as likely to be owned across dynasty formats. I see them more as short-term options or deep league stashes. For those that have long-term appeal, please see the other sections of this report.)
Travaris Cadet, BUF- McCoy has already been nicked up this year. If an injury were to occur today to LeSean McCoy, Travaris Cadet would likely split work with Mike Tolbert. Cadet has more pass catching chops than Tolbert, making him the back to own in PPR formats.
Jonathan Williams, NO- If Mark Ingram goes down, we could see Williams take his role in the offense. It’s a longshot, but stranger things have happened in this running game. Remember Aaron Stecker’s playoff relevance all those years ago?
(May be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)
Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 30-50%| Teddy Bridgewater, MIN- He’s not likely to be out there in your league, but I’m going to be thorough and put him here just in case he is available. His recovery has gone well and he could start again if Case Keenum falters. Keenum has managed to play well enough to keep his job, but he seems to be on a short leash. The weapons and offensive line are arguably better than the last time Bridgewater was at the helm.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 5-10%| Nathan Peterman, BUF- If Taylor is healthy enough to play, Peterman will be backing up Taylor for the remainder of the season. Peterman performed much better in his second NFL start, but we are thinking about the future in which they do turn the keys over to Peterman. In college, he ran a pro-style offense, showed himself to be very accurate, and showed uncommonly good anticipation on his throws.
No running backs I would consider in this range are available. Please see other sections of this report for stashes or potential preemptive pickups.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 5-10%| Brice Butler, DAL- We’re seeing Terrance Williams disappoint and underwhelm on his opportunities. Meanwhile, Brice Butler has been outstanding on the limited work he’s been getting in the offense. If the coaching staff does decide to shift snap counts in favor of Butler, he’ll shoot up in value. Grab him now as a speculative add.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 15-20%| Vance McDonald, PIT- McDonald has been struggling with injury all season long, but I feel he’s the more talented option on the roster for the long-term. We saw that talent come out on Sunday night before he got hurt again. Remember, Pittsburgh traded for McDonald, so they see something in him.
(May be available in 30 or more roster spot leagues, or leagues with large taxi squads.)
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Cardale Jones, LAC- The Chargers traded for Jones and it didn’t take him long to become the primary backup. Rivers is aging and Jones has shown in the snaps that he has gotten that he is a bold thrower not afraid to trust his targets.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- 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 now, but could see a change of team next year when he hits the free agent market. He’s out there in many dynasty leagues. Brown was back in action after being sidelined for several weeks with an MCL sprain and looked fine on the limited touches he got behind Gurley.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List- Zach Zenner, DET- Ameer Abdullah hasn’t been getting it done between-the-tackles lately and doesn’t have a good injury track record. Unfortunately, using Zenner assums rational coaching, which is in short supply in Detroit. They’ve instead leaned on Tion Green and Theo Riddick while Abdullah has been out. Still, Zenner has enough potential that we want to monitor him in dynasty leagues and see if he eventually lands on a team that knows what he can do and uses him.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Matt Dayes, CLE- With Crowell not locked in beyond this year, Dayes is an interesting player to monitor heading forward. He could get more work even as soon as this year when the Browns concede they have a lost season and want to see what they have.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Trent Taylor, SF- As the Shanahan offense comes together, we’ve seen some flashes from Taylor out of the slot. He’ll not be a factor until his usage improves, but he is someone we want to keep an eye on for future days.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Mack Hollins, PHI- The re-signing of Alshon Jeffrey wasn’t the best news for Hollins, but there’s still a role for him on this team. Though he’s a project, his size/speed combination is enticing. We could see Hollins move up the depth chart this offseason if the Eagles don’t retain Torrey Smith.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Switzer, DAL- I like Switzer to be Beasley’s long-term replacement. I think he’s an even better version of Beasley with more quicks. It may take some time, but Switzer is worth the hold in deep bench PPR leagues.
Contending and Rebuilding 1% Cody Latimer, DEN- I’ve liked Latimer’s skill set for a long time, but he could never get it together in Denver. Perhaps in a different system, Latimer will be able to come alive. He’s hitting free agency after this year and is someone worth stashing on the back end of your roster to see what happens.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Tre McBride, CHI- Unfortunately, the coaching staff has seen fit to give snaps to inferior options in Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy, and Dontrelle Inman for the time being. I’ve really liked McBride for a while, and compare him to a lite version of Amari Cooper. If we see his snap count rise back up, he might be someone to consider long-term.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Maurice Harris, WAS- He’s bounced between the practice squad and active roster for the last two years, but made quite an impression with his one-handed touchdown grab earlier in the year. He was a dependable option for Jared Goff at Cal. He is also the cousin of Keenan Allen, so the bloodlines are there. The big-bodied receiver’s best trait is his great catch radius. It’s not hard to see how Harris could earn a bigger role among a group of wideouts who have largely disappointed this year.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Demetrius Harris, KC- We like it when tight ends have a basketball background. This former basketball convert has looked just as good as Travis Kelce when given the chance to showcase his skills.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Nick Vannett, SEA- He’s got the physical profile we look for in tight ends. We’re also not sure how much tread is on Jimmy Graham’s tires and Vannett has made a nice play here and there for the Seahawks. We’ve seen Seattle develop late and undrafted talent well before, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Vannett catches on as the starter in a year or two.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Michael Roberts, DET- Eric Ebron has largely been disappointing, especially in the red zone. That’s where Michael Roberts did his damage in the college game and the Lions could use him in the same capacity someday. Roberts is also a good blocker, which may get him on the field more than he otherwise would be. The Lions seem to be using Eric Ebron more right now, but look for Roberts to get more involved going forward if Ebron reverts to his old form.
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.
Terron Ward, ATL- With Freeman back, there’s really no reason to carry Ward unless you are in a super deep format.
Jacquizz Rodgers, TB- With Barber’s emergence, we can safely toss Rodgers back to waiver wire land.
Eli Rogers, PIT- With JuJu back in week 15, we won’t need Rogers unless one of Brown, Bryant, or Smith-Schuster gets hurt or suspended again.
Jermaine Gresham, ARI- With the emergence of Seals-Jones, I think it’s safe to toss Gresham back.
Lance Dunbar, LAR- Brown is back, so there’s really no reason to continue to hold on to Dunbar.
Brian Hill, CIN- With Mixon missing a contest with a concussion, the Bengals instead opted to let Gio Bernard carry the load. Hill becomes just a name to keep in mind for the future or to keep on the back of the bench in super deep leagues.