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 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.
Kerwynn Williams, ARI
Tarik Cohen, CHI
Kendall Wright, CHI
Jay Cutler, MIA
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
Jacoby Brissett- He came in and immediately looked more serviceable than Tolzien. He’s got a fairly good matchup against the Browns in week three and a much scarier one ahead against the Seahawks in week four.
Josh McCown, NYJ- It hasn’t been pretty, but the garbage time numbers have made McCown passable. The Dolphins this week and the Jaguars next week aren’t particularly good matchups, but serviceable options on the waiver wire are scarce.
Mike Glennon, CHI- Glennon put up a poor performance against a very tough Buccaneer defense. It doesn’t get much better for Glennon, who will draw the Steelers this week and the Packers in week four. At least John Fox seems to stubbornly be sticking by Glennon, which is more than can be said for some other quarterbacks who recently frequented this list.
This column appears only once every two weeks. Last week, I would have recommended picking up Javorius Allen, Andre Ellington (in PPR), Kerwynn Williams (in standard), Chris Johnson (in standard), and Chris Carson. These options are now likely owned across your leagues. If they were left out there, consider 50%+ bids for Allen and Carson. The Arizona backfield is employing a committee that is just too murky at this time to present much value to owners.
Serviceable runners on waivers are scarce and there were no starters injured this week that give way to options that were not being held across dynasty leagues. Injuries will need to occur in-season for this section to get traction. See the other running back sections in this report for possible available options in your league.
Jermaine Kearse, NYJ- He was part of what the Jets landed in the Sheldon Richardson deal and has been getting the majority of meaningful targets on this team. He should get snapped up on waivers after a big statistical output this week.
Rashard Higgins, CLE- I have serious doubts that Higgins has the athleticism to hang in the league long-term, which is why I’m not going to list him among potential long-term options. Yet with Corey Coleman banged up and Kenny Britt not playing with effort and intensity, Higgins is going to get a chance to show what he can do. He’s worth an addition to bolster depth or as a desperation play. He’ll have a plush matchup against the Colts this week and a tougher matchup against the Bengals in week four.
Benjamin Watson, BAL- There’s a slight chance he was dropped in your league after an acrid week one. He’s probably going to be an inconsistent option going forward, but he does have a nice matchup against the Browns in week three. Week four against the Steelers is not particularly favorable, however.
Seth DeValve, CLE- It is apparent that David Njoku is being groomed as the starter for the long-haul, but DeValve demonstrated in preseason that he is the one who will catch the bulk of passes until Njoku can get up to speed. Njoku has been showing a little more competency with every game, so DeValve is not likely to maintain value over the course of the season.
A.J. Derby, DEN- The Broncos will use Virgil Green to block. Long-term, the team is looking to Jake Butt; but for this year, Derby will likely take the receiving tight end role in this offense. Trevor Siemian is a quarterback who prefers not to take big risks, so Derby might garner more targets than he would with Brock Osweiler or Paxton Lynch at the helm. His matchup against the Bills next week isn’t particularly good, but the Raiders in week four has promise.
(Pre-emptive running back options that will have value if the starter goes down and that are not as likely to be owned. I see them more as short-term options. For those that have long-term appeal, please see the other sections of this report.)
Matt Breida, SF- Breida is getting work behind Carlos Hyde and beat out all comers for the backup job. Hyde hasn’t been the most durable back in his tenure. Breida is the most likely benefactor if Hyde gets hurt again.
Robert Turbin, IND- He looked a bit sluggish in action last year, but Turbin actually appeared rejuvenated during preseason work. Many are projecting Marlon Mack to take over if Frank Gore goes down, but the team seems to favor Turbin’s pass blocking acumen at this moment.
Charles Sims, TB- With Doug Martin away on a three-game suspension, it is Sims who would stand to benefit most if Jaquizz Rodgers were to get hurt. Sims has proven pass-catching chops and still figures to be utilized a few times a game even with no injury to Rodgers.
Mike Tolbert, BUF- McCoy has already had injury scares twice in the last two weeks. If an injury were to occur today to LeSean McCoy, Mike Tolbert would likely split work with Joe Banyard. As Tolbert is the more obvious goal-line option, he has the most value of the two.
(May be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)
None this week. There are only spot starters on most dynasty waiver wires.
Contending 5-10% and Rebuilding 1-5%| Darren McFadden, DAL- After being inactive the last two weeks, one may wonder why I’m still touting Darren McFadden as a potential addition. The 5th Circuit Court decision may be coming as soon as this week. It could mean Elliott serves his suspension this year if the court reverses the decision made by the lower court. Also, McFadden being inactive has likely not been an indictment of him, but rather a move to accommodate special teams player Rod Smith. If Elliott misses time, you can bet McFadden will be activated and given the choice work behind this beefy offensive line. The good news is that McFadden can be acquired even more cheaply because of being inactive the last several weeks.
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. We’re seeing his usage trend up early in the season. He’s going to be wildly inconsistent, but is worthy of being considered as a depth option.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Vance McDonald, PIT- James has had more staying power than I originally projected, but McDonald is the more talented player of the two. As McDonald integrates into this offense, I still expect him to take over James’ post at some point this year. The good news is that you can get McDonald much cheaper than you could a few weeks ago.
(May be available in 30 or more roster spot leagues, or leagues with large taxi squads.)
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Jimmy Garoppolo, NE- Groomed behind Tom Brady, Garoppolo has learned from one of the best in the business. Garoppolo will certainly stay in New England this year after the trade of Jacoby Brissett, but there’s always a path to him becoming the starter for New England or another team down the road. While I’m not a huge fan of Garoppolo’s work, I do believe in making a speculative add with the chance that he increases in value next year, and then can be flipped for a pick.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| 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 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.
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 Watch List| Nathan Peterman, BUF- He’ll be backing up Tyrod Taylor this season, a quarterback with whom the new regime doesn’t seem comfortable long-term. If the Bills end up being as bad as we think they might be this season, we could see Peterman in action as early as mid-season. Peterman already has experience running a pro-style offense, is very accurate, and shows uncommonly good anticipation on his throws.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List | Chad Kelly, DEN- Paxton Lynch was given every chance to win the job this year, but floundered. If the light doesn’t come on for him before the end of this year, we can expect to see Kelly competing with Lynch. Matt Waldman did some fantastic work profiling Kelly here; but to sum it up, Kelly is a very complete quarterback with the physical tools and leadership skills that could make him an instant hit.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%- 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 1-5%| 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.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Alex Collins, BAL- 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 is not imaginative as a runner, he’s a solid, consistent option. He was cut by the Seahawks, but ended up getting signed to the active roster by the Ravens. I’m advocating moving him from your watch list to the back of your bench to see if anything comes of this opportunity.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Peyton Barber, TB- The fact that the Buccaneers kept Barber over Jeremy McNichols, who had higher draft pedigree, tells you that they like Barber for the long-term. Doug Martin isn’t going to be around much longer and Barber should be hitting his prime around the time Martin is done. Barber has been impressive on his limited touches and continues to grow into a possible future feature back.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Matt Dayes, CLE- Dayes flashed in the preseason and rose impressively fast to the third spot on the depth chart. WIth Crowell not locked in beyond this year, Dayes is an interesting player to monitor heading forward.
Contending 1% and Rebuilding 1-5%| Dede Westbrook, JAC- Don’t forget about Westbrook, even though he’s on IR. He had been flashing all preseason and we should be stashing him on the back end of our rosters in all but the most shallow of leagues. He is buried on the depth chart for now, but with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns potentially leaving in free agency in 2018, there is a good chance that Westbrook can be a starter by next year.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List | Kamar Aiken, IND- It is going to take Andrew Luck returning to unlock his potential (which is why he didn’t make the plug-and-play section), but he’s worth keeping an eye on in deeper formats. Aiken has shown the ability to be a dependable third option with the Ravens and could do more on this offense.
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. Roberts is also a good blocker, which may get him on the field more than he otherwise would be. If Ebron goes down, Roberts will jump from this section to being an interesting pickup for dynasty and redraft alike.
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.)
Tom Savage, HOU- He was a plug-and-play option, but he lasted half a game before getting yanked in favor of Deshaun Watson. He’ll not be playable again this year unless Watson ends up on the injury report.
Scott Tolzien, IND- Another plug-and-play option that didn’t last beyond week one. Newly acquired Jacoby Brissett came in and played better than Tolzien. You won’t see him back in unless Brissett gets injured.
Will Tye, NYJ- Austin Seferian-Jenkins is eligible to return this week, meaning Tye can be tossed back to the wire.
Justin Hunter, PIT- Juju Smith-Schuster has already relegated Hunter to the inactive list and played over half the snaps on Sunday. Barring injuries, we won’t be talking about Hunter again this year.