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.
- 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
- Kendall Wright, CHI
- Adam Humphries, TB
- Trent Taylor, SF
- Jermaine Kearse, NYJ
- Ted Ginn, NO
- Ben Watson, BAL
- Ryan Griffin, HOU
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.)
Josh McCown, NYJ- McCown is owned as a streamer in many dynasty leagues, but he’s out there in a few shallower formats. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the garbage time numbers have made McCown passable in most formats. The Bills are a tough matchup next week, but the Buccaneers pass defense is a favorable draw the week after.
Jay Cutler, MIA- Cutler is making a second appearance here, as he may have been dropped when he broke his ribs a couple of weeks ago. Cutler has a good matchup against the Raiders this week, but I would be wary of using him against the Panthers in the following week.
C.J. Beathard, SF- Well that was fast. The Jimmy Garoppolo trade means the end of Beathard’s chances to be the long-term starter, but we’ll get at least one more week out of Beathard as Garoppolo orients himself to his new team. San Francisco will play the Cardinals this week.
Orleans Darkwa, NYG- Darkwa, not Wayne Gallman, seems to be the running back of choice for the Giants, who shifted their offensive line around and found some success against what had been a stifling Broncos run defense. The Rams and 49ers defenses are not air-tight against the run.
Corey Clement, PHI- Outside of Blount, the complimentary running back position in Philadelphia can be difficult to peg from week to week. Right now, it seems Clement has overtaken Smallwood for the number two job. The Broncos and Cowboys aren’t spectacular matchups, but you could do worse for a desperation play.
Tre McBride, CHI- With another former Titan (Kendall Wright) disappointing, it opens the door for McBride to do more for this team. I’ve really liked McBride for a while, and compare him to a lite version of Amari Cooper. If we see his snap count continue to rise and Tribulski continue to show trust in him, he might be someone to consider long-term. For now, he’s someone we can use against a generous Packers secondary when he’s back from bye in week 10.
Vernon Davis, WAS- Surprise, surprise, Jordan Reed is hurt again! It sounds like his injury is significant enough that he’ll miss several weeks. Davis has presented value in these scenarios in the past and will again have the chance to play Reed’s pass-catching role in a productive offense.
Nick O’Leary, BUF- With Charles Clay not being able to stay healthy, O’Leary is getting a shot to show what he can do. While I have doubts about O’Leary’s long-term prospects, he’ll be useful for those who need a streaming tight end with a chance to get into the end zone each and every week. He narrowly missed getting a touchdown this past weekend. He has the Jets and the Saints up next, both of which are favorable against the tight end.
Dion Sims, CHI- Zach Miller’s unfortunate and career-threatening injury opens the door for Sims to get more of a role here. He’s looked good when he’s been asked to do more in this offense. The Bears are going on bye, but the Packers are up next for Sims and the Bears in week 10.
Darren Fells, DET- He’s clearly outplaying Eric Ebron. He didn’t do much in week 8, but the Lions as a whole looked stagnant and his snap counts were still better than Ebron’s. The Packers and Browns are ahead on the schedule.
(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. For those that have long-term appeal, please see the other sections of this report.)
Mike Tolbert, BUF- McCoy has already had a couple of injury scares this year. 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 spots leagues.)
Contending and 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 be starting again as soon as week 10. The weapons and offensive line are arguably better than the last time Bridgewater was at the helm.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 15-30%| Jimmy Garoppolo, SF- Just when we thought New England would keep Garoppolo, they surprise us by trading him away for a second-round pick from the 49ers. Groomed behind Tom Brady, Garoppolo has learned from one of the best in the business. While I’m not a huge fan of Garoppolo’s work, I believe he’s now ripe to flip for a pick.
Contending and Rebuilding 15-30%| Brett Hundley- With Aaron Rodgers done for the season, the mobile Hundley will get an extended look. He’s been behind Rodgers for over two years, learning the system. If Hundley can show enough during this audition, he could end up being the starter for another team down the road.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Jacoby Brissett, IND- I moved Brissett to this section because he’s played well enough that he might end up getting traded to be another team’s starter down the line. He has been worlds better than Scott Tolzien. Luck is looking unlikely to come back this year and Brissett has been playing well considering the circumstances.
Running backs I would consider in this range are not available on dynasty waiver wires. See other sections for running backs to stash.
Contending and 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 and Rebuilding 5-10%| Tyler Kroft, CIN- With Eifert out for the year and the bye week complete, Kroft becomes an interesting streamer for those hurting at the position. He may also have a future with the team. Eifert is in a contract year and if the Bengals like what they see from Kroft, they could roll into 2018 with him starting.
(May be available in 30 or more roster spots 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 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. The Bills have been surprisingly competitive early on, but if they fade, Peterman is likely to see some work late in the year. 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 Lynch before the end of this year, we can expect to see Kelly competing with him. 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%| 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.
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 been getting it done between-the-tackles lately and doesn’t have a good injury track record. If Abdullah goes down again, his role will be wide open for someone to seize. That someone could be Zenner.
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. 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 1% and Rebuilding 1-5%| Dede Westbrook, JAX- Don’t forget about Westbrook, even though he’s on IR. He’s been designated for activation and will come off of IR soon. He flashed 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 could be a starter by next year.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Mack Hollins, PHI- We’ve been seeing more of Hollins in recent weeks with the Eagles. Though he’s a project, his size/speed combination is enticing. We could see Hollins move up the depth chart this offseason if Alshon Jeffery is not re-signed.
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%| 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. He could get a chance for an early audition as Beasley appears to be suffering from a concussion.
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| Vance McDonald, PIT- I’ve decided to move McDonald back to watch list status for now, as he’s just not catching on in Pittsburgh like I expected. Jesse James has had more staying power than I originally projected, but McDonald is the more talented player of the two. If we see McDonald’s snaps ramping up over James’, it may be time to bump him back up.
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. The Lions seem to be using Darren Fells more right now, but look for Roberts to get more involved going forward if Ebron continues to spiral or gets traded.
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.
Kamar Aiken, IND- With Luck unlikely to come back, it’s time to say goodbye to the idea Aiken can have value for us, at least this year.
Terrance Williams, DAL- He’s getting the snaps, but doing nothing with them. I do not feel good about recommending him even as a boom-bust option anymore because the potential for a boom is so low.