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 bi-weekly segment will focus on identifying assets that will help dynasty teams build for the future.
Players on this list have previously appeared in this article as pickups, but have had value spikes that make them unlikely to be out there in your league. If they are still on your waiver wire by some miracle, blow your budget to acquire their services!
Christine Michael, SEA
Jerick McKinnon, MIN
Charles Sims, TB
Marvin Jones Jr, DET
Travis Benjamin, SD
Stefon Diggs, MIN
(MAY BE AVAILABLE IN 25 OR FEWER ROSTER SPOT LEAGUES)
Contending 15-20%, Rebuilding 20-40%| Dak Prescott, DAL- Not only has the rookie shown impressively thus far, but Romo’s frequent injuries have put Tony’s career longevity in question. Prescott has the physical tools and will have one of the better offensive lines and running backs in the game to lean upon while he adjusts to NFL life. So far, the game does not look too big for the young man.
Contending 10-30%, Rebuilding 5-10%| Sam Bradford, MIN- While many (self-included) are not fans of Bradford’s game in recent years, we must admit that things are looking up for Bradford. With Adrian Peterson shelved, Bradford will need to take to the air to win games. Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph can handle the more traditional receiving roles while Jerick McKinnon catches passes out of the backfield and shares some between-the-tackles work with Matt Asiata.
Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 5-10% | Brock Osweiler, HOU- The Texans have used Will Fuller V to stretch the field, which has opened up this offense and made Osweiler a viable streaming option. Lamar Miller hasn’t been fantastic, but is doing enough in the run game to keep the offense from becoming one-dimensional.
Contending 15-20%, Rebuilding 20-30%| DeAndre Washington, OAK- Showing impressively since arriving with the team, the round-five Draft pick and Texas Tech product is not only the backup to Latavius Murray, he is beginning to cut into his workload. Murray is far from tenured and it’s conceivable that Washington could end up flipping this committee on its head before the season is over.
Contending and Rebuilding 15-20%| Jordan Howard, CHI- Jeremy Langford looks like he could miss time with an ankle injury. Though Langford had been posting relevant fantasy production, it was evident watching him run that pure volume and not talent accounted for his output. Howard, on the other hand, is a better pure rushing threat than any other back currently on the roster. Decimated by injury, the Bears will be down and out in the majority of contests this year. They will want to give some of their younger players touches and opportunities that will help them to develop. Howard should benefit from this and set himself up to be their lead man for the foreseeable future.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-15%| Jay Ajayi, MIA- Ajayi’s dynasty stock had taken a tumble with the signing of Arian Foster and the pouting that left Ajayi declared inactive in week one. A Foster injury made things more hopeful for Ajayi, but his sparing usage in week three suggests there is still something not quite right behind the scenes. The line play in Miami has been poor, but if Gase can scheme around those issues and Ajayi can keep a workmanlike attitude, we could be valuing Ajayi much higher in a few weeks. Alternately, if Ajayi continues to flounder, he could be off the radar by that time.
Contending and Rebuilding 30-50%| Tyrell Williams, SD- This raw small-school prospect is making the most of his increased opportunity with the injuries ahead of him. His height, speed, and movement skills are very intriguing. So far, Williams has been making good on his potential with a bevy of targets and scoring opportunities down the field and in the red zone.
Contending 25-50% Rebuilding 15-20%| Willie Snead IV, NO- While I’m still bullish on Michael Thomas’ long-term outlook with this team, I have clearly underestimated Snead. He has started this season red-hot and appears to be carrying over the momentum and rapport he established with Brees last year. He sat out week three with an injury, but don’t expect him to fade to the background while Coby Fleener is playing so poorly and Thomas is still learning the nuances of being an NFL wideout.
Contending and Rebuilding 20-30%| Tajae Sharpe, TEN- It’s evident that Tajae Sharpe is the most trusted receiver on the roster in the eyes of Marcus Mariota. A savvy route runner, Sharpe always seems to be at the right place on the field. While Tennessee’s offense has been woeful as of late, brighter days may be ahead in the long-term picture with a coaching staff change likely on the way.
Contending 20-40%, Rebuilding 15-25%| Quincy Enunwa, NYJ- A Chad Parsons favorite and an elite athlete, Enunwa has been very active out of the slot over the past three games. Fitzpatrick tends to be a short-area thrower that will look to Enunwa often.
Contending 30-50%, Rebuilding 20-30%| Cameron Brate, TB- Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ASJ) being shown the door in Tampa is the primary reason we’re taking a long and hard look at Brate. We saw that he became a trusted target for Winston when ASJ was banged-up last year. That rapport still seems to be there. Despite being nowhere near as athletic as ASJ, we know that Brate will be where he should be on the field and execute his assignments. That fact and the rugged landscape at fantasy tight end will probably be enough for Brate to be in the running for a top-ten fantasy finish at the position.
Contending 30-50%, Rebuilding 10-20%| Vance McDonald, SF- We are seeing that McDonald does matter in the Kelly system. He has gotten plenty of snaps in his first three contests. He was involved both when the 49ers were dominant against the Rams and when the team went into garbage time mode versus the Panthers. He suffered a hip injury against the Seahawks, but will slot right back into the lineup when healthy.
Contending 30-50%, Rebuilding 10-15% Dennis Pitta, BAL- Impressively, Pitta has managed to rehab his bothersome hip injuries and return to be a trusted target for Joe Flacco. While I worry about his long-term durability, it’s clear he’s one of the few passing targets we can trust week to week in this Baltimore offense.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Jesse James, PIT- With Ladarius Green’s career hanging in the balance, James is getting to start in Pittsburg. He has been targeted frequently in the end zone and snagged one touchdown in week two action. Week three was a mulligan for the Steelers offense, but James will find success on weeks when the Pittsburgh offense is flowing.
Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 5-10%| Jack Doyle, IND- Sadly for optimistic Dwayne Allen owners, Doyle has stepped into the Coby Fleener role and Allen is relegated to his old duties. Doyle is clearly the more valuable of the two to own in fantasy formats as long as this usage pattern holds.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Virgil Green, DEN- Green is involved in the offense, but hasn’t found the endzone yet. He’s also dealing with a minor injury. Be patient and pick up Green on the cheap where you can while the price is depressed. If Paxton Lynch can find his way into the lineup over Trevor Siemian this season, things will get even better for Green.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Zach Miller, CHI- Miller hasn’t really done anything spectacular, especially with how bad the Bears have been on offense as of late. However, when Hoyer got to start, Miller was his target on a pair of garbage-time touchdowns. He is still an under-the-radar option for fill-in duty on dynasty squads.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding Watch List| Jacob Tamme, ATL- Tamme’s value is going to be short-lived with Austin Hooper’s rising snap counts each game, but can serve as a viable injury or bye fill-in in the short-term.
(MAY BE AVAILABLE IN MORE THAN 25, BUT FEWER THAN 40 ROSTER SPOT LEAGUES)
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 5-10%| 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.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Jimmy Garoppolo, NE- Groomed behind Tom Brady, Garoppolo has learned from one of the best in the business. He looked somewhat impressive in game two before going down with a shoulder injury versus the Dolphins. We’ll likely get another look at him in week four versus the Bills. Some other team (or New England themselves) will likely give him a shot to be their quarterback of the future.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Trevor Siemian, DEN- Siemian is showing a calm poise and is leaning on his defense, which is exactly what his coaches want him to do. While Paxton Lynch is clearly the future in Denver, Siemian showed us why the Broncos may be content to delay that era for now.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Cody Kessler, CLE- With RG3 and Josh McCown sidelined, the young rookie gets a shot to show what he can do. He’s very impressive on short throws, but his deep game is very lacking.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Jeremy Langford, CHI - Langford’s ankle injury dips his value because it opens the door for the more talented Jordan Howard to overtake him. However, if he can get back from it quickly, he may temporarily postpone the takeover.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-10%| Dwayne Washington, DET- I don’t see Washington as being superior to Zach Zenner, but he and Theo Riddick did get all the carries in week three. It’s worth grabbing him to see what happens in leagues where he’s not owned or tossed back after a disappointing performance against the Packers.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-10%| Orleans Darkwa, NYG- Rashad Jennings is a fantastic back when healthy, but as his career has played out, those injury-free times have been far and few between. With Jennings out of action in week three, Shane Vereen was called into duty and sustained a season-ending triceps injury. Darkwa is the next man up and 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. If Jennings’ hand issue lingers or Jennings gets banged-up again, Darkwa could pay dividends for the Giants and our dynasty squads alike.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| James Starks- He’s looked like the better back on his carries and he’ll still have value this year should Lacy’s weight woes creep up again or should Lacy suffer an injury. He's worth stashing in deeper leagues to see if you hit the production jackpot.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Andre Ellington, ARI- Talent was never the question -- it’s been the injuries that have derailed Ellington. It may not happen with Arizona, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellington once again producing as a starter with another team.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-15%| 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 expect in 2016, especially when Tom Brady returns from suspension.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 5-10% | Davante Adams, GB- Adams has the second-round draft pedigree and metrics that suggest greatness, but he has yet to put it all together on the field. He’s had moments of brilliance and moments of inconsistency each week thus far. He is in one of the most prolific offenses in the league, and that counts for something. If we see the light bulb stop flickering and come all the way on, Adams’ value will rise exponentially from where it currently stands.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Terrelle Pryor, CLE- A metrically freaky converted quarterback project for the Browns, Pryor is one of the few bright spots for a season that is slipping away with each injury and loss. He will continue to play a role even when Josh Gordon returns from suspension. We all are hoping Josh McCown is the one throwing them both passes.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Cody Latimer, DEN- Latimer is buried behind the newly extended Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, but he has earned the #3 role. It would take one of them getting injured for Latimer to have value this year, but we are seeing positive signs of his development. 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 in the Paxton Lynch era, he could be a big hit for our dynasty squads.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Sammie Coates Jr, PIT- The offseason buzz died out when Coates had a couple of horrible preseason performances. He was very raw coming in, but the physical gifts are definitely there. He just has to hold on to the ball! In an explosive Steelers offense and with Martavis Bryant serving a year-long suspension, Coates has the potential to make a splash in Bryant’s absence if he can display surer hands.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Jamison Crowder, WAS- Another PPR dynamo, he’s not going away while Cousins is his quarterback.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Seth Roberts, OAK- 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. He continues to make big plays and be an important part of the Raiders passing attack.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jaelen Strong, HOU- Strong hasn’t done much in the regular season. He didn’t win the #2 job from Fuller. However, his development in the offseason suggests to me that he could break out in the future if given the right opportunity. Strong’s talent is such that I’m taking notice and stashing him where I can.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Ladarius Green, PIT- Pittsburgh was one of the most exciting landing spots Green could have found. Unfortunately, his career hangs in the balance after experiencing lingering concussion symptoms. He’s been placed on the PUP and now we’ll have to wait it out. He’s still worth grabbing speculatively if someone has outright dropped him.
(MAY BE AVAILABLE IN 40+ ROSTER SPOTS LEAGUES/ LEAGUES WITH LARGE TAXI SQUADS)
Contending 1%, Rebuilding Watch List| Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick, SF- As San Francisco struggles, the cries for replacing Gabbert with Kaepernick are getting louder. While both may not play well in real NFL games, their mobility and work in Chip Kelly’s high-volume offense makes whichever them gets the starting nod a viable fantasy play.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding Watch List| Brian Hoyer, CHI- Hoyer isn’t a destroyer, but he is someone who makes a nice desperation play for quarterback-needy teams while Cutler is sidelined. He’s a lock to score a touchdown or two a week in garbage-time action.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding Watch List| Trevone Boykin, SEA- With Russell Wilson’s MCL sprain likely sidelining him through his week five bye, Boykin will possibly get a start against the New York Jets. The game plan will likely be a conservative one, but the Jets have shown this season that they can be gashed through the air. You could do worse.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Mike Glennon, TB- Trade rumors swirled around Glennon leading up to and during the Draft, but Tampa hung on to him as the backup to Jameis Winston. He will need an injury to Winston or a change of scenery (he is a free agent next year) to unlock his value.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| 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 with which he has a chance to start. We will continue to watch Nassib closely to see if he is showing the signs of development that we want to see in a young prospect. So far, we haven’t seen much to suggest the light bulb is coming on.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Garrett Grayson, NO- He was cut recently to make room for much-needed offensive line help in Jahri Evans, but was stashed on the practice squad. Coach Sean Payton indicated that the cut was a roster move and had nothing to do with Grayson’s development. 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.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Zach Zenner, DET- It appears Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner, and Dwayne Washington will split work in the Lions’ backfield for the remainder of the year. While all the buzz surrounds Washington and Riddick, I believe it will be Zenner who proves to be superior to those two options. It will take the coaching staff giving him increased touches, however, to unlock his fantasy potential.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jonathan Williams, BUF- Williams is the more talented of the two Arkansas runners that went in the draft. He recently got a DUI, but it probably will not result in a suspension until 2017. It’s going to give him time to get his foot in the door if a LeSean McCoy injury occurs.
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. He is the Rams’ third string back this season.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Peyton Barber, TB- This Matt Waldman favorite and UDFA was cut, but immediately added back to the 53-man roster behind Doug Martin and Charles Sims. He raised eyebrows in camp and seems to be a coaching staff favorite. His talent makes him worth stashing or placing on a watch list in very deep leagues. He could see additional opportunity with Martin’s latest hamstring injury.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Keith Marshall, WAS- He was drafted in the seventh round by the Redskins. In spite of early reports indicating he would not be healthy enough to make the team, Marshall has battled back and even flashed at times during camp practices. Though he was placed on IR and will miss at least the first weeks of the season (and perhaps more if they do not elect to activate him), he’s someone to watch if Matt Jones falters.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Tyler Irvin, HOU- Drafted this year by the Texans, the Darren Sproles-sized runner has shown his quicks and a willingness to run between the tackles and take hits. He is someone to monitor in deep formats.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Daniel Lasco, NO- A SQARQ standout, Lasco is seemingly buried behind Mark Ingram II, C.J. Spiller, and Tim Hightower. However, all three of the backs ahead of him have not exactly been the healthiest runners in their time in the league. Lasco has the skills to shine if he can find his way into the rotation.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Josh Ferguson, IND- The Colts did not take any running backs in this year’s class, but they did sign a talented UDFA in Ferguson. Frank Gore isn’t exactly a spring chicken at age 33 and despite being number two on the depth chart, Robert Turbin looks unimpressive. Ferguson had a nice camp and is showing chops as a receiver out of the backfield. He needs to improve pass blocking, but there is some long-term potential here.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Terrell Watson, CLE- A big and athletic back that Cleveland signed away from the Bengals, Watson would likely step into a Jeremy Hill-type role for the Browns if Isaiah Crowell were to miss time.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| 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 at 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 he can do.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Cordarrelle Patterson/ Charles Johnson, MIN- Minnesota took Laquon Treadwell in the first round of the Draft, a clear indicator that they are relegating these two to situational work. Stefon Diggs has also outplayed them both. It’s clearly going to take a team change for either to have the fantasy relevance they once enjoyed.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Jalin Marshall, NYJ- A former five-star recruit, the UDFA out of Ohio State was impressive in camp. Praised by Ryan Fitzpatrick for being a “sponge,” Marshall made the roster as a kick returner and a depth wide receiver who could eventually develop into more. He’s been getting snaps in each of the first three weeks.
Contending and Rebuilding 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 down the road.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Garrett Celek, SF- We’ll have to see about McDonald’s injury, but if you are extremely hard up at tight end and need a fill-in, Celek could fit the bill nicely. This is especially true since the up-tempo system provides more reps and targets than a player in another offensive system might otherwise see.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Tyler Higbee- LA- A fourth-round pick due to a checkered past, Higbee made plays in camp and showed acumen on underneath routes. With Jared Cook having departed for Green Bay and no established options on the depth chart, Higbee has a chance to eventually be the guy at tight end for the young Jared Goff.
Contending and Rebuilding 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. He did get some targets in week three when Walker sat out.
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.)
Crockett Gilmore, BAL- After years away from the game, Dennis Pitta seems to have pulled off a remarkable comeback, one that blocks Gilmore from starting duties. Pitta hasn’t proven to be the most durable player, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Gilmore have relevance again at some point.