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
- 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
- Kendall Wright, CHI
- Adam Humphries, TB
- Trent Taylor, SF
- Jermaine Kearse, NYJ
- Ted Ginn Jr, NO
- Ben Watson, BAL
- Ryan Griffin, HOU
- Vernon Davis, WAS
- Nick O’Leary, BUF
- Tyler Kroft, CIN
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.)
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB- The Buccaneers’ losing record should incentivise the coaching staff to hold out Jameis Winston until he’s truly healthy. That could mean a few starts for Fitzpatrick, who has had serviceable fantasy production in the past. The Dolphins and Falcons are up next, and neither matchup is particularly daunting.
Blaine Gabbert, ARI- With Drew Stanton dealing with a knee sprain, we’ll see Gabbert in action for a couple of weeks at the least. The last time we saw Gabbert in San Francisco, he looked halfway decent, and that’s saying something given the 49ers’ lack of talent last year. The Cardinals draw the Texans and Jaguars over the next two weeks.
Tom Savage, HOU- He’s starting and has some competent targets in Hopkins and Fuller, but that’s about as far as the list of positives goes for Savage. Only start him if you have no other choice. The Cardinals and Ravens are up next for Savage and company.
Austin Ekeler, LAC- He’s unlikely to still be available, but just in case he is still there in shallow formats, snap him up. The diminutive runner is doing his best to remind us of Danny Woodhead. While Melvin Gordon III will steal his thunder on some weeks, Ekeler’s floor is solid because of his propensity for receptions. The Bills and Cowboys are next on the docket.
Lance Dunbar, LAR- He’s the primary backup to Gurley with Malcolm Brown shelved by a knee sprain. Getting the totes when the game is out of hand may not seem like a recipe for fantasy success, but when you play for a high-powered Rams offense that is frequently ahead, it can work out. At a point in the year where running back depth is hard to come by, Dunbar can be a desperation flex on any given week. The Vikings and Saints are probably teams from which the Rams won’t run away.
Dontrelle Inman, CHI- He got a whopping 95% of the receiver snaps on Sunday and seems to have good chemistry with Mitch Trubisky. He’ll face the Lions and Eagles next, both of whom don’t particularly defend the pass well.
Seth DeValve, CLE- David Njoku seems to be struggling, as most rookie tight ends do, leaving DeValve to mop up targets created by the void at wide receiver. The Jaguars and Bengals are ahead on the schedule, and neither is particularly elite at defending tight ends.
Jermaine Gresham, ARI- Bruce Arians using the tight end?! We saw Gresham get more involved against Seattle. With reports that Blaine Gabbert is in for the next couple of weeks, it makes sense that Gresham could continue building momentum with Gabbert, who is not known as a downfield thrower. The Texans and the Jaguars are on tap for Gresham.
Garrett Celek, SF- With George Kittle ailing, Celek could be in line for another start or two. Jimmy Garoppolo should be under center after the bye and facing a tough Seattle defense that could force short throws to 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. For those that have long-term appeal, please see the other sections of this report.)
Mike Tolbert, BUF- McCoy has already been nicked up 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 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 be starting again if Case Keenum falters. Keenum threw four touchdowns in his last appearance, but also gave up two turnovers that kept Washington hanging around in the game. 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 surprised 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. He sustained a hamstring injury in the last game and played through it to help the Packers get the win, showing that the toughness and grit of his mentor also resides within him.
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. Brissett was knocked from the game against the Steelers, but returned to nearly upset Pittsburgh.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| 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 sent a warning shot across Taylor’s bow by benching him against the Vikings. As the Bills fade, Peterman is likely to see some work late in the year. He already has experience running a pro-style offense, is very accurate, and shows uncommonly good anticipation on his throws.
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 10-20%| Vance McDonald, PIT- With the Steelers offense clicking on all cylinders, it’s time to add McDonald. Jesse James still has something of a role, but McDonald is the more talented player of the two and is showing up more consistently in red zone work. 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 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. Brown is dealing with an MCL sprain at the moment, but is still a worthy stash.
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 will 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 and he can overcome a rib injury, 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. It may take some time, but Switzer is worth the hold in deep bench PPR leagues.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Tre McBride, CHI- Unfortunately, the coaching staff has seen fit to give snaps to inferior options in Kendall Wright and Josh Bellamy 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 on Sunday with his one-handed touchdown grab. 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| 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 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.
Darren Fells, DET- Ebron seems to have partially gotten back on track and Fells has cooled off, eliminating the need to keep him on your roster.