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
- Matt Breida, SF
- Alex Collins, BAL
- Orleans Darkwa, NYG
- Austin Ekeler, LAC
- Kendall Wright, CHI
- Adam Humphries, TB
- Trent Taylor, SF
- Jermaine Kearse, NYJ
- Ted Ginn Jr, NO
- Dontrelle Inman, CHI
- 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.)
Trevor Siemian, DEN- Siemian may have been tossed back out there after losing his job to Osweiler earlier in the year. He played well in the first part of the season but hasn’t been making good decisions with the football in recent appearances. 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. Miami and the Jets are on tap for Siemian and the Broncos.
Blaine Gabbert, ARI- He guided his team to an improbable victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars and has played within himself in relief of Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. The Cardinals draw the Rams and Titans over the next two weeks.
Tom Savage, HOU- He’s starting and has some competent targets in Hopkins and Fuller (when healthy), but that’s about as far as the list of positives goes for Savage. Start him only if you have no other choice. The Titans and 49ers are up next for Savage and company.
Mike Davis, SEA- It’s hard to know what his long-term impact will be, but his short-term impact has been that he was running better than any of the healthy options on the Seahawks roster. He’s slated to return this week from injury.The Eagles and Jaguars aren’t great matchups, but perhaps Russell Wilson’s scrambling ability will open some lanes for Davis.
Terron Ward, ATL- He’s made mistakes splitting the work with Tevin Coleman while filling in for Devonta Freeman, but the team seems willing to keep trusting him with significant carries. The Falcons will square off with the Vikings and Saints over the next two weeks.
Jacquizz Rodgers, TB- It remains to be seen if Doug Martin can recover from his concussion in time to play the Packers next week. If he can’t go, Rodgers and Peyton Barber will split the work in favorable matchups. In addition to Green Bay in Week 13, Tampa Bay will go up against the Lions in Week 14.
Rod Smith, DAL- The Dallas offense is abysmal at present, but assuming they can spark something, Smith may be worth owning. He’s splitting carries with Alfred Morris and is perhaps the more valuable part of that committee, as he’s seeing work in the red zone. The Redskins and Giants are on the docket for Smith and company.
Eli Rogers, PIT- Juju Smith-Schuster sitting out with a hamstring tweak has allowed Rogers to slip into the valuable #3 role in a Pittsburgh offense that’s humming. We’ll send Rogers back to the scrap pile when Smith-Schuster is healthy enough to play again; but until then, Rogers can be a guy to throw into your lineup who has a nonzero chance of netting you points. Over the next two weeks, the Steelers will play against the Bengals and Ravens.
Ed Dickson, CAR- Greg Olsen was in briefly before feeling soreness in his surgically repaired foot and being pulled for precautionary reasons. 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 Saints and Vikings are the teams that the Panthers will see over the next two weeks.
Jermaine Gresham, ARI- Bruce Arians using the tight end?! We saw Gresham get more involved against Seattle, but then Ricky Seals-Jones stole the spotlight over the last two weeks. Seals-Jones got dinged in the Sunday contest and his status is unknown for the upcoming tilts against the Rams and Titans. If he can’t go, consider playing Gresham as a desperation play.
(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.)
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.
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.
Brian Hill, CIN- If Joe Mixon were to go down, we could see Hill get the lion’s share of carries in a committee with Gio Bernard. How valuable that is on a team with a bad offensive line remains to be seen, but Hill has above average ability and shouldn’t be overlooked.
(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 1-5%, Rebuilding 15-30%| Jimmy Garoppolo, SF- 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. He may get the start after C.J. Beathard was hurt in the last game.
Contending and Rebuilding 15-30%| Brett Hundley, GB- With Aaron Rodgers still sidelined with a healing collarbone, the mobile Hundley has been getting an extended look. If Hundley can show enough during this audition, he could end up being the starter for another team down the road. We’ve seen steady improvement from him over the last few contests, including an impressive outing against the Steelers.
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 not coming back this year and Brissett has been playing well considering the circumstances.
Contending 1%, 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. While Peterman showed in his first NFL start that he’s not ready to see game action, 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.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-15%| Peyton Barber, TB- The fact that the Buccaneers kept Barber over Jeremy McNichols, who had the higher draft pedigree, tells you that they like Barber for the long-term. Doug Martin isn’t going to be around much longer and is banged up. Barber also scored two times in relief of Martin on Sunday. He has been impressive in his limited touches and continues to grow into a possible future feature back. The time to add him is now.
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 1%, Rebuilding 15-20%| Vance McDonald, PIT- McDonald has been struggling with injury, but I feel he’s the more talented option on the roster for the long-term. 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. Though he is dealing with an MCL sprain at the moment, Brown is still a worthy stash.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%- Zach Zenner, DET- 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| 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 1% and Rebuilding 1-5%| Dede Westbrook, JAX- He’s off IR and contributing to the Jaguars passing attack. Though he’s suffering from having to play with Blake Bortles, 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 also 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 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| Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI- We’ve seen the freaky former five-star recruit rise from being an undrafted free agent to making an impact the past two contests. Seals-Jones is dealing with an injury that knocked him from the game and probably won’t be a consistent producer for us yet. However, he’s someone to watch going forward, especially if there is a coaching change over the offseason to a more tight-end friendly system.
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 some day. 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.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB- Winston may be back this week, sending Fitzpatrick back to the bench.
Seth DeValve, CLE- There’s little value in the Browns passing game anyway, but Njoku is playing better and taking what little volume there is. It’s time to let DeValve go.
Mike Tolbert, BUF- He seems to have been replaced as the backup in Buffalo, so there’s no reason to keep holding on to him.
Chad Kelly, DEN- One has to think that the Broncos will take advantage of this excellent quarterback class and a high draft pick to take their quarterback of the future. Kelly is the longest of longshots at this point.