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.
- Jay Cutler, MIA
- Kerwynn Williams, ARI
- Tarik Cohen, CHI
- Javorius Allen, BAL
- Chris Carson, SEA
- Chris Johnson, ARI
- Andre Ellington, ARI
- Kendall Wright, CHI
- Jermain Kearse, NYJ
- Ben Watson, BAL
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
Jacoby Brissett- He has been worlds better than Scott Tolzien. Against the 49ers and the Titans over the next two weeks, he should continue to roll. Just keep in mind that Andrew Luck might be back in week seven to take his place.
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. The Browns matchup is favorable, but avoid the Bills in week six if at all possible.
E.J. Manuel, OAK- With Derek Carr out for a few weeks, it’s Manuel who will lead this offensive attack. Baltimore isn’t a great draw in week five, but a depleted Chargers team in week six has some promise of being a serviceable matchup for Manuel and company.
Matt Cassel, TEN- Mariota is day to day and will be a game-time decision for the Titans. The Dolphins and Colts aren’t particularly bad matchups, but Cassel has played poorly in his last few appearances. Like Hoyer, he’s only startable for the desperate owner.
Latavius Murray, MIN- Murray is another guy I’ve seen dropped in more shallow formats before Dalvin Cook’s season-ending injury. While the offense is sputtering without Bradford, we have to think better days are ahead if he can get back in soon. Murray is no Dalvin Cook, but he might be the band aid your team needs.
Eddie Lacy, SEA- I’ve seen Lacy dropped in shallow dynasty formats and there’s a chance he might be there in your league. With Chris Carson placed on IR, Lacy will get another chance to lead this backfield after being a healthy scratch in week three. It’s a committee with Thomas Rawls, but with few running back options available on waivers, it’s one we should take a chance on if hurting at the position.
Wayne Gallman, NYG- The Giants aren’t going to be able to run the football effectively on a consistent basis; but in games that they can, Gallman figures to see an increased role since Paul Perkins has fallen flat and now is injured. The Chargers are a fair matchup in the upcoming week, but the Broncos in week six is one that should be avoided.
Elijah McGuire, NYJ- Matt Forte is banged up and while Bilal Powell is the starter, Powell also hasn’t been the most durable guy during his career. Additionally, McGuire is getting some extra carries and converted one of them into a long touchdown this past Sunday. With the Browns and Patriots defenses upcoming, McGuire could be a decent short-term play for the next couple of weeks.
Adam Humphries, TB- He’s in the slot role for Tampa Bay at this time, which has some value when Winston is slinging the football. With Doug Martin likely easing back into his role, Humphries might be a decent plug-in with the hapless Patriots and Bears defenses on tap.
Trent Taylor, SF- With Marquise Goodwin ailing, Taylor could see increased work against the Colts and Redskins in the next two weeks. He is primarily a slot receiver, so he’ll have a low ceiling. However, he can provide a decent floor for owners who are hurting at the position.
This column appears once every other week. Last week, I would have recommended grabbing Texans tight end Ryan Griffin. While Griffin didn’t do much against the Titans, I prefer him over DeValve and Derby if he is still out there in your leagues.
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. The low ceiling of the Browns offense also hurts.
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.
(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 and is currently dealing with a hip injury. 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.
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 spot leagues.)
None this week. There are only spot starters on most dynasty waiver wires.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-15%| 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. Last time I wrote about him, I was advocating moving him from your watch list to the back of your bench to see if anything came of his increased opportunity. He ran well in week four and may be the lone bright spot on a team that may be once again picking among the top fifteen this year.
Contending 5-10% and Rebuilding 1-5%| Darren McFadden, DAL- After he was inactive the last few 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 at the beginning of the year.
(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. 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 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 has been better between-the-tackles, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy during his young career. If Abdullah goes down again, his role will be 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 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 have a lost season and want to see what they have.
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 could 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. 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.
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.)
Rashard Higgins- The offense just won’t be viable enough to support a guy who can’t create on his own. Higgins is such a player.
Charles Sims- With Doug Martin on the way back and Jacquizz Rodgers playing well, Sims isn’t going to get much work. If either Martin or Rodgers miss time, Sims may be worth looking at; but until then, he has little value for us.