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
- 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
- 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- It hasn’t always been pretty, but the garbage time numbers have made McCown passable in most formats. The Dolphins and Falcons aren’t particularly scary matchups over the next two weeks.
C.J. Beathard, SF- In relief of Hoyer, Beathard nearly lead the 49ers to a comeback. He ran a pro-style offense in college and excels at making passes while on the move. He’ll get a shot to show the 49ers what he can do. With plenty of garbage time scenarios to work with, Beathard is worthy of streamer consideration in both the upcoming Cowboys and Eagles contests.
Jacoby Brissett, IND- He has been worlds better than Scott Tolzien. Luck’s timetable to play keeps getting pushed back. Assuming Brissett plays for the next two weeks, he’ll face the Jaguars and Bengals, which is not particularly favorable.
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 upcoming Seahawks and Rams defenses are not air-tight against the run.
Ted Ginn Jr, NO- Some dropped Ginn after a slow start and owners in need of a stopgap option may be able to take advantage. Ginn won’t be as consistent as owners would like, but the ceiling is high against a very fantasy-friendly schedule moving forward. He’ll get the Packers and Bears in his next two starts.
Terrance Williams, DAL- We don’t know if the team will have lost confidence in Williams given the fact his drop lost their last game for them, but if he remains in the number two role, he’s worth streaming against the 49ers and Washington.
Torrey Smith, PHI- I’m moving Smith to this section because of the emergence of Nelson Agholor in the offense. I no longer think Smith will be able to grab a stable second wide receiver job next to Alshon Jeffery given that fact. 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 him get a long reception or two per game with the occasional touchdown. He’s going to be wildly inconsistent but is worthy of being considered as a depth option or spot starter.
Nick O’Leary, BUF- With Charles Clay missing extended time, Buffalo’s pass offense will have to find someone to target. O’Leary stepped in to do more than he had been doing when Clay left and it’s not inconceivable that they’ll keep him in that role going forward. The generous-against-the-pass Buccaneers and Raiders are up next for O’Leary.
Darren Fells, DET- You’ll have to wait until after Detroit’s bye to take advantage of Fells, but he’s clearly outplaying Eric Ebron and has caught three touchdowns in the last two games. He’ll draw the Steelers in week eight.
(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 spot leagues.)
Contending and Rebuilding 15-30%| Brett Hundley- Surprisingly, Hundley isn’t rostered in many dynasty leagues. 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. Hundley looked outmatched this past Sunday, but was facing an aggressive Vikings defense and missing three of the starting offensive linemen. He should look a bit better with a week of first team practice repetitions and in facing Saints and Lions defenses that are more permissive than Minnesota.
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 on his opportunities. Meanwhile, Brice Butler has been outstanding with 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 his bye week complete, Kroft becomes an interesting streamer for those hurting at the position, but he may also have a future with the team. Eifert was 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 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| 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 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. He’s out there in many dynasty leagues.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List| Peyton Barber, TB- The fact that the Buccaneers kept Barber over Jeremy McNichols, who had a 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, JAC- Don’t forget about Westbrook, even though he’s on IR. 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 Watch List| Mack Hollins, PHI- We’ve been seeing more of Hollins in recent weeks with the Eagles, and 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 Watch List| 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 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 showed the ability to be a dependable third option with the Ravens and could do more on this offense.
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| 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. If Kelce were ever to miss significant time, we would want a piece of Harris.
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.)
Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel- Cassel and Manuel are back on the bench with Mariota and Carr returning to action.
Seth DeValve, A.J. Derby- Neither offense is doing enough to make either more than bottom-of-the-barrel desperation plays at this point. We may come back to them if their respective offenses can find their groove.