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. Dynasty general managers 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 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.
Welcome to the thirteenth week of Waivers of the Future! Injuries struck again heavily in the past week, taking down several fantasy contributors such as Melvin Gordon III and Andy Dalton. There were also a few surprise inactives that came later last week after this column had been published. Mitchell Trubisky and Sam Darnold were dealing with already existing injuries but were projected to play earlier in the week. Additional information has come out since to suggest Darnold may still be a week away from returning and that Trubisky may not be a lock to suit up this week, either.
The playoffs are almost here and playoff squads likely know if they will have a bye or if they will be thrust right into the action. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start stocking up players for the weeks you may need them. Also, it may be helpful to pick up these players to keep an opponent from using them against you. Also be aware that unless your waiver budget rolls forward to next year, you need to consider spending more aggressively in the upcoming weeks, as you have no reason to hold on to your dollar. The writer will increase budget percentages across the column to reflect this mindset.
For the next several weeks, the writer will also extend the look-ahead period for matchups through the playoffs so that you might get a better conceptualization of how valuable a player pickup may be moving forward. For players that have limited use because the starter will return to take their place, the writer will also give an estimate of how many weeks of usability they have left.
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. If they are still available and you need help contending, consider spending 30-50%+ of your budget on them.
Here are other players that have been featured in this article that are likely to be owned, but are worth only a smaller percentage of your budget.
- Case Keenum
- Frank Gore
- Peyton Barber
- Mike Davis
- Jalen Richard
- Keke Coutee
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
- Josh Reynolds
- Adam Humphries
- Ito Smith
- Josh Adams
- Gerald Everett
- Ian Thomas
- Vance McDonald
- Ben Watson
- C.J. Uzomah
- Jonnu Smith
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Nick Mullins, SF- Mullins has the green year to start the rest of the year and has been able to be a moderately productive fantasy quarterback in his starts. None of his upcoming contests features particularly scary pass defenses. As the 49ers are likely to be playing from behind in all of them, Mullins is also favorable from a game script perspective. Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Panthers, Week 14- Saints, Week 15- Ravens, Week 16- Cowboys
Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Jeff Driskel, CIN- Andy Dalton has been placed on IR, meaning Jeff Driskel will be the starter for the remainder of the season. Driskel did decent work in garbage time against the Browns. He is a serviceable passer and adds some value to his fantasy profile with his running abilities. Driskel has excellent matchups in the last two weeks of the fantasy championship rounds.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Broncos, Week 14- Chargers, Week 15- Raiders, Week 16- Browns
Contending 1-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Colt McCoy, WAS- With Alex Smith out for the year, McCoy will once again be tasked with running the Washington offense. He’s had some modest fantasy success with this role in the past. The pass defenses left on his schedule aren’t very imposing.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Eagles, Week 14- Giants, Week 15-Jaguars, Week 16- Titans
Contending 1-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Cody Kessler, JAX- Blake Bortles has been benched and Cody Kessler named the starter for the foreseeable future. With only neutral-to-good passing matchups left on the schedule and a good set of pass catchers on the roster, Kessler might be worth giving a try if you need a multi-week starter.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Colts, Week 14- Titans, Week 15- Washington, Week 16- Dolphins
Contending 1-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Josh McCown, NYJ- It looks like Sam Darnold may still be a week away from starting with a foot injury. If in need for just one week, McCown against the Titans’ sieve of a passing defense isn’t a bad choice.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Titans, Week 14- Bills, Week 15- Texans, Week 16- Packers
Contending 10-40%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Gus Edwards, BAL- The writer underestimated Edwards and attributed his usage in week eleven to the game plan. It appears It also helps Edwards’ case that Alex Collins is dealing with a knee injury suffered in the week 12 game. Edwards has an upcoming schedule that’s mostly favorable, especially if he’s getting the bulk of the touches. This is likely your last shot at grabbing him.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Falcons, Week 14- Chiefs, Week 15- Buccaneers, Week 16- Chargers
Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- The writer has temporarily moved Brown to this section because he may have extreme appeal for the short-term if the Todd Gurley injury is more serious than we think. For the time being, Brown, not John Kelly, is the primary backup to Todd Gurley. While it is likely both would see work if Gurley were to miss significant time, it would be Brown who would lead that committee. Brown hasn’t gotten many chances because Gurley has been very healthy in his NFL career. However, Gurley appeared to get his leg rolled up on in the week 12 contest and Brown was primarily involved after that point. If he were to miss significant time, Brown would become extremely valuable, possibly a league winner. When he has gotten an opportunity, Brown has flashed. He may have value after this year if he can go to another team in the restricted free agency process, but that’s tough to project at this time. Keep in mind that Brown could also have value in week 16 if the Rams decide to rest their starters.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13-Lions, Week 14-Bears, Week 15- Eagles, Week 16- Cardinals
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Elijah McGuire, NYJ- He’s getting the bulk of the work when you factor in his passing game contributions. Though the offense isn’t spectacular, he can give your team a floor of 5-7 points in PPR leagues.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Titans, Week 14- Bills, Week 15- Texans, Week 16- Packers
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Justin Jackson, LAC- Jackson is temporarily moving up this list because of Melvin Gordon III’s significant knee injury. Eckler will get the bulk of the work, but we should see more Jackson mixed in. With more opportunity, he may surprise the coaching staff with what he can do and earn a bigger chance down the road.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13- Steelers, Week 14- Bengals, Week 15- Chiefs, Week 16- Ravens
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| LeGarrette Blount, DET- Kerryon Johnson’s ankle injury moves Blount into the primary back role again. It seems like Johnson could be out at least one more week, if not more. Blount did score twice on Thanksgiving Day against a tough Bears front, but the prospects for the offense putting him in position to score in future weeks are less than encouraging. If Johnson isn't back for the matchup with the Cardinals, that is one of the few that looks enticing to use Blount in.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13-Rams, Week 14- Cardinals, Week 15- Bills, Week 16- Vikings
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| David Moore, SEA - Moore is getting some targets, but the touchdowns just haven’t come in the last few weeks. We’ve seen this team develop relatively unknown receivers in the past (Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin come to mind) and Moore may be the latest example of this.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13-49ers, Week 14- Vikings, Week 15- 49ers, Week 16- Chiefs
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Bruce Ellington, DET- Ellington is approximating the Golden Tate role in this offense, and though he’s always a huge risk to leave any given game with an injury, he’s capable of giving you a multi-catch game in PPR leagues every week he stays healthy. The matchups ahead are neutral to good on most weeks.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13-Rams, Week 14- Cardinals, Week 15- Bills, Week 16- Vikings
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Seth Roberts, OAK- He’s one of the few healthy receivers in Oakland right now and will get targets, despite those targets not being of high value. They’ll play the Ravens in the upcoming week.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13-Chiefs, Week 14-Steelers, Week 15- Bengals, Week 16- Broncos
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Rhett Ellison, NYG- Evan Engram has struggled with injuries all season, including a hamstring flare up right before game time against Philadelphia. Ellison has done solid work filling in for Engram and deserves a look in leagues where you are desperate for any weekly production.
Upcoming Matchups: Week 13-Bears, Week 14-Giants, Week 15- Titans, Week 16- Colts
(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.)
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Rod Smith, DAL- If Ezekiel Elliott were to miss time, Smith is the next man up. He did much better than you would think filling in for Elliott last year. On a bad offense, he scored five total touchdowns and logged over 430 total yards. Smith also tends to fill in for Elliott when he is winded, which is good for a few opportunities a game. There could be value here again if Elliott is out for any reason.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Cameron Artis-Payne, CAR- C.J. Anderson was cut, putting Artis-Payne directly in the number two role in a potent offense. He’ll get a few touches per game and has the chance to do more if Christian McCaffrey ever gets dinged.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alfred Blue, HOU- Owners were able to get a start out of Blue in week five, but Lamar Miller was healthy enough to get back in the lineup in week six, sending Blue back into the backup role. At least we now know he’s the clear backup to Miller and would see significant carries if Miller gets hurt again.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Wayne Gallman, NYG- If Saquon Barkley gets injured, the Giants may have no choice but to turn to Gallman. He is unimaginative as a runner, but his no-nonsense, banging style can work well on goal-line carries.
(May be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 10-30%| Teddy Bridgewater, NO- A trade sent Bridgewater from the Jets to the Saints in exchange for a third-round pick. Bridgewater looks to be fully recovered from the horrific injury that cost him his starting spot in Minnesota and played well in the preseason. He even got some work in the blowout against the Bengals in week 10. He could be the heir apparent to Drew Brees, which is great for his long-term value. In superflex leagues, be willing to spend 50%+ percent on Bridgewater if he’s inexplicably still out there.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Ameer Abdullah, MIN- Abdullah still has a lot of the traits that draftniks loved but needs the right opportunity to unlock his value. Perhaps it will be with the Vikings, whose runners have a history of injury concerns. Abdullah will merely be depth for them at this point, but if an injury occurs to Latavius Murray or Dalvin Cook, we need to keep Abdullah in mind.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1%| Laquon Treadwell, MIN- Treadwell continues to be used this year. While it’s a crowded passing game, one significant injury to Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen could change everything for Treadwell’s career trajectory. Treadwell should be rostered in dynasty leagues in which there are 40 or more roster spots.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Auden Tate, CIN- With lots of question marks at receiver on the roster, including A.J. Green potentially missing time, Tate is worth keeping in mind. He makes this list again because he has once again been promoted to the active roster in week eleven. He showed flashes of what he can do as a big-bodied red zone threat this preseason.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kevin White, CHI- White has been a scratch in recent weeks but has had flashes of potential during the season. He did a nice job high-pointing Trubisky’s Hail Mary throw in week seven and would have scored if he had gotten a better push from his teammates in the vicinity. He could be heading for a new team in the offseason, but he may gain enough traction this year to recover some of his dynasty value. Perhaps he is on Robert Woods’ career trajectory-- as an excellent blocker getting a chance on an emerging offense to showcase what else he can do with another team.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Chad Williams, ARI- Wiliams may not be able to flourish with the offense as it is. There could be a time coming when the offense is more potent and this is likely the last year Larry Fitzgerald will play. Keep an eye on Williams for next year.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-20% | Chris Herndon, NYJ- The Jets have started to give Herndon more high-value work in the last month and he’s come through for both the team and his fantasy general managers on most weeks. Herndon very well could be their future at the position and we need to treat him as such in dynasty leagues.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-10%| Jacob Hollister, NE- Hollister has some Gronk-like athleticism to his game and the Patriots have been grooming him for a while now. Gronkowski has missed three games with back and ankle injuries and doesn’t look like the player he once was. That fact makes Hollister a lot more interesting from a dynasty perspective.
(May be available in 30 or more roster spot leagues or leagues with large taxi squads.)
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Jacoby Brissett, IND- Brissett remains one of the few backups that may get another shot at starting down the road. He played well in a really bad situation last year and earned the respect of many around the league. There were rumors in the offseason that multiple teams tried to trade for Brissett, but the Colts declined their offers.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Nick Foles, PHI- He was responsible for winning a Super Bowl and filled in for Carson Wentz in the first two games. Foles is back on the bench, but he’s done enough that another team may want to make him their starter during or after this season.
Watch List| Chris Warren, OAK- He’s blocked by Doug Martin for now and was put on IR due to a knee procedure. However, both Marshawn Lynch and Martin are on one-year deals and Warren caught the eye of both his coaching staff and his fellow players with his preseason performances. Stash him in deep leagues if you have the room. You can let him ride in your IR spot in some leagues.
Watch List| Richie James, SF- James made the final roster, possibly indicating that the 49ers didn’t feel he would make it on to their practice squad. James has the skills to eventually play from any receiver position in this offense. His trademark skills are being very shifty and great on contested catches, despite his smaller size. The players ahead of James have documented injury concerns and that may lead to an unexpected opportunity for him in the future. He still remains a long-shot to get playing time without more injuries in front of him, but in a lost season, the coaching staff may want to get a look at him later this year.
Watch List| Jordan Lasley, BAL- Lasley did not have a flashy preseason, but he did make the cut over first-round pick Breshad Perriman. It was obvious when watching practices that he and Lamar Jackson have developed a rapport, much in the way Phillip Rivers and Malcolm Floyd did years ago. It may be a year or two before Lasley has a big role, but he’s worth holding on to if you have the room and placing on your watch list if you do not.
Watch List| Justin Watson, TB- He made the initial 53, despite how crowded Tampa Bay’s wide receiver corps already is. Watson impressed from the Senior Bowl on and made tough contested catches often in camp. If this is truly DeSean Jackson’s final year, Watson may have a chance to jump into his role next year if the same regime is still in power.
Watch List| Javon Wims, CHI- Wims was constantly making plays throughout the preseason, so much so that the Bears dared not put him on the practice squad. It’s a crowded depth chart at present, but Wims can easily work his way up, especially if Kevin White does move on in free agency next year.
Watch List| Demetrius Harris, KC- If Travis Kelce gets hurt, we would want to pick up Harris. Harris has been simmering behind Kelce for years but is a similar talent. Harris served a short suspension to start the season, but now should be on our radar, especially considering the potency of the Chiefs’ offense.
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.)
Blaine Gabbert, TEN- We feared that Mariota had re-aggravated his ulnar nerve injury, but it turned out to be a neck stinger after all. Mariota avoided major injury against the Colts and was able to start on Monday night against the Texans.
Breshad Perriman, CLE- Burned again. He’s not getting enough work to matter.
Danny Amendola, MIA- He has a right knee injury and the rest of his season is in doubt.
Jeff Heuerman, DEN- He's out for the season with multiple injuries, halting his momentum.