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Waivers of the Future: Week 15 - Footballguys

Your guide to making preemptive waiver pickups in the context of dynasty fantasy football. 

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 fifteenth week of Waivers of the Future! If you’re still alive in your playoff hunt, congratulations! If you are out of contention, pay extra attention to the stash players this article recommends.

If you are an underdog in your game, there are actually a few injuries that occurred that open up opportunities for other players over the past week. Emmanuel Sanders tore his Achilles tendon and is out for the year. LeSean McCoy injured his hamstring and will likely miss games. Jordan Reed has a foot sprain and a toe issue that will likely keep him out for the rest of the fantasy season. That said, there are a few desperation options worth your consideration if you merely need someone to fill a roster spot and keep you from taking a zero at a given position.

Also, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your chances to win a title. Anything can happen in the playoffs, but if you are not a particularly strong contender, it may be a better idea to get a week or two ahead of other playoff participants and use your back part of your roster to stash players instead of worrying about rostering a situational player that won’t help you in the future.

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.

RIDE THE WAVE

(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)

QUARTERBACK

Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Jeff Driskel, CIN- Andy Dalton was placed on IR after week 13, meaning Jeff Driskel will be the starter for the remainder of the season. 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 15- Raiders, Week 16- Browns

Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Nick Mullens, SF- Mullens has the green light 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, Mullens is also favorable from a game script perspective.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15-Seahawks, Week 16- Bears

Contending 1-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Cody Kessler, JAX- Blake Bortles has been benched and Cody Kessler named the starter for the foreseeable future. Kessler is doing some good things on rollouts and has kept the offense moving. 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 15- Washington, Week 16- Dolphins

RUNNING BACK

Contending 25-40%, Rebuilding 1%| Chris Ivory, BUF- LeSean McCoy is once again injured and a hamstring injury portends multiple weeks missing. This means Ivory will be the workhorse for the duration of the fantasy playoffs. This team prefers to run the ball and the upcoming matchups aren't scaring anyone away.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15-Lions, Week 16- Patriots

Contending 25-40%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Elijah McGuire, NYJ- We’ll monitor the injury status of Isaiah Crowell, but it looks increasingly like McGuire will be the lead back heading down the stretch of the fantasy playoffs. Though the offense isn’t spectacular, he can give your team a floor of 5-7 points in PPR leagues and perhaps reach his ceiling more often with lead back status.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15- Texans, Week 16- Packers

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| LeGarrette Blount, DET- Kerryon Johnson’s ankle injury moved Blount into the primary back role again. Johnson could return this week, so monitor this situation closely. The offense isn’t as potent as it was at the beginning of the year, but running back options are far and few between.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15- Bills, Week 16- Vikings

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jeff Wilson, SF- Matt Breida hurt his ankle yet again and the injury-ravaged 49ers turn to Wilson going forward. He did reasonably well against Denver, but his next two opponents tend to be stiff against the run. We’ve had names less recognizable win fantasy championships and it’s a good idea to at least keep them out of the hands of our playoff opponents if we can.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15- Seahawks, Week 16- Bears

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending 5-10%, 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 15- Bills, Week 16- Vikings

Contending 5-10%, 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. The passing matchups in the last two weeks are not terrible if you are desperate for production.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15- Bengals, Week 16- Broncos

Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Tim Patrick, DEN- Patrick benefits from more looks with Emmanuel Sanders sidelined for the remainder of the year and Courtland Sutton drawing the best coverage. The pass defenses Patrick will face in the championship weeks should hearten those general managers who are desperate to fill a roster spot.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15 Browns, Week 16- Raiders

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Robert Foster, BUF- With Kelvin Benjamin cut from the team, Robert Foster is getting some additional looks behind Zay Jones. If absolutely desperate, the passing matchups are such that it would not be crazy to throw him in and see what you get.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15- Lions, Week 16- Patriots

TIGHT END

Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Vernon Davis, WAS- We’ve reached that period of the year where Jordan Reed is hurt yet again and Vernon Davis is once again somewhat fantasy relevant. Josh Johnson will be throwing him the ball, which isn’t optimal, but starting tight end options are razor thin at this point in the season.

Upcoming Matchups: Week 15- Jaguars, Week 16- Titans

CHANGING TIDES

(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 earlier in the year, 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- Blue continues to remind fantasy general managers of his worth by scoring the occasional touchdown on his limited touches. 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.

THE SPLASH

(May be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)

QUARTERBACK

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.

RUNNING BACK

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- Brown suffered a shoulder injury in week 14 that should hold him out for a bit. At this point, he’s more of a stash because of his talent and his restricted free agency status headed into the offseason. 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.

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.

WIDE RECEIVER

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 being out for the year, 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. We will see if he can build any momentum heading into the last few weeks of the season.

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- Williams 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.

TIGHT END

Contending and Rebuilding 10-20% | Chris Herndon, NYJ- The Jets have started to give Herndon more high-value work, 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%| Anthony Firkser, TEN- The Titans may have uncovered a gem with the undrafted Firkser. He's become quite the mismatch option for them and reminds those watching him play of Rob Gronkowski with his ability to body smaller defenders in the middle of the field. If the Titans use him as they should, they could create a lot of mismatches with Firkser, Jonnu Smith, and a healthy Delanie Walker next year. For this year, only Firkser and Luke Stocker remain healthy at tight end for this team that is still playing hard in hopes of earning a playoff spot.

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 this year and doesn't look like the player he once was. That fact makes Hollister a lot more interesting from a dynasty perspective.

THE DEEP

(May be available in 30 or more roster spot leagues or leagues with large taxi squads.)

QUARTERBACK

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.

RUNNING BACK

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.

WIDE RECEIVER

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.

TIGHT END

Watch List| Demetrius Harris, KC- If Travis Kelce gets hurt, we would want to pick up Harris. If you own Kelce, you need to roster 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.)

Mark Sanchez, WAS- Sanchez was benched after throwing a pick-six. He’s not someone we really wanted to consider starting anyway, but he’s no longer a desperation option, either.

Josh McCown, NYJ- Sam Darnold is back from injury, meaning McCown is no longer an option.

Chase Daniel, CHI- Mitchell Trubisky was able to return on Sunday night, making Daniel irrelevant.

Rhett Ellison, NYG- Engram was able to return to play and Ellison has slotted back into the reserve role.