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Waivers of the Future: Week 16 - 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 sixteenth week of Waivers of the Future! If you are contending for the championship, congratulations! It’s a special thing to even get to compete for one. If not, don’t worry! This article is going to help you stash players that could hit big for you in years to come and get you back on a winning track.

There were very few injuries that opened up pickup opportunities for championship week. Keenan Allen suffered a hip pointer and will be questionable to play this week. Aaron Jones sprained his right MCL and is unlikely to suit up against the Giants. Frank Gore appears to have suffered a foot sprain and Matt Breida has re-aggravated his ankle injury. Lamar Miller is dealing with an ankle sprain that the Texans are downplaying as being anything serious.

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 10-20%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Nick Foles, PHI- Foles is once again the starter after Carson Wentz suffered a back injury that is likely to sideline him for the remainder of the season. Philadelphia is playing hard to keep their playoff hopes alive and will face off against the Texans poor secondary this upcoming week.

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 an excellent matchup on paper against the Browns this week.

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. As the 49ers are likely to be playing from behind against the Bears, Mullens is also favorable from a game script perspective.

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. The Dolphins defense is scaring no one right now.

RUNNING BACK

Contending 25-40%, Rebuilding 1%| Chris Ivory, BUF- Despite practicing all week, Ivory was a surprise scratch hours before kickoff. He’ll most likely to be ready to go this week, however. LeSean McCoy is unlikely to return this week and Marcus Murphy also got dinged up in the last contest. Against the Patriots soft defense, Ivory could have some moderate success.

Contending 25-40%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Elijah McGuire, NYJ- Elijah McGuire is the man going forward with Isaiah Crowell on injured reserve. 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 against a Packers defense that isn’t all that challenging for offenses to solve.

Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Darrel Williams, KC- Williams has moved quickly from being the fourth-string running back to the second string option after Kareem Hunt’s dismissal from the team and Spencer Ware having suffered a shoulder injury. He’s getting some work each game, even with Damien Williams being the clear lead back. He has the possibility of scoring a touchdown against a Seahawk defense that was last seen breaking down against the 49ers in week 15.

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| LeGarrette Blount, DET- Kerryon Johnson’s ankle injury moved Blount into the primary back role again. The Lions remain mum on Johnson, probably signaling that he will not go yet again. The offense isn’t as potent as it was at the beginning of the year and the Vikings should stifle them even further, but running back options are far and few between.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jeff Wilson, SF- Matt Breida hurt his ankle yet again and the injury-ravaged 49ers turn to Wilson going forward. 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. The Bears matchup is admittedly a tough one.

WIDE RECEIVER

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 matchup against the Patriots is such that it would not be crazy to throw him in and see what you get.

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 against the Raiders in the championship week should hearten those general managers who are desperate to fill a roster spot.

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 Broncos matchup is not one to fear in week sixteen.

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. The Titans don’t defend the tight end well, which is a plus if you are considering starting Davis.

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. Alternately, if the Saints chose not to keep him, he’ll be in high demand in free agency when the remaining years on his deal void in March. 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 1-5%| Rod Smith, DAL- Rod Smith is heading to free agency in the offseason and is an interesting stash candidate. 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. He could end up as a valuable backup or even a starter for another team.

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 more than in previous years. 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. There has been talk that Gronkowski may retire after this season as well. These factors make Hollister a lot more interesting from a dynasty perspective.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Jeremy Sprinkle, WAS- While Vernon Davis may have appeal for now, it’s Sprinkle who perhaps has a future in Washington where Jordan Reed struggles to stay healthy. Sprinkle demonstrates both blocking and receiving acumen that teams covet. If he can earn additional targets in the closing weeks of the season, he may build some momentum for next year.

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.

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. He is being used on special teams and had a return touchdown in week fifteen.

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.)

Frank Gore, MIA- Gore’s value in dynasty formats is minimal now that he will not help you this year. It would not be a surprise to see him retire over the offseason.

Bruce Ellington, DET- Ellington missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, and given that the Lions offense is bottoming out, it’s not wise to play him even if he is able to play this coming Sunday.