Waivers of the Future: Week 2 - 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 week two edition of Waivers of the Future! We’ve had our first game action to help us begin to draw some conclusions about teams and how they will use their players going forward. It is important not to overreact to everything that happened in week one, but it is also imperative not to underreact to what we’ve witnessed. This report will endeavor to take a balanced approach to Sunday and Monday’s games and synthesize information in a way that gives you the best possible pickups, both short- and long-term.

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, consider spending 30-50%+ of your budget on them.

RIDE THE WAVE

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

QUARTERBACK

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Case Keenum, DEN- Keenum was far from perfect, throwing three interceptions in the opener against Seattle. However, the three touchdowns he scored through the air helped make up for his mistakes. His connection with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas was evident. Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman, and Phillip Lindsay also chipped in to make the offense more robust than it was last year. It’s Keenum’s job in a productive offense for the foreseeable future. The Broncos draw the favorable Raiders defense next week, making Keenum a great option.

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Joe Flacco, BAL- Granted it was against a dismal Bills defense, but Flacco and the offense looked much improved from last year. He tossed three touchdowns on the day. Lamar Jackson was subbed in for Flacco on certain plays, but it didn’t take away from Flacco’s productivity and even seemed to increase the productivity of the entire offense. A divisional matchup against the Bengals on a Thursday night isn’t usually a recipe for high-scoring success, but if desperate for a starter, there are worse options.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB- No one saw the five touchdown outburst coming from Fitzpatrick this weekend, but last week’s report did note that Fitzpatrick has an incredible set of receivers with which to work. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and DeSean Jackson all came to life against the Saints. Even though he has a tough matchup against the Eagles in week two, Fitzpatrick remains one of the better spot starting options if you need someone to fill in.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Sam Bradford, ARI- While the weapons are there in Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson, it is no good if they are not properly utilized. The offense looked listless and unimaginative against a Washington defense that wasn’t projected to be particularly dangerous. Unless you are forced to do so, you don’t want to start Bradford in the upcoming contest against the Rams.

Contending and Rebuilding 1% Blaine Gabbert, TEN- Marcus Mariota has injuries to his throwing hand and elbow that are serious enough that he will undergo testing. If he is unable to go, Blaine Gabbert will get the nod. While Gabbert is far from ideal to start in leagues, he will get the start against a banged-up Texans secondary. Update: Marcus Mariota will play on Sunday, making Blaine Gabbert irrelevant.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| DeShone Kizer, GB- If Aaron Rodgers does miss Sunday’s contest against the Vikings, Kizer could be a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency starter. The matchup and Kizer himself are horrible, so only put him in if you would otherwise take a zero.

RUNNING BACK

Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Frank Gore, MIA- Like Peterson, Gore is being discounted because of his age, but is still one of the savvier runners in the NFL. He was close to Drake in terms of usage against the Titans. He’ll have to continue to split work with Kenyon Drake, but expect Gore to be the more effective of the two. A game against the Jets and their lacking defense is not particularly daunting.

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Darren Sproles, PHI- While the carries will get spread around in Philadelphia’s multi-headed backfield, Sproles seems to be second to only Ajayi in priority to get carries and targets. He’s a good option to throw in any given week, as he is still a threat to score-- he almost did in the opening contest against Atlanta. The Buccaneers’ leaky defense will be up next for Sproles and company.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending 10-20% and Rebuilding 1-5%| Phillip Dorsett, NE- The Patriots have Dorsett and Chris Hogan as their primary receivers while Julian Edelman serves his suspension. While it’s difficult to picture Dorsett as a long-term asset, he’s certainly proven to have increased value for the first quarter of the season. He makes a fine fill-in option for those who are light at wide receiver, but you’ll have to pay more for him this week than you would have last week. Dorsett will have a tough matchup against the Jaguars corners this week.

Contending and Rebuilding 10-15% Brandon Marshall, SEA- Marshall’s importance may increase after Doug Baldwin succumbed to an MCL sprain. The Bears matchup this week doesn't feature particularly scary corners, but their pass rush may put a damper on Seattle’s offensive production.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Cordarrelle Patterson, NE- The Patriots used Patterson as a gadget player in the preseason with some success. Although his opportunities per game will be limited, he is a threat to score any time he can find the open field. Patterson draws a tough matchup against the Jaguars in the upcoming week.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Jaron Brown, SEA- Brown flashed talent at times in his stint with Arizona and may become more of a factor with Doug Baldwin out of the lineup. The Bears are up next for Seattle.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Bruce Ellington, HOU- Ellington scored this week. While you can’t count on that happening regularly or Ellington staying healthy, you can do worse than one of DeShaun Watson’s targets if you need a plug-and-play option in a pinch. The Titans’ porous passing defense is coming up for Ellington.

TIGHT END

Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Ben Watson, NO- Watson is older, but he’s back with Drew Brees in an explosive offense whose concepts he already knows well. Tight end is a position in which veteran savvy and an understanding of where to go can make you serviceable. Jason Witten and Antonio Gates are great examples of guys that folks thought were too old to be playing, yet continued to produce somewhat right up until calling it quits. Watson seems to be a similar case. He saw acceptable usage in the Buccaneers game and gets the Browns, who aren’t particularly good at covering the tight end with the deficiencies in their linebacker group.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Ryan Griffin, HOU- He is a great option for teams that like to pick up several underrated options and stream matchups. Folks are excited about Jordan Akins, but for this year, it’s more likely that Ryan Griffin is the play. While he did not record a catch against the Patriots, it was not for lack of trying. Watson targeted Griffin five times, but the two remained out of sync all day. The Texans will face the Titans next, who do not match up well against tight ends.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Nick Boyle, BAL- With Hayden Hurst out with a stress fracture in his foot to start the season, the big man was called upon to do more work. Boyle has shown the capacity to be a capable receiver and logged three receptions in the opener against the Bills. One could do much worse if having to select someone for a spot start. He’ll see Cincinnati next and they were not particularly effective covering Eric Ebron or Jack Doyle.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Virgil Green, LAC- Green never really got a chance to be a receiver on the Broncos team, despite his acumen in that area. Now with the Chargers, he’ll finally have that chance. His rapport with Rivers in camp has been strong. Don’t fret about Antonio Gates being signed -- Gates will likely be depth and get phased out as the season rolls along. They’ll get the hapless Bills defense next.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Luke Willson, DET- Willson joined Detroit to take the place of Eric Ebron. Willson played well in Seattle, but the ball was spread around so much in the offense that his scoring was unpredictable. Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter seems to target his tight end at a greater frequency, making Willson more interesting. The Lions will face the 49ers without Reuben Foster providing coverage in the middle of the field.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Nick Vannett and Will Dissly, SEA- Russell Wilson is known for spreading the ball around. Yet in an offense that will have to pass a lot to make up for the deficits created by a poor defense, it’s reasonable to expect one of his tight ends to do as much as Luke Willson did in the offense last year. Vannett is the choice option of the group. A converted defensive end, Dissly might be the biggest surprise at the tight end position in week one. Categorized as a blocking tight end, the Seahawks used him extensively on Sunday against the Broncos. This is probably a mirage, but we will monitor things over the upcoming week to be sure. Seattle will play the Bears in week two.

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 Elliott were to miss time, Smith is the next man up. He did much better than you would think filling in for Ezekiel Elliott last year. On a bad offense, he scored five total touchdowns and logged over 430 total yards. The Cowboys released Bo Scarbrough, showing their complete faith in Smith as the primary backup. There could be value here again if Elliott is out for any reason.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- For the time being, Brown, not John Kelly, is the primary backup to Todd Gurley. While I expect both would see work if Gurley were to miss 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, 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%| Wayne Gallman, NYG- Jonathan Stewart looks completely gassed and if Saquon Barkley’s quad injury is reaggravated, 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 Giants should be more competitive on offense this year with Odell Beckham Jr Jr. back from injury.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alfred Blue, HOU- Blue is the clear backup to Lamar Miller and managed to score a goal-line touchdown against the Patriots. He would be relatively unexciting but functional if Miller went down.

THE SPLASH

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

QUARTERBACK

Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Tyrod Taylor, CLE- Taylor may have been dropped when he exited the Bills. Baker Mayfield is clearly the future for this team, but in an effort not to repeat last year’s mistakes made with Deshone Kizer, Cleveland made Taylor the starter for the foreseeable future. Taylor did well against the Steelers in week one and draws a questionable Saints defense in week two. Taylor also has long-term value beyond this year, even if he transitions to a new team.

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 10-30%| Teddy Bridgewater, NO- A recent 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 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 out there.

RUNNING BACK

Contending and Rebuilding 15-30%| Phillip Lindsay, DEN- Well, that was fast. Last week, this report indicated that Lindsay is someone who could supplant Booker as the season rolled along. It happened more quickly than expected. Royce Freeman is still the lead back, but Lindsay seems to have forced a committee with both his rushing and receiving prowess. Against the defensively weak Raiders next week, he makes a fine flex play.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Corey Grant, JAX- Head Coach Doug Marrone doesn’t believe Leonard Fournette’s hamstring injury to be serious, but with hamstrings, there’s always the possibility of straining it worse if one tries to come back too soon. The coaching staff has promised increased opportunity for Grant each game and this may be just the break that this electric runner needed to get worked in more. It’s time to add him speculatively if you have the roster space. The Jaguars will take on the Patriots in week two.

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Ameer Abdullah, DET- Despite trade rumors swirling, the Lions decided to hold on to Abdullah. There’s still a possibility we see a trade happen. For now, Abdullah will be a role player. He will be a free agent next year and have an opportunity to land a role on a team that has more willingness to use him.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Laquon Treadwell, MIN- There was great rapport between Cousins and Treadwell in camp and lots of buzz about Treadwell’s legitimate improvement. He had a bad drop against the 49ers but did seem to be more involved in the offense in spite of this. Treadwell should be rostered in dynasty leagues in which there are 40 or more roster spots.

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Austin Carr, NO- The Saints kept Carr on the active roster and the slot receiver role is wide open with the departure of Willie Snead IV. He had two receptions for 20 yards in his first game this year. It will be interesting to see if his role keeps growing.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kevin White, CHI- He may be out there in your leagues since many have given up on him. Beat writers projected White as the fourth receiver on the depth chart, but he is likely to perform better than rookie Anthony Miller over the course of the season. White may be heading for a new team in the offseason, but he may gain enough traction this year to recover some of his dynasty value, especially if the Matt Nagy offense takes off as some believe it will.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Chad Williams, ARI- Wiliams will move into a bigger role this season. While David Johnson will siphon away targets that would otherwise go to receivers, we want to keep an eye on Williams’ development. There may be a time coming when the offense is more potent and this is likely the last year Larry Fitzgerald will play.

TIGHT END

Contending and Rebuilding 10-30%| Ian Thomas, CAR- Thomas is owned in most dynasty leagues, but he should be a very high priority for you if he is out there. Greg Olsen seems to have injured his foot again and will be out for some time. Ian Thomas impressed in camp and the team seems to think he’s the future at the position, kind of the way the Titans felt about Jonnu Smith last year. He’ll get an opportunity to show what he can do as a rookie with the promise of more beyond this year. The matchup against the Falcons this week isn’t suffocating.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jesse James and Vance McDonald, PIT- McDonald is oft-injured, which is why he’s probably out there on your waiver wire. Between health issues and adjusting to the change in offense, it didn’t really come together for him last year. By all accounts, he grasped the offense this preseason, so it is now just a matter of staying healthy. Xavier Grimble and Jesse James have also been ailing, but James was healthy enough to suit up Sunday with McDonald remaining sidelined. Anticipate that McDonald will be the guy when he returns.

THE DEEP

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

QUARTERBACK

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 5%-20%| Chad Kelly, DEN- There’s a great chance that Case Keenum will fail to live up to the expectations placed upon him and that Kelly will be developed enough next year to compete and win the starting spot. In superflex formats, be willing to put a 30-40% bid up for him if he’s still on waivers.

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 is likely to get more work than expected as Carson Wentz continues to make his recovery. Like Brissett, there were rumors swirling that a few teams were interested in Foles over the offseason, but the Eagles declined to deal him.

RUNNING BACK

Watch List| Chris Warren, OAK- He’s blocked by Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin for now and was just put on IR due to a knee procedure. However, both 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.

Watch List| Justin Jackson, LAC- He spent most of the offseason nursing an injury. Despite not getting to show much in preseason, he did make the 53 before being cut and put on the practice squad to make a roster move. Jackson has some very impressive college tape and if Melvin Gordon III were to go down, I doubt that Austin Ekeler would carry the load alone. They would likely

WIDE RECEIVER

Watch List| Amarah Darboh and Chad Hansen, NE- Hansen has the size, speed, and skills to be a viable perimeter threat. Observers of his work with Jared Goff and Sam Darnold this summer said that they saw Hansen make strides in his development. Darboh is a fluid route runner who makes smart, smooth transitions in his breaks. Darboh and Hansen both have flashed at times with the Seahawks and the Jets respectively but were both casualties of Cutdown Day. The Patriots snapped both up on waivers. As they are very thin at the position, we should monitor the progress of these two closely and see how they look after spending some time acclimating to their new team.

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 James in the future.

Watch List| Josh Reynolds, LAR- He’s buried on the depth chart for now, but don’t forget about Reynolds. As Matt Waldman recently documented in a recent episode of the RSP Cast, Reynolds is very skilled and will have the chance to grow as a role player this year with perhaps more usage coming next 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| Auden Tate, CIN- With lots of question marks at receiver on the roster, Tate is worth keeping in mind. He showed flashes of what he can do as a big-bodied red zone threat this preseason. He would be especially interesting if Tyler Eifert ends up missing time again.

Watch List| Justin Watson, TB- He made the 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

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Tyler Kroft, CIN- Tyler Eifert is being given one more chance to prove himself, but it’s wise to think about adding Kroft preemptively just in case. When Eifert has been dinged, Kroft has proven in recent years that he is more than capable as a replacement. The Bengals’ contract with Eifert is such that they can easily move on from Eifert if he fails to stay healthy again. If Eifert were to move on, it’s probable the Bengals like Kroft well enough to make him the long-term starter.

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.)

Nathan Peterman, BUF- Peterman was benched in the first game against the Ravens. Therefore, it’s presumed that Josh Allen will be the starter going forward.

Jeremy Hill, NE- He tore his ACL and is out for the year.

Christine Michael, IND- The Colts coaching staff is giving him only a touch or two a game. It’s time to let the Christine Michael dream die.

Boston Scott, NO- Scott is talented, but he’s on the practice squad and the Saints roster is deep with running back depth. He may make it back to Waivers of the Future if he ends up back on the active roster or moves on to another team.

Hakeem Valles, DET- Luke Willson is healthy and Valles isn’t seeing enough opportunity to have a shot to break out. He might make another appearance in the column if Willson misses time again.