Waivers of the Future: Week 3 - 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 3 edition of Waivers of the Future! This week has added many data points for us to consider, but very little in the way of priority waiver targets. It's important to use relatively quiet weeks like this to evaluate your roster and use those back-end roster spots to stash players who may end up mattering later. This report will endeavor to help you identify some of those players. Sneak them onto your roster while you are paying little to nothing for them.

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 1-5%| Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB- Fitzpatrick proved he is for real with a second straight week of multiple touchdowns. Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken has done a good job of spreading the field with his great pass-catching weapons and putting defenses in binds trying to defend all the options. There is now talk that Jameis Winston may not be getting his job back immediately when he is available in Week 4. This is likely the last week you can claim Fitzpatrick before he will be owned across all dynasty leagues. If you are hurting at quarterback but still a contender, you may need to place a larger bid than what this column recommends to make sure you get him. The Buccaneers face the Steelers’ hapless pass defense in Week 3, so this streak of good play is unlikely to end in this matchup.

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Joe Flacco, BAL- The Ravens offense took a bit to get off the ground against the Bengals, but Flacco did throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos aren’t as fearsome against the pass as they used to be, so Flacco should be OK if you need a spot starter this week.

Contending and Rebuilding 1% Blaine Gabbert, TEN- Marcus Mariota looked likely to play leading up to Week 2, but seems to have had some sort of setback with his recovery. He is reportedly still experiencing numbness in his throwing hand. If symptoms don’t improve soon, it may mean that Mariota has a more significant ulnar nerve injury that could take weeks to resolve. Gabbert was serviceable against the Texans and kept the offense moving when it mattered. The Jaguars aren’t a favorable matchup by any means, but Gabbert is likely to net you a few points if you are forced to deploy him.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Sam Bradford, ARI- This offense is dead in the water and Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy oddly does not seem to be playing to the strengths of his personnel. Another tough game against the Bears is upcoming. Start Bradford only if you have no other options.

RUNNING BACK

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Corey Clement, PHI- The rotation has gotten a little clearer with injuries to Darren Sproles and with Jay Ajayi unable to hold up to a full workload. The Colts played well against Adrian Peterson last week but should struggle to contain the smaller, shiftier Clement.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5% Marcus Murphy, BUF- The offense is far from robust, but with McCoy sustaining a multi-week rib injury, we know that Murphy will at least get the bulk of the carries for his offense. The Vikings matchup isn’t one in which to use Murphy unless you are out of options.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending 20-40% and Rebuilding 5-10%| Phillip Dorsett, NE- The Patriots have Dorsett and Chris Hogan as their primary receivers while Julian Edelman serves his suspension. Dorsett has shown some growth since we saw him last year. The addition of Josh Gordon is more likely to impact Hogan’s role, not Dorsett’s. If he’s still out there in your league, this is probably your last chance to acquire him. He’ll have an easy matchup against the Lions in Week 3.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Terrelle Pryor, NYJ- Pryor’s usage jumped in Week 2 as the Jets worked to come back from a big deficit. As they are likely to be in these game scripts in many of their contests, Pryor may be worth an add just to see if things will come together and make him a weekly fill-in option. Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa have not proven to be the most durable options, which could lead to more work for Pryor. He’ll face off against the Browns in Week 3.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Albert Wilson, MIA- Wilson got more run with Devante Parker out and Danny Amendola leaving the game with a concussion. If Parker continues to disappoint upon his return, Wilson could move into a bigger role. The Raiders are on tap for Miami in Week 3.

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

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Bruce Ellington, HOU- Ellington scored last week and had a long reception 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 Giants’ generous passing defense is coming up for Ellington.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jarius Wright, CAR- Carolina has a reliable third option in Wright, and he may be more important going forward without Greg Olsen. Like Ellington, he’s a guy you can throw into your lineup if needed and get a couple of catches. The Bengals aren’t a particularly scary matchup to go against in the pass game.

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’s seen multiple targets in two games and next gets the Falcons, who haven’t been particularly good at covering the tight ends without Dion Jones.

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. He’ll see the Giants this week as the Texans offense hopes to get back on track.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Nick Boyle, BAL- With Hayden Hurst out with a stress fracture in his foot, the big man is being called upon to do more work. Boyle has shown the capacity to be a capable receiver and logged receptions in each of his first two games. One could do much worse if having to select someone for a spot start. He’ll see the Broncos in Week 3, who are notoriously bad against the tight end.

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 is finally getting that chance. His rapport with Rivers in camp was strong. Antonio Gates is proving to be depth. A tough Rams matchup is next for Green.

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 Patriots in the upcoming week and should have to pass to keep up.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| 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. Dissly seems to have emerged as the option of choice and did continue to see more targets in Week 2. The Cowboys will be the the Seahawks Week 3 opponent.

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. Recall that 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. We saw this play out when Gurley left the game in Week 2 to get fluids for cramps. While I expect 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, 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.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alfred Blue, HOU- Blue is the clear backup to Lamar Miller and is getting some carries in each game. 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 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 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 Titans in Week 3.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Ito Smith, ATL- Smith got more work with Devonta Freeman out of the lineup. The small, shifty back proved to be a good pass catcher and caused headaches for the Panthers all game. Smith may be someone to get more excited about if Atlanta lets Devonta Freeman walk next year and keeps Tevin Coleman. Like Grant, he also makes a great speculative add for the back end of rosters.

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- Treadwell continues to be used more this year, including catching a touchdown in a big game against the Packers. While it’s a crowded passing game, one significant injury to Stephon 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 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 IV. It will be interesting to see if his role keeps growing or if he is merely depth. He is worth holding for a few weeks to see which of those scenarios plays out.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kevin White, CHI- He may be out there in your leagues since many have given up on him. He’s listed 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 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. James outsnapped and outproduced McDonald against Kansas City, but this may have been because McDonald is being eased back into duty. We’ll have more clarity next week, but for now, both are worth rostering because of the volume of the passing offense to which they belong.

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 filled in for Carson Wentz in the first two games. Foles will go back to the bench for Week 3, but he’s done enough that another team may want to make him their starter after this season.

RUNNING BACK

Watch List| Chris Warren, OAK- He’s blocked by Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin for now and was 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. Stash him in deep leagues if you have the room.

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 III were to go down, it’s doubtful that Austin Ekeler would carry the load alone. They would likely ask Jackson to split time with Ekeler in that scenario and he could surprise.

WIDE RECEIVER

Watch List| 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. Hansen flashed at times with the Jets and was a casualty of Cutdown Day. The Patriots snapped both up on waivers. As they are very thin at the position, we should monitor his progress closely and see how he looks after spending some time acclimating to his 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 him in the future. He was active in Week 2 due to Marquise Goodwin’s injury, but still remains a long-shot to get playing time without more injuries in front of him.

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 an 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.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jacob Hollister, NE- With Gronkowski nearing the end of his career and being prone to injury because of his physical style of play, we need to think about Hollister, whom the Patriots have been developing for a while now.

LOST AT SEA

(Players who recently appeared in this column, but have had their value decrease to the point they hold o value in all but the very deepest of dynasty leagues.)

DeShone Kizer, GB- Aaron Rodgers ended up playing through his injury and plans to continue to do so.

Darren Sproles, PHI- He has a hamstring strain and may need multiple weeks of rehab. We’ll revisit Sproles if he can get healthy for this team.Cordarrelle Patterson, NE- No matter what Belichick said about helping Patterson live up to his full potential, it’s just not happening on a consistent enough basis to keep wasting a roster spot on him.

Amarah Darboh, SEA- He didn’t pass his physical in New England and reverted to Seattle. He was placed on injured reserve, so we’ll have to wait to see if he can emerge with Seattle next year. He’s droppable in all but the deepest of formats.

Nick Vannett, SEA- Will Dissly is the prefered tight end target in this offense after all.