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 5 edition of Waivers of the Future! Tight ends getting hurt seemed to be the trend this past week, meaning there are an abundance of pickup opportunities at the position this week. If you need one badly and are a contender, be willing to spend a good portion of your budget to get one. You probably will not get another chance like this one!
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.)
Contending 15-20%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Joe Flacco, BAL- Flacco continues to be a quality start in an offense that has vastly improved from last year. He’s now owned in most dynasty leagues, but if he’s not and you are in need, snap him up. This is likely to be your last chance since everyone has seen four weeks with a mostly successful passing game. The Ravens have a great passing matchup against the Browns coming in week five.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| C.J. Beathard, SF- The 49ers put up a fight against the Chargers, showing they won’t go away quietly. Beathard threw two touchdowns and ran the ball seven times, demonstrating that he can have a decent fantasy day when the matchup is right. The Cardinals contest coming up in week five isn’t particularly daunting for those that need a spot start out of Beathard.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Mike Davis, SEA- Surprisingly, with Chris Carson out, it was Davis who got the bulk of the touches instead of Rashaad Penny. If Carson is out again, Davis may be worth playing if you need to fill a bye-week void at the position. He’ll have a tough running matchup at the Rams, though, so keep expectations very low.
Contending and Rebuilding 1% Marcus Murphy, BUF- LeSean McCoy is playing through his rib injury, but is still on suspension watch. If the suspension were to happen, Murphy becomes a matchup play running back or flex. Using him against the Titans is not advisable unless McCoy is confirmed to be out.
Contending 10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Ryan Grant, IND- With T.Y. Hilton likely to miss some time with a hamstring injury, Luck will be looking to Ryan Grant to be the primary receiver in an offense that proved against the Texans that it can have explosive moments. The Colts draw the vulnerable Patriot pass defense on Thursday Night Football.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Jordan Matthews, PHI- Matthews got behind Malcolm Butler in week four and scored a long touchdown. Alshon Jeffery back in the lineup makes him a less appealing option, but he will get a few targets each week in an offense that likes to spread it around. The Eagles take on the banged-up Vikings defense next.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Albert Wilson, MIA- The Dolphins went up in flames against the Patriots, so it’s hard to know if Wilson would have sustained his success if they had not been blown out and put Brock Osweiler into the game. The Dolphins will get a chance to redeem themselves against a Bengals defense that has been leaky against the pass.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jaron Brown, SEA- Doug Baldwin is back in the lineup, so Brown will become more hit-and-miss. He’s still worth a desperation start if you have few other options. The Rams will be next for the Seahawks, but it’s hard to trust Brown, even against that banged up secondary.
Contending and Rebuilding 1% Chester Rogers, IND- We want to own Rogers for the same reasons we want to own Ryan Grant -- T.Y. Hilton is injured and Rogers will get increased opportunity. However, he probably won’t see as much work as Grant, making him a riskier play against the Patriots on Thursday night.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jarius Wright, CAR- Carolina has a reliable third option in Wright, and he may be more important without Greg Olsen. He’s a guy you can throw into your lineup if needed and get a couple of catches. The Panthers play the Giants in Week 5.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Rhett Ellison, NYG- With Evan Engram out for a few weeks with a knee injury, we should see more of Ellison. We know the offense isn’t one of the better ones, but Eli Manning not throwing downfield may actually be a positive for Ellison. The Panthers’ banged up secondary awaits Ellison and the Giants.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Geoff Swaim, DAL- The Cowboys have given Swaim 12 targets in the last two weeks and he managed to catch three for 39 yards and a score. It’s worth picking him up to see if this trend continues in an offense in need of pass catchers. Dallas will play the Texans this upcoming week.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Nick Vannett, SEA- Will Dissly going down for the year will clarify this tight end situation. While I don’t expect consistent production from Vannett (Wilson likes to spread the ball around), he is now more likely to have some appeal to streamers. Seattle takes on the Rams this week and while their front seven is a nasty bunch, their banged-up secondary can be exploited.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jeff Heuerman, DEN- With Jake Butt out for the season, we could see a bit more work for Heuerman, who came into the league as a receiving tight end three years ago. It will depend on if the Broncos trust Heuerman with more targets, but it’s worth a low-cost add to find out. The Broncos will play the struggling Jets in week five.
(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.
(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 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 5-15%| Ito Smith, ATL- Smith is getting work with Devonta Freeman out of the lineup. The small, shifty back proved to be a good pass catcher and causes headaches for opposing defenders. Smith may be someone to get more excited about if Atlanta lets Devonta Freeman walk next year and keeps Tevin Coleman.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Corey Grant, JAX- The lingering hamstring issue that Leonard Fournette is experiencing makes Corey Grant more interesting. He’s got game breaking ability and should get more touches as the backup to T.J. Yeldon.
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 before the deadline. For now, Abdullah will be a role player. He will be a free agent next year and will have an opportunity to land a role on a team that has more willingness to use him.
Contending and Rebuilding 50+%| Keke Coutee, HOU- I’m going to mention Coutee only because he’s been dropped recently in some shallow formats. If he’s out there, you should make every effort to pick him up, because he’s one of the few dynasty players you’ll see hit waiver wires who could change the complexion of your team for this season and next. Will Fuller V’s injury opens the door even wider for the deep threat. The Texans seemed all too willing to use him this past week, giving him an astounding 15 targets that he converted into 11 catches for 109 yards. The Texans will face off against a Cowboys defense that hasn’t exactly been stout against the pass.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1%| Laquon Treadwell, MIN- Treadwell continues to be used more this year, but seems to still be struggling with confidence and drops. 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, Tate is worth keeping in mind. He showed flashes of what he can do as a big-bodied red zone threat this preseason. With Eifert out for the year, we should be monitoring to see if the Bengals will use Tate more in the end zone.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kevin White, CHI- With Anthony Miller’s shoulder injury, White may get a chance to redeem himself at some point this season. 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, especially if the Matt Nagy offense begins to click soon.
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 1%, Rebuilding 1%| Austin Carr, NO- Carr hasn’t been as involved as we would wish so far, which is why he is moving down this list a little bit. An injury to Ted Ginn Jr could push Carr back up into relevance in this offense.
Contending and Rebuilding 15-20%| Tyler Kroft, CIN- With Eifer suffering a horrific ankle injury, it opens the door for Tyler Kroft to seize the starter spot not only this year, but next year. The Bengals get the Dolphins next, who have some difficulty defending tight ends.
Contending 15-30%, Rebuilding 5-10%| Vance McDonald, PIT- His price went way up after two straight weeks of decent production. This is likely your last shot to get him if he’s still out there. The Steelers will be in what promises to be a shootout against the Falcons in week five.
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 May be out with an ankle injury on a short week against the Colts. If he misses, Hollister deserves a look for both now and later.
(May be available in 30 or more roster spot leagues or leagues with large taxi squads.)
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 5%-20%| Chad Kelly, DEN- Case Keenum’s doomsday clock ticked much closer to midnight after the way he played against the Ravens and Broncos. We may see Chad Kelly this year after all. In superflex formats, be willing to put a 40-50% 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 is back on the bench, but he’s done enough that another team may want to make him their starter after this season.
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. You can let him ride in your IR spot in some leagues.
Watch List| Justin Jackson, LAC- He’s back on the active roster and has some very impressive college tape. If Melvin Gordon 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.
Watch List| Chad Hansen, TEN- 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 him up on waivers. They then let him go, but Tennessee quickly claimed him. As they are relatively 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 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| Josh Reynolds, LAR- He’s buried on the depth chart for now, but don’t forget about Reynolds. As Matt Waldman 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| 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.
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.)
Terrelle Pryor, NYJ- He had only one target in a game script that should have made the Jets go into a passing frenzy. This offense has proven it can’t support more than Quincy Enunwa on any given week. Send Pryor back to waivers.
Will Dissly, SEA- Dissly is out for the year with a patellar injury.
Ryan Griffin, HOU- It turns out that the Texans’ usage of their tight ends just isn’t consistent enough week to week for us to use Griffin.