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 Week 11 of Waivers of the Future! Even in a year with lots of record parity across dynasty leagues, general managers should have a good sense by now of whether their teams are going to have a chance of going the distance or not. The trade deadline is near or has passed in most dynasty leagues. If you have determined that you are out of it, now is the time to think about selling contending pieces for young players, picks, or some combination of the two. If you are determined your squad has a shot at the title, do not be afraid to make aggressive trade and waiver moves to shore up weaknesses in your team. While general managers never want to mortgage the future, it is also not a good idea to sit on your hands and not make moves at all. There is a balance to be struck. Hopefully, this column will help you find that place of zen when it comes to making waiver pickups for contending or rebuilding situations.
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.
IN THE CLOUDS
Players on this list are probably also rostered but are worth less than 30% of your budget.
- Andy Dalton
- Jerick McKinnon
- Adrian Peterson
- Devonta Freeman
- Boston Scott
- Giovani Bernard
- Myles Gaskin
- Jordan Wilkins
- Malcolm Brown
- Gus Edwards
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling
- Russell Gage
- Jeff Smith
- Tim Patrick
- Logan Thomas
- Dalton Schultz
- Robert Tonyan Jr
- Mo Alie-Cox
- Trey Burton
RIDE THE WAVE
(These are plug-and-play options who might patch a hole on your team in the short-term.)
Contending and Rebuilding 1-10%| Jameis Winston, NO- Drew Brees has some sort of rib injury that may hold him out for a time. Winston relieved Brees on Sunday and while Winston did not light the world on fire with his play, he was able to manage the game and lead the Saints to a win. Good matchups with the Falcons and Broncos should appeal to general managers who need to pick up Winston and play him. This is probably the only week you will have a chance to snag him.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| P.J. Walker, CAR- Teddy Bridgewater has a knee injury and it is unclear if he will be able to play going forward. XFL standout Walker will take his place in the lineup should he be unable to suit up. Walker has demonstrated in limited duty that, while not as efficient as Bridgewater, he can still do many things that support the offense. The Lions’ secondary in Week 11 should pose little challenge to Walker and Co. The Vikings in Week 12 have gotten more formidable in the last few weeks and could be problematic for Carolina’s offense.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Nick Foles, CHI- Foles is an inconsistent and streaky decision-maker, but he has some quality weapons such as Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller who can help elevate his play. Bill Lazor took over as Offensive Coordinator, which also offers a small glimmer of hope. In Week 11, the Bears will have another divisional rivalry facing off against the just so-so Green Bay Packers. In Week 12, they will face a Lions defense that is giving up a ton of yards through the air.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alex Smith, WAS- His comeback story has been amazing and he will get the chance to start for at least a few games with Kyle Allen’s ankle dislocation. The Bengals, Smith’s Week 11 opponent, also tend to give up yards through the air generously. The banged-up Cowboys secondary is also not one to fear in Week 12.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jake Luton, JAX- Gardner Minshew is out with a broken thumb, giving the team an extended look at Jake Luton. The Steelers in Week 11 is a definite matchup to avoid. The Browns in Week 12 have enough of a pass rush that you will also want to avoid starting Luton unless you are desperate.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Taysom Hill, NO- Hill is not the starter, but he sometimes earns high leverage work in the red zone as a versatile wrinkle in the offense. He is a safe bet to give you at least some points each week and has one-to-three touchdown upside in any given week. That is preferable to taking a zero at the position. The Falcons in Week 11 present a soft defense that could make Hill worth playing. The depleted Broncos defense also offers Hill a better-than-normal chance for scoring.
None this week. The waiver wire is razor-thin at running back. See other running back sections of this report for ideas of whom to pick up preemptively in case they get an opportunity.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Jakobi Meyers, NE- It sounds like Edelman could be done for the year with a bone-on-bone condition and someone has to catch passes in this offense. The Texans in Week 11 is an easy passing matchup for Newton and Meyers. The Cardinals in Week 12 will also be a good matchup for Meyers.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE- Peoples-Jones will get more work going forward with the loss of Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. Peoples-Jones is more advanced than a typical rookie in terms of route running and body positioning. The Eagles and Jaguars in Weeks 11 and 12 respectively are plush matchups if you have to start Peoples-Jones.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Austin Mack, NYG- Mack was getting more opportunity with Golden Tate in the doghouse, but Tate looks to be back in good graces with the team. However, a Darius Slayton injury could keep Mack in the lineup. Looking ahead, the Giants will have a bye and then play the Bengals. That is a good matchup for Mack if Slayton’s absence is extended.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| David Moore, SEA- Russell Wilson is cooking and Moore is catching touchdowns on occasion. While the low-target volume can leave Moore with little-to-nothing on a given week, he also can make your day on a deep score. The Cardinals have struggled to find consistent corner play all season and should pose no problem for Wilson and the pass offense in Week 11. In Week 12, the Eagles leaky secondary should be a good matchup for Moore.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Marvin Hall, DET- With Kenny Golladay out, Hall is getting very limited targets, but he is maximizing them with either lots of yardage, a deep score, or both. Take a flier on Hall if you need big upside. Hall boasts favorable matchups with the Panthers and Texans over the next two weeks.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Dan Arnold, ARI- In the wasteland that is trying to find a tight end off the waiver wire, Arnold may be a stopgap for your team if nothing else. The Bills and Seahawks in the next two contests are at least good matchups for those who need to plug-and-play Arnold.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Cameron Brate, TB- Just when we let go of Brate, he comes back the next week and earns a high leverage red zone target that he converts into a touchdown. While he can just as easily give you a zero, he is also proving he is a fine emergency option.
(These are pre-emptive running back options that will have value if the starter goes down and that are not as likely to be owned. The writer sees them more as short-term options. For those that have long-term appeal, please see the other sections of this report.)
The waiver wire for running backs in dynasty leagues is, as usual, razor-thin. Here are some backups that are widely available in most leagues that have a big upside if their starter is injured.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Benny Snell, PIT- Snell went back to being a preemptive pickup after James Conner resumed his usual workload in Week 2. Due to Mike Tomlin’s preference to give carries to one runner, he is one that we need to have on the back end of the roster in case of a James Conner injury.
These are a few free-agent running backs that are waiting for a call from a needy team. These players could provide fill-in value depending on their landing spot. If you have roster space, they may be worth holding on to in anticipation of a future opportunity. They are prioritized by how likely the writer believes it is that they will be given a shot to compete on a new team.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Bilal Powell
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Rod Smith
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Spencer Ware
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kenneth Dixon
(Could be available in 30 or fewer roster spot leagues.)
None this week. Please see other quarterback sections of this report for pick-up ideas.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| C.J. Prosise, HOU- The Texans signed him to their practice squad and then promoted him in Week 2. David Johnson is banged up and on Injured Reserve. Only Duke Johnson Jr stands between Prosise and a starting job. Prosise also struggles with injury, but if he were to get an opportunity in this offense, he might be able to make the best of it with his diverse skill set.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Tyler Johnson, TB- A recommendation in Matt Waldman’s The Replacements, Johnson got increased opportunity against the Bears a few weeks back and showed he could win contested balls. He also caught a touchdown against the Packers. Johnson is merely a name to keep in mind if injuries devastate the Buccaneers receiving corps.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Griffin, NYJ- As much time as Chris Herndon has missed due to injury, he might as well be named Chris Hernia. While Griffin also is not the poster child for robust health, he is experienced and basically free on all but the deepest of waiver wires. Sam Darnold developed a great rapport with Griffin last year before Griffin’s season-ending injury in December. If that carries over and Herndon gets dinged again, that will be a recipe for fantasy success.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Vance McDonald, PIT- McDonald is oft-injured and the Steelers signed Eric Ebron in the offseason. Those two things are the reason McDonald has been tossed back to the waiver wire in dynasty leagues. We should remember that Eric Ebron also has a checkered past when it comes to injury. There is also another path for McDonald to become relevant again. If the Steelers continue to modernize their offense and run more two-tight end sets, McDonald and Ebron could both be equally as valuable. One can pay a fraction of the price of Ebron to roster McDonald and see if either of these scenarios play out.
(Could be available in 30-or-more roster spot leagues or leagues with large taxi squads.)
Watch List| Jake Fromm, BUF- Considering Josh Allen’s struggles as an accurate passer and his propensity to sacrifice his body, Fromm is not being rostered nearly enough in dynasty leagues. Fromm will have to work his way up the depth chart, but is the most promising of all three quarterbacks the Bills have in terms of decision-making and accuracy.
Watch List| Josh Rosen, TB- Rosen has bounced around quite a bit in his short career, but he is still one of the more talented backup quarterback prospects in the league. He is signed to the Tampa Bay practice squad where he will get to work to rehabilitate his career. That is one of the better moves he could have made. A year or more to sit and learn behind Tom Brady and work with quarterbacks coach Clyde Christiansen is ideal for the young signal-caller.
None this week. See other running back sections of this report for ideas of whom to pick up.
Contending and Rebuilding Watch List | Jon'vea Johnson, DAL- Some teams are so good at evaluating talent at one position that they have an embarrassment of riches. Dallas is a great example of a team that evaluates receivers well. As a result, the talented Johnson lies buried behind Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Noah Brown. Dallas did not have the room to hold on to Johnson and put him on the practice squad. Other needy teams monitoring the situation might be willing to give Johnson a spot on their 53-man roster eventually. It is a long shot, but this camp standout two years running is worth monitoring to see if he gets a true opportunity elsewhere.
Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Kaden Smith, NYG- Evan Engram is often banged up and Smith has demonstrated surprising competency for New York when called upon to fill in. Could he be the future for the team at the position? It is certainly possible and worth taking a flier on.
LOST AT SEA
Jordan Howard or Salvon Ahmed, MIA- It is likely Matt Breida will be back this week to take the bulk of the work. Also, Jordan Howard was cut by the Dolphins on Monday, so we can safely send him back to the waiver wire.