Waivers of the Future: Week 13

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 Week 13 of Waivers of the Future! The fantasy playoffs traditionally start next week in most dynasty leagues. It is unfortunate that some general managers may have lost key pieces of their team, such as Daniel Jones, Dalvin Cook, Josh Jacobs, Phillip Lindsay, Mike Evans, DJ Moore, and others. It can be discouraging to come all this way, only to be short-handed at the most critical point of the season. The important thing is to not give up. Keep fighting and you may be able to win with plug-and-play options. It is a very common occurrence on championship teams to have afterthought players end up helping a team to win the title! That is going to be especially true in this pandemic year. Replacement players will likely be a key to victory.

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.

RIDE THE WAVE

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

QUARTERBACK

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Jalen Hurts, PHI- It is extremely unlikely the rookie signal-caller is available in dynasty leagues, but if he is, now is the time to pounce. Hurts earned first-team reps in recent practices and there are rumors that Hurts could start if Wentz continues to struggle. Hurts is a very mobile option, which is something fantasy general managers will appreciate about him. The Packers and Saints are the Week 13 and 14 opponents. These are not great matchups, but it is very possible to see Hurts still do damage because of teams not being prepared to deal with his ability to scramble.

Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA- It is unclear how long Tua Tagovailoa’s thumb injury will hold him out of action. Fitzpatrick is one of the better, more capable backups in the league. His daring style of play sometimes results in big fantasy days, but can also be responsible for multiple turnover days. A great matchup with the Bengals in Week 13 is looming. The Chiefs in Week 14 are a less appealing one, but not one to necessarily be afraid of if Fitzpatrick ends up getting the starting nod.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Mitch Trubisky, CHI- Foles’ injury could hold him out longer than previously thought. While Trubisky has his faults as a passer, his scrambling ability makes him more attractive than many of the options currently on waiver wires. Trubisky 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. The Lions and Texans matchups over the next few weeks offer defenses that are not stingy against passers or running quarterbacks, so do not feel bad about picking up and starting Trubisky if in a pinch.

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 couple more games with Kyle Allen’s ankle dislocation. In Week 13, the Steelers present a frightening matchup that should be avoided at all costs. In Week 14, the team will take on the 49ers, who present a little bit better opportunity for his passing totals.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Mike Glennon, JAX- Gardner Minshew is out with a broken thumb, and the Jaguars have turned to Mike Glennon after seeing what Jake Luton could do. Glennon is a journeyman who has proven prone to mistakes. The Vikings in Week 13 have stiffened and one should avoid starting Glennon against them unless there is no other choice. The Titans in Week 14 are a matchup that is easy for passers currently.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Brandon Allen CIN- Joe Burrow suffered a significant knee injury that will keep him off the field for the remainder of 2020. That leaves Brandon Allen as the starter for the time being. Allen has familiarity with the system from his time with Zak Taylor in Los Angeles as a backup to Jared Goff, so that’s a plus for Allen and a reason he may have operated the offense as effectively as he did in Week 12. Week 13’s contest against the surging Dolphins is not a contest in which to use Allen. The Cowboys in Week 14 can be picked on through the air, so Allen is not the worst choice for a desperation play.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Colt McCoy, NYG- Daniel Jones’ hamstring could be a problem for the next couple of weeks, so expect McCoy to fill in for him in the meantime. McCoy is a journeyman backup with physical limitations. The matchups with the improving Seahawks and Cardinals defenses in Week 13 and Week 14 are not ideal.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jacoby Brissett, IND- As a gadget quarterback and short-yardage specialist, Brissett is a desperation play, but one that could pay off during any given week. He scored two short touchdowns against the Titans in Week 12. In Week 13, the Colts will play the Texans, who have been a reasonably easy defense to score on all year. The Raiders in Week 14 have been a little tougher, but starting Brissett is preferable to taking a 0 at the position.

RUNNING BACK

Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Devontae Booker, LVR- If Josh Jacobs’ ankle injury proves to be as serious as it sounds, having Booker on your fantasy roster may not be a bad idea. Booker is nowhere near as talented in terms of vision and patience as Jacobs, but he does have the fact that Jon Gruden loves to run the football, even when trailing. The Jets in Week 13 is about as good of a draw as one could ask. In Week 14, Booker will play the Colts, who have been tough against the run as long as DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry have been in the lineup. This is likely your only chance to secure Booker.

Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Benny Snell, PIT- Snell is a priority pickup now, especially considering that James Conner will be returning from COVID and has a higher risk of complications given his cancer history. A James Conner injury is also not beyond the realm of possibility, as he has had trouble staying healthy down the stretch. The Steelers play Washington and the Bills over the next two weeks and neither are incredibly staunch against the run lately. This is likely your last chance to get Snell on your roster.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Mike Boone, MIN- The extent of Cook’s injury is currently unknown, but it does not seem like he will be able to go in Week 13 based on early reports. Alexander Mattison is rostered in every dynasty league, but Mike Boone, who would help Mattison carry the load, is not. Boone has been very good late in the season when Cook has been hurt in the past and could be a sneaky addition to a team when others are focused on more obvious waiver additions. The lowly Jaguars are the Week 13 opponent for Boone. The Buccaneers in Week 14 are more stout against the run.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Brian Hill or Ito Smith, ATL- With Todd Gurley unable to go in Week 12, it leaves the question of if he can suit up for the next few weeks in a losing season. If not, Smith and Hill will split the load equally. It will depend on luck of the draw as to which one is more valuable from week to week, but both are adequate pass catchers. Hill is better between the tackles by a marginal amount. The Saints' staunch run defense next week is not a great draw. The Chargers in Week 14 can be stout against the run and are not a fantastic draw, either.

WIDE RECEIVER

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. In Week 13, the Seahawks will take on the Giants, who give up a lot of air yards. The Jets in Week 14 are a very appealing matchup for Moore.

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Collin Johnson, JAX- It will depend on the health of D.J. Chark Jr and Chris Conley, but if they should miss another game, Johnson has proven to be an interesting replacement when he has had the chance to spot start. The Vikings and Titans over Weeks 13 and 14 are not worrisome in terms of allowing receivers to accumulate yardage.

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. In Week 13, the Lions will play the Bears, who defend the pass much better, so start Hall only if you really need help. In Week 14, Detroit will play the Packers, so you will be counting on Hall doing his damage in garbage time.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Damiere Byrd, NE- While Jakobi Meyers is rightfully getting all the attention in this receiver group, there may be another option for desperate fantasy general managers. Byrd has multiple years of experience and prior rapport with Cam Newton from their time together in Carolina. The speedster proved in Week 11 that he can get the better of defensive backs who do not properly account for his quickness. In week 13, New England will face the Chargers, who can be generous against the pass, but their pass rush has picked up with the return of Joey Bosa. In Week 14, the Patriots play the Rams, who have had a notoriously tough pass defense and pass rush as of late.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Olabisi Johnson, MIN- It took Adam Theilen being out of the lineup with COVID, but Johnson finally had a very good day. It is likely Theilen will return next week, but keep Johnson in mind as an emergency play if Theilen does not. The Jaguars in Week 13 are a great draw for Johnson if he starts. Thielen will most likely be back by Week 14 at the latest; but if he is not, Johnson would have a good matchup against a Buccaneers secondary that is currently struggling with injuries and inconsistency in play.

TIGHT END

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 Rams in Week 13 present a matchup that is not very good for tight ends, but the Giants in Week 14 are an appealing option against which to play a tight end.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Cameron Brate, TB- While he can just as easily give you a zero, he is also proving he is a fine emergency option that can score touchdowns here and there. The Buccaneers have a bye before facing the Vikings in Week 14.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jacob Hollister, SEA- Greg Olsen’s injury opens the door for Hollister to get additional work. We will see if it actually comes to fruition. It is worth picking up Hollister with a minimal bid to find out. The Week 13 matchup against the Giants is a good one if you need to throw Hollister in as a desperation play. The Jets in Week 14 is another favorable tilt for Hollister and Co.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Drew Sample, CIN- Sample’s production is clearly a product of an inexperienced quarterback checking down, but the points count all the same in fantasy football. Sample is an acceptable play over the next two weeks against the Dolphins and Cowboys, especially if you are out of other options.

CHANGING TIDES

(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%| 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 currently. Only Duke Johnson Jr stands between Prosise and a starting job at the moment. 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.

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.

THE SPLASH

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

QUARTERBACK

None this week. Please see other quarterback sections of this report for pick-up ideas.

RUNNING BACK

None this week. Please see other running back sections of this report for pick-up ideas.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 5-10%| Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE- Peoples-Jones did not get as much work with the loss of Odell Beckham Jr, . as the writer believed he would, but he is still a fine stash player for dynasty. Peoples-Jones is more advanced than a typical rookie in terms of route running and body positioning.

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 or the Antonio Brown experiment ends due to misbehavior off the field. Mike Evans seems to have hurt his ankle again, so we could see more of Johnson if Evans is not able to suit up.

TIGHT END

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. One can pay a fraction of the price of Ebron to roster McDonald and see if either of these scenarios play out.

THE DEEP

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

QUARTERBACK

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.

RUNNING BACK

None this week. See other running back sections of this report for ideas of whom to pick up.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending and Rebuilding Watch List | Jonvea 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.

TIGHT END

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

P.J. Walker, CAR- With Teddy Bridgewater back, Walker can now occupy the waiver wire.

Salvon Ahmed and Malcolm Perry, MIA- Myles Gaskin is reasonably close to returning and there is no reason to hold on to either running back.

Austin Mack, NYG- Mack’s opportunities have dried up, making him nothing more than droppable in shallow bench formats and holdable only in deep dynasty formats.

Willie Snead IV, BAL- Snead landed on the COVID list, meaning we will not have him for at least this week and perhaps longer. Drop him if you need the roster space.

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