Waivers of the Future: Week 14

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 14 of Waivers of the Future! If you made the playoffs in your dynasty league in spite of all the injuries and COVID craziness, congratulations! Thankfully, this injury week was a light one for general managers, with only Brandon Allen, Frank Gore, Darrell Henderson, and Jace Sternberger suffering injuries that threaten to hold them out for future contests. This column will endeavor to give you pickup options that will help you take home a championship. If you did not make it to the big dance, do not fret. Now is the time to take some of the deeper stash recommendations of this column and cut or trade the one-year rental options on your squad.

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 Saints are the Eagles’ Week 14 opponents. This is not a good matchup. Their Week 15 and 16 opponents are much softer coverage options in the Cardinals and Cowboys. It is very possible to see Hurts still do damage regardless of matchup because of teams not being prepared to deal with his ability to scramble.

Contending 5-10, Rebuilding 1%| 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 Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars matchups over the next few weeks are a mixed bag. The Texans and Jaguars are not particularly tough, but the Vikings have gotten much better defensively over the past month.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alex Smith, WAS- His comeback story has been amazing and he will get the chance to start while Kyle Allen continues to heal from an ankle dislocation. In Weeks 14-16, the team will take on the 49ers, Seahawks, and Panthers who present a little bit better opportunity for his passing totals than the Steelers, who just pummeled the Washington Football Team in Week 13.

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 is a plus for Allen and a reason he may have operated the offense as effectively as he did the past two weeks. Watch Allen’s status closely this week if you decide to use him. He was removed from the game in Week 13 but said after the game that he was fine and merely had the wind knocked out of him. If this ends up being a competitive ploy, Ryan Finley should be considered instead of Allen. The Cowboys in Week 14 can be picked on through the air, so Allen is not the worst choice for a desperation play. In Weeks 15 and 16, he will face the Steelers and Cowboys. The Steelers matchup should be avoided, but the Cowboys contest is okay to use Allen in if you need help.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Colt McCoy, NYG- Daniel Jones’ hamstring could be a problem for the next week or two, so expect McCoy to fill in for him in the meantime. McCoy is a journeyman backup with physical limitations. The matchups with the Cardinals defense in Week 14 is not ideal, but not especially scary either. The Browns and Ravens in Weeks 15 and 16 are both to be avoided, assuming McCoy is still starting.

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. The Raiders play the Colts in Week 14 and have been a little tougher, but starting Brissett is preferable to taking a 0 at the position. The Texans and Steelers in Weeks 15 and 16 are night and day in terms of ease of scoring. The Texans present a soft defense, but the Steelers’ defense is currently the best in the NFL.

RUNNING BACK

Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 1%| Devontae Booker, LVR- It is unclear if Josh Jacobs’ ankle sprain will hold him out this week and beyond, but if it is a dreaded high-ankle sprain, it is possible. 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. 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. In Weeks 15 and 16, the Raiders will play the Chargers and Dolphins, who both are also tougher draws in terms of run defense. This is probably the last chance you have to grab Booker if he is miraculously still out there.

Contending 10-20%, Rebuilding 1%| 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 the Bills next week, who have been struggling against the run as of late. In Weeks 15 and 16, The Bengals and Colts are on tap. The Bengals are an easier matchup, but the Colts are hard to run against when the defensive line is healthy.

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Ty Johnson and Josh Adams, NYJ- Both backs split the workload when Frank Gore went out with a concussion. La'Mical Perine is still dealing with an ankle injury. If neither Gore or Perine is ready for next week, Johnson and Adams could have at least a small amount of value. The Seahawks, Rams, and Browns are on tap for Weeks 14-16. All three have become tougher rushing matchups in recent weeks.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Keke Coutee, HOU- Coutee has been elevated to WR2 for the Texans since Will Fuller V’s suspension hit. Coutee is by no means a complete receiver, but he can win his matchups from time to time. The Bears, Colts, and Bengals are next for Coutee. The Bears’ secondary presents the most challenge, but Coutee’s playoff schedule is very favorable, as the Colts and Bengals do not boast nearly as challenging corners that will be covering Coutee. This is likely your last shot at grabbing Coutee.

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| 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 Jets in Week 14 are a very appealing matchup for Moore. Washington in Week 15 is a very favorable matchup. In Week 16, Moore will play the Rams, who have been resurgent in terms of pass defense as of late.

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 14, the Patriots will play the Rams, who have had a notoriously tough pass defense and pass rush as of late. In Weeks 15 and 16, the Patriots will play the Dolphins and Bills. The Dolphins’ pass defense has been better as of late, but the Bills’ pass defense has struggled in recent weeks.

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 Giants in Week 14 are an appealing option against which to play a tight end. The Eagles and 49ers are also appealing matchups for desperate general managers needing to start Arnold in their leagues.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5% Anthony Firkser, TEN- Jonnu Smith’s ankle injury held him out and Firkser benefited from the extra target attention. The Jaguars and Lions over the next two weeks are good matchups for Firkser. If Jonnu Smith is still not back by Week 16, the Packers present a tougher draw for the Titans’ receiving options.

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 are facing the resurgent Vikings in Week 14. Dream fantasy matchups with the Falcons and Lions are ahead in Weeks 15 and 16.

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 Jets in Week 14 is a favorable tilt for Hollister and Co. Washington in Week 15 is also a very good draw. In Week 16, the Rams present a roadblock, but in a divisional matchup, anything can happen.

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 against the Cowboys in Week 14, especially if you are out of other options. In Week 15, sit him against the Steelers unless desperate. In Week 16, he will have another easier draw against the Texans.

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%| Brian Hill or Ito Smith, ATL- Both of these runners become speculative pickups with the recent problems Todd Gurley has had with his knee. Gurley was able to play in Week 13, but he missed Week 12 with an injury flare-up. If Gurley sits again, 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.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Mike Boone, MIN- Dalvin Cook is playing through his injury and Alexander Mattison will likely return from illness next week. Boone is rosterable if one would like to take a flier on a Cook or Mattison injury. Both Cook and Mattison have not been especially durable, so there is some upside here.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| C.J. Prosise, HOU- The Texans used Procise when David Johnson was on Injured Reserve and Duke Johnson Jr was the starter. If injuries strike both runners ahead of him, Prosise will become valuable. Prosise also struggles with injury, but if he were to get another 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 1-5%, Rebuilding 5-10%| Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE- Peoples-Jones did not get as much work with the loss of Odell Beckham Jr, 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. He scored a touchdown in Week 13 and seemed to get more usage in the passing game than in previous weeks, which is a good sign.

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.

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Collin Johnson, JAX- It will depend on the health of D.J. Chark Jr and Chris Conley going forward, but if they should miss another game, Johnson has proven to be an interesting replacement when he has had the chance to spot start.

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 this scenario plays 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

Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA- Tua Tagovailoa is back, so there is no need to carry Fitzpatrick unless quarterbacks are razor-thin in your league and you do not have a suitable backup.

Mike Glennon, JAX- Gardner Minshew served as backup quarterback this past week, suggesting he is close to returning. Glennon may get another start, but it is a shaky proposition and not one to take a chance on unless absolutely desperate.

Marvin Hall, DET- He was cut by Detroit to give younger options playing time. We might see him sign with another needy team, but until then, he can head back to the waiver wire.

Olabisi Johnson, MIN- With Thielen back, there is no reason to hold on to Johnson. At best, he will be back in the waiver conversation if Thielen is hurt again.

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