Waivers of the Future: Week 15

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 15 of Waivers of the Future! If you are still alive in the playoffs, celebrate! You are probably in the semi-finals and looking to add some players to your bench or replace an injured Matt Breida, Mike Williams, Brandon Cooks, Devonte Parker, Mike Gesicki, or anyone else you lost along the journey. If you got knocked out or were out of the playoffs to begin with, it is time to shift gears and work on stashing players who could come up big for your team in future years.

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

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Dwayne Haskins, WAS- Alex Smith hurt his leg in the past contest and is unlikely to be able to go for the next week or two. Dwayne Haskins is the last man standing, so he relieved Smith and will probably do so for the next couple of weeks. In Weeks 15 and 16, the team will take on the Seahawks and Panthers who present a little bit better opportunity for his passing totals.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Finley, CIN- Joe Burrow suffered a significant knee injury that will keep him off the field for the remainder of 2020. Then Brandon Allen suffered a bone bruise. That leaves inexperienced Ryan Finley as the starter for the time being. Start him only if you are seeking to avoid a zero. 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%| 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 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 5-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Jeff Wilson, SF- Raheem Mostert cannot stay healthy this season, which opens the door for Wilson to earn more touches. Telvin Coleman registered only 2% of the snaps and does not look like he will be much competition. Wilson has a fantastic matchup with the Cowboys this week. In Week 16, it will be a little rougher against a Cardinals defense that is currently surging.

Contending 5-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Ito Smith, ATL- While Gurley played, it was interesting that Smith out-touched him significantly. Could it be that a combination of a losing season and Gurley’s health is pushing the Falcons into evaluation mode, thus allowing Smith to earn more work? It is very probable that is what is occurring here. If the trend continues, Smith will get most of the touches against the Buccaneers and Chiefs over the next two weeks. The Buccaneers are very stout against the running game most weeks. The Chiefs are a little bit easier in terms of being able to rush against, but it is not a great draw either.

Contending 5-15%, Rebuilding 1%| DeAndre Washington, MIA- While in a clear timeshare situation with Lynn Bowden Jr, Washington is the more valuable of the two. It looks as if Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin are unlikely to be back for Week 15, so Washington will be the primary play against the Raiders. The Patriots have been slumping the past few games, so this is an opportune time to play Washington. If he should get another start in Week 16, he would face the Raiders, who also tailed off in the past two contests.

WIDE RECEIVER

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. 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%| Tyron Johnson, LAC- Mike Williams has once again hurt his back, leaving Johnson as the clear second wide receiver in the offense. Assuming Williams cannot play the next two weeks, Johnson has great matchups with the Chargers and Broncos. He is a fine emergency play.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Chad Hansen, HOU- With Brandon Cooks ailing yet again, it is time to see what Hansen can do as the second wide receiver in the offense. If Cooks remains sidelined, the Colts and Bengals matchups over the next two weeks are not awful. It helps that Hansen has one of the better quarterbacks in the game throwing him the ball, too.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Mack Hollins, MIA- DeVante Parker injured his leg in the Week 14 contest, meaning that Mack Hollins was called into action. Hollins has shown flashes in past action with the Eagles and does well on contested catches, so he could be a very good play going forward against the Patriots and Raiders, assuming Parker remains out.

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 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. He scored in Week 14 and seems to be one of Kyler Murray’s favorite targets. The Eagles and 49ers are also appealing matchups for desperate general managers needing to start Arnold in their leagues.

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. Dream fantasy matchups with the Falcons and Lions are ahead in Weeks 15 and 16.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Adam Shaheen, MIA- When Mike Gesicki exited the game, Shaheen came in and was serviceable. He will not light the world on fire, but he could be a decent desperation option for general managers who desperately need a few points at their tight end spot. The Patriots and Raiders are next on the schedule.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jacob Hollister, SEA- Greg Olsen’s injury opens the door for Hollister to get additional work in the remaining weeks of the season. We will see if it actually comes to fruition. It is worth picking up Hollister with a minimal bid to find out. 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. In Week 15, sit him against the Steelers unless desperate. In Week 16, he will have an 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%| Mike Boone, MIN- Dalvin Cook is playing through his injury. 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%| Benny Snell, PIT- Snell looked like he was going to get more of a shot with James Conner sidelined with COVID, but Snell did little with his opportunity. Conner is back and playing again. A James Conner injury is not beyond the realm of possibility, as he has had trouble staying healthy down the stretch the past two years. If this were to happen, Snell is competent enough of a runner to take what is blocked. He’s shown he can convert short-yardage situations, which could come in handy if he gets another opportunity and you need to play him.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| C.J. Prosise, HOU- The Texans used Procise when David Johnson was on Injured Reserve and Duke Johnson Jr 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.

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.

Contending 1%, Rebuilding 1-5%| Collin Johnson, JAX- It will depend on the health of D.J. Chark Jr 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

Colt McCoy, NYG- With Daniel Jones back, there is no reason to keep Colt McCoy on your fantasy roster.

Devontae Booker, LVR- Unless you want to keep Josh Jacobs injury insurance on your squad, there is no need to keep Booker.

Ty Johnson and Josh Adams, NYJ- Neither are worth rostering with Gore back.

Anthony Firkser, TEN- Jonnu Smith is back, so Firkser can head back to the waiver wire.

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