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 5 of Waivers of the Future! Injuries are a standard part of fantasy football, but the virus situation has also left many wondering if they will have enough players to field a lineup, especially in short-bench leagues. Cam Newton was diagnosed with COVID and may not be available for the upcoming week. Injuries to Mike Evans, Austin Eckler, Nick Chubb, and O.J. Howard add to the already extensive list. The waiver wire continues to dwindle, but the following players may be available to help fill holes on your dynasty roster.
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.)
Contending 5%, Rebuilding 1%| Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA- Fitzpatrick is clearly a caretaker quarterback that will be holding down the fort while the Dolphins develop Tua Tagovailoa. He is also one of the most prolific backups in the league, which is why he has been successful for so long. He is capable of multiple touchdown outings, but he can also throw interceptions with his daring and aggressive style of play. The 49ers may be healthier by the time this week rolls around, but the significant injuries they have had mean the defense is a lot less scary than it was at the beginning of the year. The Broncos also are a desirable matchup if you need to roll with Fitzmagic.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Nick Foles, CHI- Chicago has finally had enough of Trubisky and made the switch to Foles, despite being 3-0. While Foles is himself an inconsistent and streaky decision-maker, he has some quality weapons such as Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller who can help elevate his play. The Buccaneers is a neutral passing matchup, but the Panthers in week six is one to be excited about if you must play Foles.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Brian Hoyer, NE- It is uncertain whether Cam will be ready to play, even after his quarantine period is up. Hoyer will not light up the scoreboard, but he is a competent game manager type, which is better than taking a zero at the position. The Broncos in Week 5 should reassure those that start Hoyer. If he is still starting in Week 6, San Francisco will be his opponent in the contest. They should be healthier in the secondary by that point, so it is not the best of matchups in that respect.
Contending 5%, Rebuilding 1%| Dwayne Haskins, WAS- While the writer is skeptical that Haskins will be a starter beyond this year, there is no shame in using Haskins in the same manner that the Washington Football Team is using him-- as a stopgap option. Haskins is on thin ice, so be prepared that he could be benched in-game. The Rams in Week 5 is a game in which to avoid starting Haskins. If he is still the starter in Week 6, the New York Giants secondary has played better in recent weeks, but should not be particularly scary with no pass rush of consequence to back it up.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| C.J. Beathard, SF- Jimmy Garoppolo suffered the dreaded high ankle sprain and could be out for a while longer. Beathard has shown he can run the offense competently in previous relief duty and had a nice comeback effort against the Eagles. The Dolphins are a favorable matchup for Beathard if he starts.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Brett Rypien, DEN- Drew Lock exited Week 2 with a shoulder injury and his status for this week remains up in the air. If he should sit another week, Rypien is worth consideration for those desperate general managers. The Patriots contest is one that could be problematic for the young signal-caller. If he is still in for Week 6, his matchup with the Dolphins is better.
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 Chargers in Week 5 are a little tougher matchup but not necessarily a dealbreaker. The Panthers in Week 6 have Hill’s general managers feeling more hopeful they will get production.
If you play in a superflex or are desperately in need of a quarterback who might earn starting work in future weeks if the starter struggles…
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Case Keenum, CLE
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Kyle Allen, WAS
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Marcus Mariota, LVR
All of these guys are generally available on the waiver wire and reside behind starters who have tenuous holds on their jobs. The writer prioritized them this week by how likely they are to replace the starter. Baker Mayfield tops the list currently. He has played better in the last three weeks, but he could be replaced if the team loses a few games in a row. Each has flaws and weaknesses of their own - but again, when desperate for a quarterback to fill a lineup spot, options are limited.
Contending 5-10%, Rebuilding 1%| Malcolm Brown, LAR- Some of the luster has come off Brown as the Rams have started to feed Darrell Henderson increasingly, but Brown will still get work and the waiver wire is thin. Week 5's tilt against Washington is nothing to fear. The 49ers are tough against the run and it is a divisional matchup in Week 6, so avoid using Brown unless you have to.
Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| D’Ernest Johnson, CLE- With Nick Chubb out, we saw Johnson get increased snaps. We can count on Kareem Hunt getting the bulk of the work, but Johnson may pick up some of the slack. He is a developing runner who has some nice wiggle to his repertoire. Tough matchups with the Colts and Steelers loom on the horizon.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Scotty Miller, TB- Chris Godwin is out for the foreseeable future, Mike Evans has an ankle injury of concern, and O.J. Howard ruptured his Achilles. These three things mean more work for Miller in the short-term. The Bears and Packers are up next for Miller and Brady.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Tim Patrick, DEN- Hopefully, Lock will be back in soon to support Jerry Jeudy and Patrick. Patrick is not anything special, but he has had lots of situations to earn playing time over the last several years and seems to always be a serviceable option. The Patriots and Dolphins are the next two matchups for Patrick and whomever his quarterback happens to be.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| David Moore, SEA- Russell Wilson is cooking and Moore is catching touchdowns. 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 Vikings and Cardinals present favorable opportunities for Moore to keep the scoring streak alive.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Jeff Smith, NYJ- This passing game is not pretty, but with Breshad Perriman out, Smith is getting targeted often. Trailing often in games creates an opportunity for Smith to rack up receptions. The Cardinals and Chargers over the next two weeks should continue the trend of making the Jets trail.
Contending and Rebuilding 10-20%| Robert Tonyan Jr, GB- He could just as easily give you a goose egg, but if you are desperate to start someone and possibly get a touchdown, Tonyan is one of the few readily available waiver wire options to consider. With Allen Lazard out indefinitely, he could see an increase in passing game work. The Buccaneers are likely to be without their best corner, Sean Murphy-Bunting. The Texans secondary is a mess. Tonyan is one of the lower-priority defensive assignments, which means he will see some favorable coverage in both games. This is probably your last week to snag him if he is still on waivers.
Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Dalton Schultz, DAL- Schultz is getting the work that would have been meant for Blake Jarwin and is doing reasonably well with it. It does not hurt that Dallas’ defense has been flailing and has generated great passing game scripts from which Schultz has benefited. Dallas plays the Giants and Cardinals next.
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 at least a stopgap for your team. The Jets and Cowboys in the next two weeks are at least good matchups for those who need to plug-and-play Arnold.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Cameron Brate, TB- Brate has been serviceable in the past when counted on, and with Rob Gronkowski primarily playing blocker, we could see Brate reprise the O.J. Howard role. The Bears and Packers are next on the schedule for Brate.
(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%| Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson, KC- Both backs are likely to get used this year anyway. However, if Clyde Edwards-Helaire were to get dinged, Williams and Thompson would get the lion’s share of the work in an offense in which they would be the lowest priority for defenders that are stretched defending the likes of Patrick Mahomes II II, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman, and Sammy Watkins. Both are worth holding if you have the roster space to spare.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Benny Snell, PIT- Snell goes 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.
Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Giovani Bernard, CIN- Joe Mixon is locked up to a shiny new contract, but he has not proven to be the most durable back. Mixon is currently dealing with an undisclosed chest injury. An injury to Mixon could pay off massively for Bernard, who will have the benefit of working in an offense that will be reinvigorated by Joe Burrow. Bernard has long been a player with the ability to do more, but the Bengals have been content to use him in an ancillary role. If he were to get that chance and the offense was actually functional, it could be very profitable for general managers who used an open roster spot on this lottery ticket.
Contending and Rebuilding, 1%| Ryan Nall, CHI- David Montgomery was able to play in week one despite a groin injury sustained in preseason practices. In Week 2, he had some sort of stinger that kept him out for a quarter of play. If Montgomery were to re-aggravate either injury or suffer a more substantial problem, Nall could absorb his between-the-tackles workload. Nall is a very no-nonsense, north-to-south runner, but he has a great deal of power to his game.
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 5-10%| Justin Jackson, LAC- Jackson has battled injuries during his NFL career, but some very impressive college tape has fantasy general managers holding out hope that Jackson could emerge, even if it is on another team. He will have that opportunity now with Austin Eckler’s severe hamstring injury. Claim him this week for a minimal price before he gets work and becomes more expensive next week.
Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Auden Tate, CIN- A.J. Green is healthy right now, but he cannot seem to stay that way. That could lead to a lot of work for Tate alongside Tyler Boyd. Tate had, by all accounts, one of the more impressive training camps of any Bengal. He has shown flashes of what he can do as a big-bodied red zone threat in the past.
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.
Watch List| Chad Kelly, FA- Chad Kelly could very well be the most intriguing and high-upside quarterback name on this entire list, but character issues and immaturity make him a volatile asset. If he can learn lessons and increase in practical wisdom, he has the physical skills to develop into a starter. We will see if there is another team out there willing to give him that shot on their practice squad.
Watch List| C.J. Prosise, HOU- The Texans signed him to their practice squad and then promoted him in Week 2. David Johnson and Duke Johnson Jr have not always been the picture of health and now that Duke Johnson Jr is banged up, Procise is making the active roster each week. 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 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
(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.)
Jeff Wilson, SF- It sounds like Mostert is likely back this week, so no more need to hang on to Wilson.
Carlos Hyde, SEA- Carson was able to go last week and Hyde was the one who sat with a last-minute injury. Go figure.
Adam Humphries, TEN- Humphries may make it back later in the year, but he contracted COVID-19. With the uncertainty around his playing status the next couple of weeks, he is droppable.