Waivers of the Future: Week 6

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 6 of Waivers of the Future! It was another brutal week for injury attrition. The biggest news of the week pertains to Dak Prescott, who suffered a season-ending ankle fracture. Baker Mayfield, D.J. Chark Jr, Diontae Johnson, Sammy Watkins, and A.J. Green were also among the wounded. At this point in the season, the waiver wire begins to get very thin and general managers will typically need to increase their bids to land the few players that can be difference-makers for their squads.

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 5-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Andy Dalton, DAL- Dak Prescott is done for the season after a compound fracture. Dalton takes over an offense with lots of weapons and one that will play from behind quite a bit because of a flailing defense. While Dalton is no Prescott in terms of skill, he is an experienced starter and one of the better waiver wire quarterbacks we will see available this year. The Cardinals without pass rusher Chandler Jones and Washington with a lacking secondary are also up over the next two weeks. These will be favorable passing matchups for Dalton.

Contending 5-10%, 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 Broncos are a desirable matchup if you need to roll with Fitzmagic. The Chargers also are not a lockdown defense at the moment and will play the Dolphins in Week 7.

Contending 1-5%, Rebuilding 1%| Nick Foles, CHI- Chicago finally had enough of Trubisky and made the switch to Foles, despite a winning record. 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 Panthers as week 6’s matchup is one to be excited about if you must play Foles. Conversely, the Rams in Week 7 is one to fear.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Alex Smith, WAS- Smith has had quite a comeback story after a spiral fracture suffered in 2018. He entered the game in relief of Kyle Allen and is presumably the starter if Allen misses time. The Giants and Cowboys games over the next two weeks are favorable, even though the surrounding talent and offensive line protection are somewhat limited.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Joe Flacco, NJY- Flacco will play as Sam Darnold rehabs a right AC sprain. There are limited passing options in this offense currently and the offensive line will do Flacco no favors. The Chargers and Bills are up next and should have enough pass rush to make Flacco’s day difficult. Play Flacco only if you absolutely have to.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| C.J. Beathard, SF- Jimmy Garoppolo suffered the dreaded high ankle sprain and when he returned in Week 5, his play was so ineffectual that he was benched. He seemed uncomfortable on his ankle, which suggests he returned too early. While it is unclear which quarterback will start in Week 6, there is a chance it may be Beathard. The Rams and Patriots are two tough contests, so start Beathard only if he is named the starter and your options are limited.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Case Keenum, CLE- Baker Mayfield sustained a rib injury. Though he was able to finish the game, he will undergo x-rays and his status for Week 6 is in question. If Keenum should get the start, the Steelers have a vulnerable secondary if Keenum can survive the pass rush. In Week 7, the Browns will get a nice passing matchup when they play the hapless Bengals defense if Mayfield were to miss more time.

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Brett Rypien, DEN- Drew Lock exited Week 2 with a shoulder injury and we are still not sure when he will return to action. If he should sit another week, Rypien is worth consideration for desperate general managers. The Patriots contest is one that could be problematic for the young signal-caller. If he is still in for Week 7, 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.

RUNNING BACK

Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%| Mike Boone, MIN- Dalvin Cook grabbed at his groin and left for the locker room on Sunday night, suggesting an injury that could hold him out for a few weeks. If that is the case, we could see more of Mike Boone. Alexander Mattison is likely rostered across dynasty leagues, so Boone is the best widely-available choice. The Falcons next week could be a fantasy feast for Boone. The Packers the week after are a tougher draw, but one that should not scare you away from playing Boone in desperation situations.

Contending 10-15%, Rebuilding 1%| D’Ernest Johnson, CLE- With Nick Chubb out, we saw Johnson get increased snaps for a second straight week. 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. A tough matchup with the Steelers is next; but in Week 7, he will have a good chance of clean-up duty when the Browns face the Bengals.

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. The 49ers are tough against the run and it is a divisional matchup in Week 6, so avoid using Brown unless you have to. The Bears in Week 7 do allow rushers to gash them, so this could be a better contest in which to use Brown.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| Auden Tate, CIN- A.J. Green is hurt yet again. 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. We will see if he can become one of Burrow’s favorite targets going forward. The Colts and Browns’ secondaries can be beaten and Tate will not draw primary coverage.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Travis Fulgham, PHI- All the wide receiver injuries have promoted Fulgham to the active roster and he made the most of his opportunity with 10 receptions, 152 yards, and a touchdown. While DeSean Jackson could be back soon, it is hard to imagine that Philadelphia will completely shelve Fulgham. Pick up this Matt Waldman recommendation and see if Fulgham can keep building on his Week 5 performance. The Ravens will be hard to repeat that type of performance against, but we could see the floodgates open again when the Eagles face the Giants in Week 7.

Contending and Rebuilding 1-5%| Jeff Smith, NYJ- This passing game is not pretty, but with Breshad Perriman out, Smith is getting targeted often. In fact, he saw 11 targets in the last contest. Trailing often in games creates an opportunity for Smith to rack up receptions. The Chargers and Bills over the next two weeks should continue the trend of making the Jets trail.

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 still-building Cardinals defense and depleted 49ers secondary present favorable opportunities for Moore to keep the scoring streak alive.

TIGHT END

Contending and Rebuilding 5-10%| 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. That seemed to be the case when Tampa Bay faced the Bears. The Packers are next on the schedule for Brate, followed by the Raiders.

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 Cowboys and Seahawks in the next two weeks are at least good matchups for those who need to plug-and-play Arnold.

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 1-5%| 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, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman, and, when healthy, 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 has not proven to be the most durable back. Mixon is currently dealing with an undisclosed chest injury. Any major injury to Mixon could pay off massively for Bernard, who will have the benefit of working in an offense that is 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.

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. See other running back sections of this report for pick-up ideas.

WIDE RECEIVER

Contending and Rebuilding 1%| Tyler Johnson, TB- A recommendation in Matt Waldman’s The Replacements, Johnson got increased opportunity against the Bears and showed he could win contested balls. While Godwin and Mike Evans look like they will be good to go in Week 6, Johnson is a name to keep in mind if injuries once again devastate the Buccaneers receiving corps.

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. 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. Also, consider costly turnover mistakes by Ebron in the most recent game that could promote McDonald in the pecking order.

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.

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.

RUNNING BACK

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 Jr. have not always been the picture of health. 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.

WIDE RECEIVER

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.

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

Brian Hoyer, NE- The likelihood that Cam Newton will be back in Week 6 is high, so we can safely toss Hoyer back into the player pool.

Dwayne Haskins, WAS- He has lost his starting job and the author is not a fan of Haskins’ game long-term. Send him packing.

Kyle Allen, WAS- He was knocked from the game in Week 5 and Alex Smith took his place. We will assume Smith is the starter going forward and ditch Allen for now.

Marcus Mariota, LVR- Carr is playing his best football right now and Mariota continues to struggle with injury issues. It is safe to toss him back if you were holding on to him, even in superflex leagues.

Scotty Miller, TB- He was blanked against a tough Bears pass defense, but it also appears that Tyler Johnson will play a bigger role going forward. With Chris Godwin also coming back soon, Miller is not worth hanging on to in all but the very deepest of dynasty leagues.

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