In this weekly series, I will highlight players that are speculative adds in deeper dynasty leagues, since the majority of players often covered in typical waiver wire columns have long been rostered.
No matter how deep your league is or how large the rosters, you should always keep a watch list of players you are considering adding, should the opportunity present itself. The group of names below will help you form that list.
I will note that the data presented is based on all Yahoo leagues, not just those designated as keeper or dynasty.
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First, let’s look back at last week's waiver wire suggestions that gained value, with current Yahoo ownership percentages and percentage change in parentheses.
Jeremy Langford, CHI (71%/+64%)
Kamar Aiken, BAL (41%/+23%)
Jacob Tamme, ATL (26%/+20%)
Pierre Thomas, SF (17%/+17%)
Robert Woods, BUF (21%/+16%)
Kendall Gaskins, SF (11%/+11%)
Dontrelle Inman, SD (8%/+8%)
Blaine Gabbert, SF (2%/+2%)
Chris Givens, BAL (1%/+1%)
Garrett Celek, SF (1%/+1%)
While these players are on the rise, some of last week’s suggestions lost value over the past week.
Chris Polk, HOU (6%-10%)
Crockett Gillmore, BAL (8%/-5%)
Brian Hoyer, HOU (11%/-4%)
David Cobb, TEN (17%/-2%)
1. Blaine Gabbert, SF (2%)
2. Landry Jones, PIT (1%)
o To the surprise of many, new 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert actually performed well in his first start replacing the benched Colin Kaepernick, leading the team to a victory over the Falcons. Gabbert didn’t have a huge fantasy day, but was a mid-range QB2. While head coach Jim Tomsula is being coy, there’s no reason to think the team would return to Kaepernick anytime soon, meaning Gabbert has some value in deeper leagues or 2QB leagues.
o Another week, another injury for Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The good news is it appears Big Ben may only miss one game as the Steelers have a bye in Week Eleven. While he’s out, Landry Jones will take over. Jones actually performed fairly well in his two-game stint earlier this season, at least in comparison to his fellow backup Michael Vick. This shouldn’t hurt Antonio Brown too much, but Jones himself should only be an option in 2QB leagues.
1. Jay Ajayi, MIA (1%)
2. Ka’Deem Carey, CHI (1%)
3. James White, NE (3%)
4. Brandon Bolden, NE (4%)
5. Shaun Draughn, SF (2%)
6. Pierre Thomas, SF (17%)
o Dolphins’ rookie running back Jay Ajayi made his NFL debut in Week Nine and was quick to make an impact. Playing behind starter Lamar Miller, Ajayi earned only five carries, but racked up 41 yards, including a 23-yard dash. The Dolphins’ running game looked like a disaster a few weeks ago, but they now have two good young backs to build around with Ajayi’s dynasty value on the rise. The former Boise State star would be my top waiver wire target of the week.
o In a surprise move, second year running back Ka’Deem Carey drew the start at running back for the Bears with Matt Forte out of action. Most had assumed it would be Jeremy Langford early and often, and he did lead the team in carries, but Carey had a role and might be worth a stash as we wait for the severity of the Forte injury.
o It’s always a challenge to project the Patriots’ backfield and it just got even tougher as breakout running back Dion Lewis will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. While LeGarrette Blount should continue to play a large role, the job of pass-catching back is up for grabs. I think the favorite is James White, who was actually inactive in Week Nine. When Lewis missed a game in Week Seven, it was White who saw five targets out of the backfield. It’s not fair to expect White to match the production we’ve seen from Lewis thus far, but if he gets a significant portion of those numbers, he’ll be a fantasy asset down the stretch.
o As I said, predicting exactly what Bill Belichick will do is nearly impossible. If it’s not White seeing a much larger role, it will be Brandon Bolden instead. When Lewis went down last week, it was Bolden who took his snaps, catching three passes, with one going for a score. If I have roster room, I grabbing both of these running backs and hoping to strike fantasy gold.
o Another situation which will be a challenge to predict on a week by week basis will be the San Francisco backfield. With Carlos Hyde likely to miss a couple more weeks at least, the 49ers added both Shaun Draughn and Pierre Thomas in the past week and, surprisingly, it was Draughn working as a bell cow back, toting the ball 16 times and also catching four passes, totaling just under 100 yards from scrimmage. While that was a very nice week from Draughn, I can’t see that continuing on a weekly basis.
o The back most fantasy players were chasing was Thomas, who surprisingly wasn’t involved in the passing game at all. Thomas only carried the ball four times, but I do expect him to play a larger role in the coming weeks, depending on Hyde’s status following the team’s bye week.
1. Dorial Green-Beckham, TEN (13%)
2. Devin Funchess, CAR (14%)
3. Dontrelle Inman, SD (8%)
4. Jamison Crowder, WAS (7%)
5. Wes Welker, STL (3%)
o The coaching change made by the Tennessee Titans last week had many fantasy owners hoping for a breakout day for rookie receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, which is just what we saw. The former Missouri star had career highs with five receptions and 77 yards, seeing a team-high 10 targets. You’ve seen DGB’s name show up here on a nearly weekly basis and I can’t stress enough how strongly I would be targeting Green-Beckham. If he is available on your waiver wire, get him now.
o Another rookie who finally enjoyed a big game was former Michigan tight end now Carolina receiver Devin Funchess. On a day filled with big plays for the Panthers, Funchess caught three balls including a 52 yard score. Funchess is the most talented of the healthy Panthers’ receivers, but has had issues hanging onto the ball in the first half of the season. If Funchess can improve on this issue, he’s a sure bet for more playing time in the back half of the season.
o With Redskins’ star DeSean Jackson returning to the field in Week Nine, there was some legitimate concern for the role rookie Jamison Crowder would play. Crowder has been the team’s most consistent receiver through most of the season and that continued in Week Nine as he caught a team-high six passes for 50 yards. Jackson’s numbers will continue to improve as he gets back into shape, but Crowder is here to stay as a fantasy WR3 in PPR leagues.
o With the suspension of Stedman Bailey, the St. Louis Rams signed former Patriots’ and Broncos’ receiver Wes Welker. Considering how long it has taken Welker to get a job, I have some serious concerns about the impact he might have with the Rams, but he’s worth grabbing in deep PPR leagues.
1. Garrett Celek, SF (1%)
o We expected increased playing time for 49ers’ tight end Garrett Celek following the trade of veteran Vernon Davis to Denver and he responded. Celek caught his only two targets of the day, both going for touchdowns. Celek is not a reliable weekly play yet, but I am adding him to my deep rosters, especially in tight end premium leagues.