How do you consistently beat opponents in dynasty and season-long settings when you all start with the same amount of FAAB (Free Agent Auction Bidding) dollars, a rotating waiver priority, or a standings-based waiver system? Are some people just luckier than others in nabbing their guy? How do some managers seem to have triple the FAAB budget? If you’ve played dynasty or season-long fantasy football, you’ve probably found yourself wondering these same questions at one point or the other.
The reason some managers seem to assemble stacked rosters is twofold: they draft for ceiling and fill in the gaps through waivers, and they are early to the party on “hidden gems” off the wire. That last point is the whole reason we are here. In order to consistently beat dynasty and season-long fantasy football, you have to not only be aggressive on the waiver wire, but you have to know where to look to find the players your opponents will be looking for NEXT WEEK. Successful waivers do not involve simply scooping as many replacement running backs as possible after an injury occurs. It takes knowledge, planning, foresight, and a little bit of gusto. You don’t need another talking head to tell you to grab Devontae Booker after Saquon Barkley was injured, or to grab Chuba Hubbard after Christian McCaffrey went down, or to grab Elijah Mitchell after the 49ers lost three running backs. So, that is exactly what we will be doing in this piece for the remainder of the season. We’ll scour the league to find the players in the best position to be difference-makers should one thing work in their favor, and we’ll do so weeks before our competition. Your opponents can’t blow their waiver priority or FAAB budget on players already on your roster!
Oh, and since there are enough analysts in the industry telling you who the obvious pickups are, we won’t waste our time with those players here (which isn’t to say they aren’t worth an addition, it simply means those are typically the players you should expect to spend significant FAAB, or waiver priority, on in order to acquire). With that quick introduction into what we will be doing in this space for the rest of the season out of the way, let’s dig in!
There are a couple reasons Sharpe headlines this list for Week 9. Firstly, he carries extremely low ownership in both less competitive and high-stakes leagues, alike. Secondly, Calvin Ridley took a leave of absence to address his mental health and state of mind (and rightly so, mad props to him for taking care of himself first and foremost!) and Sharpe stepped into the highest perimeter snap rate on the team in Week 8. Some will say that won’t last but hear me out. After the Falcons Week 6 bye, Sharpe has out-snapped fellow perimeter wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus in two consecutive weeks. Many will point to Russell Gage as the primary beneficiary of Ridley being out, but Gage has seen at most 68% of the offensive snaps in any one game this year and has run almost 70% of his routes from the slot. His 6.7 aDOT, paired with his modest weekly snap rates, means bankable production will continue to be hard to come by. Of the remaining wide receivers on the roster, it’s Sharpe that leads the team in target rate per route run at 13.2%. That’s the most telling stat to me when projecting future fantasy utility. Add Sharpe for free now before the masses catch up (which should be a week or two; correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see anyone talking up Sharpe as an add this week).
If Collins is still meandering around your wire, correct that post-haste. While true the Texans are a slow-paced, run-first team, they still are forced to throw the ball (Davis Mills has average 37.67 pass attempts per game over the previous three games) primarily due to continual negative game scripts. Yes, Chris Conley is the “starting WR2” and Brandin Cooks commands a significant share of the team’s targets (31.4%), but Conley has been targeted on a laughable 4.7% of his routes run (15.4% for Collins). Collins should continue to avoid top coverage with Cooks on the roster, Collins has already been utilized heavily in the red zone in his short career, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor will be making his return shortly. And I saved the best for last: Collins has out-snapped Conley in all three games he has started and finished this season. This one is too easy.
Michel joined the Rams prior to the start of the season after Cam Akers was lost for the season, immediately filling the change of pace and backup running back role behind Darrell Henderson. You would think he would carry higher ownership after playing a solid 74% of the offensive snaps in the lone game Henderson missed this season. If he’s floating around your wire, he’s exactly the profile of a running back (on a good offense with a coaching staff that would utilize him as a demi-workhorse, with a soft fantasy playoff schedule) that could win you your league should something happen to Henderson.
All of the hype (and all of the current ownership) out of the running backs on the Jets currently falls onto electric rookie Michael Carter, and for good reason. After starting the season in a three-way timeshare, Carter and Johnson have emerged as the clear 1A and 1B for the Jets, both highly capable on the ground and through the air. So, what would happen if the Jets lose Carter at some point? Scoop him now and avoid the FAAB rush!
It has been a pretty steep fall from grace for rookie running back Trey Sermon, who has not seen an offensive snap over the previous two weeks since returning from injury. Hasty has seen a 34% snap rate in each of the last two games following the 49ers Week 6 bye, indicating where the backfield is at in the eyes of the coaching staff. Should Elijah Mitchell miss time, it is highly likely to be Hasty, and not Sermon, that steps into the 1A running back role. He’d widely available in moderately competitive fantasy leagues and is free to any takers!
This one is the most speculative of the bunch. It caught most (including me) by surprise to see Patterson out-touch (and out-produce) Antonio Gibson this week, which led me down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out why that was the case. Could it be that Gibson’s nagging shin and leg issues are hinting at the team electing to throw him into “shutdown mode” once they are eliminated from the playoff picture (which could come as early as before fantasy playoff season)? I wouldn’t completely rule that scenario out, and Patterson is currently not owned anywhere. If you have the space, he’s a viable add to stash for late-season title pushes.