Dynasty league roster curation is a 24/7/365 responsibility. With many teams out of contention, December is the the best month for active dynasty leaguers to gain an edge on their league mates by actively mining the waiver wire for buried talent. These smoldering breakouts players should be added in dynasty based on advanced stats, metrics, and analytics profiles before it is too late.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon went down before halftime in Week 12 with what has been reported as an MCL sprain. While he is hopeful to return later in the season, he is essentially done for the fantasy playoffs. Enter Justin Jackson. While a quick peruse of his player profile won’t reveal much, the fact that he’s not been active for much of the season—due to Los Angeles having Austin Ekeler to trot out behind Gordon—can be used to your advantage as you hoodwink less aware league mates.
Jackson became active ahead of Week 12’s game and luckily, he was able to put together some production in his limited role and give the coaches a look at who is going to be their RB2 for the next few weeks. Jackson carried the ball seven times for 57 yards, and seeing how often Ekeler was deployed behind Gordon, the Chargers should now have full confidence in utilizing Jackson’s skillset as they look to improve their seeding in the AFC playoff race.
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams
If you’ve been in the dynasty game for very long, you’ve likely heard Brown’s name come up at least a few times around draft day and this time of the season as well. Backing up the league’s best running back in what has become a top tier offense under Sean McVay, Brown has always been an injury away from one of the most productive situations in fantasy. This is the same Sean McVay that led the combination of Matt Jones and Rob Kelley to a 1,000 yard, 9 touchdown season on the ground while serving as Washington’s OC in 2016, and Malcolm Brown is unarguably a more attractive athlete than both of these plodders combined.
Drafting or holding onto a handcuff in redraft is often a fool’s errand, as waiting for an injury is rarely worth the production you are likely forfeiting by clogging your roster with players that need something else to happen for them to become relevant. However, for a contender in dynasty, it’s possible you have the depth to spare the slot for a valuable running back’s handcuff.
McVay has shown no interest in lifting his foot from opponents’ collective necks regardless of the score or week, and Todd Gurley went completely scorched earth during the fantasy playoffs last season. McVay straight up isn’t going to bench the most productive running back in football. This is, in essence, a reminder to at least comb the waiver wire once or twice for stud running backs’ backups if you can spare the roster spot. Let me tell you, there’s nothing better than waxing your opponent in the fantasy championship on the back of Shaun “Waiver Jesus” Draughn.
Dontrelle Inman, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Before the season, I wrote about how Ryan Grant, Daurice Fountain, and Deon Cain were players to keep a close eye on during Indy’s preseason games. When Cain went to IR and Fountain got cut (by the Colts, not from my dynasty rosters. Not now, not ever), it became clear someone else was going to have to step in and play the WR2 role in Andrew Luck’s “You Thought Wrong” comeback tour. What we didn’t expect was Eric Ebron coming in off the street and leading the league in touchdowns, but we’ll get to that phenomenon a little later.
T.Y. Hilton is the clear top option for Luck, and the two have gotten on the same page like old times as of late. But man cannot live on Ebron and Hilton alone. Enter Dontrelle Inman. This Chargers send-off has come on strong in recent weeks, posting a snap share of 34.6% – 49.3% – 70.3% over the last three weeks and running an increasing number of routes as well (15 – 17 – 25). He’s turned this uptick in opportunity into 28.5 PPR points in three games and he shows no signs of slowing down, as Ryan Grant’s snap share (53.8% – 33.3% – 34.3%) and routes (15 – 16 – 13) have tapered off considerably in Inman’s wake. Inman has successfully secured Indy’s WR2 role heading into the fantasy playoffs, where the Colts are fighting hard to secure a wild card spot, and this makes him waiver wire gold that you need to pocket post-haste.
Bruce Ellington, WR, Detroit Lions
With Marvin Jones on IR and Golden Tate sent off to Philly, the Lions offense turns to Kenny Golladay and Bruce Ellington to receive the … large share of targets fired from Matthew Stafford’s arm. In the Lions’ past two games without Jones, Ellington played 54.0% of the snaps (22 routes) and then 81% (31 routes). While Jones and Ellington occupied different roles on the team, he’s been thrust into a position of great opportunity and he has always sported the proper measurables to be a difference maker at this level.
With the Lions losing Kerryon Johnson for an unknown period of time and utilizing no TE of consequence, Ellington seems all but locked in for the Lions WR2 role for the fantasy playoffs. You could certainly do worse on waivers, turning to a team that’s in the top 10 of pass attempts and likely to rise even higher with the loss of young gun Kerryon Johnson.
Robert Foster, WR, Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen bomb. Next player.
Okay, a bit more. Foster should already be picked up in your dynasty league after cruising past the 100 yard mark on three receptions from Matt Barkley in Week 10. However, since he had a bye in Week 11, some owners may have left him alone for Week 12, when he acrobatically reeled in a 50-yard Josh Allen rocket and kept on straight into the endzone. Of course, this was one of only two receptions in a downright ugly game against Jacksonville. That being said, he has been one of the very few sparks in the Buffalo passing offense and even if he is just a deep burner artist, he’s got a quarterback that can basically only throw deep balls. Foster is certainly worth a look in a receiving group that includes the decaying husk of Kelvin Benjamin and on-again, off-again Zay Jones (referring to his clothes).
Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets
It’s rare enough for a rookie tight end to be fantasy relevant, and rarer still that it occurs in such a disjointed offense. But that’s what Chris Herndon is doing. Regardless of QB play (Josh McCown has been filling in as Sam Darnold has missed the last few weeks and his availability remains in question due to a sprained foot), Herndon is leading the Jets receiving group in catch rate (76.5%), and is 8th among all tight ends. When your team is 20th in pass plays, that matters.
The perennial wasteland that is tight end lends itself to waiting on hidden gems and Herndon has revealed himself to be a legitimately viable option, scoring between 6.4 and 13.6 PPR points each week dating back to Week 6. With so few tight ends still productive and not on IR (RIP Eifert, Henry, Doyle, et. al) Herndon is a must add in your dynasty leagues if you are lucky enough to find him still available.
Mo Alie-Cox, TE, Indianapolis Colts
They said he would never throw a football again, but comeback player of the year Andrew Luck currently trails only Patrick Mahomes in passing touchdowns on the season. Even more miraculous than this, Eric Ebron has been the recipient of 11 of Luck’s 32 passing scores, and Ebron is currently tied with Antonio Brown and Tyreek Hill for the clubhouse lead. With Jack Doyle heading to IR due to a kidney issue, Frank Reich’s TE-friendly approach is inevitably going to bring along one of the Colts’ other options.
Mo Alie-Cox actually flashed a few weeks ago with an acrobatic catch in the end zone in Week 8, and he caught another touchdown after the Colts’ bye in Week 10’s contest against Jacksonville. With tight end being such an ugly and often fluky position, those touchdowns are must-haves, and Reich’s revitalized Colts’ offense feeds the tight end position, which have always thrived with Luck. Alie-Cox’s 6-4, 262-pound frame helps him box out anybody in sight, because… wait for it…. he played basketball.
Erik Swoope, a former fantasy darling waiting for a breakout, has been inactive seen Week 7 with what Reich said is a lingering knee issue. While he did return to practice this week, it remains to be seen if he is going to be ready for full-on game speed action coming off such a lengthy rest. Mo Alie-Cox is a top priority add operating in arguably the league’s most tight end-centric offense.