As week eleven nears, we are less than a month away from the fantasy playoffs for most dynasty leagues. By now, you should have a very good idea if your team is a contender or a builder. As I’ve mentioned many times recently, regardless of which group you associate with, you should be making moves to improve your team.
For those teams not destined for the playoffs this season, it is time to begin looking for ways to improve your chances for a turnaround in 2016. One relatively easy component of the plan is to maximize your roster upside via the waiver wire. Over the past few days, I have been asked several times for recommendations of players to stash, with eyes toward the future.
I scoured my leagues and used MyFantasyLeague ownership data to come up with a list of players you might want to stash at the end of your bench. The ownership percentages I will quote come from all MFL leagues, including both dynasty and redraft. Because of this, I have only considered players owned in 20% or less of all leagues.
Often times, leagues feature such shallow rosters that dynasty owners can not afford to hold onto players once they have suffered a season ending injury. In other cases, a certain owner may just give up on an injured player and dump them on the waiver wire. Here are a few players who should return to full strength in 2016.
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Khiry Robinson, RB NO (20%)
The Saints’ running back suffered a broken leg just a couple of weeks ago and will miss the rest of the season. While he had not been playing a major role for New Orleans, he has been a player who always exceeds expectations. In a season in which newly signed CJ Spiller was being counted on to play a major role, Robinson had been steadily eating into his touches leading up to the injury. He will be a restricted free agent this off-season and I expect the Saints to make a strong attempt to keep him, especially considering he is still just 25 years old. He will be high on my stash list when I hit the waiver wire.
Justin Hunter, WR TEN (17%)
Things have not gone well for the Titans’ receiver the past year. After a troubled off-season, Hunter has failed to separate himself on a Tennessee team desperately in need of big play makers. I had hoped the addition of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota would change things, but that hasn’t been the case. Just last week, Hunter suffered a fractured ankle that could be the final straw for some dynasty owners. I would not be at all surprised if the Titans decide to part ways with the 24-year-old, which honestly could be a good thing for both parties. He is not a priority add for me, but I’m certainly willing to stash him where I have space.
Lance Dunbar, RB DAL (12%)
Ever since DeMarco Murray made the surprising decision to bolt Dallas for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys’ running game has been in shambles. They’ve tried several options including two massive busts, Joseph Randle and Christine Michael, both of whom are no longer with the team. After Dunbar was dominating as the pass catching back earlier in the season, the team has now turned to Darren McFadden as their every down back. While McFadden has been playing well, I’m not sure its safe to rely on him as the Cowboys’ starter heading into next season. Dunbar could easily return to the same role he was playing early in the season, which saw him averaging over five targets per game.
Jace Amaro, TE NYJ (12%)
I was a huge fan of Amaro a year ago as he entered the league. If you recall, there were three top tight end prospects as part of that rookie class, including Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Eric Ebron. As young tight ends often do, all three have struggled through their first season and a half in the league, but Amaro is the one considered a bust, partially due to the shoulder injury that landed him on the injured reserve list before the season even started. The only good news, at this point, is that no one has stepped up and laid claim to the starting tight end job for the Jets. There is a good chance he can earn that role with a strong off-season and we may witness a third year breakout from the former Texas Tech star.
Zach Zenner, RB DET (6%)
An undrafted free agent, Zenner surprisingly signed with the Detroit Lions, who seemed to be flush with running backs. Just a few months later, that could not be further from the case. While he had barely gotten his career started before suffering a chest injury that ended his season, the lack of options in Detroit make him a viable waiver wire option for many. Veteran Joique Bell looks all but done and rookie Ameer Abdullah’s struggles have some asking if he can play in the league. Pass catching back Theo Riddick has been a nice surprise, but his role shouldn’t conflict with Zenner, a big bruising runner. Zenner is far from a sure thing and I expect Abdullah to get the first crack with what should be a brand new coaching staff, but in a deep league, I’m grabbing Zenner while we see what happens in Detroit.
One characteristic that nearly every stash player I target possesses is youth. While relatively few of these young, unknown players will “hit” and become a fantasy star, I would much rather take a chance on a young player who could become something, rather than an older player we’ve seen try and fail. This list could be very extensive, as I would be willing to take a shot on nearly every rookie we’ve yet to see break out, but I will try to narrow it to a select few.
Chris Conley, WR KC (18%)
The NFL Combine star has had a slow start to his career, but that could be different in 2016, with a year under his belt. The Chief, even after adding Jeremy Maclin via free agency last off-season, still have a major hole at the receiver position, so Conley should have an opportunity for a role in 2016.
Clive Walford, TE OAK (18%)
As rookie tight ends are apt to do, Walford has been inconsistent through the first ten games, but has opened his lead on second year player Mychal Rivera in their battle for playing time as the Raiders’ starter. In his past four games, Walford has three touchdowns as an important part of Oakland’s young offense, and head coach Jack Del Rio has announced he plans for Walford’s role to continue to grow.
Devin Smith, WR NYJ (15%)
The Jets’ second round pick’s career is off to a very slow start. He missed much of the preseason as well as the beginning of the regular season with a rib injury and once he did get on the field, he’s battled fumbles and drops. The Jets’ top two receivers, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, are among the best in the game, but the third receiver role is wide open. If Smith can live up to his original draft position, he would be a steal to grab from the waiver wire.
Sammie Coates, WR PIT (14%)
Through the early portion of his career, the Steelers’ latest young receiver Coates hasn’t done anything to endear himself to Steelers’ fan or dynasty owners. Even with the early season suspension of Martavis Bryant and the report that Coates was drafted with that suspension in mind, Coates has barely even seen the field. I do think back the huge success the Steelers have enjoyed when drafting receivers and many of those started slowly as well. I’m certainly not ready to give up on Coates, but if someone in your league has, take advantage and get him on your roster.
Stash and See
As we are now firmly in the season’s second half, many NFL teams, just like our own dynasty teams, begin shaking things up. This could be due to injuries or simply losing teams looking towards the future. Regardless, there will be many players who get an opportunity in the next several weeks and we will learn if they are fantasy relevant or not.
Brock Osweiler, QB DEN (19%)
I expect Osweiler was a popular player in this week’s waiver run, but for those leagues where he is still available, make him your primary target. As you already know, he will start his first career game in week eleven with Peyton Manning dealing with an injury. If Osweiler is successful, it very well could spell the end of Manning’s NFL career. With receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the ceiling is surprisingly high for Osweiler.
Keshawn Martin, WR NE (2%)
Following his trade from Houston to New England, Martin became one of my favorite deep stashes and with the injury to starter Julian Edelman, Martin may see an increased role in the Patriots’ offense. A Patriots’ beat writer suggested it would be Martin, not Danny Amendola, who would be the top option to replace Edelman. Considering he’s available on the majority of waiver wires, now is the time to stash him and see how the next few weeks play out.
Tre McBride, WR TEN (2%)
The Titans are dealing with multiple injuries at the wide receiver position, which led them to activate McBride from their practice squad. With Justin Hunter on the injured reserve list and Kendall Wright still dealing with a knee injury, maybe McBride gets a shot at some playing time. He’s another player that is available in the majority of leagues, but could prove worthwhile in short order.