Every dynasty roster, no matter the size should constantly be focused on their roster construction. Most of the discussion on our rosters is on the top half of our roster, and some discussion on the depth behind our core. However, I am always mining for who deserves a spot at the bottom of my rosters. I am currently in 17 dynasty leagues ranging in roster sizes of 20 to 30, and as high as 58 in IDP leagues, not to mention varying league sizes from 12 to 16 teams. I both have to be frugal with my roster spots, but also I have to reach deep in the bowels of the waiver wires for Roster Fillers. Some will refer to these as fliers, but I have adapted seriousness to these players that I want to intelligently mine for them, not just treat them like pennies I find on the curb. Just because they are free, off of waivers, does not mean they cannot hold value. For some, these spots might be currently filled, however, we need to still evaluate whether those players deserve the spot or if they are actually Roster Cloggers.
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There are many attributes I have identified that help me mine out these fillers. These attributes can be as simple as talent that hasn’t yet refined; did the fantasy community give up on them before the NFL has? I also look for path to snaps. I look for wide receivers on teams that will be in the Top 10 in pass attempts, or running backs on teams which will be in the top 10 in rushing. I will also look for coach speak, yes, coach speak. Sean Payton told you C.J. Spiller would be good, but he also said Willie Snead was impressing. These are viewed as throw away comments, not so much for me.
Using last year as an example, I grabbed Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman, while most where grabbing “the talented” players like Seantavius Jones and Nick Toon. I kept reading, month after month, through OTAs, and camp, Saints head coach make these types of comments, “I think he is a good route runner with strong hands, and he is smart”. Many scoffed me and said, blah, just coach speak. A year later, we know differently. Of course, not every Roster Filler player will work out like Snead did. However, Dion Lewis, Gary Barnidge, or Ben Watson among others can provide you will extremely useful depth, for free.
Shaughn Draughn had five games where he was given more than 50 percent of the 49ers opportunities. In those five games, he averaged 13.9 fantasy points in PPR. In these games, he averaged six targets per game. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly is about to take the reins of the 49ers offense, and we all know what how he increased the number of offensive plays, and utilized Darren Sproles, with 73 targets. This small sample size is promising and agreed, not much to go on, except when you combine with the fact that he is available in 53.8% of leagues and can be had off of waivers for free, you can bet Draughn makes the list of my Roster Fillers.
Demarcus Ayers drafted by the Steelers in the seventh round is the type of wide receiver that most of us just glance over, with little chance to make the 53-man roster, let alone be on our dynasty radar. Back in January, I wanted to look at every wide receiver that might be drafted and watched highlights or film, whatever I could find. I really liked watching Ayers. He gets open with ease, and routinely makes highlight catches. He won’t be on the radar of the metrics crowd, sub-50th percentile in every metric, well except he was 52nd percentile in playerprofiler’s dominator rating. He led Houston receivers with 98 receptions, 1,222 yards and six touchdowns. He was used as a running back, and in the return game despite not having ideal speed. He is the definition of a wide receiver out producing his God-given talent. I suspect Ayers will be available in most leagues, except for maybe deeper leagues with 30+ man rosters.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts was third in targets with 51 in 2015 behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who both were over 120 targets. This is a prime situation for Roberts to step into a consistent role should Crabtree fade or injuries happen to either of the Raiders top two targets. Looking at Roberts’ metrics, I was surprisingly impressed. He has a 68th percentile height-adjusted speed score, with a 4.46 40-yard dash and decent size at 6-foot-2 and 196 pounds. An intriguing wide receiver to add to our list of roster fillers, as Roberts has a path to production in 2016, but at only 25 years of age, I would be okay stashing him on my deep bench.
The Atlanta Falcons were eighth in pass attempts with 621. Obviously, wide receiver Julio Jones led the way, but tight end Jacob Tamme was third in targets with 78. Many are looking for a 2nd WR to step up, like incoming free agent Mohammed Sanu, who is an okay flier, however Tamme is a player I often find off waivers, only owned in 53.5 percent of MFL leagues. Tamme was the TE17 in PPR fantasy points per game, TE13 overall and entering this season at age 31, which is probably why he is on waiver in more than half of leagues. What makes him appealing to me is that he was TE10 in receiving yards, and TE11 in receptions. Of the Top 24 tight ends in fantasy last year, Tamme had the fewest touchdowns with one. My range of outcomes would anticipate that there is opportunity for him to finish as a Top 12 tight end in 2016 by increasing his touchdown output. In some leagues where my rosters are deep enough, or I have taxi squads, I have been stacking Tamme with rookie Austin Hooper as very low cost TE1 production in dynasty. I expect there to be a transition in 2017 towards Hooper, but for just the cost of a deep roster spot, I can fill the bottom of my roster with a stream-able option at TE.
My Superflex/2QB Roster Fillers
A growing format in dynasty is the Superflex or 2QB format, where either a second quarterback can be started in a flex position, or in the case of 2QB leagues, required. In every format, I am always mining for value and filling the bottom of my roster. In these QB premium leagues, I am no different. This year my favorite target has been 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert, as highlighted in my guest piece, blaine-gabbert-is-arriving, for playerprofiler.com. A few more targets I like are Chase Daniel, Cody Kessler, Geno Smith/Christian Hackenberg, Tom Savage, Landry Jones, Brian Hoyer, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jake Coker. These quarterbacks have various reasons that I will be adding them as Superflex/2QB Roster Fillers. Quarterbacks like Hoyer have a potential to provide me steaming options throughout the year, but most are backups to starters that have missed games in recent years as well as young enough to be longer term prospects.
Roster Fillers are best when low cost and fill the bottom of my roster. My idea for this focus came when I read my DLF colleague Ryan McDowell’s yearly article, Roster Cloggers. This concept not only made me realize that the bottom of my roster was being neglected, and the players were just taking up space like the weeds in a flower bed. Once I cleared out the cloggers, I wanted to make a concerted effort to fill these roster spaces with players I could use either in-season as depth or as deep stashes, almost reserving the bottom of my rosters as my own taxi squad. Not all these players will hit, quite possibly very few. However, for the one Dion Lewis, or Kirk Cousins, or Tyrod Taylor, or Willie Snead that I hit on makes it all worth the while.
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