The waiver wire. One of, if not the most, important aspect of winning a fantasy football championship. Many people play in 8, 10, and 12 team leagues. These leagues are fairly shallow, with anywhere from 128 to 192 players getting drafted. With these leagues, the waiver wire is usually easy to navigate, and decent players can be found here.
Not everyone is satisfied with normal leagues, though. Hardcore fantasy football fans play in leagues which huge rosters, such as 14 or 16 teams, or even up to 20 or 24 team leagues. In these leagues, you could have as few as 224 players rostered or many as 384 players. This is where anyone who might be able to contribute at all is an intriguing waiver wire option. To help all of the crazies in these types of leagues, I will highlight certain players whose ownership percentage is 20% or less in ESPN fantasy football leagues that warrant being owned in deep leagues, whether because they’re producing right now or could carve out a substantial role.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Cleveland Browns (18.4% owned)
When the Browns signed Robert Griffin III in March, the signing was ridiculed and dismissed by fantasy owners. After all, the Browns have been rebuilding forever and didn’t have any weapons. Then the draft happened and Corey Coleman joined the intriguing backfield combination of Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. Then Josh Gordon got reinstated, albeit with a four-game suspension. Then preseason rolled around and Terrelle Pryor started running around making great plays. Even though it is preseason, Griffin has looked good, showing improvement from when we last saw him play. With these exciting young weapons, a wily veteran in Gary Barnidge, and extreme rushing ability, Griffin’s 2016 upside makes him rosterable for deep leagues.
CJ Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks (13.3% owned)
The Seattle RB situation has not been the easiest to decipher this offseason. With Thomas Rawls being out with a broken ankle, the resurgence of Christine Michael, and the drafting of 3 RBs, no one has really know what to do with them. CJ Prosise was one of the newly drafted backs, taken in the 3rd round. With Rawls, Michael, and Alex Collins on the roster, Prosise has a niche carved out. He excels as a 3rd down back and catching passes. With the continuation of Russell Wilson’s passing development, there should be a large enough target opportunity for Prosise to be a very good PPR bench RB with upside. Prosise is worth owning, even without considering his handcuff prowess. If Thomas Rawls or Christine Michael were to go down with an injury, Prosise would be a worthy Flex play.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Baltimore Ravens (16.2% owned)
Kenneth Dixon was the Ravens 4th round pick. During the pre-draft process, I along with #DraftTwitter fell in love with Dixon and believed him to be worthy of a Day 2 pick. Alas, he fell to Day 3 and entered the situation that is the Ravens’ four-headed backfield mess. Dixon faces an uphill battle to be FLEX-worthy early in the season, with Justin Forsett, Javorius Allen, and Terrence West also having significant roles. Not to mention, Dixon tore his MCL during the preseason and is expected to return by Week 4 or 5. This injury makes Dixon a candidate for an IR spot if your league has one, or a watch list FA. Dixon potential and talent is intriguing, but until he’s healthy he deserves to be no more than an end of the bench stash that you are comfortable cutting early in the season until he’s healthy and participating in games.
Robert Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins (4.5% owned)
An UDFA, Robert Kelley pushed his way onto the Redskins roster with a strong preseason, earning the RB 2 job as well. As a powerful, downhill runner, Kelley amassed 38 carries for 198 yards, a 5.2 YPC mark, during the preseason. With oft-nicked up starter, Matt Jones, already dealing with a shoulder injury, Kelley deserves to be owned in all leagues, 10 teams and above. Even after Jones is completely healthy, there should be a role for Kelley in the Redskins offense.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins (19.8% owned)
Stills barely squeaks under the ownership mark here at 19.8%. The WR 2 for the Miami Dolphins, Stills has been miscast as a pure deep threat. On a team likely to be trailing a lot, with a head coach who also has a tendency to throw the ball a lot, the opportunity will be there for the taking. After outplaying Devante Parker through training camp and preseason and developing a rapport with Ryan Tannehill, Stills won the WR 2 job outside of Jarvis Landry. Week 1 may not be the ideal time to play Stills against Seattle, but it would be an intriguing contrarian play. In the past Seattle’s defense has been burned by speedy WRs who can run and get to the middle and deeper levels of the defense. With 4.38 speed, Stills can do that, and the opportunity combined with his potential makes him worth an add.
Chris Conley, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (3% owned)
Coming into the 2016 offseason Chris Conley was behind Albert Wilson on the Chiefs’ WR depth chart. That changed with a strong preseason, and now Conley is the WR 2 in KC, behind Jeremy Maclin. A combine darling (and a personal favorite of mine), Conley is an elite athlete, with 4.35 speed and agility scores in the 97th percentile and above at 6’2, Conley is an extremely intriguing player. With Jamaal Charles unlikely for Week 1 and Justin Houston still sidelined with an ACL injury, opportunity could come in bunches for Conley, especially if the Chargers and Chiefs get into a shootout, which is possible with the possibilities of bad defense on both sides of the ball.
Vance McDonald, TE, San Francisco 49ers (5.1% owned)
Vance McDonald has been a popular late round upside pick this offseason. As one of the many late round TE options this year, its possible that McDonald has the highest upside of them all. I don’t particularly care about how high his talent level is or not, with him its more about one thing. Opportunity, especially opportunity in a Chip Kelly lead offense . The Eagles threw the ball 622 times last year (59.64% of the time) with TEs accounting for 102 Rec, 1,251 yards, and 5 TDs. With the hurry up offense that Kelly runs and a potentially historically bad defense, expect the 49ers to be passing a ton, and hopefully racking up garbage time points. McDonald is worth owning in all 12 team and above leagues.