Home > Dynasty 101 > The Preseason, Waiver Wire, and You: How I Approach Hype and Waivers

So, we’ve all come across that situation. We’re sitting there, perfectly happy with our fantasy team, and then something shiny and dangly catches your eye. Well, what are you supposed to do?

Obviously, when it comes to redraft versus dynasty formats, there’s a huge difference in how you approach waivers. With redraft, you see that sparkly new talent that can help you out this season and drop that massive bust you never should have drafted in the first place (cough Trent Richardson cough).

When it comes to dynasty, though, things definitely get a bit trickier. What’s right about the player that you’re looking to pick up? Is your team in win-now mode and the player is an established veteran (a la Danny Woodhead this coming season)? Are you so far out of contention that you’re trying to restock with talented young players? And how do you know that you’re giving up the right guys for your new toys?

And that’s all without factoring in why most of you are likely here. If there are two prospects I want but there is only one spot, do I choose the defensive or the offensive player?

Well, lucky for all of you, I get to make the mistakes for you. I’m the guy who picked up Adrian Peterson but gave up Montee Ball to waivers. But then, I’m also the guy who drafted Cordarrelle Patterson two years in a row (Seriously, I had such high hopes for him). Some of my moves will be great, but some you’ll just shake your head at me and go, “Adam. Adam, are you an idiot?” And I really won’t have any recourse but to say yes.

With all of that said, we’re currently in the time of mass hysteria in terms of picking up and dropping players. The preseason is the perfect time to overreact, but for the savvy fantasy player, it’s a good way to get information about a player’s role.

Today, our key example is the Detroit Lions. Everyone has heard of their prodigious running back Ameer Abdullah. Before the preseason, Abdullah was being drafted at around the top of the 6th round in 12 team formats. After his first game, though, that stock skyrocketed. Fantasy players were taking him as high as the top of the 4th in starter and redraft drafts (FFCalculator.com).

But Abdullah’s actually not the back that we’re talking about today. See, people following Detroit closely know that there’s a different running back battle in the works between George Winn and Zach Zenner. And it’s pretty clear that Detroit already has a favorite. In their second preseason game, Zenner was on the field for 20 of Detroit’s 56 offensive snaps while Winn was on the field for 13 offensive snaps (36%, 23%). There’s a general stance that the more snaps that you get in the preseason, the less likely you are to make the final roster. In this case, that seems to be far from the truth. Of Zenner’s offensive snaps, half had the play in Zenner’s hands. On 4 rushes (and one called back for penalty) and 5 receptions, Zenner managed 81 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

The thought among a number of the Detroit beat writers is that this is not the sort of behavior that a team has when trying to stash a player on the practice squad. With Zenner’s production, it’s nearly guaranteed that he would be stolen by some team early. The Lions are quite experienced with this having lost a number of their practice squad players over the last few years, most recently Jerome Couplin, and being forced to call Rodney Austin, one of their key developmental guards, onto the main roster.

The situation is actually perfect for Zenner to latch on in Detroit. It’s all well and good that they’re a fan of his game, but there needs to be a spot for him. And there is. One of the most notable Detroit fantasy players over the last couple of years has been Joique Bell. Unfortunately, Bell is the epitome of a back on the outs. While Detroit has voiced that he will have a significant role this season, that will only be after he returns from nearly an entire offseason sidelined by Achilles and knee injuries. Even if he does participate this year, there’s always the question of the future. Bell is 29, and that age is starting to show. He’s never been all that great in stat averages (3.33 yards per carry through the first three quarters of the 2014 season, one of the most fumble-prone backs in the game, etc.) and as his physicality declines, so will what few good stats he did have.

So, with Zenner primed to have a legitimate shot at the roster, I personally took the shot. I ended up dropping draft darling Tre McBride for Zenner. To me, this decision came to a few different factors.

  1. Skill – This was a wash. Both Zenner and McBride are talented players with knocks that had them fall further in the draft than they should have (UDFA and 7th round).
  2. Situation – Point goes to Zenner. While the Titans receiving corps is exceedingly shallow, Tennessee is devoting themselves to the mercurial Dorial Green-Beckham, taking him in the 2nd With Justin Hunter in a rough position, it looked like other receivers might get a shot at the starting job, but McBride never really took advantage of this opportunity. Zenner, on the other hand, looks to play near if not immediate dividends.
  3. Position – This falls in favor of McBride. Receivers just tend to stay in the league far longer than bruising running backs. I tend to like players that have a longer shelf life, don’t you? That’s why I loaded up on receivers and have taken in a good number of linebackers and am considered thinner at running back and defensive back.

Because Zenner’s situation was so favorable and McBride’s was the exact opposite, I decided to make the move. Obviously there were other players that I could have moved, but McBride seemed to be the best fit at the time.

So tell me, who are your favorite waiver wire pick-ups this year! How do you decide who to drop? Would you rather pick up a promising defensive or offensive prospect? Let me know in the comments!

Adam Benovic

Adam Benovic

Adam Benovic is an aspiring writer and die hard Detroit Lions fan living in Chicago. He's active in NFL draft and scouting communities around the internet and looks forward to bringing that knowledge to a draft team near you.
Adam Benovic

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