Zero Dollar Bidding: Waiver Wire Look Ahead Week 5
by Alan Seslowsky
Many of our fantasy teams are going to need a weekly facelift with fresh talent from the waiver wire. As we start to deplete our FAAB budget or our waiver priority moves from the top three to the bottom three, we need to find other ways to get an edge. RosterWatch has long been a proponent of picking up players that have a plausible path to be the hot free agent next week. Mining players from the bottom of the Ultimate Waiver Wire Cheat Sheet is a proven way to gain an edge.
Each week this column will provide you with sneaky zero dollar pickups you can add to your roster today, which may be of great value next week.
Gus Edwards (RB Baltimore Ravens, 2% Rostered)
In the modern version of fantasy football, the “workhorse RBs” are the most coveted players. True workhorses are extremely rare. Mostly we are satisfied if we have the lead RB in a committee of two. When a team’s RB rotation devolves into a committee of three, it defeats the purpose of why we price up RBs in our drafts and weekly waiver wire: projectable weekly volume. The Baltimore Ravens are essentially a committee of four when you account for Lamar Jackson, who has more rush attempts than JK Dobbins. On Sunday, Gus Edwards led the team in rush attempts (9) and averaged 4.2 YPC. By contrast, Mark Ingram had 8 attempts and averaged a similar 4.3 YPC.
The key to “zero dollar bidding,” and gaining an edge on your league is to identify what player is one injury away from a significant increase in value. Should Mark Ingram or JK Dobbins go down, Edwards stands to directly profit. He can easily be had for free if you have the roster space.
Duke Johnson (RB Houston Texans, 18% Rostered)
Duke Johnson was a popular pre-season “Zero-RB” target, for fantasy players who waited on RB in their drafts. The Texans paid a significant price (2020 third-round pick) to acquire Duke Johnson last year from the Browns. Fantasy owners were left scratching their heads when Duke Johnson was given a mere 83 carries and 62 targets in 2019. That didn’t stop many of us, from seeing the upside given Duke Johnson’s 10th round ADP in 2020 fantasy drafts. After Duke was injured in Week 1, he was dropped in many leagues. In his first game back from injury Duke did not produce attention-getting results. The starter, David Johnson, garnered less than 4.0 YPC, and has a significant injury history. Houston lost the game and remains winless. The Texans are now in serious danger of a lost season, squandering a valuable year of star QB Deshaun Watson‘s prime. Duke Johnson could be thrust into a more significant role and remains one injury away to becoming the lead RB in the offense. While the rest of your league is breaking open the piggy bank for the high priced free agents this week, Duke Johnson should be picked up for a zero dollar bid.
Denzel Mims (WR New York Jets, 3% rostered)
It is cheap fantasy football advice to say “stash this guy.” Our rosters are limited and we are certain there are at least 10 players on your waiver wire right now you would love to “stash.” That last roster spot or two has a lot of value. It should be your high upside lottery ticket spots. The last spot on your bench should not be for what a player’s likely outcome is, rather their 80th percentile outcome possibility.
During the pre-draft process rookie, WR Denzel Mims skyrocketed up draft boards with an eye-popping 4.38 forty time and stand out senior bowl performance. RosterWatch’s own, Trashman, was particularly early to identify Mims as a player that was off the mainstream radar. Mims was subsequently drafted in the second round by the Jets, then injured before the season started. Mims is set to make his debut soon, and the Jets are starved for pass catchers. On Sunday QB Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder injury and may miss time, but veteran Joe Flacco can likely still run an NFL offense. Mims is only 3% roster and probably available in your league. The odds are against him popping quickly, but if you have a spot, he has the upside and is a strong zero dollar bid addition to your roster.