Cutting the Cord: Week 5

Breaking down the key players to drop or trade to optimize fantasy football rosters

Much of fantasy football in-season owner strategy centers around which players to pick up from the waiver wire or to target in the trade market. However, roster spots are a premium resource. Cutting a player - or adding them to a trade - opens a roster spot for a key waiver wire addition or flexibility to keep a currently injured player through a missed game or two. Here are the key players to cut or trade after Week 4:


*15-18 roster spots*

Last week the big recommendations included:

Cut Jeremy Maclin and Shop C.J. Anderson

Baltimore remains a low-upside proposition and centric to running backs and tight ends for their passing game. Anderson logged 112 total yards, but Jamaal Charles continues to impress as the No.2 back.

On to Week 5...

Ben Roethlisberger (Shop)

Why: The Steelers enjoyed a cupcake start to the season in pass efficiency against in Weeks 1-3. Specifically, the first two games Roethlisberger churned out more than 500 passing yards combined and multiple touchdowns each week. The schedule turns brutally difficult as Jacksonville, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Detroit all rank in the top-10 of stingy defenses in pass efficiency for Roethlisberger's next month. Then the schedule lightens up after their Week 9 bye. Philip Rivers is a good target for a Roethlisberger swap as Rivers' market value is minimal and the next four weeks contain three bottom-8 pass efficiency defenses including the Giants, Raiders, and Patriots after a difficult month to begin the season.

Kareem Hunt (Shop)

Why: Hunt has been one of the biggest benefactors of strong blocking in the NFL among running backs. The schedule is also about to turn more difficult in Explosive Rush Defense for Kansas City with top-10 defenses (Houston, Oakland, Denver) on the schedule over the next month. Hunt projects a premium in the market and is the ideal candidate to upgrade multiple positions by selling.

LeSean McCoy (Shop)

Why: McCoy has struggled on the ground since Week 1 and by the schedule it has been no surprise. The Explosive Rush metrics do not ease up until Week 9 including Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, and Oakland (all top-half) plus a bye week mixed in. If off to a slow start (2-2 or 1-3) and needing a boost, leverage McCoy - like Kareem Hunt - in the trade market for a jolt of better matchups in the coming weeks.

Michael Thomas (Shop)

Why: The Pass Efficiency metrics against for the Saints were positive in the opening month, but the rest of the season featured only two above-average matchups until Week 14 and one of the sharpest downturns in the schedule from the first four games in the entire NFL.

Willie Snead IV

Why: If waiting for Snead to return and be an automatic weekly start, consider the uptick from Brandon Coleman in Snead's absence and the arrival of Alvin Kamara in the passing game to temper expectations. Also, as mentioned in the Michael Thomas section, the schedule turns difficult for the Saints through the air.


*18-25 roster spots*

Last week the big recommendations were:

Cut Mike Glennon, Jacquizz Rodgers, Kerwynn Williams

I did not expect Mitch Trubisky to start this earlier, but this only supports moving on from Mike Glennon if owners have not already. Doug Martin is slated to return in Week 5 and Jacquizz Rodgers has done little as the de facto lead back in Martin's absence. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington and a stranglehold on the snaps in Arizona, making Kerwynn Williams a roster clogger.

On to Week 5...

Terrence West

Why: Baltimore's backfield is a mess in terms of projecting snaps and touches. Javorius Allen has the edge when the game script turns negative, but West and Alex Collins form a tandem to choose between when (if) Baltimore gets a good matchup or game script. The schedule turns difficult beginning in Week 5, all the way to Week 11 by the Explosive Rush matchup metrics with top-half defenses on Baltimore's schedule.

Dwayne Washington

Why: Washington is recovering from his own injury and Ameer Abdullah had one of his better NFL games in Week 4. Zach Zenner is the rotational RB2 and Theo Riddick is going nowhere as the pass-centric option. Washington needs multiple injuries for a viable role. Monitor from the waiver wire for now.

Cole Beasley

Why: Ezekiel Elliott has siphoned much of the previous Jason Witten and Cole Beasley short game from Dallas' offense. Plus, Dallas is working in rookie Ryan Switzer on occasion, a notable difference from Beasley's opportunity last season. Monitor the Ezekiel Elliott suspension updates as the lone pause button to cutting Beasley loose for a better opportunity with the roster spot.

Brandon LaFell

Why: The Cincinnati receiver has been a shadow this season and schedule remains difficult with Week 5 (Buffalo) and Week 7 (Pittsburgh) sandwiching a bye week. The Browns were a good matchup in Week 4 and LaFell put up 2-17-0. Monitor LaFell from the waiver wire if needing a bye week fill-in in a few weeks.

Jeremy Kerley

Why: With Austin Seferian-Jenkins active and the run game humming, Kerley's upside is squeezed down to be a marginal bye week option. The schedule is optimistic over the next three weeks, but unless Kerley is slated for a starting spot, shift to an upside running back lottery ticket.

Julius Thomas

Why: The next three weeks are a brutal stretch for Thomas in opposition tight end points allowed (Tennessee, Atlanta, Jets), plus Thomas has been a shell of his former self physically, lacking any explosion. Outside of being a marginal touchdown regression candidate to hit paydirt in the coming weeks (eight receptions without a score in 2017), Thomas is off the radar.


*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*

Last week the big recommendations were:

Cut Alfred Blue, Will Tye

Tye was cut this week by the Jets with Austin Seferian-Jenkins back and Tye a healthy scratch on Sunday. Alfred Blue is firmly behind D'Onta Foreman for the No.2 job in Houston.

On to Week 5...

Mack Brown

Why: Some were speculatively picking up Brown following Week 3, but Brown is firmly behind three backs in the Washington rotation and Brown was back to be a healthy scratch in Week 4. 

Bruce Ellington

Why: With Will Fuller V back and health returned to the tight end position with Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson active, Ellington will be squeezed for any meaningful opportunities.

Demarcus Robinson

Why: Some are still holding on to the hopes of Robinson rising up the Chiefs depth chart. However, Albert Wilson has been solid and Chris Conley, while the upside is minimal, has been an adequate No.2 option in the Tyreek Hill-Travis Kelce-Kareem Hunt centric Kansas City offense.