Cutting the Cord: Week 12

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 11:

SHALLOW FORMATS

*15-18 roster spots*

Last week the big recommendations included:

Jared Goff, C.J. Anderson, Terrelle Pryor, Kyle Rudolph

Goff struggled against the Vikings with zero touchdowns and 225 empty yards in his worst fantasy outing of the season in middle-of-the-road scoring in Week 11. The next month is also rough for the Rams passing game. Devontae Booker's playing time surged as C.J. Anderson's upside is squeezed even more. Pryor is an afterthrough in Washington's passing game plans. Kyle Rudolph had another pedestrian game as an ancillary piece of Minnesota's offense.

On to Week 12...

Josh McCown

Why: After a Week 11 bye, the schedule turns for the Jets passing game, who has enjoyed an elite run of early-season matchups to fuel their overachievement. While Kansas City is a decent matchup in Week 13, Carolina, Denver, New Orleans, and San Diego sandwich the Chiefs to close McCown's fantasy slate. 

Jay Ajayi

Why: Expectations need to be tempered for Jay Ajayi in Philadelphia as the backfield is a firm three-back rotation with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement seeing significant snaps. Ajayi's tepid fantasy production in his two games for the Eagles have been supported by singular long runs in each game with only eight touches in each contest. Without an injury to Blount or Clement, Ajayi will be a flex bet for better fantasy rosters at best.

Nelson Agholor

Why: The Eagles pass efficiency schedule has a rough three-game stint starting in Week 12 plus Agholor is already on the WR4/flex level lineup decision point for good fantasy squads. Agholor is averaging less than five targets a game and he is still a touchdown regression candidate from earlier in the season with a current year 17% rate.

Julius Thomas

Why: Thomas is at least third, if not fourth, on Miami's passing game pecking order and has exactly one game with more than 60 yards or five targets this season. Likewise, Thomas has one game with more than 9.0 PPR points. Thomas is a lackluster committee option reserved only for deeper leagues.

MEDIUM DEPTH

*18-25 roster spots*

Last week the big recommendations were:

Javorius Allen, Ben Watson

Allen barely played for Baltimore with Danny Woodhead back active and Alex Collins in the lead role. Watson saw only a single target for Baltimore in their Week 11 win over Green Bay and has not eclipsed 50 yards in a game since Week 2.

On to Week 12...

Joe Flacco

Why: The toughest three-game stint of Baltimore's passing schedule begins in Week 12 with a string of Houston, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. Flacco is likely a streaming or committee option for teams still in contention and should be filtered out for more viable matchups on the home stretch.

Jamaal Charles

Why: With Devontae Booker rising in Week 11, Charles is firmly the No.3 back on an offense struggling to be viable on a weekly basis anyway. Charles is a worthy stash in dynasty leagues for 2018 situational optimism, but his impact in 2017 looks to be more than one injury away. 

Kenny Britt

Why: Corey Coleman returned to the lineup with a dominating snap and target role. Josh Gordon is also set to return to an already-stunted passing game with inconsistency at best under center. Britt has yet to log more than three receptions in any game this season and the opportunity continues to drop.

Antonio Gates

Why: The Chargers passing game is loaded with viable targets and Gates is seeing a low level of snaps and targets on a weekly basis. In fact, Week 4 was the last time Gates logged more than three targets in a game. Beyond surface level opportunity, Gates looks physically done to validate any upside aspirations to close the season (and likely his career).

DEEP FORMATS

*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*

Last week the big recommendations were:

Tom Savage, Laquon Treadwell

Savage continues his pedestrian run of stopgap fantasy utility with four touchdowns over the past three weeks and a high of 230 yards. With no rushing upside and T.J. Yates looming to potentially see some down-the-stretch starts, Savage is reserved for minimal superflex usage only.

On to Week 12...

Blaine Gabbert

Why: Week 11 was the best matchup for Gabbert until Weeks 15-16 as the next two games specifically (Jaguars, Rams) are tough for opposing fantasy quarterbacks and the two most difficult matchups on Arizona's passing schedule all season.

Andre Ellington

Why: Ellington has shifted all the way to healthy scratch status in Week 11 and Arizona cutting Ellington in the hours after the game. On the NFL fringe, Ellington is a low-level roster spot allocation.

Jaron Brown

Why: With A stacked depth chart and limited upside as a passing offense overall, plus Larry Fitzgerald has discussed returning in 2018, Brown is unlikely to emerge beyond his role player status. Brown's biggest appeal would be if John Brown and J.J. Nelson were out of the lineup, which is a tall order even for deeper leagues.

Maxx Williams

Why: His movement has been lackluster despite finally enjoying a healthy stretch of his career in 2017. Williams is averaging a running back-like 6.1 yards-per-reception. With Danny Woodhead back in the lineup, Ben Watson ahead of him, and a healthy receiver corps, Williams does not warrant a situation level or talent level stash.