Cutting the Cord: Week 13

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 12:

SHALLOW FORMATS

*15-18 roster spots*

Last week the big recommendations included:

Jay Ajayi, Nelson Agholor

Ajayi's snap count is concerningly low as the No.2/3 option of a three-headed Philadelphia committee. In shallow leagues, stashing a handcuff with flex upside on his own at this stage of the season is not optimal. For Agholor, the Eagles passing game spreads the ball around beyond Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery as go-to targets. Agholor is WR42 in PPG on the season, but has seen more than six targets once twice this season and not since Week 6.

On to Week 13...

Eli Manning

Why: News broke Geno Smith will get the start for the Giants this week in a clearly lost season. Manning may be back under center this season, but he is owned in 82% of myfantasyleague.com leagues as QB18. He should be safely dropped outside of premium formats or deep leagues.

Thomas Rawls

Why: Eddie Lacy saw strong opportunity last week when Rawls could have been in the mix. It is clear Rawls is not in Seattle's plans unless he is the last man standing. Chris Carson is projected to return before the end of the season and Mike Davis as well. Rawls is the odd man out in all of these comparisons for an opportunity.

Mike Wallace

Why: Unlikely to crack contending roster starting lineups, Wallace is a low-upside option considering Danny Woodhead is back and Jeremy Maclin is the No.1 option in Baltimore. Wallace's closing schedule is not great outside of Week 16 against the Colts either.

Austin Hooper

Why: Hooper is a clear ancillary target of the Atlanta offense and a streamer for fantasy. Atlanta's remaining four-game fantasy slate includes two tough tight end matchups (Vikings, Buccaneers) and two neutral games against the Saints. Seek greener pastures in terms of week-to-week matchups in shallow leagues.

MEDIUM DEPTH

*18-25 roster spots*

Last week the big recommendations were:

Jamaal Charles, Antonio Gates

Charles has sagged down to the clear RB3 on Denver running back rotation as Devontae Booker is getting more run as the No.1 option. Plus, Denver's offense is struggling overall to support anything fantasy-wise. Gates is a shell of his former self and relies on an end zone conversion any given week to have any viability.

On to Week 13...

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Why: If Fitzpatrick has been a streamer with Jameis Winston out or in committee situations in the past few weeks, it is time to return him to the waiver wire. Winston is on track to return this week (at time of publication) and there are better streaming options like Blaine Gabbert and maybe Brett Hundley widely available if needing a Week 13 starter.

Terrance West

Why: Even when West is healthy, the Baltimore depth chart is loaded with Alex Collins rising this season and Danny Woodhead back. Even in shallow to moderate dynasty leagues, West is not an optimized roster spot yet he is owned in 47% of MFL leagues.

Kendall Wright

Why: Dontrelle Inman entered Chicago's depth chart and immediately seized the No.1 job in snaps and production. Wright has been a shadow since a pair of opening month decent games of 50+ yards, logging 109 yards on 25 targets over his last four games. With a low-upside passing game and an ancillary role, Wright is not worth the roster spot over a running back with upside with an injury in front of them. Also, Wright is owned in more MFL leagues than Dontrelle Inman heading into Week 13 waivers, which should be corrected.

Martellus Bennett

Why: Outside of deep IR spots, Bennett is worth cutting with his latest injury and retirement rumors after this season. Bennett has exhibited a physical decline over the past year, making him a low-upside bet independent of the first two factors.

DEEP FORMATS

*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*

Last week the big recommendations were:

Jaron Brown, Maxx Williams

Both are replaceable talents and yet to show more than ancillary skills. Brown has the variable of free agency, but he is doubtful to grab more than a No.3/4 role on an offense.

On to Week 13...

Paxton Lynch

Why: Some might view this recommendation as too early, but Lynch has yet to show promise under center in the NFL. Chad Kelly looms as an upside shot for 2018 and beyond, plus Denver has a high pick to shop in the high-end rookie marketplace this offseason. Trevor Siemian has thoroughly outplayed Lynch too. In short, Lynch is a dicey hold in anything but the deepest QB-premium leagues.

Branden Oliver

Why: Austin Ekeler has solidly carved his No.2 role for the Chargers and Oliver did not look the same physically early in the season even when healthy. Oliver will be a tough hold in the offseason for dynasty owners through rookie draft time, so churning the spot for a better splash option is preferred.

ArDarius Stewart

Why: Mid-round wide receivers are the alluring roster spot which typically ends up wasted on deeper rosters and dynasty leagues. Stewart has struggled to see snaps despite a muddy depth chart for the Jets and Jermaine Kearse was added with Robby Anderson elevating to another prominent position in the pecking order. Stewart was a boom-bust metric prospect entering the NFL and even with an open depth chart has struggled to make a dent in Year 1.

Garrett Celek

Why: George Kittle is back in the lineup and Celek is a NFL depth option where the offseason will likely not be kind to his future fantasy projection. Even if Celek can hang on to a TE2/3 depth chart role, he will be behind a clear-cut starter and be a pedestrian upside stash heading into rookie draft season of roster cuts and churning spots.