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 6:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: While adding rushing production weekly (20+ yards every game this season), Bortles has had only two strong games as a passer, exploiting the Patriots and Jets. Amidst Bortles' struggles are eight interceptions and he is one of the least accurate passers in the NFL without pocket pressure. The Texans are up next and only Andrew Luck's 62-attempt effort gouged Houston from a fantasy perspective this season on an improving defense.
Why: Owned in 100% of MFL leagues, McCoy is by far the most aggressive drop/trade recommendation of this column's history. Shallow redraft leagues are about upside, however, as the waiver wire has starting-caliber options available many weeks and baseline production means falling behind on the fantasy scoreboard. McCoy has been forgettable even with the Bills defense keeping them in games of late. McCoy has yet to find the end zone, record more than 30 receiving yards in a game, or score more than 13 PPR points. With Josh Allen also dealing with an injury, McCoy's situation could somehow get even worse. Add the Colts, Patriots, and Bears over the next three weeks and a positive game script is unlikely.
Why: Cole is owned in 85% of MFL leagues and has a single quality game in 2018 back in Week 2. Since then, Cole has surpassed 50 yards only once and Blake Bortles has turned into the bad version with questionable accuracy and decision making. Considering the Jaguars have a rotational wide receiver group and no clear 1A, Cole is a drop or low-level sell in shallow formats.
Why: Swaim is in the cluster of tight ends as streaming options in stock league depths. Despite Swaim's strong snap counts, he has a single game with more than five targets on the season and has only one performance with 10+ PPR points. The schedule is not optimal either with a Week 8 bye, no strong matchups until Week 16 with Tampa Bay, and arguably the worst overall strength of schedule for the rest of the season of any tight end.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: Mariota continues to look like a lost season with Tennessee's offense struggling as well as the fourth-year quarterback. Mariota, as expected, struggled in Week 6 against Baltimore and in today's pass explosion NFL Mariota has less than 130 passing yards in all but one game this season. Mariota looks unstartable outside of 2QB formats where he is still leaving teams behind at the second quarterback spot. The schedule does not get easy for Mariota outside of maybe the Patriots and Colts back to back in a month.
Why: Owned in 78% of MFL leagues, Smallwood was the 1A back for the Eagles against the Giants with Jay Ajayi out for the season. However, Smallwood logged all of his work in non-optimized situations with Corey Clement seeing significant red zone and receiving game work. Smallwood is a baseline interior runner at best in the NFL, running hard, but not possessing any difference-making trait. Without strong touchdown or receiving upside, Smallwood is an ideal sell based on his situational appearance.
Why: Owned in 64% of MFL leagues, Parker is solely a dynasty bet on draft pedigree at this juncture. Parker played four snaps in Week 6 as the offense peppered short-range targets en route to a win over Chicago. Parker has been injured and an afterthought all season and, at best, looks like a best ball situational deep threat within the scope of the Dolphins offense if healthy. Parker is the epitome of a roster clogger and worth trading for a future Round 2 pick (ideally) if not a future Round 3 selection and shifting to another bench option.
Why: Greg Olsen surprisingly returned to the starting lineup for a full complement of snaps in Week 6. While Olsen is at risk to re-injure his foot any given week, Thomas was forgettable in Olsen's absence. Add to the equation D.J. Moore rising in prominence in Carolina's passing game as their Round 1 pick in the offseason and Thomas' ceiling is a tempered one even if Olsen misses more time this season.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Riddick is now three years removed from his peak usage as a receiving dynamo in Detroit. Riddick has a single game this season with more than 40 receiving yards and with Kerryon Johnson projected as a three-down back in the near future, Riddick's upside is minimal also being squeezed by three strong wide receivers. Even without a tight end presence in the offense, Riddick has been an afterthought outside of a nine-catch outing in Week 2.
Why: Quizzically still owned in 44% of MFL leagues, Wilkins did not see an offensive touch in Week 6 with Marlon Mack back in the lineup. Also, Wilkins firmly played behind Nyheim Hines previously as further competition for any meaningful production. Wilkins is a baseline NFL talent at best on a team who struggles to run the ball regardless of the current depth chart option of choice. Wilkins could still draw a future Round 3 pick in some dynasty leagues or at least a handcuff running back with more one-injury-away upside in the near term.
Why: There have been no signs of life for Hurns in Dallas. Now three years removed from his 1,000-yard season in Jacksonville, Hurns has a mere 84 yards on the season despite 22 targets. Cole Beasley is the go-to target inside of 15 yards and Michael Gallup has shown recent flashes as a downfield option (if there is one) for the Cowboys. Hurns is more likely to be on the NFL fringe this coming offseason than turnaround this season to be worthy of a dynasty roster spot.
Why: Despite optimism with a free agent landing in Detroit this offseason, Willson (and the tight end position in Detroit overall) has been a complete afterthought through six weeks. Willson has a mere seven targets and, even beyond Detroit's three quality wide receivers, Kerryon Johnson has room to grow in the passing game to temper any predictable upside for Willson. Willson, at best, is a low-level hold in deep 2TE mandatory formats.
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