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:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: The talent is sound, but the weapons are crumbling around Stafford down the stretch. Marvin Jones Jr is headed to IR and Kenny Golladay is the lone wide receiver or tight end remaining with much upside to aid Stafford's production. Stafford is a tough start and being rostered in 92% of leagues is much too high considering his fragile status to log a big game for GMs in the playoffs. Without Golden Tate, Stafford has three touchdowns in four games and now loses another key piece.
Why: Crowell's weekly floor and ceiling combination has been siphoned by Elijah McGuire's snaps over the past three weeks. McGuire has out-snapped Crowell with ease each of the games and Crowell has fewer than 10 touches each of the past two contests. Yet Crowell is nearly 100% rostered in MFL leagues. Crowell is the exact type to churn for a higher upside primary backup at this stage of the season in shallow redraft leagues.
Why: Crabtree has not surpassed 32 receiving yards in the past four games and has one game of more than 13 PPR points on the entire season. Lamar Jackson under center softens the upside of Michael Crabtree and John Brown, but at least Brown has more big-play potential downfield. Crabtree, like Stafford and Crowell in this section, lacks the upside to warrant a roster spot in shallow formats, especially with his WR40 roster rate.
Why: Watson is still quizzically TE18 in roster rate on MFL despite 2-21-0 over the past three games. More concerning is Watson's dip in snaps from the opening weeks (80%+) to the past five games (hovering in the 20-40% range). Josh Hill is on the field plenty as the primary blocker of the position and Dan Arnold has shown promise with his recent opportunity expansion as ancillary reasons to drop Watson in all but the deepest of fantasy leagues and/or premium formats.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: The shine of Mullens' elite debut (against the Raiders' shell of a defense) is two middling-to-poor games ago. The 49ers also draw the Seahawks twice, Broncos, and Bears to close the fantasy season, a brutal stretch. Mullens is reserved for the deepest of leagues only and in Superflex, a non-quarterback for playoff squads may be prudent in the spot over Mullens.
Why: Allen is RB47 in roster rate at MFL, which is far too high considering Gus Edwards and Ty Montgomery took over the top-2 spots on the Baltimore depth chart in recent weeks. Allen is a free agent in the offseason for dynasty GMs looking ahead, but Allen is safe to drop in redraft formats.
Why: Agholor has been woefully left out of the Eagles passing game with Golden Tate added in recent weeks. This despite snap rates in the 70-90% range the past three games. Agholor is still in the top-50 receivers in roster rate despite one impactful game (Week 2) this season and just three targets over the past two games.
Why: Clay is still working back from injury and has missed three games now. Even waiting for Clay's return is a questionable decision at best with an abysmal 19-169-0 stat line in eight games this season. Clay was never a difference-maker and now is eroding into a roster-clogger and is still in the top-35 tight ends in roster rate.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Smallwood is absolutely buried on the Eagles depth chart and is a middling talent anyway for dynasty GMs looking big picture for future opportunities with Smallwood. Despite all the cloudiness for the near term and future, Smallwood is still inside the top-60 rostered running backs on MFL.
Why: With Elijah McGuire back, Cannon is buried with the Jets running back depth chart. Cannon has played less than 25% of snaps each of the last three games. His thin build is concerning for any meaningful role in the future and Cannon lacks the overt athletic traits to project him as a PPR starter with secondary touches.
Why: The arrival of Amari Cooper was the last straw for Hurns' 2018 season of irrelevance. His fall from his 2015 career year has been a stark one with a shade over 1,000 yards in more than two-and-a-half seasons since. Hurns has lost a step (or two) and is headed for the NFL fringe in the offseason.
Why: The de facto Dallas starter has underwhelmed with his golden opportunity this season (less than 10 yards-per-catch, two games of more than three receptions, one touchdown) and is out for a few weeks. Fast-forward to the offseason and Swaim is unlikely to see the same snap and depth chart opportunity to open 2019.