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.
With the playoffs in full swing for fantasy football leagues, many bench spots (outside of dynasty leagues) are about utility for the next week or two. This means adding an additional kicker or defense if there is an optimal matchup in an upcoming game or insulating from injury with a key backup or handcuff at the skill positions.
SHALLOW FORMATS, REDRAFT LEAGUES
Why: Both have rough finishing schedules to count on them in lineups for redraft formats and shallow leagues (excluding superflex premium). Winston gets Baltimore this week and Dallas in Week 16 is not much better. Tannehill has Minnesota and Jacksonville for the two-week finish. Winston is a hold in dynasty formats of decent size, but Tannehill is closer to the cut line in start-1QB dynasty formats for an offseason stash elsewhere (probably running back).
Why: As mentioned above, it is a rough stretch for Tampa Bay schedule-wise and Baltimore shuts down running backs regularly as by far the worst matchup for the opposing position. Barber is a flex-level option anyway with a neutral matchup. Playoff teams likely have a host of better options. Adrian Peterson is surrounded by an offense running on fumes with their fourth quarterback of the season and a patchwork offensive line (plus now down Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson is siphoning some backfield snaps). Peterson has Jacksonville and Tennessee, two tough matchups, to close the season as well.
Why: Golladay has been stifled the past two weeks and the absence of Marvin Jones Jr and Golden Tate (plus little tight end presence) has not aided Golladay of late, and instead is attracting more attention from secondaries. Detroit also has Buffalo and Minnesota as tough wide receiver matchups to finish the season to make Golladay more likely on the bench than in lineups for championship contenders in shallow formats. Parker had one strong game midseason but Kenny Stills has reemerged as a presence late in the year and Kenyan Drake is their top target in many ways as a matchup advantage. Add in the tough Jacksonville and Buffalo matchup combo and Parker is a risky flex at best.
Why: Thomas is on the streaming list for late in the season with his second opportunity as the starter in Carolina with Greg Olsen out. However, Thomas has benefitted from a good schedule the past two weeks plus a non-presence from Devin Funchess. The schedule turns difficult with New Orleans and Atlanta both tough matchups for tight ends and Funchess is getting healthier to take back some targets. For Everett, he is coming off a strong game in snaps and receptions and some may be projecting forward a growing role to close the season. However, everything points to the Rams' no-show in Chicago being a one-off scenario as the team had nothing working on offense. Now they return home in a get-well game against the Eagles and the Cardinals up in Week 16, both tough tight end matchups and expect the wide receivers to rise back to their strong levels within the Rams' hierarchy.
MODERATE DEPTH DYNASTY LEAGUES
*25 or more roster spots*
Why: Anderson was cut again and he was running on fumes even from the sparse tape in Carolina earlier in the season. Anderson is unlikely to stick on a depth chart until (maybe) August if a team suffers an injury or two and was thin at the position. Ridley is a cut with James Conner trending in the right direction this week to play. If out of the playoffs, Ridley is a sure-fire cut for an offseason stash. If contending, Ridley would need Conner to be out Week 16 and Jaylen Samuels to get injured Week 15 to clear the path for Ridley to be a good start. With two moving pieces, a contending team would need to be rail-thin at running back (with a picked clean waiver wire) to justify keeping Ridley.
Why: Benjamin may play this week for the Chiefs, but expect a highly situational role to close the season. Benjamin has been slowing down past tight end level movement for a couple of seasons now and will be at or near the NFL fringe this offseason. Benjamin would require at least 30 dynasty roster spots to consider holding outside of a best-ball type format with touchdown-centric scoring. Kearse is a solid option but with the Jets returning to some health in the passing game over the past few weeks, Kearse has turned into a shadow with two targets over the past two games. Kearse is also a flimsy low-ceiling hold into the offseason.
Why: LaCosse has been a low-level streamer at best in recent weeks with the starting role in Denver. There is a minimal chance LaCosse stays on even the 2TE format radar next season. Move on for greener pastures for a stash in even deeper premium formats. Swaim is a hold in deeper 2TE formats, but otherwise a cut in dynasty formats. Swaim was middling even before Amari Cooper arrived and Michael Gallup improved his play of late. Swaim is also a free agent in the offseason and unlikely to find more than a secondary role.