Fool the fantasy community once, shame on you. Fool the fantasy community twice, shame on it. Fool the fantasy community a handful of times every season, and you must be Christine Michael. The latest Michael bluff started innocently enough two weeks ago with the Cowboys heading into their bye. Dallas running back coach Gary Brown said that the team was going to “take the reins off” Michael “and let him rock” against the Giants in Week 7. Then came the reports that Michael was taking most of the reps with the first-team offense. That was enough for the fantasy community to buy in yet again. When showtime arrived, however, Michael was back in the spot in which he’s most familiar: third on the depth chart.
Michael got just five carries, picking up 18 yards in the Cowboys’ 27-20 loss to the Giants. Darren McFadden, meanwhile, shouldered the load with Joseph Randle injured, racking up 152 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. The Great Michael Breakout is starting to seem more and more like a unicorn with each passing week. He leads off our Week 7 Droppables. Who else joins him? Find out below.
Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
This might seem blasphemous, but Manning is indeed droppable in one-quarterback formats. Without looking, guess where he ranked in points-per-game at his position heading into Week 7. Got your guess ready? He’s 34th in points-per-game, behind the likes of Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith and Jameis Winston. Manning has scored fewer than 13 points in standard-scoring leagues in four of his six games, and has a pair of single-digit performances. He has thrown at least one interception in every game, and is on a three-game multi-pick streak. Yes, Manning has had two good games this season, and there are still plenty of weapons at his disposal in Denver. His physical skills are deteriorating, but he’s still one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league, and he’s going to have more QB1 weeks this season. The point, however, is that he’s no longer a matchup-proof quarterback, and any QB without that status can be dropped in leagues where you start just one player at the position. You just don’t need two quarterbacks in a one-QB league, so long as can rely on the one you do have. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blake Bortles, Brian Hoyer and Colin Kaepernick were all top-10 quarterbacks in Week 6. Cousins, Teddy Bridgewater and E.J. Manuel all had useful fantasy games this week. You can always find value and play matchups at quarterback, and that means you don't need to tether yourself to a signal caller unless they are completely reliable from week to week. Manning is a capable fantasy quarterback as part of a platoon where you play matchups, but there are at least 15 quarterbacks I’d rather have than Manning for the second half of the season. That means most owners can afford to cut him.
Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins
Last week, Matt Jones made this space. It’s only natural that Morris would eventually join him. As we’ve been saying for weeks, Washington's backfield is a nightmare for fantasy owners. Not only is it impossible to know which back will lead the team in a given week, it doesn’t seem to matter because they just can’t move the ball on the ground. Jones returned from a toe injury this week and was once again the primary runner. Of course, all he was able to do with that was pick up 29 yards on nine carries. Morris, meanwhile, ran six times for five yards. Over the last three weeks, Morris has a total of 41 yards on 25 carries. He has yet to find the end zone this season, and has exactly one game in which he scored at least eight fantasy points. Fantasy owners always want to believe in a starting back regardless of who it is, simply because of the opportunity. After all, look at what a guy like Charcandrick West was able to do in Week 7. The environment in Washington, unfortunately, is terrible for the run, and that is helping to keep both Morris and Jones in the fantasy doghouse. Forget about either of these guys emerging this season. The uncertainty with their roles and low value of the run game as a whole makes both players waiver wire fodder.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns
This is more for owners in shallow leagues who don’t have the luxury of stashing too many guys on their benches. Crowell hasn’t been a terribly disappointing player, but he just doesn’t get a ton of touches and doesn’t have the home-run ability that would potentially allow him to turn his somewhat-limited role into one that makes him relevant. Crowell has had fewer than 15 touches in four of his seven games this year. He has surpassed 100 total yards just once, and hasn’t rushed for more than 72 yards in a single game. The touchdowns that made him the fantasy commodity he was last season just haven’t been there in 2015. He has hit pay dirt just twice, the last of which came in Week 5. Crowell rushed for nine yards on eight carries in the Browns’ loss to the Rams this week, and has been south of 50 yards for each of the last three weeks.
Torrey Smith, WR, 49ers
Colin Kaepernick has managed to put together a few useful games this season, but his success has come entirely in predictably soft spots of the schedule. The inconsistency of the passing game naturally trickles down to the receivers, and it’s just the sort of hurdle that makes Smith droppable in most fantasy formats. Smith has had a couple of strong games this year, but he has also been shut out twice and has scored fewer than six points five times in standard-scoring leagues. Smith has always been dependent on the big play for his fantasy value, and has, for the most part, been able to find success. Smith was a top-24 receiver in each of his four years in the league, but that streak is likely to end this year. Joe Flacco throws one of the better deep balls in the league. Kaepernick does not. Smith is still a decent depth receiver, but you’re unlikely to get top-40 receiver value out of him the rest of the way. That’s the sort of player you can afford to cut from your roster.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants
Like Crowell, Jennings is droppable in shallower leagues where you’re looking for immediate help. He had fewer carries than Orleans Darkwa, just one more than Shane Vereen, and was outproduced by both. Jennings had double-digit touches in every game this year until this week, and he’s still the team’s nominal starter, but he’s not even in the top 30 at the position by points-per-game. He’s likely to remain in the same role, but that hasn’t exactly translated into fantasy greatness. At this point, you can’t think of him as anything more than an RB4. He’s giving away too many carries to his backfield mates, and Vereen dominates all the looks in the passing game.
Photos: Andrew Weber/Getty Images (Manning), Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images (Crowell)