The middle third of the NFL season is the trickiest time for fantasy owners. Between byes and injuries, rosters are thinned out, and yet depth is crucial to survive these weeks. It’s easier to argue for someone being on your roster than against it, but fantasy rosters aren’t infinite. Some players need to end up on the waiver wire.
Knowing who you can afford to drop can make the difference between a playoff berth and an early end to your season, or a regular season championship and a third-place finish. In this space over the next few weeks, we’ll help you find the players you won’t miss. We call them The Droppables.
Two quick notes before we get going. First, if a player is droppable, that does not mean you should get rid of him at all costs. What it means is that the player in question does not and should not hold a priority spot on your roster. If you need to make a move, the players below can be on the chopping block.
Second, this is going to be an aggressive week of The Droppables. There are only 10 teams left to go on bye, so depth isn’t going to be quite as crucial the rest of the season. Many fantasy owners can afford to get aggressive at this point of the year. You can also consider Droppables as worthy additions in trades if an owner in your league is still in need of depth because of the four-team bye weeks ahead in Week 10 and 11.
Terrance West, RB, Ravens
Over the last two weeks, West has carried the ball 23 times for 31 yards. In Week 9, he split snaps nearly right down the middle with Kenneth Dixon. West has never been part of the Baltimore passing game, and it’s worth noting that he had his two most efficient games on the ground against Oakland and Washington, two of the league’s softest run defenses. With Dixon carving out a role in the offense, West may average no more than 15 carries per game the rest of the season, and even that number could be a bit ambitious. If you’re struggling with bye-week depth over the next two weeks, you might want to hold onto West. If you’re set at the position, you no longer need the “break in case of emergency” depth he provides.
Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
Cody Kessler was back under center for the Browns on Sunday and, to no surprise, Johnson was once again an afterthought in the gameplan. Johnson had five carries for 30 yards and caught two passes for 16 yards in the loss to the Cowboys. Josh McCown is the best quarterback for Johnson’s skill set, and with the Browns seemingly committed to seeing what they have in Kessler—a strategy that certainly makes long-term sense—it’s hard to have much confidence in Johnson. Without an injury to Isaiah Crowell, he won’t ever project as a top-30 back the rest of the season.
Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs
West was a fantasy non-factor in his first start of the season, running for 39 yards on 13 carries and catching three of his four targets for 35 yards. What’s most telling is that his stat line against the Jaguars is the worst by a Chiefs starting running back this season, not including Week 8 when Spencer Ware left the game early after suffering a concussion. The Chiefs won’t have an update on Ware likely until at least Tuesday, but the earliest indications are that he will be ready to return when they take on the Panthers in Week 10. That will make West irrelevant in all fantasy formats.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Chiefs
This is certainly an aggressive call, especially on Sunday. Luckily, you won’t have to actually pull the trigger on cutting Maclin until Tuesday in most leagues. Chances are strong, though, that he won’t make a meaningful impact during the rest of the typical fantasy regular season. Maclin missed practice most of last week because of a groin injury, returning in a limited fashion on Friday. Then he left Sunday’s game in the first quarter after aggravating the injury, and did not return. Any soft tissue injury generally carries at least a 1–3 week recovery timetable. If that’s the case for Maclin, feel free to get rid of him.
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins
In Sunday’s 27–23 win over the Jets, Parker had all of two catches on four targets for eight yards. It was his third straight game with fewer than 30 yards, and fourth in his last five with fewer than five targets. Since catching eight balls for 106 yards against the Patriots in Week 2, Parker has 17 receptions for 197 yards and a touchdown in six games. That translates to 4.28 points per game. Parker doesn’t need to be on your roster unless your league runs at least 16 teams deep.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles
Darren Sproles was the feature back for the Eagles on Sunday, running 13 times for 57 yards. Mathews had five carries for 15 yards, though he did get in the end zone for the sixth time this season. Mathews has scored in consecutive weeks, but has now been out-snapped and out-carried by Sproles in both of those games. You can’t live on touchdown value alone, but that’s exactly what Mathews will try to do the rest of the season. With Sproles in command of the Philadelphia backfield, Mathews is an afterthought in the fantasy game.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Giants
We’re all done with the Jennings thing, right? He had 26 yards on 11 carries, marking his fourth straight game with fewer than 30 rushing yards and 2.5 yards per carry. Jennings has started five games this season, and still doesn’t have 200 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, rookie Paul Perkins got his most run of the season carrying the ball 11 times for 32 yards and catching three passes for 15 yards. Perkins’s role will likely only increase across the second half of the year, especially with the Giants turning in one of their best overall offensive performances of the season in the win over the Eagles. Jennings has zero fantasy value.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings
McKinnon returned to Minnesota’s lineup on Sunday after a one-game absence with an ankle injury, and he carried the ball seven times for eight yards and didn’t have a target. As bad as his rushing numbers have been since Adrian Peterson went to the IR, his total lack of production through the air is the greatest knock against McKinnon as a fantasy player. He was supposed to surge to the RB2 class after Peterson’s injury, largely because of his perceived prowess as a receiver. Unfortunately, he only has eight receptions for 29 yards on the season. Minnesota can’t get anything going on the ground and its offensive line is an injury-induced mess. McKinnon no longer has the look of an attractive fantasy option.