By: Madeleine Hudak (Twitter: @MaddyHudak_94)
In the first few weeks of the NFL season, it’s difficult to consider cutting players who you drafted in the first few rounds – are they affected by the lack of preseason/regular OTAs? Were they injured and had a slow start to the season? But by Week 10, it’s pretty clear who is emerging in each offense, respectively. And it reaches a point with injured players where, if they’re not able to be relegated to IR, it’s not worth honing a roster spot. So with that, let’s take a look at 10 wholly underperforming players who should officially be cut.
QB Cam Newton (NE)
Cam Newton just isn’t someone to keep on the roster on a consistent basis; conversely, he’s someone you pick up depending on matchup. While he did have a solid outing against the New York Jets with 274 passing yards, 16 rushing yards, and two rushing touchdowns, the consistency is just not there. More troubling is his touchdown to interception ratio this season – a measly two passing touchdowns with seven interceptions thus far. Of note, he has recorded 8 rushing touchdowns through Week 9, but those weekly numbers just aren’t there. In addition, he took a particularly hard hit on a sack in Monday’s 30-27 win that led to some neck soreness lingering throughout the week. This may just be a one-off that dissipates in the coming days, but it’s worth nothing in light of his injury-riddled career to date.
Moreover, his upcoming Week 10 matchup is against the eight-best defense against fantasy quarterbacks in the Baltimore Ravens. His Week 11 matchup is against the Houston Texans, who are much more promising, but there’s just not enough upside to keep him through this week. The Patriots are just struggling this year, and their game against the Jets should have never came down to a last-minute field goal. Better to get off this sinking ship while you still can.
QB Daniel Jones (NYG)
I see Daniel Jones’ name come up frequently on waiver wire pickups, and I just don’t understand it. He’s thrown a meager 8 total touchdowns this season, and doesn’t have any upside as a rushing quarterback to compensate – well, save for the one 80-yard run he had this season. He fumbled twice in the Giants 23-20 win over the Washington Redskins, and threw just one touchdown and 212 yards overall; he entered that matchup with a 7:9 touchdown to interception ratio, and five fumbles to date. Those just aren’t starting quarterback fantasy numbers at all.
He also has fallen somewhat victim to a one-dimensional offense with the season-ending injury to Saquon Barkley. While he boasts a 4-0 record against the Redskins, he has a career record of 1-16 against all other NFL teams. Moreover, he heads into a Week 10 matchup with the 4th ranked pass defense in the Philadelphia Eagles, and follows that up with a Week 11 bye. Between that upcoming two week trajectory and his inability to protect the football this season, you’re better off on the waiver wires on a week-to-week basis.
RB Mark Ingram (BAL)
It’s just been a rough season overall for Mark Ingram. He’s been injured the past few weeks, but even if you’ve kept him through that stretch, it may not be worth it in the long run. Ingram may be someone you try to lowball on a trade if not drop outright. Baltimore’s offense is just flailing this season, and Ingram has fallen victim to that trajectory. He’s recorded just two rushing touchdowns this season, and is averaging just 4.5 yards per carry with a long of 30 yards. Further, he’s just not seen a high share of targets – his highest production was 11 carries against Cincinnati. The issue is additionally compounded by the crowded backfield Ingram is set to return to. He’s now very much less a RB1 and is a three-headed running back room with JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Given that his production was essentially negligible even prior to his injury, he’s unlikely to see an increase in carries at this stage. The Ravens just have way too crowded of a backfield to consider seeing this play out.
RB James White (NE)
James White is a victim of a flailing New England offense more than anything else. In Monday’s 30-27 win over the New York Jets, White had just two rushing attempts for zero yards – though he caught four targets for 24 yards. That’s highly concerning when you consider the Jets are ranked 25th overall in rushing defense this season. He’s averaging a low 3.2 yards per carry, has 0 rushing touchdowns, his longest run of the season was a measly 10 yards, and he’s had just 16 rushing attempts through Week 9. There’s just no room on a roster for someone who’s seeing this low of a share of carries. With Cam Newton’s addition as a mobile quarterback, White has become just negligible in terms of fantasy impact.
RB Devin Singletary (BUF)
Of all running backs this season, Devin Singletary might thus far be the most disappointing candidate. Singletary was touted as a breakout star this year, and in the absence of Zach Moss, he was the clear RB1 in a high-powered Buffalo Bills offense. Unfortunately, his production on the ground this year has been nothing short of underwhelming. Through Week 9, Singletary has averaged 4.1 yards per carry with a long of 18 yards, and has recorded one singular rushing touchdown this season.
Unfortunately, Singletary isn’t just competing with the clear RB1 Zach Moss now – he’s legitimately competing with Josh Allen, who has been frankly more productive on the ground than Singletary. He received his lowest total carries in Sunday’s 44-34 win over the Seattle Seahawks with just two rush attempts. The final score was 44 points, and Singletary was completely irrelevant to that high score. He’s just too inconsistent on a weekly basis, and with Zach Moss clearly commanding control of the Bills backfield, he’s just not worth the roster spot.
WR Michael Gallup (DAL)
Why do nearly 48% of you still have Michael Gallup rostered? Gallup was a borderline flex player the first half of the season with Dak Prescott at the helm of the Cowboys offense; he was a clear WR3 behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. He saw a short spurt of production with Andy Dalton, and had a season-high 12 targets with Ben DiNucci in his singular outing, but he just isn’t a clear-cut target in Dallas. In Week 9 with Garrett Gilbert, he was tied for targets with Lamb and Dalton Schultz, and really saw most of his production come in the final drive with shorter receptions. He’s on a bye this week as it is, and there’s really no upshot in keeping him through the week. Even if he receives a higher share of targets with Dalton’s looming return, he’s seen just 29 receptions and has recorded just one touchdown through Week 9.
Dallas is just a bit lost this season and is on a consistent quarterback carousel. Wide receiver is one of the most dependent positions in fantasy football; more than any other role, they fall most victim to quarterback issues. He was certainly worth a flex spot under Prescott’s offense, but not so much with the remaining three stooges to date. And quite frankly, he’s likely to be available in the next few weeks should you change your mind – but he’s someone to drop with the Week 10 bye.
WR Tre’Quan Smith (NO)
In New Orleans Week 4 win against the Detroit Lions, Tre’Quan Smith had a massive breakout game in the absence of Michael Thomas; he recorded two touchdowns and showed some high upside as a potential WR2 or flex – at least while Thomas was out. Then the Saints lost Emmanuel Sanders due to COVID, and the thought was that Smith would be the one to step up. Instead, the player to do so was undrafted rookie receiver Marquez Callaway. Smith isn’t a bad receiver. He just won’t ever see a high share of targets in New Orleans offense. The issue with receivers from the Saints is that Drew Brees does a masterful job of spreading targets; every eligible receiver was thrown to in Sunday’s 38-3 blowout over the Buccaneers. While that’s a great thing for their offense, not so much the case for fantasy owners. And frankly, I would recommend picking up Callaway at this point over Smith if anything. He’s a good player, just won’t ever see the number of targets justified to keep on your roster.
WR Henry Ruggs (LV)
Yes, Henry Ruggs had an excellent 72-yard touchdown in Week 5. Since then? He’s very much faltered. Lest not forget to mention that that one touchdown was his sole recorded TD of the season to date. Ruggs had just eight receiving yards against the Cleveland Browns, and dropped all of his whopping three targets in the Raiders 31-26 win against the Los Angeles Chargers. Moreover, since the start of the season, Derek Carr hasn’t been the most entirely productive quarterback; he completed just 13 passes in Sunday’s win. This is just not someone worth rostering to bank on another long breakout touchdown. He wasn’t up to the task against the 10th ranked pass defense in the Chargers, and he has an upcoming matchup against the 11th overall pass defense in the Denver Broncos. There’s just not much upside to justify his lack of production throughout the first nine weeks and a corresponding roster spot.
TE Robert Tonyan (GB)
The tight end role is never an enviable spot to fill on your roster; the position, overall, just hasn’t been great all year. I touted Robert Tonyan as a sleeper player a few weeks ago – he certainly had high expectations after his breakout game against the Falcons in Week 3 where he recorded three touchdowns. Since then, however, he’s faltered and has seemingly disappeared in a high-performing Green Bay offense. For a few weeks, he was worth a pickup with the injuries that plagued the Packers starting lineup. Now, Davante Adams has returned and is a clear favorite of Aaron Rodgers both in targets and red zone opportunities, and Allen Lazard, who broke out in Adams’ absence, is poised to return himself. In tandem with Tonyan’s disappointing lack of production in the past four games, the returning star players make Tonyan become just that much more invisible in Green Bay.
TE George Kittle (SF)
George Kittle is someone that’s highly dependent on whether your league has an IR bench. If so, that’s an easy relegation. Even so, those slots are limited, and given the pile-up of injuries this season, he frankly might not be worth the payout long-term – though in the short term, I’d certainly keep him on the IR bench if you have space. The issue with Kittle is that, while he may want to come back quicker than his expected trajectory, take Michael Thomas in New Orleans as Exhibit A. You simply cannot rush certain injuries, and Kyle Shanahan has put his return timetable at eight weeks. You’re looking at a Week 16 or 17 player at best. And with Garoppolo out indefinitely with an injured ankle, this team is just falling apart. I love George Kittle, and if the circumstances were different, I would never even be suggesting this possibility. Unfortunately, however, the 49ers season is in the toilet, and accordingly, Kittle has very low upside the rest of the season, injury or not.