Fantasy Football: 3 Players You Can Drop After Week 4
Week 4 was a rollercoaster from start to finish, and I’m not even referring to Thursday Night Football as the "start" of the week.
A mini-outbreak forced the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans out of Week 4, Cam Newton is now on the COVID-19/Reserve List, the New Orleans Saints had to wait until 3 a.m. the morning of their game to get final test results after a player reportedly tested positive, and the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots were bumped to Monday night.
And I haven’t even mentioned the injuries yet.
Week 5 adds another layer to the already wild season with planned bye weeks. Only two teams (Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers) are scheduled to be off, but any additional outbreaks will further complicate lineup decisions for the upcoming week. With bench spots at a premium, let's dive into some of the non-essential holds and possible drop targets as you submit waiver claims.
Again, this is the one column I write where I hope I’m wrong from time to time. Cutting a player is never an easy decision unless a definite reason presents itself (e.g. injury). I’ll always take a look back to either confirm my previous read on the situation or find some hope for player to stay on your squad.
Carson Wentz – I was wrong! Well, at least the results proved me wrong. Despite the poor matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, Wentz was able to produce 21.4 points on the road for the Eagles' first win. His 42-yard touchdown pass to Travis Fulgham might feel fluky, but Wentz's overall rushing and attempts inside the 10-yard line have held. So while we can’t always rely on his arm, Wentz may have some utility if fantasy managers are forced to start him.
Keelan Cole – Cole was in the mix during the game, but he was still uninvolved once the Jacksonville Jaguars moved into scoring position. While it was expected that D.J. Chark would take over number-one duties, Cole earned just five targets in a game in which Gardner Minshew threw it 40 times. Viable options may have been absent with multiple games being rescheduled, but Cole’s limited role won’t match our expectations for a WR3 or flex option in most weeks.
Kerryon Johnson – Johnson watched his snaps get reduced even more in Week 4 as both Adrian Peterson and D'Andre Swift outperformed him. Both of Johnson’s teammates were able to find the end zone via the ground or air, leaving him the odd man out. Unless Peterson’s age starts to show or Swift is injured, there’s no viable path to touches for the former second-round pick.
Potential Drop Candidates
Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns
Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 78%
The Cleveland Browns have won their last three games. Cleveland has scored 35, 34, and 49 points in those three games. The problem for Baker Mayfield is that he has accounted for just 30.5% of his team’s scores.
We feared during the offseason that Kevin Stefanski would install a run-first offense in Cleveland, and that’s been the case through four weeks. The Browns are in the bottom five for neutral passing and red zone passing on the season. It’s allowed the running backs to prosper, but Mayfield has suffered as a result. He’s yet to crack into the top 12 in weekly quarterback scoring or to top 250 passing yards. He also doesn’t offer anything as a rusher with only short scrambles on his stat sheet.
There's just no upside here as of now, so Baker shouldn't be rostered outside of two-quarterback formats.
A.J. Green, WR, Bengals
Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 42%
A.J. Green has been my favorite player for years, but through four weeks, it appears that Father Time has caught up to him. The signs have been there for a couple seasons since Green hasn’t completed a full campaign sice 2017. Regardless, Green’s peripheral stats have yet to translate into anything fantasy managers can use so far in 2020.
Prior to Week 4, Green was third in air yards for all wide receivers and had earned a 20.6% target share in an offense that is passing at 65.2% in neutral situations. That is good. However, after a one-catch, three-yard outing in Week 4, he has only 119 actual yards on the season to go with zero touchdowns.
Meanwhile, his younger counterparts (Tyler Boyd, Mike Thomas, and Tee Higgins) have repeatedly out-produced the 32-year-old veteran over the past two weeks. We can place as much blame as we want on Green’s lack of time practicing with Joe Burrow, but their misfires aren’t completely on the rookie.
Green has faded in the offense since his 13-target outing in Week 2. Whether it’s from being shadowed by corners or not being in sync with Burrow, Green isn't producing. He is a non-essential hold as bye weeks pick up.
Jeff Wilson Jr. , RB, 49ers
Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 43%
Jeff Wilson saw his snaps and touches jump in Week 3 after both Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman went down with injuries. With Coleman winding up on IR, Wilson’s path to touches in the short term seemed clear. Jerick McKinnon has his own injury history, and Wilson had at least been effective in short-yardage situations, scoring a touchdown in Week 3.
But Wilson faded in Week 4. He was reduced to just an 8% snap share and only four touches while McKinnon and Kyle Juszczyk stole the show. Wilson is yet to see more than three targets in a game, and we’ve only ever relied on him to vulture touchdowns from the primary running backs.
In a week with multiple running back injuries and committees to research, Wilson’s value and roster utility dwindles. Holding Wilson as a handcuff in the event McKinnon suffers another injury makes sense. However, dropping him to pick up any of the running backs that will see larger workloads due to injury (e.g. Justin Jackson, D'Ernest Johnson) should be the move for most fantasy managers in Week 5, especially with Mostert and/or Coleman coming back soon.
Trend to Note
Kenyan Drake, RB, Cardinals
Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 100%
There haven’t been any reported injuries for Kenyan Drake, but the Arizona Cardinals calling up a running back from the practice squad the night before their Week 4 game may have been a potential warning that something isn't right with Drake.
In addition, Drake’s metrics are becoming worrisome. He had averaged 4.1 targets per game for a 13.0% target share over his 7 starts in Arizona to close out the 2019 season. He’s yet to exceed a 7% target share in any week in 2020 through four games after earning zero targets against the Carolina Panthers last week. It's the same Carolina squad that had allowed 13 receptions to the Chargers’ running backs and 11 to Tampa Bay's in the past two weeks.
Instead of Drake complementing his role as lead rusher, he has wound up ceding both goal-line and pass-catching work to Chase Edmonds with Edmonds getting a receiving touchdown. On top of that, Arizona’s offensive line is 23rd in adjusted line yards. Their run blocking may speak to some of Drake’s issues, but his lack of pass-catching work is a critical hit to his value.
With contests against the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys ahead for the Cardinals, Drake may see better game environments. Fantasy managers should pay close attention to his workload as he appears to be losing his grip on the featured role. He's not a drop, but Drake is someone we should be very worried about.