Fantasy Football: 3 Players You Can Drop After Week 5

Everything came to a screeching halt on Sunday afternoon during the Dallas Cowboys’ game. Dak Prescott’s injury was like plate tectonics in motion. His absence not only changes the Cowboys’ offense, but the complexion of the NFC East race changed dramatically. Andy Dalton will get his shot, but most hopes of a Cowboys resurgence and playoff run rested on Prescott’s shoulders.

The shifting NFL landscape immediately became the topic of conversation throughout the rest of the day. Debates on the fantasy values of the remaining Dallas assets will be held constantly throughout the next few weeks and beyond. Meanwhile, the league schedule continues on with four scheduled bye weeks in Week 6 with the possibility of another postponement coming at any time.

The increased number of byes will make rosters difficult enough to manage, but the added COVID complications only make things harder. Our decisions on who to drop may be tougher, but I’ve identified a few nonessential holds that are potential cuts should you need the space. But first, let’s review last week’s recommendations.

Quick Review

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.

Baker Mayfield -- Week 5 was another game where the Cleveland Browns scored more than 30 points and Mayfield underperformed as a fantasy asset. Baker scored just 15.6 points as the Browns improved to 4-1 on the season. Even without Nick Chubb and with Kareem Hunt a little banged up entering the game, Cleveland operated the same as it always had in previous weeks with an emphasis on the run. Their offensive philosophy has capped Mayfield’s upside, but he can provide a usable a floor in an emergency.

A.J. Green -- Green’s targets over the last three games: 13, 6, and 5. Week 5 was even worse as Green finished with no catches on the day and left with a hamstring injury. In his stead, the rest of the pass-catchers (including Joe Mixon) saw increased work, but the Cincinnati Bengals managed only three points against the Baltimore Ravens. Green has struggled all year, and the hamstring injury isn't going to help.

Jeff Wilson -- Raheem Mostert returned to the active lineup and ruined the chances of anyone else in the San Francisco 49ers' backfield having at a productive day. Jerick McKinnon had only a single carry, and Kyle Juszczyk had the only rushing touchdown for the team. The Niners were able to generate just 17 points against the Miami Dolphins, adding even more confusion to their offense. If we can’t rely on San Francisco to move the ball, it eliminates any desire to hold on to the ancillary pieces of the offense.

Potential Drop Candidates

Jerick McKinnon, RB, 49ers

Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 87%

We just discussed Wilson’s lack of utility in a crowded backfield, and it appears that same thing now extends to McKinnon. The hope was that Mostert would be eased back into the offense coming off of his ankle injury. Instead, Mostert handled 57.9% of the running back touches and notched three catches -- re-assuming his lead role in the offense. Meanwhile, McKinnon’s gig was reduced to just 5.3% of the backfield touches.

With Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk all healthy, there's not much volume open in the passing game, either, so McKinnon becomes a non-essential hold for managers that need the roster space. And Tevin Coleman will be back, too, at some point. Mostert is the only Niner running back worth rostering right now.

Mark Ingram, RB, Ravens

Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 94%

Entering Week 5, Mark Ingram owned just a 44.7% share of the Baltimore Ravens’ backfield touches, and Baltimore was sixth in rushing offense, per our schedule-adjusted numbers. Ingram’s situation was positive, so it made sense that his fantasy results would be positive given time.

But the Ravens have been too good, and they now have both J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to pair with Ingram. They’re too good that they’ve held a multi-score lead heading into the fourth quarter in four of their five games, and it’s caused Ingram’s value to plummet. He’s been unable to sustain a viable workload. His targets vanished in Week 5. Dobbins and Edwards have rotated in when the team gets into scoring position. Plus, the Ravens are passing on a majority of their plays in the red zone (54.8%), limiting Ingram’s opportunity even more.

Ingram has seen his greatest touch share (59.3%) when the score differential is within seven points. The issue is that those touches only make up 47.1% of his total carries as the offense continues to roll and put pressure on opposing teams. We’ve tried talking ourselves into a viable situation for Ingram to produce, and his best performance (Week 2) required a touchdown for him to finish as the RB19.

As opposed to cutting Ingram, trading away such a highly rostered player is the preferred path. However, with four teams on bye this week, Ingram is a potential drop target should a higher-priority candidate be available on the wire.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

Yahoo! Roster Percentage: 87%

It’s possible that T.Y. Hilton’s roster value is buoyed primarily by name value. He’s currently the WR58 in PPR scoring with 42.1 points. For context, Corey Davis has scored 41.6 points and played two fewer games because of the pandemic.

The peripherals look great for Hilton. He has the best target share (17.9%) and share of air yards (31.1%) on the Indianapolis Colts. But his two red zone targets are tied for fourth on the team, his 12.5 average depth of targets directly clashes with his quarterback’s tendency to throw short, and Hilton's deepest reception has gone for 28 yards. Hilton is coming off of a 10-target game, but his fantasy production couldn’t get him into even the WR2 consideration (WR26).

Philip Rivers has passed to nine different players each week over their last three games. Seven different players have two or more targets from within the 20-yard line. The Colts have scaled back their passing offense over the last few weeks and they now sit at the league average for passing in neutral situations.

Hilton may be the primary target, but his total volume is shrinking along with his fantasy value. His name will always catch on our eye if he’s out on the wire, but it’s difficult to justify starting him with other options available on waivers.

Trend to Note

Tyler Higbee, TE, Rams

Yahoo Roster Percentage: 95%

Tyler Higbee’s fantasy totals have decreased each week since his three-touchdown outing back in Week 2. The touchdowns covered for what was a weak statistical outing even in that contest, and his peripheral numbers have declined since that game.

His touches have fallen from 5 to 2.3 per game over the last three weeks. In addition, he’s earned only one red zone target over the same time span. Meanwhile, Gerald Everett’s snaps have picked up each week, and he now shares a similar target load with Higbee.

What’s worse is Everett’s red zone usage. While they share a similar target share, Everett’s been involved as a runner with a converted rushing attempt for a touchdown to boost his case for an increased workload. He turned his 4 catches into 90 yards in Week 5 (leading the team in receiving) while Higbee earned only half of Everett’s share.

The Los Angeles Rams are in the bottom 10 for targeting their tight ends (17.9%), and Higbee is now sharing those limited targets with a teammate. Because he’s a part of an offense that has passed on just 40.8% of their red zone plays (sixth-lowest), Higbee will need a spike in red zone usage for him to remain a viable option moving forward.