Week 7 Fantasy Football Drop List: Cutting Ties With Denver
It’s hard to believe we are already in Week 7 of the NFL season. The bye week crunch is upon us as fantasy owners, and injuries continue to mount up. There are still five more weeks with at least four teams on bye with six teams off Week 9.
Now is the time roster management becomes trickier; balancing between players you can start now versus holding players that could make a difference in the later part of the season. A good way to look at players to cut is if there are comparable valued players available in the free agent pool. At this point, there are several quarterbacks and tight ends who provide roughly the same floor and ceiling depending on matchup as players available on the waiver wire. These are the types of players you should feel comfortable dropping if a cut must be made.
Again, this is a list of under-performing or replacement-level players who have squandered opportunities or have not met expectations for one reason or another. Their situations aren’t changing anytime soon, and there could be better options available depending on your league. These are not must-drop players, but depending on the depth of your league could be sent to the waiver wire.
C.J. Spiller, Running Back, New Orleans Saints
Yahoo Ownership: 66%
ESPN Ownership: 68%
It wasn’t supposed to be like this for C.J. Spiller. Saints head coach Sean Payton was supposed to be an offensive genius who would utilize Spiller’s best attributes and allow him to rack up fantasy points every week. Instead, Spiller had surgery in the preseason causing him to miss the first week of the season and has yet to carve a significant role in the offense. Once he returned from injury, his usage was expected to increase with each passing week. However, his snaps have remained consistently low, and Payton has shown no desire to get Spiller the football. Touching the ball just 27 times in 5 games, Spiller is looking set for only a few touches each game.
After an 80 yard game winning touchdown reception in Week 4 against the Cowboys, fantasy owners may have thought Spiller would finally be unleashed. That has yet to be the case. Spiller’s Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry through 5 games is poor -0.12, while his Reception NEP per target is 0.54. If Spiller is taking up space on your roster, it might be a better decision to pick up his backfield mate Khiry Robinson instead.
Isaiah Crowell, Running Back, Cleveland Browns
Yahoo Ownership: 54%
ESPN Ownership: 79%
Running back committees are the thorn in every fantasy owner’s side. After battling Terrance West last season for much of the year, it appeared the early down job was Isaiah Crowell's for the taking this season. Instead of seizing the opportunity, Crowell has been inconsistent at best. Averaging just 3.7 yards per carry on 73 attempts, Crowell has 272 rushing yards and 1 touchdown. Crowell’s Rushing NEP this season is -5.09. After zero receptions the first two weeks of the season, rookie Duke Johnson has seen an uptick in the passing game with 24 receptions over the last 4 weeks. Ceding snaps and passing down work to Johnson, Crowell may now find himself third on the Browns' running back pecking order after Robert Turbin made his season debut Sunday. Returning from an ankle injury, Turbin rushed 10 times for just 27 yards in his first game as a Brown. In Seattle, Turbin never posted a positive Rushing NEP in a season behind Marshawn Lynch on 231 carries in three years.
Instead of being a third running back or flex play for fantasy owners, Crowell may soon find himself third on the Browns’ depth chart. Rostering both Crowell and Turbin to see if either can claim the job would be ideal, but with roster limitations that is likely impossible. Another running-back-by-committee is likely to win out in Cleveland.
Joe Flacco, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
Yahoo Ownership: 60%
ESPN Ownership: 49%
Though Joe Flacco has committed eight total turnovers on the season, he has produced in the right matchups -- but so have numerous other quarterbacks. On the season, Flacco has thrown for 1,605 passing yards and 8 touchdowns along with 2 one-yard rushing touchdowns in Week 5. Flacco’s Passing NEP per drop back is 0.04, ranking him 23rd out of 30 quarterbacks attempting at least 150 pass plays on the year. Injuries have hit the Ravens hard, and his weapons outside of wide receiver Steve Smith leave much to be desired. Rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman was expected to take over the vacated Torrey Smith role only with upgraded route running ability, but he remains out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Flacco’s ownership percentage is surprising based on how many quarterbacks are in the same range that are usable each week, depending on matchup. He is hard to trust with the limited playmakers around him, keeping him from being a must-own, weekly play. With four top-10 quarterback finishes in six weeks, Flacco should be on the weekly radar for quarterback streamers.
Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Yahoo Ownership: 74%
ESPN Ownership: 74%
The Minnesota Vikings’ passing game has been one of the worst this season. Currently ranked last in the NFL with an average of just 179.6 yards per game and 27th in Adjusted Passing NEP per play, the Vikings do not offer many yards to go around for wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs. Based on the limited passing yards, it’s easy to see why Mike Wallace has just two games with more than 50 yards receiving and been held to three catches or fewer in three games. Wallace has reeled in 22 of 33 targets this season for 256 yards and 1 touchdown.
Rookie wide receiver Stefon Diggs has had two solid weeks in a row in place of injured Charles Johnson. Diggs has looked like the best receiver on the team in limited action. With Johnson set to make his return soon, and tight end Kyle Rudolph as a safety valve for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, it’s difficult to trust any of the Vikings receivers. Bridgewater has thrown for over 250 yards just once this season. To put this in perspective, there are 20 quarterbacks averaging more than 250 passing yards per game this season.
Wallace has always been a boom-or-bust fantasy wide receiver, but this year is shaping up to be more bust. Until the Vikings produce more yards through the air or one of the receivers can string together several good starts, the Vikings’ pass catchers are best avoided.
Owen Daniels, Tight End, Denver Broncos
Yahoo Ownership: 50%
ESPN Ownership: 47%
Solid but never spectacular, Owen Daniels has been a reliable tight end going into his 10th NFL season. He was expected to benefit from the presence of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders and become a key cog in the Denver offense. Unlike past teams led by quarterback Peyton Manning, this team is winning because of their defense as the offense has sputtered. Based on our metrics, the Broncos’ offense is producing at the worst rate of any team in the league, while their defense is first.
Yet to clear 100 yards on the season, Daniels has been targeted 29 times, catching 14 passes for 85 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
In addition to their passing woes (they are 32nd in Adjusted Passing NEP per play), the running game (also 32nd) has struggled behind poor play from the offensive line. It’s time to reevaluate the skill position players in Denver, and Daniels should be completely off the fantasy radar now.