Week 9 Fantasy Football Drop List: A Goodbye to Andre Ellington

As the waiver wire was thinning, Sunday's injuries breathe fantasy life into forgotten players. Who can you cut to make room?

Heading into Week 8, waiver wires were getting thin in many leagues. Just as the list was dwindling, injuries struck hard Sunday, shelving many wide receivers and running backs. Carlos Hyde and Joseph Randle were inactive before the week began, while Khiry Robinson, Reggie Bush, Matt Forte, and Le'Veon Bell all suffered possible multi-week or season-ending injuries.

Wide receivers fared only slightly better with Mike Evans and Brandon Marshall battling injuries throughout their games. But the biggest wide receiver injuries over the weekend were to Keenan Allen, whose return date is unknown, and a season-ending Achilles injury to Steve Smith.

Each of these injuries have varying implications but serve as a reminder how quickly things change in fantasy football. With every injury, an opportunity can open for another player to step into a role and provide unexpected fantasy value.

Deciding what players to add is usually the easy part, but deciding which players are safe to drop can be a more difficult decision.

As always, this list serves as players who owners could drop to make room for a waiver addition that could help their teams through the bye weeks or later in the season. The players listed are not must-drops by any means. Whether or not to drop these players depends most on the depth of your league and make up of your team.

Sam Bradford, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

Yahoo Ownership: 53%
ESPN Ownership: 40%

A change of scenery for Sam Bradford was supposed to change the career outlook for the former number one overall pick. That has yet to materialize in Bradford’s first year under Chip Kelly. Bradford has produced below average numbers on the season, with 1,766 passing yards and 9 touchdowns. It has been ugly just getting to those statistics. He has thrown 10 interceptions and lost a fumble. Averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt, he’s thrown for one touchdown or fewer in five of seven games. 

Bradford has been relying on heavy volume to produce inferior statistics. Going into the Eagles’ Week 8 bye, Bradford’s Passing  Net Expected Points (NEP) per attempt of 0.01 ranked 27th out of 32 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs on the season.

Many are calling for Bradford to be benched for Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was actually good in this system last year, but so far, Kelly isn’t budging. No matter what, though, Bradford shouldn't be near a fantasy lineup.

Joseph Randle, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo Ownership: 73%
ESPN Ownership: 78%

(Update: Joseph Randle has been released by the Cowboys.)

It’s quite possible Joseph Randle has played his last snap as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Personal issues aside, Randle is facing a possible suspension and struggled to finding running outside of a few long runs this season. He was never able to give the Cowboys the consistent yardage needed to maintain drives.

Of course he was dealt a bad hand when wide receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo were injured in the first two weeks of the season. Running behind one of the league’s elite offensive lines, however, Randle couldn’t churn out reliable production.

Randle’s numbers aren’t bad at 315 rushing yards, 4.1 yards per carry, and 4 touchdowns, but he has been unable to elevate the offense without its two biggest stars. Heading into Week 8, out of 27 running backs with at least 70 carries, Randle ranked 14th in Rushing NEP per attempt (-0.02) and 23rd in Rush Success Rate (35.5%). These numbers indicate Randle relied on big gains for his yardage totals and lacked steady positive runs.

After an oblique injury opened the door for Darren McFadden in Week 7, it was hardly a question of which back was better for the Cowboys' offense. Between injury, lack of production, impending suspension, and personal issues, replacing Randle looks like a safe option depending the waiver options available.

Andre Ellington, Running Back, Arizona Cardinals

Yahoo Ownership: 70%
ESPN Ownership: 70%

Andre Ellington has many positives going for him. The talent is there, he’s in one of the league’s best offenses, and he has produced when healthy (though that hasn't been often). Therein is where the problem lies. Health has been an issue throughout Ellington’s career. On the small side for an NFL running back, he seems to be nicked up more often than not. 

After missing three weeks to an MCL sprain, Ellington returned in Week 5 to limited usage. Cardinals’ coach Bruce Arians said Ellington’s usage would increase heading into Week 8, but he saw just three touches. 

Meanwhile Chris Johnson carried the ball 30 times in the win over the Browns, proving again he is the lead back for Arizona. 

Factor rookie David Johnson into the mix, and the Cardinals have three quality running backs at their disposal. Each have been somewhat productive at times this season, but the touch distribution has easily tilted in the elder Johnson’s favor.

Player Rush Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing NEP Total Touchdowns
Chris Johnson 141 676 -0.00 3
Andre Ellington 24 160 0.09 2
David Johnson 25 109 -0.18 5

Although each running back has brought something different to the team, Chris Johnson has controlled the backfield touches. Usage doesn’t appear to be on the rise anytime soon for Ellington. His Week 1 injury opened the door for Chris Johnson, and it would likely take a Johnson injury for Ellington to return to fantasy relevance.

Jordan Cameron, Tight End, Miami Dolphins

Yahoo Ownership: 71%
ESPN Ownership: 67%

Since the firing of Joe Philbin, the Dolphins offense has picked up and changed the fantasy outlook for a few players. Despite his new coach being a former tight end in Dan Campbell, Jordan Cameron has yet to benefit from the coaching change.

Since starting the season with 73 and 62 receiving yards in Weeks 1 and 2, Cameron has not had a game with more than 35 receiving yards. He’s caught more than three passes just once, back in Week 1, and has just one touchdown on the year.

His Reception NEP per target is 0.56, with just 19 receptions on the season. There are 23 tight ends with more receptions than Cameron. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry has dominated the short passing game looks from quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Cameron has been ineffective in his first season with Miami. He is on pace to finish with 72.48 fantasy points on the season, a total that would have landed him 20th overall at tight end last season.

Just a streaming option at this point, Cameron hasn’t provided top-10 tight end statistics as was expected. 

Kyle Rudolph, Tight End, Minnesota Vikings

Yahoo Ownership: 51%
ESPN Ownership: 30%

Expectations for Kyle Rudolph weren’t as high as they were for Cameron, but he has also failed to provide consistent weekly production for fantasy teams. Like Cameron, he also started off the season with his two best receiving totals. Since Week 2, the only constant in Rudolph’s game is his weekly catch total of two.

Rudolph’s value has always been tied to touchdowns, but he needs more than two receptions a game to be considered an option. His highest receiving total since Week 2 is just 22 yards.

Rudolph’s Reception NEP per target ranks last out of 23 tight ends with at least 20 catches at 0.29 this season.

He will score the occasional touchdown, but when he doesn’t, owners are looking at a one- or two-point week. In a tight spot, gambling on a touchdown could be fine, but as a weekly starter, Rudolph is a bad bet.