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Players to Cut: Week 2 (2020 Fantasy Football)

Sep 15, 2020

Fantasy owners have a lot of tough decisions to make when setting their roster, and early season cuts are among the toughest. Nobody wants to hold onto a player who is underperforming or won’t have a significant role, but nobody wants to cut a player that just had a bad week. Sometimes you can overthink a bad game and cut a very good player. Worse, the player you pick up may have had a fluky performance and disappoint, while the player you cut could go on to have a great season for another fantasy owner.

Each week, I will look at players that you should be cutting due to inadequate usage or poor play. I am not going to put players on the list whose seasons ended due to injury, like Marlon Mack. Instead, I’m looking at usage, and whether it makes sense to hold onto players that did not have a big role. I’ll also look at those who played so poorly that it may not make sense to roster them anymore.

Each league will be different. An owner in a 10-team league is going to be able to cut underperforming players easier than an owner in a 16-team league. Some fantasy owners may need to just bite the bullet and bench these players until they play better. You will need to decide whether the bench or a first-class ticket to the waiver wire is the best decision for you when it comes to these Week 1 performers that did not live up to the hype.

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Baker Mayfield (QB – CLE) 
At a certain point, a player is just too inconsistent to keep trotting them out there in fantasy lineups. I expected Mayfield to have a rough go of it on Sunday. The Browns are in a constant state of rebuilding, and the Ravens are a Super Bowl contender. The Browns were down 31-6 midway through the third quarter. That was a chance for Mayfield to put up some nice garbage time fantasy points so salvage the day. Instead, he finished with 39 passing attempts, 189 yards, one touchdown, and one pick.

Even against Cincinnati in Week 2, I would struggle to put him in my fantasy lineup, especially considering how horrible he played against them last year and how bad he looked in Week 1. If you cannot trust a quarterback as a streamer against one of the worst teams in the league, he is not worth owning. There are probably better streaming options currently on your waiver wire.

As a refresher, here are Mayfield’s stats against Cincinnati from last year:

Games Com Att Yds YPA Pass TDs Int QB Rating
2 23 51 471 9.24 3 5 58.2

Matt Breida (RB – MIA)
Usage is the big problem for Breida. The Dolphins ran the ball 27 times in Week 1 against the New England Patriots, but Breida had just five carries for 22 yards. Both Myles Gaskin (9) and Jordan Howard (8) had more carries. It would be one thing if Breida had 15 carries for 30 yards against the tough New England Patriots defense. It would be a bad game, but you could hope for better results against a better opponent. If Breida is going to be third in carries on a team that is consistently behind, he is not worth owning. This whole backfield is probably one to avoid, but I would search the waiver wire for players that are not third on the Dolphins depth chart.

Chris Thompson (RB – JAC)
The Jaguars were always going to be a frustrating committee to predict, but Thompson had no rushing attempts, two targets, two receptions, and six yards in Week 1. Meanwhile, James Robinson had 16 rushing attempts and one reception. The one thing that played against Thompson is that the Jaguars never trailed by double-digits, so they were not in a situation where they were forced to pass the football and use him more. He will have bigger usage rates this year, but if he is only going to see two touches in a game as he did on Sunday, his floor is too low to justify rostering in fantasy football. You do not need to roster two Jaguars running backs, and Robinson seems like the running back to own at this point.

Justin Jackson (RB – LAC)
Jackson isn’t rostered in a ton of leagues, but there was a prevailing thought in fantasy circles that if Austin Ekeler were to suffer an injury, Jackson would be the next running back up. Instead, Joshua Kelley was second on the team with 12 carries, while Jackson had two. That won’t cut it in fantasy football, and even though Jackson is owned in only 11 percent of Yahoo leagues, that’s 11 percent too many teams at this point. Jackson needs to be cut, and Kelley needs to be added in all formats.

A.J. Dillon (RB – GB)
Some expected that the Packers would split carries between Aaron Jones and Dillon, with Dillon possibly earning goal-line carries due to his size. The Packers had a 29-10 lead on the road at the end of the third quarter. If there was ever a time to ground and pound with Dillon, this would have been his time to shine. Instead, Jones had 16 carries, Jamaal Williams had seven carries, and Dillon had just two.

Jones and Williams also combined for 10 targets in the passing game while Dillon had none. Dillon could very well end up being a starter in Green Bay, but that probably is not going to happen this year unless both Jones and Williams go down with an injury. Dillon is a good prospect for the future, but he doesn’t have much value with two carries in a game that his team led by 19 points entering the fourth quarter.

Justin Jefferson (WR – MIN)
I don’t understand Minnesota’s offense. They trailed 22-7 in the second quarter and 29-10 at the end of the third quarter. Usually, that’s a recipe for a quarterback having 40 or more passing attempts, but instead, Kirk Cousins finished with just 25. He threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns. Combine that with Jefferson being behind Bisi Johnson on the depth chart, and you have him finishing with three targets, two receptions, and 26 yards.

It’s hard to justify keeping Jefferson on your roster if he’s going to see only three targets in a game where Minnesota trailed by a large margin for most of the day. While I still think Jefferson will emerge as the second receiver and be playable in fantasy football later this year, you can’t stream a player with three targets, and he is a wasted roster spot until the Vikings utilize his ability as a slot receiver.

Michael Pittman Jr. (WR – IND)
The Colts were completely off-script on Sunday, passing the ball 46 times and running the ball only 22 times. This should have been the type of game that Pittman Jr. shined. Instead, Parris Campbell saw nine targets, and Pittman Jr. saw only two. There are going to be games where Indy can run the ball better, and the Colts will throw the ball 30 or fewer times. Pittman Jr. is not going to have much value if he sees only two targets when the Colts throw the ball 46 times. He is more of a dynasty stash than a redraft league sleeper at this point.

Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
This Cardinals offense is going to be fun to watch, but Kirk’s usage was very concerning. He was supposed to benefit from having DeAndre Hopkins there to take some defensive attention away from him, but Hopkins had 16 targets out of 40 pass attempts by Kyler Murray. Kirk was left with five targets, one reception, and no yards. That is a very low floor, and fantasy owners have to question if they want Kirk to be part of their roster going forward.

The only thing that would give me pause is that San Francisco has a very good pass defense, and the poor Week 1 showing could have been matchup-driven. I still think that people need to start asking the question of whether it’s worth owning Kirk at this point. He definitely should not be in any fantasy lineups until he shows that he can be depended on for even mediocre fantasy production.

Mecole Hardman (WR – KC)
The Chiefs scored 34 points in the opener, and several players had good games. It doesn’t disappoint me that the Chiefs targeted Tyreek HillTravis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins more than Hardman. I expected them to ride with their star players in the passing game.

What was concerning is that Demarcus Robinson had six targets and Hardman had only one. That would suggest that Robinson will be a bigger part of this offense than we expected. The result was one reception and six yards for Hardman in the opener. Part of me wants to hold onto Hardman, as it could be his turn to shine next week. The problem is that when his floor is one target, it makes it really hard to trust a player. Hardman will have one or two big games this year, but it’s clear that he has a long way to go toward being fantasy-viable if his floor is one target. There are more consistent waiver wire options at wide receiver at this point that fantasy owners should consider.

Austin Hooper (TE – CLE)
Hooper’s confusing usage rate is just the latest example of why the Browns are one of the worst franchises in the NFL. They signed Hooper to a four-year, $44 million contract with $23 million guaranteed this offseason. You would think that would mean that Hooper would be a big part of their passing offense this year. Instead, he was targeted twice and caught both for just 15 yards and no scores.

Hooper was not even the most-targeted tight end on his team, as David Njoku had three targets, three receptions, 50 yards, and one touchdown. That said, Njoku landed on the injured reserve on Monday. It’s really hard to stream Hooper if he is only going to see two targets. There will be better matchups, but Hooper has one of the lowest floors of any tight end in the league.

Rob Gronkowski (TE – TB)
It’s only one game, and the Saints are an underrated defense. Usage is my concern in this situation. O.J. Howard saw six targets in this game to Gronk’s three, and Howard was the tight end that Tom Brady went to in the red zone. Also, Mike Evans was targeted only twice in this game, as he was playing through an injury. Evans is going to see an uptick in targets going forward.

You have to wonder how many targets Gronk is going to see if he saw only three targets with the Buccaneers behind and with Evans playing through an injury. Ronald Jones II is the lead back running the football, and it looks like Godwin, Evans, and Howard will be the most-targeted players in the passing game. Relying on the fifth option and the second tight end in the offense can be dangerous. I don’t know if it’s worth holding onto Gronk at this point.

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Derek Lofland is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Derek, check out his archive and follow him @DerekLofland.

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