Players to Cut: Week 13 (2020 Fantasy Football)
The NFL trying to play games amid a pandemic has been a storyline that has dominated the season and that challenge was on full display in Week 12. It has produced a slew of results that we have rarely seen in recent memory. The Denver Broncos became the first team since the 1965 Baltimore Colts to play a game with a quarterback whose day job was not playing quarterback. The league would not allow them to play any of their quarterbacks after Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 and the other three quarterbacks had been in close contact with him without masks.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have had their game rescheduled from Thursday to Sunday to Tuesday to Wednesday. The last time we had a Wednesday game was the season opener in 2012 when the Cowboys and Giants kicked off the season on Wednesday night, due to a conflict with the Democratic National Convention. The last time it had happened before that was the 1948 season.
Also, we now have two Arizona teams. The San Francisco 49ers will be relocating to Arizona for at least the next two weeks because they would be breaking the law in Santa Clara County if they played football there with the new COVID-19 restrictions put in place there. We have had displaced teams before, the New Orleans Saints became the San Antonio Saints and even found time to play a home game in New York City in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina.
None of these events are historic on their own, but they are all rare events that have all happened in the same week due to this crazy season with the cloud of a pandemic hanging over it. I am sure the last five weeks of the NFL season will offer more surprises in a season that has been unlike any other.
There are not many games left and every win and loss carries huge importance at the end of the year. It is important that you have the best possible roster for the stretch run. Here are some players that you should be leaving behind as you make your playoff push at the end of the fantasy regular season.
Darrell Henderson Jr. (RB – LAR)
There was a time when Henderson was a reliable fantasy asset. In Weeks 1-5, Henderson was averaging 12.5 fantasy points per game and his 62.7 fantasy points ranked 16th among running backs. He started to slide a little bit after that and from Week 6 to Week 10, he averaged 8.5 fantasy points per game and his 33.9 fantasy points were 33rd among running backs. In the last two weeks, he has averaged just 1.9 fantasy points per game and he is the 65th ranked running back in that timespan with 3.8 fantasy points.
The Rams have been a difficult backfield to project this season. There have been times where Malcolm Brown looked like he would be the lead back and there have been times where Cam Akers looked like he would emerge only to disappoint fantasy owners. Akers seems like the back to own at this point, in the last two weeks he has scored 11.4 fantasy points per game and he is the 13th ranked fantasy running back in that timespan.
Will it stay that way, it is difficult to tell in this RBBC. All I know is that the fantasy playoffs start in Week 14 or Week 15 in most fantasy leagues, which means we are down to the last games for fantasy owners to improve seeding or qualify for the fantasy postseason. It is really hard to trust a fantasy back that is averaging 1.9 fantasy points per game for the last two weeks. Some fantasy owners are not going to be able to find anything better on the waiver wire and some fantasy owners have clinched playoff spots and can afford to bench him and see if he turns it around. If you need to win the next two weeks, it is hard to ride with Henderson anymore. I would explore just about any other option before inserting Henderson into the lineup if my fantasy season hung in the balance. Akers seems like he has finally taken over that backfield and Henderson does not have a big enough role to remain fantasy viable.
Darrell Henderson Jr.’s Declining Fantasy Production
|Weeks||Rushing Attempts||Rushing Yards||Receptions||Receiving Yards||TDs||Fantasy Points||Fantasy Rank|
|6-8 & 10||44||226||4||33||1||33.9||33rd|
Jerick McKinnon (RB – SF)
I think I have written about cutting just about every 49ers running back this year at one point or another, so it is difficult to know if McKinnon is truly done or he will come back from the dead in fantasy to be a viable player one more time this year. What I do know is that he had double-digit fantasy points in his first four games of the year, fell off the map in Week 5-7 with 5.1 fantasy points combined in those three weeks, bounced back to double-digit fantasy points in Week 8-9 and now has posted 5.1 and 4.2 fantasy points in his last two games.
What appears to be the trend now is that Raheem Mostert is going to be the lead back, as he posted 9.3 fantasy points in Week 12. He had 16 rushing attempts and two receptions in his first game back from injury. Jeff Wilson was next in the pecking order with 12 rushing attempts. McKinnon was left with the Thanksgiving turkey scraps with only three rushing attempts and three targets in Week 12.
It definitely could change in future weeks and the way the 49ers season has gone, Mostert and Wilson could both suffer injuries next week and we are back to debating about whether McKinnon or maybe Kyle Juszczyk is the better option going forward. It has been that type of year and the San Francisco 49ers are now the Arizona 49ers for the next two weeks, so anything is possible. I wouldn’t trust McKinnon in a must-win format and it appears that Mostert and Wilson will share the workload going forward. I would roll dice and drop McKinnon if I needed the bench spot for a more productive player.
Kalen Ballage (RB – LAC)
There was talk that Austin Ekeler was going to be eased back into action his first game back, but injuries to other players derailed that plan and he had 14 rushing attempts and 16 targets in his first game since Week 4. If he is going to see that much action in the backfield, there is no reason to play anyone else, unless you need to handcuff Ekeler and have the roster spot to burn on Ballage. Handcuffs are not as valuable at the end of the season after all the bye weeks have ended and I am not sure Ballage is a good enough player to warrant a dead roster spot. Plus, Ballage was inactive in Week 12 with his own ankle/calf injury that could hamper him down the stretch. I think Ballage had a three-week window of fantasy relevance and will not be heard from the rest of the way. I would find other options.
Travis Fulgham (WR – PHI)
The combination of Carson Wentz imploding in recent weeks and Alshon Jeffery being back in the mix has torpedoed Fulgham’s fantasy value. On Monday Night Football, both receivers played 50 percent of the team’s passing plays and Jeffery was targeted four times to just two targets for Fulgham. Jeffery finished the game with two receptions for 15 yards and Fulgham caught both of his targets for 16 yards. He has now been under 20 receiving yards in three straight games and if he cannot be fantasy relevant against Seattle’s secondary, it is next to impossible to trust him in any matchup. There was a time when Fulgham was emerging as a fantasy WR1, but the combination of Wentz’s subpar play and Jeffery stealing playing time has rendered Fulgham useless in fantasy football the last three weeks.
Emmanuel Sanders (WR – NO)
The last game was a bit of an outlier because Denver did not have a quarterback and the Saints did the right thing by playing conservative and not making any mistakes that would have given Denver a short field and a chance to score cheap points to stay in the game. Taysom Hill was just 9 for 16 with 78 yards passing, no touchdowns, and one pick. The Saints ran the ball 44 times and recorded only 16 pass attempts, the ratio will probably not stay that lopsided when the Saints face Matt Ryan, who is a seasoned quarterback.
Sanders just has not done much the last three weeks since Brees was hurt against San Francisco. Sanders has tallied 0.5, 6.6, and 0.4 fantasy points in the last three weeks. His ceiling has been five receptions for 66 yards sandwiched between two goose eggs. The speculation is that Drew Brees will probably not be back before Week 15 and there is no reason to rush him back if Hill is winning games. I do not think Sanders has been good enough this year to warrant a dead roster spot until Week 15. Michael Thomas is worth stashing until then and possibly starting in good matchups, but even he is a dicey fantasy play in this deflated ground and pound Saints offense.
Jamison Crowder (WR – NYJ)
I think if Crowder had been able to stay healthy and the Jets had any competency on their coaching staff, Crowder could have easily posted 100 receptions and 1,200 yards receiving and been a great fantasy asset. He was showing that earlier in the season when he posted 17.5 fantasy points in Week 1, 10.6 fantasy points in Week 4, and 17.6 fantasy points in Week 5. However, he missed Week 2-3 and 7.8 with injuries. He looked like he might be viable again with 8.6 fantasy points in Week 9, but he has now posted 1.6 and 3.1 fantasy points the last two weeks and he has been targeted only 11 times in his last three games.
The Jets are an anemic offense, the only way for one of their skill position players to have fantasy relevance is volume. Crowder was effective in those three games earlier in the year where he put up big fantasy numbers because he had 13, 10, and 10 targets. If five targets are his ceiling, Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco are not good enough to make him fantasy relevant on that little volume. I would have a hard time stashing any New York Jets player hoping that the situation improves. Crowder may have fantasy value in 2021 with a new head coach and a new quarterback that is drafted first overall, but I think his fantasy relevance in 2020 is over at this point.
Matt Ryan (QB – ATL)
I am going to go with the same two quarterbacks I went with last week because there is nobody with high ownership rates that warrants being discussed more than those two players. Nobody had much hope for Ryan with Julio Jones out of the lineup and even though the Falcons beat the Las Vegas Raiders 43-6, Ryan had a quiet fantasy day with only 14.90 fantasy points. There is no guarantee that Julio Jones is back this week and even if he is back, he could be limited. Ryan has been a fantasy disaster when Jones is either out or limited and I do not see the upside of carrying Ryan for another week hoping he can have a big game against the New Orleans Saints.
Carson Wentz (QB – PHI)
Wentz ended up with 19.80 fantasy points, but his night was still a disaster. The Seahawks have been the worst fantasy defense in the NFL this year and had been allowing 30.6 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Wentz helped them improve that number and had it not been for a meaningless 33-yard touchdown on the last play of the game, Wentz would have finished with 182 yards passing and one passing touchdown against the worst quarterback defense in the NFL. He continues to be one of the least impressive quarterbacks in the league and I would not trust him in a road game against Green Bay in Week 13.
Jared Cook (TE – NO)
Cook is having the same problems with fantasy relevance that his teammates are having without Drew Brees behind center and a new ground and pound offense in New Orleans. Cook has 3.1 fantasy points combined in his last four games. You would think his ownership would be down to zero percent at this point, but he is still owned in 59 percent of ESPN.com leagues. It’s time to move on from Cook, he has no fantasy value in their new Taysom Hill offense.
Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)
I had hoped when he had 7.5 fantasy points against Seattle a couple of weeks ago coming off the bye week that he would emerge in the second half of the season. He followed that effort up with 4.0 and 1.1 fantasy points the last two weeks. He had that 25.9-point fantasy game in Week 2 and has not hit double-digits in any other game this year. I would move on from him at this point, he just cannot be trusted at the most important time of the fantasy season, even at a weak position like tight end.
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