Players to Cut: Week 2 (2021 Fantasy Football)
The opening weekend of football is always exciting because every team has hope that this will be the year they win a Super Bowl. I think football offers more regular-season surprises than any other sport. There is always a team or two that people think will be in the playoffs that fizzle out, and there is always a team or two that nobody thinks will do anything and they have a great year and shock the NFL.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when making decisions about your fantasy roster. Week 1 is only one game, and it is not even for every team. The Buffalo Bills are (0-1), but they opened with a brutal matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. The Houston Texans are (1-0), but they were gifted a home matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bills are not destined to go (0-17) and score 16 points a game. The Houston Texans are not destined to go (17-0) and average 37 points per game.
I think a perfect illustration of that happened last year when the Jacksonville Jaguars opened with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts would win 11 of their next 15 games and make the playoffs. The Jaguars never won another game the rest of the season. Funny things happen in Week 1, and it is very dangerous to predict what will happen for the rest of this season based on one game.
That said, you have to pay attention to game scripts and usage rates and make some decisions based on those events. Here are some players I would consider ditching after Week 1.
12- and 14-Team Leagues
Tyrell Williams (WR – DET)
The Lions found themselves down 38-10 and they had to throw the ball a lot in this game. Jared Goff threw the ball 57 times and he went to Williams only three times. Seven other Lions players had more targets than Williams. If all he can muster is three targets in a game that the Lions throw the ball 57 times, there is not much reason to roster Williams. Goff seems more comfortable throwing to his tight ends and running backs then stretching the field to a downfield threat like Williams.
Lions Targets and Passing Production – Week 1 vs SF
Randall Cobb (WR - GB)
It is hard to know what is going on with the Packers' offense based on one horrific showing, but Davante Adams has a hold on the top spot and Marquez Valdes-Scantling had seven targets in the game. Cobb had only one target, one reception, and 32 yards receiving. He may have a better game against Detroit, but after that, the Packers have games at San Francisco and home against Pittsburgh. I do not think it is worth holding Cobb at this point if the Packers offense is this out of sync. Cobb was going to need the Packers offense to play like it did last year to have fantasy value and they look like anything but their efficient offense from last year.
Russell Gage (WR - ATL)
Gage was held without a catch and he was only targeted twice in a game the Falcons lost 32-6. If the Falcons are not going to target him when they are behind by that much in the game, there does not seem to be much of a fantasy future. The Eagles also allowed the sixth-most points to fantasy wide receivers last year, so this appeared to be a good matchup for him. Matt Ryan threw only 35 times in this game, but Hayden Hurst had twice as many targets and he is the backup tight end. Gage does not appear to have much of a role in the offense at the moment and he is not worth rostering until Ryan goes to him on a more consistent basis.
Parris Campbell (WR - IND)
Indianapolis was down 21-10 at the half and they needed to throw the ball 38 times. Campbell was targeted only three times and he had only 24 yards on one reception. The Colts have the Rams on deck and they have one of the best fantasy wide receiver defenses in the NFL. I would stay clear of Campbell, Zach Pascal led the wide receivers with just five targets, and he had both touchdown receptions. Michael Pittman Jr. was next with four targets. Campbell looks like the third option on a team that is going to try to establish the run. They ran the ball 30 times, despite being down by double-digits the majority of the game. That does not leave much upside for the third receiver in the offense.
J.D. McKissic (RB - WAS)
There were rumors that Washington was going to try to make Antonio Gibson the featured back and that McKissic would have a scaled-back role. I do not think anyone envisioned Gibson having 23 touches and McKissic having one rush attempt for eight yards. You cannot roster a running back that sees one touch per game unless you are going to hold onto him as a handcuff for Gibson. Deeper leagues may see the value in holding onto McKissic, but he is a dead roster spot with that timeshare split. I would cut bait at this point and look for other players that can help me win now. If he emerges with a bigger role later in the season, you can make the waiver wire claim at that point.
Boston Scott (RB - PHI)
This is almost the same situation as Washington. Scott did not record a single touch in a game where the Eagles won 32-6. Miles Sanders led the way with 15 carries and four receptions. Kenneth Gainwell was the second running back with nine rushing attempts and two receptions. If you cannot rely on Scott to record a single touch in a 26-point victory, it does not make much sense to keep him on your roster.
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB - NE)
Damien Harris led the way with 23 rushing attempts and James White added four rushing attempts and six receptions. Stevenson had only one rush attempt, one reception, and one fumble. There is no faster way for a rookie to be stuck in Bill Belichick's doghouse than a fumble. There also does not seem to be a role for Stevenson unless Harris were to suffer an injury. Harris also had a fumble, which may impact his workload going forward, but the likely beneficiary is J.J. Taylor. I am not saying Stevenson will have no fantasy value this year, but I do not think he is worth holding onto until Belichick decides to give him another shot.
Rashaad Penny (RB - SEA)
Penny had only two carries before he exited the game with an injury and he is now looking at a multi-week absence from game action. Chris Carson seems to have a stronghold on the lead-back role, and Penny is as brittle as any running back in the league. It took him only two carries to sustain a calf injury. I would not waste the roster spot. It seems unlikely he can find both health and a role for the foreseeable future. Leagues with IR spots could put Penny there, but I would not even waste an IR spot on him at this point.
Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB - WAS)
Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury in the season opener and it looks like he will be missing time for the foreseeable future. He landed on the IR, which means he will not be eligible to play for at least the next three weeks. If Taylor Heinicke plays well in his absence, there is a chance that Fitzpatrick does not see the field again as a starter this year. I do not think it is worth rostering Fitzpatrick until he returns and I would not waste an IR spot on him if your league has one of those. At this point, it is time to cut him loose until he is cleared to play and reinserted as the starting quarterback.
Zach Wilson (QB - NYJ)
The Carolina Panthers allowed the 10th most points to fantasy quarterbacks last year. This was a pretty favorable matchup for Wilson to thrive, he finished with 258 yards passing, two touchdowns, one pick, and a QB rating of 82.9. He did not have a rushing attempt in the game. New England is famous for destroying rookie quarterbacks, Justin Herbert found that out the hard way last year in a 45-0 loss. After that, he visits the Denver Broncos, a team that frustrated Daniel Jones. I would not stream Wilson the next two weeks, which means you can roster better players until Week 4.
Zach Ertz (TE - PHI)
We knew Ertz was going to take a backseat in the offense this year, but he finished with just two targets, two receptions, and 34 yards. He was on the field for 61 percent of the offensive snaps, but the Eagles only looked for him two times and Dallas Goedert saw a much bigger target share with five targets, four receptions, 42 yards, and one touchdown. DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor appear to be destined for a healthy amount of targets this year, which means Ertz is probably not going to see a ton of throws as the second tight end and fourth option in the passing game.
Eric Ebron (TE - PIT)
The Steelers' three wide receivers saw 23 of the 32 targets and that meant that Ebron only saw two targets, one reception, and 19 yards. Pat Freiermuth has too big of a role in the offense and the two tight ends are likely to steal enough production from each other to make neither fantasy relevant. Ebron is not a great fantasy option at the moment.
Tua Tagovailoa (QB - MIA)
Tagovailoa needs to be rostered in 14-team leagues, but I think his value in 10-team leagues is not good enough to be rostered. He had 202 yards passing, one-yard rushing, one passing touchdown, and one rushing touchdown. Tagovailoa threw the ball only 27 times as the Dolphins relied on a committee of running backs. Miami has the Buffalo Bills next week and it just does not make sense to hold a player like Tua in smaller leagues. The Dolphins appear to be content winning games with their running game and their defense.
David Johnson (RB - HOU)
The Texans had their easiest game of the season in Week 1 at home and they were ahead 27-7 at halftime. If there ever was going to be a game for Johnson to have a role, this was the game. Instead, Mark Ingram had 26 rushing attempts and Johnson was limited to three rushing attempts for 10 yards and four targets, three receptions, 18 yards, and one touchdown. In deeper leagues, fantasy owners will need to hold onto him in case Ingram suffers an injury and Johnson sees an expanded role as a receiving back with the Texans behind early in the game. In shallower leagues, I think Johnson can be on the waiver wire if he is only going to see seven touches against Jacksonville. Ingram and Phillip Lindsay are ahead of him on the depth chart and fantasy owners do not need the Texans third running back in shallower leagues.
Elijah Moore (WR - NYJ)
Moore had a golden opportunity with Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole out of the game. Instead, he had just one reception on four targets for 22 yards. The Jets play the Patriots next week and at the Denver Broncos after that. In deeper leagues, he is worth a stash as a rookie that picks up the pace later in the year. In shallower leagues, it is hard to see him being fantasy relevant in September and there are probably more productive options on the waiver wire with better matchups the next two weeks.
Austin Hooper (TE - KC)
The stars aligned for Austin Hooper to have a big game in the opener. The Chiefs allowed the seventh-most points to fantasy tight ends last year. Odell Beckham Jr. was out for this game, which should have meant a greater timeshare. Baker Mayfield had 321 yards passing in this game. That should have been good for Hooper, but instead, David Njoku had five targets, and Harrison Bryant had two more targets. That left Hooper with just three targets, three receptions, and 27 yards. In deeper leagues, that may be fantasy viable at tight end, but not in shallower leagues.
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