Players to Cut: Week 4 (2021 Fantasy Football)
Week 3 of the NFL season is in the books and it was a very good week of NFL action. Some teams that started off the season slow have since regained their form. An example of that would be the Green Bay Packers, who laid an egg losing 38-3 to New Orleans in the season opener. They have nicely rebounded to go (2-1) and their offense has started to heat up scoring 35 and 30 points the last two weeks.
Other teams that started off the season strong have not been able to build on that success. The Pittsburgh Steelers shocked the world by beating the Buffalo Bills on the road in the season opener. They have not had much success since, losing back-to-back home games to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Then there are the teams that gave us no illusions they would be good this year. The New York Jets struggled to score points in their opener with just 14 points and they have doubled down by not scoring a touchdown for the last eight quarters. They are a team that looks like they will not score 20 points in any game this season.
There is still time for bad teams to improve and good teams to regress, but teams are starting to show their true colors and roles are being carved out that should continue as long as players stay healthy. Here are some players that I would look to cut from my fantasy roster after three weeks of NFL action.
12- and 14-Team Leagues
Carson Wentz (QB – IND)
At a certain point, physical talent has to meet statistical production and when those things do not for several years, a player needs to be reevaluated. I understand Wentz was the second pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and I understand that he almost won the MVP award in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury. All I know is that Wentz was 28th in QBR in 2020 with a 41.9 QBR and he is worse this year at 38.9. That is stunning, seeing Wentz was leading the league in interception and sacks when he was benched last year. Wentz is averaging only 14.89 fantasy points per game and he is battling injury after injury again.
The rookie quarterbacks with no experience are playing at a similar level as a veteran that was supposed to bring stability to this organization. The Colts will likely bail on Wentz after this season and fantasy managers need to bail on him now. He is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league since 2020 and a change of scenery has not changed his fantasy production for the better. He is in danger of being benched if this team continues to struggle and lose games because the Colts are not going to want to send a first-round pick to Philadelphia if this production and losing continues. The Colts would be on the hook to send a first-round pick to Philadelphia instead of a second-round pick in 2022 if Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps this year or 70 percent of the snaps and the Colts make the playoffs this year.
Carson Wentz versus the 2021 Rookie QB Class
Zach Wilson (QB - NYJ)
Sometimes rookie quarterbacks go to bad offenses and their talent can make us reevaluate the offense once the season starts. I think a good example of that was the 2012 Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck took over a team that was 28th in points scored and 30th in yards gained in 2011. No player on that offense had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage or more than six touchdowns. Luck joined the team and Reggie Wayne came back to life, T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen became fantasy names and their offense was suddenly good.
That is not happening in New York this year. The Jets have scored six points in their last eight games and Braxton Berrios leads the team in yards from scrimmage with 150 yards in three games. Wilson has 628 yards, two touchdowns, and seven picks in three games, and the Jets are 32nd in points scored and 30th in yards gained. Wilson should not be rostered in any fantasy format this year until the offense starts to show signs of life.
Ronald Jones II (RB - TB)
We finally were able to see how the Buccaneers backfield functions with the team behind. The Buccaneers trailed 31-14 in the third quarter and the result was they threw the ball 55 times and ran the ball only 13 times. The result was Ronald Jones had only five carries for 11 yards. Leonard Fournette had four carries for eight yards but chipped in with three receptions for 26 yards. Giovani Bernard was the surprise beneficiary of the team being behind with 10 targets, nine receptions, 51 yards, and one touchdown.
There is not a role for Jones in this offense for Jones at the moment. Fournette is the lead back when the team is ahead and needs to grind the clock. Bernard is the back with a receiving role when the team is behind in the second half. Jones is relegated to 15 carries in three games. Jones II cannot be rostered in any league with that usage rate and no game script for him to see meaningful touches.
Mark Ingram (RB - HOU)
I have a couple of Texans running backs I am selling this week. Ingram has seen his rushing attempts plummet from 26 in Week 1 to 14 in Week 2 to just six in Week 3. He needs the team to be in a competitive game script so that he can blast into the line for 3.2 yards per carry. He is this year's version of 2020 Frank Gore, a talented veteran running back past his prime stuck on a bad offense. Short of him scoring a surprise touchdown, he has no fantasy value and he has too low of a floor for him to still be rostered in 50 percent of Yahoo.com leagues.
David Johnson (RB - HOU)
You would hope that if Ingram's role was plummeting that another running back would be the beneficiary. Johnson had two rushing attempts in a game in which Ingram had six rushing attempts. Johnson was not targeted in the passing game. Johnson is rostered in 41 percent of Yahoo.com leagues. It makes no sense for fantasy managers to roster a player that has 11 rushing attempts and six targets through three games on one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
Carlos Hyde (RB - JAX)
It looked like Hyde might have a role in the opener when he had nine rushing attempts and two targets and James Robinson was spelling Hyde. That move made no sense from a football perspective, but fantasy managers always follow the usage rates. In Week 3, Hyde had only eight rushing attempts and no targets in a game where Robinson had 15 rushing attempts for 88 yards and six targets, six receptions, and 46 yards. Robinson also scored the touchdown. It makes no sense in an offense as bad as Jacksonville to handcuff Robinson and Robinson is the clear lead back at this point. Hyde seems to be falling out of favor in this offense and his fantasy value should continue to decrease in future weeks. Unless your league is so deep that you feel like you need the handcuff, Hyde is not a good fantasy option going forward.
Elijah Moore (WR - NYJ)
I had hoped the Jets would show improvement on offense as the season progressed, but that just does not seem to be happening right now. It is hard to roster skill position players on a team that does not score a touchdown in back-to-back games. Through three games, Braxton Berrios leads the team with 150 yards from scrimmage and Corey Davis has scored the only two offensive touchdowns on the season. This team is on pace to gain only 4,250 yards and score only 113 points on the season. I cannot see rostering Moore in this passing game, especially with Jamison Crowder nearing a return. Moore should be on the waiver wire in all leagues.
Gabriel Davis (WR - BUF)
I think the hope was that the Bills had started the season slowly on offense and once they picked up the pace, Davis could have a fantasy role. We saw that breakout for the team on Sunday. The Bills scored 43 points and posted 481 yards. Most of that was from Josh Allen slinging the ball 43 times for 358 yards and four touchdowns. Davis accounted for one target, one reception, and 23 yards. Tommy Sweeney had two targets in this game and even the fullback, Reggie Gilliam had as many targets as Davis. I had thought Davis could be a breakout player on this offense, but it is probably going to take an injury or two for him to have a role on the offense. There is no fantasy future for a player that sees only one target in a game where the team passes the ball 43 times.
Randall Cobb (WR - GB)
Cobb has two problems. First, the Packers have run only 172 plays in their first three games, which is in the bottom third of the league. That is not that much different from last year, the Packers ran only 990 plays last year. Aaron Rodgers ran only 23 plays from No Huddle last year and he has run only one play from no-huddle this year. Because of that, they are 21st in pass attempts and Cobb is tied with AJ Dillon and Allen Lazard with five targets on the season. Davante Adams has 34 targets and the rest of the team has been targeted 57 times.
n order for Cobb to have a fantasy role, the offense would need to function like it did in 2020, where they were logging big plays and passing touchdowns at a record pace. That is not happening yet and unless the Packers start playing like 2020 or start using their other receivers, the only player not named Adams that will have fantasy value in the receiving core is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He does not need a lot of targets to be fantasy relevant, because he is the vertical threat in the offense. A slot receiver like Cobb does not belong on a fantasy roster right now for a team that is not passing the ball enough to their complementary players.
Quintez Cephus (WR - DET)
Cephus was a popular waiver-wire addition after amassing 13 targets, seven receptions, 75 yards receiving, and two touchdowns in his first two games of the season. That did not translate into a strong Week 3 with one target, one reception, and eight yards. Kalif Raymond suddenly emerged with 10 targets in this game after having six targets in the first two games. That is going to be the problem in Detroit all season. T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift are going to see the most targets in the passing game and after that, it is going to be whatever receiver Jared Goff likes that week. Sometimes it will be Cephus, sometimes it will be Raymond and it may be someone else next week. I hate rostering fantasy players that see 10 targets one week and one target the next. Fantasy owners need to look for more reliable options than Cephus, especially with three road games in four weeks on deck.
Cole Kmet (WR - TE)
Kmet has a lot of potential, but he is stuck on one of the worst offenses in the NFL. In a league that is putting up record passing numbers, the Chicago Bears managed to pass the ball for only 68 yards while also having 67 lost yards due to nine sacks. Justin Fields had more sacks than his six completions. The result was Kmet finishing with one reception for 11 yards on four targets. This comes a week after he posted one target, one reception, and no yards.
I am not blaming Justin Fields for that effort, I think that was one of the worst offensive game plans I have ever seen and Matt Nagy deserves as much blame for that loss as anyone in the Bears organization. But whether you blame the GM, the head coach, or the players, the fact remains that this offense is 32nd in passing yards with 272 net passing yards in three games. You cannot roster a tight end on an offense with one touchdown pass and two interceptions through three games. Something needs to change in Chicago before Kmet is worth rostering in fantasy leagues.
Evan Engram (WR - TE)
Engram made his 2021 debut with six targets, two receptions, and 21 yards. I have already seen enough after one game to know that I would not want to roster Engram going forward. The Falcons had been torched by fantasy tight ends coming into this game and the Giants could not create any offense at the tight end position. Through three games, the Giants' tight ends have nine receptions for 87 yards and no touchdowns. Washington is 17th and Atlanta is 27th against fantasy tight ends, despite having played the Giants. It is hard to trust a streaming tight end on a team that does not utilize the tight end. He plays New Orleans next week, which is ninth against fantasy tight ends, and Engram is not good enough to roster with another tight end waiting for a better matchup down the road.
Baker Mayfield (QB - CLE)
Mayfield has scored 49.30 fantasy points through three games, which is only 16.37 fantasy points per game. In deeper leagues, that may be enough to warrant holding onto for the bye weeks, but in shallower leagues, he is just not producing enough to warrant a roster spot. From an NFL perspective, his 9.8 yards per pass attempt are stellar, but he has only 80 passing attempts on the year. The result is 780 yards passing and two passing touchdowns. He is a much better NFL quarterback than a fantasy quarterback.
Michael Carter (RB - NYJ)
It is hard to trust any Jets at this point and Carter has only 29 touches for 147 yards from scrimmage and no touchdowns on the year. Owners in deeper leagues will want to hold him for the bye weeks hoping that he carves out a bigger role later in the year. In a shallow league, it is hard to justify holding a guy that does not find the end zone and averages only 4.7 yards per touch.
Darnell Mooney (WR - CHI)
Mooney is a very talented player, but the Bears have only 400 passing yards and 272 net passing yards on the season. That leaves Mooney with 19 targets, 12 receptions, 101 yards, and no touchdowns. It is becoming a challenge justifying Allen Robinson as a fantasy starter with his 21 targets, 10 receptions, 86 yards, and one touchdown in three games. It is even harder to justify Mooney at this point in a shallow league.
Jared Cook (TE - LAC)
In the last two weeks, he has posted eight targets, five receptions, 55 yards, and no touchdowns. The big problem has been Mike Williams. Williams has four touchdowns in their first three games and three of those touchdowns have been from inside the 15-yard line and two of them have been inside the 5-yard line. Williams is the red zone target for this offense and if Cook is not going to see red-zone looks, it does not make much sense to roster him in a shallower league.
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