Players to Cut: Week 8 (2021 Fantasy Football)
Two main factors make fantasy football production difficult to predict each week. The first is injuries, injuries can happen at any point in the game and an unexpected injury can change a player’s statistics and how the ball is distributed to the other players on the team after the injury. The second factor is garbage time fantasy production because a blowout can lead to a player being benched or it can lead to defenses backing off and players accumulating meaningless fantasy numbers that would not be produced in a competitive game.
If you like competitive football, Sunday was not the day for you. There were 11 games played on Sunday and only one of them was a one-possession game, the Atlanta Falcons beating the Miami Dolphins on a field goal at that end of the game. The Los Angeles Rams beating the Detroit Lions was the only other game that was not won by double digits, the Rams won by nine points. The other nine games were double-digit victories with six of them being by more than 20 points.
Blowouts led to some unexpected outcomes, such as P.J. Walker throwing 14 passes against the New York Giants, Tyler Huntley throwing 11 passes against the Cincinnati Bengals, and Chad Henne throwing 16 passes against the Tennessee Titans. Those Henne passes were also the result of a hit on Patrick Mahomes II that made the Chiefs question the wisdom of putting their quarterback back into a hopeless situation. Also, Pat White threw 32 passes, because Zach Wilson sustained a knee injury that will keep him out for the next 2-4 weeks.
Keep in mind that with that many backup quarterbacks seeing snaps and that many blowouts, some of the Week 8 production we saw is not going to translate to future weeks. Good players that had bad games will rebound in more competitive games and backup players that had good numbers in garbage time will not see as many touches in competitive games.
Here are some players that I would consider moving on following Week 7. These are players that look like they could be headed to the bench on their own NFL teams or they are players that continue to produce subpar numbers in fantasy football with little hope for improvement.
12- and 14-Team Leagues
Sam Darnold (QB – CAR)
Darnold has had a very tough stretch of football the last three weeks. He has failed to top 2010 passing yards in any game. He has failed to have a QB rating higher than 57.2. He has only six rushing attempts for 58 yards and no rushing touchdowns. He has just two touchdown passes and five picks.
Part of the problem is that Christian McCaffrey is injured and this offense is much easier to game plan for without the most versatile running back in the league. However, things imploded on Sunday when Darnold was benched and P.J. Walker was inserted into the game. He did the unthinkable, he was even worse than Darnold going just 3 for 14 with no touchdowns and no picks. He also had a rushing attempt for 13 yards.
I do not think that Walker is a long-term answer at quarterback for the Panthers. He was in this system with the Panthers last year. If they had confidence in him as the starter, they would not have traded for Darnold in the first place. It is also possible that Darnold bounces back when McCaffrey returns. It is also possible that this four-game losing streak is what spurs the Panthers into trading for Deshaun Watson. Darnold is clearly on shaky ground and his performances the last three weeks have been awful. Until McCaffrey comes back or Darnold starts to play better, it makes little sense to roster a poor streaming option that may not be the starter for much longer.
Sam Darnold Game Logs – Last 3 Games
Justin Fields (QB - CHI)
I keep writing about him every week because he is still rostered in way too many leagues. The Bears are making all kinds of history and none of it is good history. Per Andrew Siciliano, the Bears are the first team since the 2008 Tennessee Titans to start the first seven games of the season without 200 passing yards in any game. That Titans team started the season undefeated with one of the best rushing offenses in the league. These Bears are anything but undefeated, they bombed on Sunday losing 38-3 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fields is only rostered in 26 percent of Yahoo.com leagues and 21.9 percent of ESPN.com leagues which is a good sign. Fantasy managers seem to be making the right decision, but that percentage is still too high. It is the reason I keep writing about him after every disastrous performance. I do not blame him for all of his struggles, I think it is ridiculous that the Bears are trying to take a mobile quarterback and turn him into a pocket passer on a team that has a barely functioning offensive line. Fields had only four fantasy points on Sunday with 184 yards passing, three interceptions, and two lost fumbles. Most weeks he is among the worst fantasy quarterbacks of the week. The fact that fantasy managers are hanging onto him hoping something will change is an unwise decision. Matt Nagy needs to be fired and the scheme changed before he has any chance to put up fantasy numbers that make him worth being on a fantasy roster.
Damien Williams (RB - CHI)
Sometimes missing one game is all you need to lose an opportunity for playing time. Williams had 16 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown in Week 5 and he looked to be the beneficiary of David Montgomery's injury. He was set to have a big game against the Green Bay Packers, but he had a one-game absence, due to being COVID-19 positive. Khalil Herbert had a nice game against the Packers and in this Week 7 game with both of them active, Williams had three rushes for five yards and one catch for three yards. Meanwhile, Herbert had 18 carries for 100 yards and five receptions for 33 yards.
David Montgomery should be coming back soon and it appears that Herbert is going to be the bell cow back until that happens with Williams having a very small role. That role could evaporate all together when Montgomery is cleared to play. There does not seem to be much of a role for Williams as the third running back on this team. Williams went from being a great fantasy addition to a player that should not be on a fantasy roster in just a couple of weeks.
Nyheim Hines (RB - IND)
Hines saw his most game action since Week 3 with eight carries and one reception. Those nine touches resulted in 14 yards rushing and minus one yard receiving. Jonathan Taylor has rushed for 100 yards in three of his last four games, he has found the end zone six times, and he even had 116 yards receiving against the Baltimore Ravens. Taylor is the bell cow back and even if Marlon Mack is traded, Hines is going to be a change of pace that sees 6-8 touches per game. He is not worth rostering unless your league has so little on the waiver wire that you are keeping Hines as a handcuff to Taylor and a dead roster spot.
Sony Michel (RB - LAR)
The Rams were expected to have a big lead in this game, instead, the Lions started hot and the Rams needed time to overtake them in the fourth quarter. As a result, Michel had two carries for four yards. Darrell Henderson on the other hand logged 15 rushing attempts for 45 yards and three receptions for 19 additional yards. It does not make any sense to roster a player that needs the Rams to be up by three scores to see any rushing attempts. Michel is similar to Hines, his only value is as a handcuff that you do not start unless Henderson is hurt.
Rhamondre Stevenson (RB - NE)
Stevenson went from having 11 carries in Week 5 to five carries in Week 6, to being a healthy scratch in Week 7. That opened the door for J.J. Taylor, as he had nine rushing attempts for 21 yards and two touchdowns at home against the New York Jets. He also added a reception for five yards.
The reality of the Patriots backfield is that Damien Harris is the lead back and Brandon Bolden is the receiving back. Stevenson and Taylor alternate as the third back and if one of them blows a blitz pickup or fumbles the ball, that player ends up a healthy scratch and the other earns a spot in the rotation. Taylor may do something stupid in Week 8 against the Los Angeles Chargers and Stevenson is back in the mix in Week 9 at Carolina.
The question is whether it makes sense to roster a player that is a coin flip to be active and a coin flip to see more than five touches if he is active. Taylor did score two touchdowns, but that is because the Patriots beat the New York Jets 54-13. Had that been a competitive game, Harris would have seen more than 14 carries and Taylor would not have been fantasy relevant. There are too many variables to use a roster spot on a player like Stevenson.
Allen Robinson II (WR - CHI)
The easy thing to do would be to blame this situation entirely on how Matt Nagy uses Justin Fields. That is a fair criticism and one would have to believe that if Robinson was in a competent offense, his numbers would be better. However, Darnell Mooney is playing in the same bad offense and has 44 targets, 27 receptions, 345 yards, and one touchdown. That is much better than Robinson and his 40 targets, 23 receptions, 250 yards receiving, and one touchdown.
Mooney at least has a 100-yard game in Week 4. He has a touchdown in Week 5. He has at least five receptions in four of their seven games. There is some fantasy value there, he is at least putting up some acceptable fantasy numbers. Robinson just had two receptions for 16 yards against Tampa Bay.
Mooney is the 29th ranked fantasy wide receiver over the last four weeks with 38.9 fantasy points. Robinson is 60th with 22.9 fantasy points. Mooney is a playable boom/bust flex option. Robinson's best week was Week 2 when his 9.4 fantasy points were good for the 45th ranked fantasy wide receiver.
If you can trade Robinson II instead of waiving him, by all means, trade him for something. At this point, he either needs to be traded or waived, because it does not make sense to hold onto a player whose fantasy ceiling is a WR5. The Bears just became the first team since the 2008 Tennessee Titans to open the season with seven games of less than 200 yards passing. That type of offense cannot support two fantasy wide receivers and Mooney is the lead receiver in that offense at this point.
Rondale Moore (WR - ARI)
I know that Moore will likely have an 80-yard touchdown at some point again this season and be back on the fantasy map. I would compare Moore to Henry Ruggs III with the Raiders last year. Ruggs III had a few games last year where he caught a deep pass and put up some big points, but he also had nine games where he tallied less than five fantasy points. He had only two games where he scored more than double figures.
Moore is a great gadget player that can create yardage in space. He is likely to develop into a good NFL receiver that will have fantasy value in 2022 or 2023. Right now, he is behind DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green in the pecking order among wide receivers. He also has to compete with Chase Edmonds and Zach Ertz for targets. The Cardinals have an embarrassment of riches on offense and that prevents Moore from seeing consistent targets. Since Week 3, Hopkins is the 14th ranked fantasy receiver, Green is 23rd, Kirk is 25th, and Moore is 65th. Now Ertz is there to take away even more looks.
If your league is that deep, you can play Moore in the bye weeks and hope that he breaks a 70-yard touchdown again. I think the floor is too low to justify rolling the dice on him having that one big play that makes him fantasy viable. I think there are more consistent options on the waiver wire for fantasy managers to consider.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR - SF)
The 49ers are without George Kittle now, so the excuse cannot be that this is a run-heavy offense and there are not enough footballs for Deebo Samuel, Aiyuk, and Kittle. Aiyuk had one target, one reception, and six yards on Sunday to go along with one rushing attempt for three yards. Since Kittle started missing games in Week 5, Aiyuk has five targets, three receptions, 48 yards, and no touchdowns in two games. He is unplayable in fantasy at this point and there is little reason to have him on a roster with this type of production.
Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR - CLE)
Peoples-Jones was one of the hot waiver wire additions last week after posting 11 targets, nine receptions, 171 yards, and two receiving touchdowns in Week 5 and 6. He ended up being listed as questionable right before the Thursday Night Game, was active, and then never saw the field. He is now dealing with a groin injury that may keep him out in Week 8 and Jarvis Landry is now active again. Given the run-heavy offense of the Browns, Landry being back in the fold, and Baker Mayfield having injury issues, Peoples-Jones is probably not worth holding onto after his two strong games in Week 5 and Week 6.
O.J. Howard (TE - TB)
Howard did not build on his strong Week 6 performance and had three targets, one reception, and nine yards against the Chicago Bears in Week 7. He faces a New Orleans Saints team on the road that is third against fantasy tight ends this week, followed by a bye week. After that, Rob Gronkowski could be back in the mix. If you are not going to play him this week against the New Orleans Saints, it makes little sense to roster him through the bye week.
David Njoku (TE - CLE)
Since that outlier game against the Los Angeles Chargers, where he exploded for seven receptions, 149 yards, and a touchdown, he has crashed back to Earth. He has four targets, three receptions, and 24 yards in his last two games. The tight end rotation coupled with a banged-up Baker Mayfield and a run-heavy offense makes it impossible to trust Njoku. You cannot stream a fantasy tight end hoping for a 70-yard touchdown.
Baker Mayfield (QB - CLE)
Mayfield is starting to look like a dead quarterback walking this year. First, he was playing with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Now there is a report that he also has a fracture of his humerus bone in that same shoulder and that he will need surgery to repair the shoulder. Just because the fracture is in his non-throwing arm does not make it insignificant. He probably is not going to play in Week 8 and there is some question about how long he can continue to play through this. He seems like he is a hit away from his season being over.
Mayfield is the 26th ranked fantasy quarterback with 96.70 fantasy points on the season. He is averaging 15.76 fantasy points per game. He does not have a lot of upside in their run-heavy offense and his upside is capped by his shoulder issues. It is becoming problematic to keep him in deeper leagues, especially if he is going to miss time with his shoulder issue. In shallow leagues, it makes no sense to have him on your roster. Carson Wentz is rostered in roughly the same number of leagues as Mayfield and he is the 10th ranked fantasy quarterback over the last four weeks with 77.82 fantasy points. In a shallow league, you should be able to drop Mayfield and add Wentz to your roster and have a better fantasy experience.
Trey Sermon (RB - SF)
Sermon did not log a carry coming out of the bye week with JaMycal Hasty back in action. There is also the issue of Jeff Wilson Jr. close to returning to action. Deeper leagues sometimes require you to hold onto players without a role hoping that an injury or some good practices lead to an expanded role. Sermon has RB3 value with upside if he can see 15-20 carries. In shallower leagues, it is not worth holding onto someone like Sermon when there are likely superior options on the waiver wire.
Tyler Boyd (WR - CIN)
Boyd is the 80th ranked fantasy wide receiver over the last three games with just 11.5 fantasy points. Ja'Marr Chase is the second-ranked wide receiver and Tee Higgins is the 38th ranked receiver. C.J. Uzomah is the sixth-ranked fantasy tight end. That makes Boyd the fourth option in the passing game and with their commitment to running the ball with Joe Mixon, there are not enough footballs to support the fourth target in this offense. Deeper leagues may have to hold onto Boyd and hope that he finds a role due to injury. Managers in shallower leagues should move on at this point.
Gerald Everett (TE - SEA)
Everett has not done much the last two weeks with six targets, five receptions, and 51 yards receiving. In a deeper league, you may want to hold out hope that he eventually finds the end zone again. I am not seeing the reason to hold onto him in a shallower league when his quarterback is Geno Smith. Everett is just the 24th ranked fantasy tight end and he has Jacksonville on deck, followed by the bye week. The Jaguars are 29th against fantasy tight ends, which may warrant rostering him in a deeper league. If you are not going to play him this week, it makes little sense to roster him through the bye week.
Whether you're new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to a more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.