Much of fantasy football in-season owner strategy centers around which players to pick up from the waiver wire or to target in the trade market. However, roster spots are a premium resource. Cutting a player - or adding them to a trade - opens a roster spot for a key waiver wire addition or flexibility to keep a currently injured player through a missed game or two. Here are the key players to cut or trade after Week 1:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: While Week 1 was a tough matchup with Baltimore where the Browns got down early and never got off the mat, Mayfield looks jittery and without strong accuracy, two worrisome traits from a year ago. Odell Beckham Jr already looked frustrated with a few inaccurate passes, Jarvis Landry got dinged in Week 1, and David Njoku is already on the shelf for the short-term IR. Austin Hooper provided little impact and the offense looks again like it will run through their tandem of strong running backs. Mayfield has no business on shallow rosters and could be a cut venturing towards 20-22 man rosters in redraft as well depending on roster construction. Cincinnati and Washington the next two weeks offer minimal true bounceback potential for a big game from Mayfield.
Why: Week 1 could not have been a worse outcome (outside of injury) for Kerryon Johnson. Adrian Peterson was the featured element, looking good in the process, for Detroit's backfield, and D'Andre Swift zoomed up in snap share in his NFL debut, marred only by a dropped game-winning touchdown pass in the closing seconds. Johnson was clearly third in the pecking order and this after starting the game with the initial snaps of the depth chart. Johnson is an easy cut in shallow formats and could even be below the cut line in the 20-24 roster size range with a robust waiver wire post-Week 1. He is currently on 89% of MFL (myfantasyleague.com) rosters to begin Week 2.
Why: See Sam Darnold in the Medium Depth section about the limitations of the Jets offense. Perriman himself is miscast as a WR1 for an NFL offense, fitting better (at best) as a speed-based WR2. The Jets have Jamison Crowder as a more consistent short-range target plus the upside of even the WR1 in a bottom-8 passing game (likely the Jets) is borderline irrelevant in shallow formats. Perriman was drafted as fantasy depth and pivoting to greener pastures post-Week 1 is optimal for the roster spots, especially to running back.
Why: Gronkowski looked sluggish in his Tampa Bay debut and saw a mere three targets despite Mike Evans playing through a notable hamstring injury which projected to keep him out in Week 1 until the final lead-up to the game. O.J. Howard played a robust 53% of the snaps as well. Gronkowski is a touchdown-dependent option moving forward on a crowded passing game, who is a hold in deeper redraft formats but not a roster lock in 18-man and fewer roster spot redraft formats.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: The Jets looked no better on offense or with their passing game than last year's forgettable version in Week 1. Darnold's stats benefitted from a long screen pass to Jamison Crowder, but the outlook is dismal to use Darnold outside of a deeper superflex format. The 49ers are up next as well to temper any bounceback potential for the Jets offense, now without Le'Veon Bell for a few weeks by early reports.
Why: Howard sparsely played in Week 1 against the Patriots, but his lack of impact for a lackluster depth chart overall was the bigger takeaway. Howard had the fullback-like stat line of 8-7-1 as the team shifted to Matt Breida, Myles Gaskin, and Patrick Laird as the team, predictably, trailed as the game progressed. Howard's high-volume grinder profile does not fit with Miami's offense likely playing catch-up most weeks in the second half and Howard needs a touchdown to even be a middling flex option going forward.
Why: Bourne was specifically a Week 1 streamer type with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk out against Arizona. Bourne did little with the opportunity (2-34-0) as Jimmy Garoppolo struggled in his debut. The 49ers should be able to control the game with their rushing attack in Week 2 and Week 3 (Jets, Giants) plus Aiyuk and Samuel are looming for their respective returns.
Why: Sternberger was a stash for Week 1 to monitor his snaps and opportunity. However, Week 1 was close to a worst case scenario for the second-year tight end. Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both splashed with strong production in the WR2/3 roles. Plus Sternberger was buried on the tight end depth chart alone as the TE4 behind Robert Tonyan Jr, Marcedes Lewis, and rookie Josiah Deguara. At 15%, Sternberger would need to triple his snaps in the next game or two to validate keeping outside of deeper (or 2TE) formats.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Taylor was the limiting factor of the Chargers weapons-filled offensive skill position players in Week 1. This was against the Bengals, who struggled to move the ball themselves with Joe Burrow in his debut NFL game. Up next are the far more potent offenses of Kansas City, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans in successive weeks. Taylor will be on the hot seat shortly, if not already, with the Chargers at risk to be 0-5 or 1-4 at the end of this daunting stretch. Taylor also did not offer much rushing upside (6-7-0 on the ground) to offset his tempered upside as a passer despite one of the better collections of talent around him in the NFL.
Why: Yeldon did not play against the Jets with rookie Zack Moss being closer to a 50/50 split with Devin Singletary than suspect to losing snaps or devolving into the rB3 behind Yeldon. Move on to greener opportunity pastures with the roster spot than Yeldon even in dynasty leagues with 25-28 roster spots. Justin Jackson missed a chunk of Week 1 with a quad injury, but rookie Joshua Kelley is the story here as he surged to prominence with the RB2 role. Kelley offers are more upside with the role than the diminutive Jackson, who now needs two injuries for fantasy prominence rather than one to open the season.
Why: Johnson was the presumed WR2 for Minnesota to open the season as Justin Jefferson gets up to speed and, eventually, gains control of the WR2 role. Jefferson out-snapped Johnson in Week 1 and flashed multiple times with the promising snap share. Johnson was a lower upside option with Adam Thielen firmly affixed as the WR1 and Minnesota a moderate-level passing game overall. With Jefferson on a fast share to push down Johnson over the next 2-3 games, moving on from Johnson now is a proactive move.
Why: Fells was the touchdown-dependent de facto starter for Houston a year ago, but Week 1 saw Fells at 42% snap share, a distant second to Jordan Akins - who is a superior athlete - at a robust 81%. Akins also flashed with said snap share. Fells also may have competition from second-year Day 2 tight end Kahale Warring as he gets up to speed after a lost season due to injury in the coming weeks.