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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 12:
*Roster Rate referencing the percentage of myfantasyleague.com fantasy leagues where the player is rostered*
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: Cam Akers surged to the forefront as the hot hand in Week 12 and Malcolm Brown has maintained his role as the obvious passing down back, preferred pass protector, and short-yardage option. Henderson is officially squeezed from both sides, at a minimum, from any confidence for fantasy lineup insertion. View Henderson as an injury-away despite the committee and hot hand approach for the Rams, which does not guarantee Henderson a roster spot in shallow redraft formats.
Why: Hill rolled snake eyes with his Todd Gurley-less opportunity to start in Week 12. Despite the positive game script and no Julio Jones for Atlanta, Hill saw 13 carries and zero receptions without a touchdown opportunity. Ito Smith was the more impressive performer within the now-committee for Atlanta and Gurley, not on the Injured Reserve, could be back in the next week or two to siphon any clarified starts from Hill and Smith. Atlanta also faces New Orleans and Tampa Bay over the next three weeks to soften matchup expectations.
Why: Raheem Mostert returned to the 1A role in Week 12, but Jeffery Wilson is the notable back here as Wilson was the 1B in the rotation and McKinnon sparsely played. McKinnon, at best, would be in a committee with Wilson under the current 49ers backfield iteration, making McKinnon a sub-optimal shallow format hold unless clarity occurs with a near-term injury.
Why: Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims have been the notable Jets wide receivers in recent weeks and the volume-mandated Crowder has lost his fantasy luster as a result. The last time Crowder saw more than five targets was Week 6 and both Perriman and Mims offer big-play and vertical upside. Crowder's market share dominance from the opening month of the season is over.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: Smith is adequate fantasy depth behind a sure-fire starter down the stretch, but his fantasy ceiling is limited with a lack of rushing potential and tough matchups against the Steelers and 49ers the next two weeks. Finding streamers can be limited late in the season at quarterback in medium depth formats approach the mid-20s for roster spots, but if Smith is QB3 on a fantasy depth with a returning backup from injury, etc. look to turn the page for a backup running back or secondary streaming option elsewhere as a late-season pivot.
Why: Despite no Julio Jones in Week 12, Gage came up small for fantasy with just 3-34-0 on five targets. The non-Calvin Ridley wide receivers are a firm rotation and committee, which is troubling for Gage's flex viability. The predictability with a healthy Julio Jones is nil for Gage and now it is a question mark even without the team's WR1. Add in a rough closing month of the fantasy season with matchups (Saints, Chargers, Buccaneers, Chiefs) and Gage is a tough hold outside of deeper formats.
Why: Harry continues to devolve as an NFL and fantasy entity. The manufactured touches are eroding into no-gains and losses at an alarming rate and Jakobi Meyers is the lone dependable wide receiver or tight end for the current iteration of the Patriots passing game. Without the Round 1 draft capital tag, Harry would be on far fewer than 49% of fantasy rosters at MyFantasyLeague.com. Harry is turning into a similar case to Laquon Treadwell in his rapid fall from draft to irrelevance.
Why: Still TE28 in Roster Rate, Fells is behind Jordan Akins in the Houston tight end pecking order plus Pharaoh Brown is firmly mixed into the muddy committee. Even as an injury-away stash, Fells is a weak option with Houston's strong WR1/2 punch and likely committee with Brown if Akins were out. Fells is rostered in more leagues than Jace Sternberger and Cameron Brate as just two examples of more clarified injury-away tight end types with upside over the final month of the season.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Allen was a whiff in his starting opportunity against an exploitable Giants defense. Allen torpedoed all his surrounding skill position talent from fantasy viability outside of a short touchdown to Tee Higgins to save his fantasy day. The Dolphins pose another tough watch matchup in Week 13 if the Bengals do not shift to Ryan Finley under center. Allen is the rare case of a starting quarterback not being viable for a Superflex lineup spot based on futility.
Why: Perine is still the injury-away back behind Giovani Bernard by the moniker, but Trayveon Williams was more involved than previous weeks in the rotation in Week 12. Plus, Cincinnati's offense is a question mark overall with their hodge-podge of available quarterbacks for the rest of the reason. Joe Mixon's return data remains cloudy, but his return would further clement Perine's return to even deeper league waiver wires. Look for a committee with Williams for Perine, on a stunted offense, even if Perine benefits from a Giovani Bernard injury in the short term.
Why: The Week 9 dynamo on a target-starved 49ers passing game has downshifted all the way to a bit role in Week 12 of a single target. And this on a team without Brandon Aiyuk back yet from the COVID-19 list. James even as a deeper dynasty stash is a flimsy use of a roster spot and likely a perpetual WR3+ NFL depth chart type outside of dire (read: Week 9) situations for an NFL team.
Why: Dwelley has yet to take advantage of George Kittle's absence and Jordan Reed has stayed curiously healthy in recent weeks. Brandon Aiyuk back in the coming weeks will stunt Dwelley's upside, independent of Reed's role, as well. Blend in the 49ers' run-centric offensive preference and Raheem Mostert and Jeffery Wilson both back from injury themselves and Dwelley's recipe for clarified streaming opportunities in the final month is a muddled one at best.