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 5:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: QB13 in Roster Rate, Tannehill has one game of multiple-touchdown passes this season. Julio Jones is still on the shelf and the WR3+ passing game, including tight end, is a massive question mark for impact. The Chiefs offer a get-well spot in two weeks, but the Bills are a brick wall for Tannehill to rebound in Week 6.
Why: Gordon is RB20 in Roster Rate yet has one outing of more than nine PPR points over the past month. Javonte Williams is a 21-year-old feature back in waiting for Denver and the early usage has Gordon with a slight edge in rushing market share and Williams actually seeing a higher target share despite fewer routes. Gordon needs a Williams injury to be a predictable start, which is not an auto-roster player in shallow-stock redraft leagues, especially with bye weeks beginning this week.
Why: WR61 in Roster Rate, Samuel exited the Washington lineup almost as quick as he returned. Now considered week-to-week with his groin injury, Samuel was already looking at an ancillary role with Terry McLaurin firmly entrenched as the WR1. With bye weeks beginning, there is minimal room for stashing excessive wide receivers in redraft formats over injury-away running backs or a needed one-week streamer at quarterback or tight end where to hold on to a team's typical weekly starter. Samuel will miss the Kansas City matchup in Week 6, one of the few weeks he would be on the starting possibilities list anyway.
Why: Smith was the preferred option over Hunter Henry the first two weeks of the season for the Patriots' tight ends, but that has shifted over the past three games. Smith's Route% has yet to hit even 40% since Week 1 and he is now fighting with Kendrick Bourne for fourth on the season-long pecking order for Target%. Smith has one game of more than 30 receiving yards and a single game of 10+ PPR points.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: Outside of a dynasty lens, Fields has been a redraft anchor for fantasy drifting down to the bottom of the ocean. He finally threw 20 passes in a game in Week 5 (exactly 20). The result? 5.5 yards-per-attempt. Fields has rendered Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney complete flex dart throws for lineups. More alarming with Fields is his lack of rushing production with 13 yards the past two games combined and averaging a fullback-like 2.2 yards-per-carry. Fields is one of the few quarterbacks where starting a positional player at the Superflex spot is more optimal.
Why: Coleman in the RB60-65 zone of Roster Rate must be a legacy award like those mainstream award shows. Coleman has 90 total yards on the season as a minimal element of one of the worst offenses (and backfields) in the NFL. Even with an injury to Michael Carter or Ty Johnson, Coleman is still not a clarified fantasy start. Plus, Coleman is on bye in Week 6 as if there are more reasons needed to cut bait on Coleman.
Why: In the TE30 zone of Roster Rate, Ebron is on a team in many redraft leagues and most, if not all, dynasty formats. Ebron is a profile play for 2022 and beyond, but all expectations for this season should be off the table. Ebron has more than two targets in just one game this season, 37 total yards, a passing game generally underwhelming in Pittsburgh, plus rookie Pat Freiermuth has a higher snap and target share on the same depth chart. Ebron is a dart throw streamer if there is no dart and no board.
Why: Trautman was a potential breakout player in 2021. Even Michael Thomas and Tre'Quan Smith's absences have not unlocked Trautman as a receiver. Trautman's 43-yard 'explosion' for his best game by far this season in Week 5 was fueled by a coverage breakdown by Washington for 30+ yards on his notable play. Still, Trautman saw a meager two targets, which was his highest tally since Week 1. If there is upside with a Saints tight end in 2021, look towards Juwan Johnson even if the answer is likely "none of the above".
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Chuba Hubbard has dominated the backfield with Christian McCaffrey out the past two games and McCaffrey will be close to returning in Week 6 with Week 7 looking like the latest he will return to the RB1 role. Freeman has also been out-snapped by Rodney Smith even in the secondary role for Carolina over the past two weeks. Freeman is a bigger name than a probability bet for any impact this season and beyond all applicable primary backup running backs in the hierarchy.
Why: Johnson caught on with the 49ers at their weakest moment of running back health this season. Johnson was released last week with Elijah Mitchel back in his RB1 position with Trey Sermon and Kyle Juszczyk also ahead of Johnson even if he were still with the team. Johnson was already drifting on the NFL fringe before this release and now may be running out of chances across the league.
Why: Zaccheaus was picked up in a chunk of deeper leagues with Calvin Ridley out in Week 5. Zaccheaus was a massive disappointment (2-20-0 on four targets) as Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson dominated the offense. Zaccheaus was buried in Target% (just 9%) despite running a rock-solid 87% of routes. With Ridley back and Atlanta on bye in Week 6, there are minimal reasons (NFC South-only league?) to hold Zaccheaus through these two weeks.
Why: The spec pickup of Dwelley in start-1TE formats last week with George Kittle to IR was worthwhile. However, Trey Lance's run-centric thumbprint on the offense, plus high-variance accuracy points to fading away from the ancillary elements of this passing game. Kittle is one week closer to returning and Dwelley's 9% target share (on a low-volume 49ers' pass offense) squeeze Dwelley to 2TE formats at most over the coming few weeks.