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 6:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: QB17 in Roster Rate, Mayfield is on the hot list for an in-game reinjury now on a weekly basis with his shoulder. Also, Mayfield has been non-descript in every game but the Chargers in Week 5 where the shootout produced 305 yards and two touchdowns for Mayfield. An in-game exit can be a death knell for a fantasy lineup, posting a dud point total in the process. Plus, Mayfield has added next to nothing on the ground. And if using the schedule as a tiebreaker, Mayfield has Denver and Pittsburgh the next two weeks.
Why: Jones has a crumbling situation around him with Saquon Barkley already on the shelf - TBD on his return - and now Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Kadarius Toney on the injury hot list of the notable wide receivers. Jones has a single game with multiple passing touchdowns this season and as many turnovers (6) as total touchdowns. The icing on the cake is a matchup with Carolina's defense in Week 7 under the depleted circumstances.
Why: Firmly in the top-20 of Roster Rate, Gaskin leads a murky Miami three-headed backfield where the predictable upside of any singular back is minimal on a weekly basis. Gaskin has one game of at least 10 rushes all season and one game of at least a 50% rushing market share. The revolving door of Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed is a weekly fantasy frustration and the offensive pie overall for Miami is not an appealing dish either.
Why: A trade recommendation here: Brown's environment is shifting and Rashod Bateman's debut in Week 6 is a significant aspect. Brown saw his second-lowest target share of the season this week and Bateman out-targeted Brown. Also, the past month has Devin Duvernay, yet another top-100 draft pick investment into the passing game in Baltimore, also rise in opportunities. In short, Brown's monopolization of the wide receiver depth chart is being squeezed. If he slips to the WR2 role in utilization firmly over the coming weeks, Brown's liquidity in the fantasy trade market will take a sturdy hit. The window is open this week to claim his valuation over the first 4-5 weeks of the season pre-Bateman.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: It is rare for a quarterback to not be Superflex viable and Mills is hovering on the threshold. Mills offers nothing as a runner and his lone even viable game came in a random 312-yard and three-touchdown effort against New England in Week 5. Tyrod Taylor is trending towards returning in Week 7/8, so even if keeping Mills, for now, know he is on the hot seat to return to the bench in short order.
Why: McKinnon should offer minimal faith he would be a higher-volume option if forced into action. His entire NFL profile dating back to Minnesota supports the skepticism. McKinnon is the RB2 by default with Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the short-term IR and Darrel Williams was the heavy workhorse in Week 6, the first full game with no Edwards-Helaire as a datapoint. McKinnon saw just 28% of snaps and, more surprisingly, 30% of routes. McKinnon is not an auto-roster injury-away running back in this window higher on the depth chart. Do not be surprised if Williams were out in a future week, Derrick Gore or Elijah McGuire inherits more touches than assuming McKinnon is the true next man up.
Why: Sam Darnold questions and Anderson's flat disappointment have marred the veteran's 2021 season to date. Anderson's game-high is a meager 57 yards, despite four games of at least six targets and two of 11 each. This without Terrace Marshall Jr being a strong presence in the offense (yet) and tight end question marks after Dan Arnold was traded. Plus, no Christian McCaffrey for the time being. Anderson has been a roster spot albatross and situationally things can get a good amount worse over the rest of the season.
Why: Doyle's target market share has plummeted below 10% for four straight weeks now, in favor of more looks for Mo Alie-Cox and a dabbling of rookie Kylen Granson. One bit of good news is the Colts' wide receiver corps has injuries to Parris Campbell and T.Y. Hilton at present. Doyle has one game this season with more than 11% target share and once with more than 52% route share. Doyle, at best, is an Alie-Cox injury away from relevance. Assess Doyle's fantasy roster spot viability through the lens of if middle-of-the-road tight end handcuffs apply there.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Both flopped as Week 6 streamer candidates. Dyami Brown was up-and-down but ended up playing and Terry McLaurin played without aggravation to a late-week concern with his hamstring. Also, Ricky Seals-Jones performed well as a tight end streamer. Put Humphries and Carter back to the waiver after Kansas City was a near-optimal setting for a streaming start.
Why: Conley's fantasy nickname could very well be Captain empty routes. Conley's snap and route numbers have been strong but only once this season has his target share eclipsed 7%. Nico Collins was back in Week 6 and nearly tripled Conley's targets, plus Danny Amendola should be back in the near term. Conley is a deep best ball special, but even that is likely holding out for one more lineup-viable game over the rest of the fantasy season.
Why: Rashod Bateman's activation poses a threat to the rest of Baltimore's wide receivers - Marquise Brown from an upside perspective - but also ancillary options like Devin Duvernay and James Proche. Both have seen an uptick in recent weeks but were stunted in Week 6. Proche's role specifically shrunk to a distant WR4 level even without Sammy Watkins in the lineup.
Why: A trendy streamer a few weeks, Brate has been passed by O.J. Howard in target share each of the past two games as Howard gets healthier by the week from a season-ending 2020 injury. Also, Rob Gronkowski inches closer to his return as well. Brate is a 2TE format play-stash for now and could devolve to a drop in premium formats in the coming weeks.