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:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: Newton, in the top-18 for Roster Rate at the position, was benched in the blowout loss to the Dolphins in Week 12. Miami was also a neutral aSOS matchup, hardly a shutdown unit against quarterbacks this season. At a minimum, Newton has reduced confidence to finish a game he starts if things begin poorly. Carolina also enters a bye, so floating Newton with a roster spot misses an opportunity on another player.
Why: RB18 in Roster Rate, New England is back to its running back committee ways. Rhamondre Stevenson and Harris have a firm split of carries and Brandon Bolden is the primary receiving option. Harris drew the start in Week 12 but was hardly the clear starter with 12 touches and a single target. Harris offers low upside unless Stevenson is out and expect Stevenson to have the edge in the passing game if Bolden were to miss time.
Why: Rostered in 70% of MFL leagues (RB48), Johnson was a quality stash until Sunday. With Kareem Hunt back and healthy in Week 12, Johnson saw zero touches and is back to needing both Nick Chubb and Hunt out for a clarified start. Unless pushing (or surpassing) 30 roster spots, Johnson requires too many moving pieces for a more shallow format hold entering Cleveland's bye week.
Why: Golladay had an unobstructed run of the Giants wide receiver depth chart in Week 12 and logged a forgettable 3-50-0 stat line. Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard are both considered questionable for Week 13 according to Jene Bramel's Monday Rounds. Either returning would siphon lineup confidence away from Golladay, which has one game of more than 50 yards since Week 1 in what has been a forgettable season for the free-agent acquisition.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: In deep 1QB and shallow premium formats, Siemian is firmly on the roster spot hot seat. Taysom Hill is set to start in Week 13 despite Siemian being decent over the past month. He was not a runner, however, rushing for 4.3 yards per game since seeing New Orleans' opportunities midseason. The weapons are weak and Siemian needs to be viewed as one of the top-half backups in the NFL, which does not validate a roster spot in more shallow premium formats.
Why: The Chargers' RB2-3-4 rotation has changed by the week behind Austin Ekeler. To date, having the answer correct has not mattered with Ekeler not missing a game, but the juggling depth chart has Jackson on the outside looking in after Week 12. In anything, the lack of RB2 commitment points to a murky committee if Ekeler is out, a sub-optimal outcome to close the fantasy season.
Why: Pascal has soaked up the most targets among Colts' wide receivers over the past month and yet has been fantasy irrelevant with T.Y. Hilton back, the tight end position healthy, and Jonathan Taylor being the offensive centerpiece. Pascal has a 4-21-0 stat line over the past three games and the schedule is sour for the Colts' wide receivers in aSOS in the fantasy playoffs. There is minimal reason to hold Pascal on the prospect beyond Week 13 with a bye and subpar matchups remaining.
Why: Smith has returned from injury the past two games, but has been more blocking-centric than the receiving-enabled Hunter Henry. Smith's route share is roughly half of Henry's and Smith is one of the better injury-away tight ends more than a standalone option. Smith's season-high is a paltry 10.4 PPR points and has not caught more than three passes in a game since Week 2.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Similar to D'Ernest Johnson in Cleveland, Taylor's greatest appeal was with one of the two running backs ahead of him being out. With Aaron Jones returning, without a setback, in Week 12 has Taylor back to roster spot irrelevant as the Packers enter their bye week. Optimize the roster spot with running backs closer to a lead role as Taylor would be a suppressed RB2 if behind Jones or AJ Dillon.
Why: "Iggy" by nickname, the Detroit back rose up when the Lions' depth chart was at their least healthy a few weeks ago, but now Jamaal Williams and Jermar Jefferson are notably healthy in the RB2/3 roles. D'Andre Swift is banged up and questionable for Week 13, but even if Swift misses a rogue game, Igwebuike is RB3 in the pecking order. Igwebuike is a prime example of why to churn running backs on a fantasy bench regularly and for low cost based on opportunity - they can turn back into a blocked situational player in a week or two if the perfect storm does not occur.
Why: The Titans have shifted to Josh Reynolds, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and even Cody Hollister in recent weeks over Rogers in snap share. Even with A.J. Brown (one game) and Julio Jones (three games) out recently, Rogers has limped to a 6-52-0 stat line (10 targets) over the past three games.
Why: Despite the competition for targets being minimal, Johnson has struggled to carve much of a market share slice in New Orleans. The wide receiver convert has a mere nine receptions and failed to log a catch in four contests. Adam Trautman is on injured reserve and it was Nick Vannett to log a splash play for the maligned positional depth chart. Johnson has not been able to siphon much work away from Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, or Deonte Harris among wide receivers either even though they are hardly a formidable trio.