The management of the final 5-10 roster spots of a dynasty league, depending on the depth of league and format, is the critical element for a dynasty GM during the regular season. I have titled this group as Tier 3 players, those not likely or expected to be on your roster 12 months from now. This is the churn aspect of your roster where short-term flip opportunities present themselves, spot starters, injury-away plays, and the bucket of droppable options to address new additions from the waiver wire.
First, the proper mindset for these roster spots is key. Know around half of your roster today will not be there a year from now. This could be dropping them to the waiver wire or trading them away. But most of the churn will be the back-half of players. Embrace the variance of their roster lifeline for you. What is their outlook over the next few weeks - not in 2021 and beyond? Your ability to find lightning in a bottle with a spot starter for part of the season or a flip player for future picks or a better long-term player is enhanced through these Tier 3 players filtering through your roster ecosystem.
Above, the lack of allegiance was discussed as the overarching mindset for the final roster spots in dynasty. However, here are the exceptions. First, generally, Round 1-2 rookie picks will be at least Tier 2 or higher dynasty roster considerations and on more than a 12-month timeline for roster retention. Rookie quarterbacks who may not start right away (Trey Lance is a 2021 example) or running backs on a blocked depth chart (Chuba Hubbard types) are investments where a longer leash is required and know that at the outset is important.
Another exception is the "my guy" moniker. This is dynasty and GMs are welcome to make the team their own with their guys. Caution should be used when applying this tag and mindset on the roster spots, however. Like any bad habit, this one roster spot with a my-guy exception can easily spread into 3-4-5 spots if used too liberally. For example, having one my guy on a 25-26 man roster is within reason. You will be patient with their development even if their short-term outlook or rookie pick investment is not congruent to holding on face value. However, two or three of those at the moderate roster depth can be an optimization killer for waiver wire opportunities, even through a two-week sample of a season. When approaching 30, and especially beyond, roster spots, two or three can be managed. Continue the pattern from there if surging to 35 and even 40+ roster spots. A personal example I referenced regularly on podcasts especially is Jeff Janis. I made an exception for 2-3 years with a roster spot for the small school metric marvel. However, he was constantly blocked, lacked pedigree to expect even decent odds he actually claimed a starting spot for the Packers, and I hemorrhaged waiver wire opportunities on a weekly basis as a result of the long-standing moniker applied to Janis as my guy regardless of roster size or format pointing to moving to a churn spot.
Ideally, the "my guy" moniker is applied to a position that makes some priority sense in the format. For example, aligning an exception with a position of importance like quarterback or tight end in a premium format, or running back, in general, would aid the use of said roster spot.
THE VALUE OF TIME
Next, consider the value of time for each roster spot. While many dynasty players are uncuttable by the general waiver wire baseline on a weekly basis, there are certainly examples where the available waiver options at specific points are more valuable than even notable names universally on dynasty rosters. One key improvement over the years personally for my dynasty rosters has been being aware of the importance of being plugged into every waiver wire run and the possibilities of improving your Tier 2/3 player bucket for the mere cost of potential dropped players and the renewable resource of the annual waiver wire budget. Sticking too long with your bench players over the waiver wire is a hidden value loss for dynasty teams.
CUTTING THE CORD
Generally, with a redraft mindset, I have penned Cutting the Cord here at Footballguys in recent years during the fantasy season. The focus is on pitching players to consider cutting from your team. Much of fantasy content is centered around who to target, pick up, and start on a weekly basis. However, these pickups and targets come at a cost. A player or subset of players are falling out of favor to align with these risers or producers going forward and rosters need to cut (or trade) players for the influx of additions. Yes, it's a negative view of the fantasy population, but the dirty work of being a dynasty GM is clearing space for the waiver wire regularly through cutting players.
Here is a working list I put together, specifically focused on cutting the cord, creating roster space, and being more efficient with roster spots. Also, some may have enough name value (or intrinsic value) to shop (trade) before you drop.
TOO MANY QUARTERBACKS
It can be easy to get sucked into too many quarterbacks in a start-1QB format. However, especially having more than two in a moderate (or shallow) roster size format can be a killer to roster optimization. Work on paring down to two quarterbacks (or even one if 20-man or more shallow formats like FFPC where starters may be available weekly on the waiver wire if needed). It may not happen immediately with an outright cut of your QB3+ per se, but make this a goal by later in the season. Target teams who sustained an injury to their quarterback room or with a sticky bye week situation for trading.
RUNNING BACK ROULETTE
I love rostering running backs as much (or more) than any dynasty GM out there, trust me. However, there is a functional limit at any point in time with the requisite amount of other positions needed, plus new running backs bubbling up on the waiver wire with promising opportunities weekly. Merely blindly keeping running backs not close to being relevant or with the odds stacked against them is not prudent for roster management. Here are some 'tough cut' names to consider heading into Week 3:
Matt Breida: Was the RB2 in Week 1, but Zack Moss is back and Devin Singletary is humming with the starting role. This is for a Bills team where the upside is questionable even for the starting running back. Breida was a warranted pickup the Sunday of Week 1 when Moss was inactive, but this week is a cut.
Peyton Barber: Josh Jacobs' absence did little for Barber in a tryout for dynasty viability as Kenyan Drake controlled the passing game opportunities. Banking on a touchdown to even hit 10 PPR points, Barber's upside is unappealing, his trade potential minimal, and Jacobs should be back within the next week or two.
Le'Veon Bell: The wait continues for Bell to even be activated by Baltimore. Assume Bell is the RB4 on the depth chart, at best, with multiple hurdles to clear for any stiff of viability - plus we do not know if Bell has much left in the tank or is a good fit with Baltimore's run game. Too many questions to pass on pickup options outside of 30+ man rosters.
Wayne Gallman: Cordarrelle Patterson's rise stunts Gallman's chances to be the RB2 in Atlanta outside of an injury. RB3 types need to be outlier scenarios to be a quality use of a roster spot. This is not one.
Jerick McKinnon: The last time McKinnon was healthy for long was....? Exactly. The last time McKinnon had a solid workload was....? Exactly. McKinnon is the RB3 on a Chiefs team where many are banishing RB1 (and Round 1 pick) Clyde Edwards-Helaire to bust-dom already. Plus, this offense is all about Patrick Mahomes II, not the running backs, especially the current RB3 if he were to rise on the depth chart.
Joshua Kelley: RB4 for the Chargers, Kelley is buried. He was an acceptable stash pre-Week 1 on the chance he was the RB2 or even RB3, but Kelley is off the map through two weeks.
Alex Collins: Behind Travis Homer in Week 2, Rashaad Penny is returning from injury, and DeeJay Dallas is in the mix as well, all of this is behind Chris Carson. Collins is a deeper league roster spot consideration only - and a sub-optimal one.
Jordan Wilkins: The RB4 for the Colts with Marlon Mack back in the mix. Plus, the upside questions for the offense in general with Carson Wentz injured (if he plays in the coming weeks) or Jacob Eason under center.
Royce Freeman: Has long been one of my personal my guys while blocked in Denver. However, he moved to Carolina and is firmly the RB3 behind Chuba Hubbard for the valuable backup role. Making an exception for Freeman has been a long-standing one made by dynasty GMs, especially with roster sizes in the mid-20s. Freeman cannot be kept over RB2 roles with tangible upside under the umbrella 'if one thing happens' this coming week a la injury.
The key with wide receivers is always using the "finding a viable wide receiver" principles of quarterback quality and depth chart standing. The WR1 for an NFL depth chart has more than 50% odds of being a top-36 fantasy option regardless of quarterback quality, but the odds of a top-24 and especially a top-12 finish plummet as the level of quarterback diminishes - primarily outside of the top-16 of the quarterback position. Therefore, WR1 stature players are always worth a dynasty roster spot. The key is being selective with WR2 types on NFL depth charts. The odds of a top-36 and especially a top-24 season beyond the top-16 quarterbacks and there's a big drop beyond the top-8 as well. Investing in strong offenses' WR2 types is acceptable from a historical perspective, but not lesser units. Finally, WR3 options should only be considered from elite offenses-quarterbacks. Want to make an exception? They need to have a rare profile and a simple story to relevance. Otherwise, they are flimsy plays as even one of my guys. On to the list of potential roster cloggers (ordered by MyFantasyLeague.com Roster Rate):
Russell Gage: The clear WR2 for the Falcons (for now), but injured and has been invisible through two games.
Keelan Cole: Finally healthy for the Jets, but clear WR1/2 roles (at a minimum), ahead of Cole in a best case.
Breshad Perriman: Buried on the Bears depth chart, questions of quarterback quality, plus nomadic with his recent team stops.
Andy Isabella: Yet to see a snap for Arizona and behind four strong receivers, plus on the bust track to date despite Round 2 pedigree.
Albert Wilson: WR3 on a questionable-at-best Miami passing game, but Will Fuller V returning to active status, quarterback change, and Preston Williams a factor on the depth chart behind Wilson has returned in Week 2.
Dez Fitzpatrick: Propped up with a thin depth chart landing in this year's draft (Tennessee) and some dynasty teams have a sunken cost of a Round 3 rookie pick. However, at best fighting for WR3 role and a good-enough veteran (Chester Rogers) plus the return of Josh Reynolds (profile of production) are major roadblocks to Fitzpatrick being anything but a roster clogger.
THE TIGHT END ROSTER SQUEEZE
With tight ends, format and roster size are paramount aspects to assessing how many to collect. If a stock 1TE format and the mid-20s for roster spots, even three can be excessive if passing on injury-away runnings is the result. Also, if viable streamers are available on the waiver wire at tight end, there is less incentive to roster more than one, two at most, if streaming yourself. The dynamic changes completely in a 2TE format and especially with premium scoring and/or deeper rosters. However, even in 2021, those formats are in the heavy minority. Also, 1.5 PPR scoring for the position is typically overreacted to by dynasty GMs in terms of roster spot utilization as a side note.
From shallow to deeper, here are potential roster cloggers, especially if already possessing 1-2 starters on the depth chart:
Jack Doyle: A floor play at a tight end position where 95% of the fantasy-relevant players' floors are zero points in a week. Minimal upside even with volume.