"Can I drop this guy?"
Of all of the questions we get asked as fantasy analysts, this one might be the toughest. For one, we don’t want to be wrong. A bad start/sit answer hurts for one week, and then everyone moves on. Telling you to drop someone could literally make your team worse for the rest of the season and, on top of that, make one of your opponents better.
The decision gets more challenging when it comes to dropping players that were productive in the past. Often, when we even hear about someone dropping a big-name player, the gut reaction is to scream "NO!", but it’s not always so cut and dry. This conversation heated up a few weeks ago when some mentioned JuJu Smith-Schuster as a potential drop candidate due to his struggles in a not-so-great Steelers offense. His injury took care of that question, but the debate rages on about some other former fantasy stars. The reality is that many things play into whether or not you should drop a player.
"Who are you dropping him for, and why are you dropping him?" are essential things that you should consider when letting a player go. So, let’s do just that. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular (least popular?) drop candidates as we hit roughly the halfway point of the fantasy football regular season. The answers might not be so simple, but we’ll do our best to weigh all possible factors.
Ryan Tannehill (Rostered: 76% - Current Rank: QB21 - ROS Rank: QB17)
Sometimes, we swing, and we miss. Many came into this season with very high hopes for Tannehill, and he quickly let us down. In his first seven games, he has scored 20-plus fantasy points just three times. He finished with 16 or fewer in the other four games. Your quarterback is supposed to be your highest scoring player just about every week, and Tannehill isn’t coming close. For all players on this list, we will talk about what formats make them expendable and when you should keep them on your roster. The Footballguys Consensus Rest-of-Season (ROS) ranks put him at QB17, so Tannehill should be on waivers in anything less than a 16-man league or a 2-QB league where you will never drop a starting quarterback.
Matt Ryan (Rostered: 70% - Current Rank: QB19 - ROS Rank: QB12)
Let’s start with the obvious, in a 10-team league, there is no need to roster Matt Ryan. You aren’t starting him, and you can put your bench spots to much better use than a backup quarterback. While he finished as a top-12 quarterback in two of the last four weeks, those are his only two such finishes. He has thrown two or more touchdowns in five straight games, but it hasn’t led to much fantasy success. So, even with a ROS rank of QB12, he is far from a must-start in 12-team leagues as well. In 14-team and larger leagues, Ryan is worth a roster spot but is still a risky start every week.
If you’re looking for help at quarterback, start with your waiver wire. Kirk Cousins outperforms both of these guys and is available in many leagues due to his Week 7 bye. He has a ROS rank of QB11. You can also link your team to Footballguys League Dominator and get waiver wire suggestions based on your actual league settings and our ROS rankings from the custom Waiver Wire Report.
Devin Singletary (Rostered: 59% - Current Rank: RB40 - ROS Rank: RB29)
While it’s easy to say "Drop an underperforming quarterback," things get more complicated when it comes to running back. Injuries have taken a significant toll this season, and chances are you may have started some questionable talent at running back already, even if they rank 40th at the position.
Singletary is in a full-on 50/50 split with Zack Moss, but Moss is scoring the touchdowns. Singletary has only eclipsed 10 fantasy points twice this season, and both were with Moss out with injury. Since Moss’ return, Singletary has averaged just six fantasy points per game. To make matters worse, his touches are down to 7 and 10 in the last two games, respectively. With a ROS rank of RB29, he must be held onto in just about every league size for the time being. Most leagues start at least two running backs, and you’ll want at least two backups. That makes 40 running backs relevant, at minimum. He’s not worth playing but still holds too much value to drop. He might be the perfect add-on to get a trade done and make him someone else’s problem.
Mike Davis (Rostered: 50% - Current Rank: RB38 - ROS Rank: RB35)
Davis is basically the combination of Tannehill and Singletary. We had high hopes, he has disappointed, but the position is too thin to let him walk. Many red flags surround Davis, not the least of which is the emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson. Emergence doesn’t feel like a big enough word here; Patterson has exploded onto the scene this season, scoring six touchdowns in six games. The two backs have basically split touches, with a slight lean to Davis, 84-82. Davis would be in the same position as Singletary if this usage continues, but it may not.
Over the last two games, Patterson has touched the ball 18 more times than Davis. He has been targeted in the passing game nine more times. The 50/50 split is turning into 75/25 in favor of Patterson. If that is the case, Davis may not even live up to the ROS projection of RB35. Davis is a hold in all league formats for now, but don’t be afraid to trade him away or flat out drop him if this new trend continues.
Nyheim Hines (Rostered: 50% - Current Rank: RB53 - ROS Rank: RB49)
Our Dave Kluge did a great job dissecting the struggles of Hines in his "Three Up, Three Down" article last week. The rise of Jonathan Taylor and the return of Marlon Mack have made Hines’ usage unpredictable and his fantasy value untrustable. It would be easy to say you can drop him and move on, but there is one more factor to consider. Trade rumors have surrounded Marlon Mack for weeks now, and the trade deadline is just two weeks away. While Hines’ value is at an all-time low, he will gain some hype if the Colts move Mack. Use that to your advantage and trade him away to a less savvy league mate if the Mack move happens. If it doesn’t, Hines is easily droppable in all non-PPR formats, regardless of league size. You can also be let him go in 10 and 12-team leagues but keep him stashed in 14-team or higher PPR leagues.
The waiver wire is thin when it comes to running backs. My best advice is to stay ahead of the curve with Daniel Simpkins’ Waivers of the Future articles, where he helps pick waiver wire targets before they explode and become much harder to get on your team.
Allen Robinson (Rostered: 91% - Current Rank: WR59 - ROS Rank: WR63)
The quarterbacks and running backs were just the appetizers; the wide receivers are the main course. This position is so deep, and it’s a huge mistake holding onto failing assets. Allen Robinson is a failing asset. Since Justin Fields took over the starting job, the Bears have targeted the WR 2nd-least in the entire league. In that five-game span, Fields has targeted Robinson just 25 times. His 19 catches for 191 yards make him the WR61 since Week 3. While the numbers are not much better, it seems clear that Fields prefers Darnell Mooney. If your league only requires two starting wide receivers, drop Robinson without hesitation. The only format where Robinson still deserves a shot is a 14-team league that requires three wide receivers every week. In those settings, 42 wide receivers start every week, and 28 backups still have value, Which makes 70 wideouts with value, and that is where Allen Robinson lives these days.
Odell Beckham Jr (Rostered: 86% - Current Rank: WR75 - ROS Rank: WR54)
Speaking of dropping someone without hesitation. Cleveland is the perfect storm of bad wide receiver play. They prefer to run the ball, their quarterback is hurt, and there is no clear favorite as a WR1. It’s odd to see how far Beckham has fallen, but no one can deny what we see so far in 2021. He’s been hurt this season but has also caught just 16 balls on 33 targets and hasn’t scored a touchdown since September 2020. With Beckham dealing with injuries and the return of Jarvis Landry, these numbers may get worse, and Beckham is safe to drop in any league.
Robby Anderson (Rostered: 71% - Current Rank: WR61 - ROS Rank: WR71)
If you look solely at Anderson’s target numbers, it is hard to let him go. His 49 targets put him in a tie for 27th among wide receivers. He’s tied with CeeDee Lamb and ahead of DeAndre Hopkins, and nobody is talking about dropping them. The issue comes when you see that he’s caught just 18 of those passes for a 36% catch rate, the worst in the league for any wideout with at least 30 targets. If you’ve seen Sam Darnold play recently, it’s hard to believe there is much upside for Anderson. Like Robinson, it would take a very deep league to keep Anderson relevant. Go ahead and drop him in any 10 or 12-team leagues.
Kenny Golladay (Roster 68% - Current Rank: WR72 - ROS Rank: WR53)
Including an injured player on this list is debatable, but if you’re expecting to get former Detroit Lion Kenny Golladay back any time soon, you’re going to be disappointed. In Detroit, Golladay was the undisputed WR1 on a team with competent quarterback play. Unfortunately, New York is not that. Golladay is averaging just six targets per game and has just one game as a top-36 fantasy wide receiver so far. All of the Giants’ significant pass-catchers have missed time this season, but both Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney are outpacing Golladay, and each of them has multiple games with nine or more targets. Golladay hasn’t hit that number once. Nevertheless, Golladay does have more upside than any player mentioned, assuming he can get healthy and the others cannot. He can be safely dropped in 10-team leagues but should be held onto in anything larger, especially if you have an IR spot where you can stash him every week that he is ruled out.
Your waiver wire probably has 10 or more wide receivers you can roster over the guys listed above. Start with Robinson’s teammate Darnell Mooney and the Giants’ Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney. Others to look for would be Emmanuel Sanders whose coming off a bye, plus Christian Kirk and Hunter Renfrow. All of which have been playing very well lately, rank in the top-36 of the position, and are available in 30% or more leagues.
Tyler Higbee (Rostered: 81% - Current Rank: TE13 - ROS Rank: TE9)
The clear theme of this article is high preseason hopes and not being able to let go of disappointments. Just like with quarterback, there is no need to hold a backup tight end, so in 10-team leagues, feel free to give Higbee his walking papers. In 12-team or more, this gets more complicated. Higbee is just about as boring as it gets for fantasy. He scores eight or nine points every week but doesn’t seem to have enough big games to make him any fun at the position. His best week this year has been 15 fantasy points. So if you’re looking for slow and steady in a 12-team league, hold on to Higbee and hope for more out of your other positions. If you want more, look elsewhere. As an able-bodied tight end, Higbee might be better suited as a trade piece than a cut.
Robert Tonyan Jr (Rostered: 60% - Current Rank: TE23 - ROS Rank: TE25)
Now might be the best or worst time for me to write this, after Tonyan scored a touchdown in Week 7, but don’t chase last week’s points. Tonyan has just two games with more than three fantasy points this entire season: the two games that he scored touchdowns. You’ve heard time and again that predicting touchdowns is the hardest thing to do in football, and you should be chasing volume at this position. Tonyan can be released in all leagues.
Putting it bluntly, if these are your options at tight end, you should be streaming the position. Be ready to cut a guy every week and chase the upside of the best possible matchup in waivers. It’s extra work, but if you don’t have one of the five best players at this position, you can do your best to build a player that can compete.