[sc name=”Author Chris Moore”]
It would be incorrect to say that fantasy football rewards patience without also noting that fantasy football just as often rewards haste. A successful fantasy owner is always looking for ways to improve his/her roster even while his/her team is winning handily. If you don’t pick up Week 3’s breakout player, your Week 4 opponent is likely to do so.
That said, part of the art of maximizing your roster is understanding when, and just as importantly, when not to cut bait.
In my weekly attempt to help you avoid the heartbreak of dropping this year’s big breakout player who just happened to get off to a slow start, I give you my list of the best players that you might be considering cutting, and I invite you to think twice.
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Do Not Cut – Running Backs
Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens
After posting over 100 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in a home date with the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, Javorius “Buck” Allen was a major disappointment, along with most of his Ravens teammates, in Week 3’s London game humiliation against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It’s easy to look at Allen and craft a narrative that his Week 2 breakout was a product of West being hurt, and that he is a candidate to lose snaps to upstart Alex Collins, who has been the most efficient back running the football in garbage time each of the last two weeks. Don’t out-think yourself. Buck Allen is still likely the most talented all-around back on this roster and is an absolute must hold for the time being.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets
After making this list for each of the season’s first two weeks, Powell didn’t exactly do anything in Week 3 to inspire tremendous confidence, rushing the ball 15 times for just 37 yards, albeit with his first touchdown of the season. Matt Forte was emerging as the more fantasy-trustworthy option in this backfield through two and a half games, but a toe injury sidelined him for the better part of Week 3’s win over the Dolphins. With Forte’s status in question, and with the overall landscape of the 2017 running back position looking as bleak as it does, Bilal Powell still deserves to stick around on your roster, and is the lone player to appear on this list for three consecutive weeks.
Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions
Riddick managed just four catches on nine targets for 38 yards and did not record a single carry this week with the Lions in comeback mode for most of the game. Although he has been a disappointment up to this point, his role is secure and Ameer Abdullah, his primary competition for snaps, still hasn’t definitively experienced a full breakout to feature back status. Theo Riddick‘s workload is relatively secure. Against a stout defensive front at Minnesota in Week 4, Riddick might just carve out a bigger share of the workload than he has in the first three weeks.
Rex Burkhead, New England Patriots
After three weeks of play, it would be reasonable to say that Burkhead’s health is a legitimate concern for the Patriots. He was featured heavily, early in the Week 1 game plan against Kansas City, being targeted on a deep ball and a potential touchdown pass before disappearing until late in the fourth quarter. Then in Week 2 he did catch a TD pass from Brady in the first quarter before making his second straight early exit. In Week 3, he missed a win over the Texans with a rib injury. In hindsight, it makes a lot of sense that the Pats have been dressing all three of Burkhead, James White, and Dion Lewis– three seemingly redundant players, in the context of Burkhead’s health situation. So why hold a banged-up RB in a crowded backfield? Burkhead was hand-picked by Bill Belichick and the Patriots paid him 3.1 million dollars, at a position where they rarely spend significant money, to play a role this season. His skill set will keep him in play whenever he’s active. If you can afford the roster space, holding Burkhead makes a lot of sense.
Do Not Cut – Wide Receivers
Terrelle Pryor, Washington Redskins
Although Pryor has been a disaster for the first three weeks of the fantasy season, it is encouraging for his future prospects that the Redskins offense has improved with each game. In Week 1, they were manhandled by the Philadelphia defense. In Week 2, Kirk Cousins played mistake free football, but didn’t need to challenge the Rams vertically. In Week 3, Cousins filled up the stat sheet, but the lone deep shot went to Josh Doctson instead of Pryor. We should have expected this offense to take some time to gel and although Pryor has not yet gotten it going, better days are likely ahead. You spent a third or fourth round pick on Pryor based largely on situation and opportunity and those two things have not changed. Pryor is an emphatic hold.
Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
After recording exactly 54 yards receiving in consecutive games to start the season, Williams was just one of many Chargers to post an absolutely abysmal fantasy number in Week 3, as he caught just two of seven targets for 15 yards. While he’s hard to trust right now, it’s important to remember that he was the overall WR14 in 2016 and there are significant injury risks associated with every other wide receiver on the Chargers roster. Even taking a clear backseat to Keenan Allen, there is still hope for Williams, but he has demonstrated high-end WR2 upside when relied upon as the main target.
Eric Decker, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans passing game finally produced some fireworks in Week 3, but Decker still didn’t manage to post a fantasy relevant stat line. While he only caught four of five targets for 49 yards, Decker made some impressive athletic plays that demonstrated that he’s healthy enough to contribute if needed. With Corey Davis ruled out so early in Week 3, Decker will probably continue to face little competition for snaps at least in Week 4. A healthy Eric Decker could put up WR2 numbers in Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smashmouth” scheme. It hasn’t happened yet, but we shouldn’t be assuming it won’t, just yet.
Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
In a prime matchup at home against what had been a totally inept Saints defense, Funchess posted a pedestrian four catches for 58 yards. With Kelvin Benjamin sustaining an ugly-looking knee injury, Funchess drew ten targets from Cam Newton, but the volume didn’t pay dividends. Although the preliminary indications are that Benjamin’s knee injury isn’t serious, it can’t be taken for granted that he’ll be ready for Week 4’s contest at New England. Even in a slightly less attractive matchup, Funchess has a change to be the Panther’s number one target, and shouldn’t be rage-dropped by owners disappointed in his lackluster Week 3.
Do Not Cut – Tight Ends
Evan Engram, New York Giants
This is more of an “understand what you have” alert than most of my other don’t drop candidates above. Tight end is a position that is heavily streamed by fantasy owners of all but the most reliable players. Given his production so far this season, you’re probably holding onto him anyway, but if he is merely a guy you ended up with by spinning the streaming tight end roulette wheel, I feel obliged to tell you that now is the time to hold tight. Evan Engram has a reliable target share and has been reasonably productive in an offense that has been absolutely putrid to this point. If you have him on your roster now, don’t chase last week’s boxscore (I’m looking at you Marcedes Lewis). Stand pat with Engram. As the offense gets better (it can’t get worse), the big games will come. Engram is a potential season-long stud.
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