We’re now in the home stretch of the typical fantasy regular season. Byes are all but a thing of the past, but injuries have still thinned out rosters at this point of the season. Depth is less important than it was a few weeks ago, but you’re still going to make moves to fine tune your team. It’s easier to argue for someone being on your team than against him, but the fact is fantasy rosters aren’t infinite. Some players need to end up on the waiver wire. We call them The Droppables.
One quick note before we got going. If a player is droppable, that does not mean you should get rid of him at all costs. What it means is that the player in question does not and should not hold a priority spot on your roster. If you need to make a move, the players below can be on the chopping block.
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Terrance West, RB, Ravens
West got just eight carries on Sunday, picking up 42 yards and a touchdown. The efficiency and trip to paydirt were encouraging, but something always seems to work against him. In his previous three games, he ran for a total of 96 yards on 44 carries. In Baltimore’s loss to Dallas, he got a total of nine touches. The issue might change from week to week, but there’s always an issue. With only two teams, the Titans and Browns, still to go on bye this season, depth players are comfortably in the background. West is no more than a depth back who doesn’t quite rank inside the top 30 at the position. Chances are that will place him on his owner’s bench every week for the rest of the season. If that’s the case, he doesn’t need to be owned.
Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, RB, Browns
Once upon a time Crowell was locked in as a fantasy starter this season, and it looked like he would remain one for the entire season. Through four games, Crowell had 394 rushing yards, 53 receiving yards and three total touchdowns, good for 15.68 points per game in standard-scoring leagues. In the seven games since that hot start, he hasn’t rushed for more than 63 yards in a game, and has found the end zone just twice. All told, Crowell has 167 yards on the ground, 194 through the air and the two touchdowns over his last seven games. That comes out to 6.87 points per game. With the Cleveland offense struggling to generate yards and points, and the defense giving up both by the barrellful, Crowell is going to be dealing with negative game scripts for most of the rest of the season. There won’t be one week the rest of the year where you feel good about having him in your starting lineup.
Johnson has been a lost cause most of the season, the result of playing with quarterbacks who don’t fit well with his skill set and a decreasing presence in the run game. Last year, both Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel made good use of Johnson, and that helped him to a 61-catch, 534-yard season. The thought in most fantasy circles was that the second-year player would only see his role grow this year, but that hasn’t been the case. At best, it has been stagnant, with Johnson on pace to come up just shy of last year’s receiving numbers, while slightly surpassing his rushing totals from a week ago. With Robert Griffin III likely on his way back into the starting lineup, Johnson could lose even more targets. We have plenty of evidence that running quarterbacks take away production from pass-catching backs. This has been a lost fantasy season for Johnson, and it’s unlikely to turn around at this point.
We’ve been here before with Yeldon, and yet he’s still owned in about three of every five leagues. Yeldon got four carries on Sunday, running for 16 yards, and caught two of his three targets for 16 more yards. It was the seventh time this season that he had fewer than 60 yards from scrimmage and fifth time that he had fewer than double-digit touches. The Jaguars had trouble running the ball once again on Sunday, totaling 83 yards on 27 carries as a team. Chris Ivory might be on the chopping block as well, but at least he got 17 carries in the loss to the Lions. Ivory is getting consistent work while Yeldon is fighting for the scraps left behind. That’s a bad formula for a running back on a team that can’t run the ball. Yeldon will not be a fantasy factor for the rest of the season. We’ll revisit his fantasy status in 2017.
John Brown, WR, Cardinals
Brown’s fantasy downfall continued on Sunday, when he didn’t catch a pass against the Vikings. To be fair, Minnesota has arguably the best pass defense in the league, but Brown’s problems began long before the Cardinals' Week 11 loss. The last time Brown had more than 60 yards in a game was the final Sunday of the MLB regular season. In five games since he has 12 catches for 144 yards, which translates to 2.88 standard-league points per game. Arizona’s passing game is struggling mightily, with Carson Palmer suffering a dramatic turnaround from his stellar 2015 season. All of these factors pile up strongly against Brown. He doesn’t need to be on any rosters for the rest of this year.
On the strength of consecutive games where he had a total of 143 yards on 28 carries, Sproles became the Eagles lead back, anointed by head coach Doug Pederson. Since then, he has four carries for 34 yards. The lesson? Never believe what a coach says. In that same time frame, Wendell Smallwood and Ryan Mathews have both racked up 26 carries. Unless Pederson petitioned Webster's and got the dictionary to change the definition of the word “lead,” he was coachspeaking all of us. Sproles has always been dependent on the big play, and those are coming less and less often as he gets older. He’s comfortably off the fantasy radar at this point of the season. The Philadelphia backfield is such a headache, that you can probably ignore Mathews and Smallwood, too.