NFL Roster Cuts: The Survivors (Part I)

With NFL cut down day behind us, savvy fantasy players did their best to keep up with the breaking news.  The sickest degenerates amongst us vigilantly checked the internet and Twitter every 3 minutes for any updates on who was getting cut from what team. Although we primarily focused on who got cut, we often tend to forget about what those cuts mean for the existing rosters and how the removal of some players can benefit others. This is in no way comprehensive, but after a glance at all the recent cuts and trades and the current 53-man rosters of each NFL team, I’ve highlighted several players that stand to benefit from the NFL’s cut down day.

Arizona Cardinals:

The Cardinals Cut Chris Johnson, presumed to be the backup for David Johnson. Now, that role falls in the lap of Kerwynn Williams. Williams immediately becomes one of the top handcuffs in fantasy football, and according to Jeremy Funk’s  groundbreaking injury research, Williams might be called into action as David Johnson profiles as a player very vulnerable to injury and missed playing time. He’s a must add for DJ owners and a speculative add for those in deeper leagues.

Baltimore Ravens:

The Ravens were a team that many speculated could go into the season with five running backs. Instead, they exit cut down day carrying only three on their roster after dumping TaQuan Mizzell, Bobby Rainey and Lorenzo Taliaferro (who I don’t care about enough even to try to spell that name correctly). I expect them to sign another player at the position shortly, but this tells us that they’re not overly concerned with Woodhead’s health entering the season and that we should expect a small uptick in production from Buck Allen this year. Keep an eye on their free agent signings, but as of now, with only three backs, each should be busy. The Ravens just signed Alex Collins to their practice squad, so maybe add him to your watch list. 

Buffalo Bills:

The Bills parted ways with Jonathan Williams this afternoon. This move came out of nowhere. By law, Mike Tolbert now must be rostered.

Chicago Bears:

After cuts (Tanner Gentry, really? C’mon, he looked good), The Bears are entering the season with only five wide receivers and 2 are primarily special teams players. Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson make the Jets’ WR corps look like the greatest show on turf. (Editor’s note: They’ve since added Tre McBride.) This is the worst group in the NFL. Period. That said, one or two of these bums is going to have to put up numbers. With the loss of Cam Meredith to injury the bears have the 2nd most targets available from last season in all of the football. Somebody has to emerge here, but it’s like playing Russian roulette figuring out who (hint: it won’t be Kevin White). Good luck to everyone picking out the guy to own here, as of now, I guess, with zero confidence it’ll be Wheaton, others are targeting Kendall Wright. The Bear’s added diminutive, Taquan Mizzell as well after he was jettisoned by Baltimore. 

Cincinnati Bengals:

The Bengals surprisingly kept seven wide receivers. Everybody knows the big names plus the two rookies (Ross and Malone) this year and the two sophomores (Tyler Boyd and Cody Core). The sneaky play here if you’re in leagues that score kick and punt return points is Alex Erickson. In best ball leagues, with that scoring, he’s a must add. He was already outstanding on special teams but also contributed on offense this pre-season as well. And best of all- he’s completely off the radar of nearly everyone else you play with.

Dallas Cowboys:

After cuts, the Cowboys are heading into the season with Cooper Rush as their backup QB. He looked really good in the pre-season, and if something should happen to Dak Prescott, I’d expect Rush to step in and at the very least be serviceable for fantasy. He’s worth a stash in deeper leagues especially for the Prescott owners out there. Tight end sensation Rico Gathers also made the team, but keep an eye on his situation, as of now it looks like he still might be headed to the IR.

Denver Broncos:

Nothing notable as far as cuts go, but rookie Carlos Henderson landed on the IR. With literally no one else in town on an offense that rarely features a 3rd wide receiver, expect more of the same steady production from Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. There is nobody on this roster that will command any targets except them.

Detroit Lions:

The Lions enter the season with five receivers, 2 of whom are TJ Jones and Jared Abbrederis, both made the roster based on their special team’s production. Why this is notable is because that only leaves Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny “the greatest player of all time” Golladay as the team’s top 3 receiving options. Why is that notable? Because the Lions were tied for running the 3rd most plays out of 11-personnel (which means three wide receivers), over 75% of the Lions snaps last year had three wide receivers on the field. Look for Kenny Golladay to see at least 400 snaps this season… what he does with them is yet to be seen, but he should have plenty of opportunities. 

Jacksonville Jaguars:

The Jags placed Tight End Mychal Rivera on injured reserve, leaving veteran Marcedes Lewis as the only option the team has at the position with occasional relief from Ben Koyak. Lewis isn’t an incredible tight end, but he has been a Pro-Bowler and does have a double digit touchdown season under his belt. Keep him in mind if you stream tight ends or punted the position during your draft.

Kansas City Chiefs:

The Chiefs are entering the season with only 2 active running backs in Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West. Obviously, they’re going to be adding one or two backs in the coming days, but as of today with Spencer Ware on the IR and CJ Spiller getting cut, they’re a 2RB team. I’d  grab West where I could as he will be the clear #2 all season and has shown that he can be productive under Andy Reid in the past if he’s called on for a heavier workload too.

Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow for my remaining thoughts on the roster survivors. Give me a follow at @dibari22.


Chicagoan living in Las Vegas. Fantasy Football writer & Director of In-Season Analysis for Dynasty Football Factory, blogger for USFantasy and contributor to TheFakeHockey. Member FSWA.

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