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. If you missed yesterday’s edition, you can find it here.
Los Angeles Chargers:
They released veteran Andre Williams and Kenjon Barner and also injury-waived Kenneth Farrow, leaving only Branden Oliver and UDFA Austin Ekeler behind Melvin Gordon. Gordon and Oliver haven’t been the models of health during their NFL careers. I suspect the Chargers will be bringing in a larger back for depth, but keep an eye on Ekeler in your deeper dynasty leagues. He’s a great pass catcher out of the backfield and might surprise some people in PPR leagues as the season wears on.
New York Giants:
The Giants cut Josh Johnson- personally one of my most hated players in the NFL- who has managed to linger around the fringes of the NFL thanks to constant injuries at the quarterback position. This leaves only Geno Smith as the veteran backup to an aging Eli Manning. Rookie Davis Webb is still in town and is probably the smarter long term play, but Geno is worth a look for Eli Manning owners. You never know, stranger things have happened, when Eli retires, maybe Geno can finally shake that “bust” label while still in New York.
The Raiders parted ways with 7th round rookie pick Elijah Hood who many in the fantasy community were high on coming out of North Carolina last year. This leaves the Raiders with three running backs behind recently unretired Marshawn Lynch: DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard, and Jamize Olawale. Should Lynch succumb to injury, look for Washington to step up and take that role (and in my opinion, never relinquish it), and Richard will primarily be the receiving option out of the backfield. With no other competition here, they’re both worth a stash should something happen to Beast Mode.
Shockingly the Eagles cut none of their running backs and enter the season with 5. Rookie Donnel Pumphrey probably should’ve been cut after an underwhelming preseason, but they weren’t going to give up on their 4th round pick just yet. Free agent signee LeGarrette Blount has looked terrible too, so it was a bit of a surprise they kept them all. I predict rookie Corey Clement will take Blount’s goal line work as the season goes on and Wendell Smallwood takes the early down work by week 3. This leaves Blount as the odd man out while Pumphrey is a healthy scratch for most of the season and Darren Sproles does what he always does all season long.
The Steelers traded Sammie Coates and cut Cobi Hamilton. This leaves Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant as the clear 1-2 punch in the steel city with Eli Rogers emerging as the #3 with Justin Hunter a red zone threat and rookie Juju Smith-Schuster for depth. Eli Rogers is a guy I’ve been targeting since last year and is a guy worth grabbing in deeper leagues. I’d take a look at Hunter for bestball too. Another interesting move was the release of veteran RB Fitzgerald Toussaint and Knile Davis.
This leaves only rookie James Conner and the unproven Terrell Watson behind Le’Veon Bell. Bell is no stranger to suspension or injury; he’s missed all of camp and from my recollection that never results in anything good. The Steelers have repeatedly proven that almost any backup running back can thrive in this system. Conner is a must add for Bell owners, and both he and Watson are worth stashing in deeper leagues, should Bell miss any time, you have a high upside RB2 waiting in the wings.
San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers cut both Kapri Bibbs and Tim Hightower while placing Joe Williams on season ending IR. This leaves only UDFA Matt Breida as the backup to the oft injured Carlos Hyde. Grab Matt Breida everywhere you can. There is nobody else here, and he looked great in the pre-season. Backup Raheem Mostert is still around, but he’s almost exclusively a special teams guy. Another target is fullback Kyle Juszczyk. A fullback for fantasy? The last two seasons in Baltimore he averaged 39 receptions, but given the lack of depth on the 49ers, the big money contract the used to lure him here, and Kyle Shanahan’s history of passing to fullbacks, I wouldn’t be shocked to see that number approach 50 or 60. In PPR leagues he’s fantasy relevant.
The ‘Hawks parted ways with backup QB Trevone Boykin and handed that job to Austin Davis. Davis isn’t good for fantasy, but he’s your new Russell Wilson handcuff if you’re into those sorts of things. More importantly, they cut pre-season standout wide receiver Kasen Williams as well as last year’s 7th round pick Kenny Lawler.
This leaves the Seahawks with only five receivers; Doug Baldwin Paul Richardson, Tyler Lockett, rookie Amara Darboh and Tanner McEvoy. Lockett still hasn’t returned to practice after a nasty leg injury last season. Richardson- who I love- is as injury prone as anyone in all of football. Darboh is completely unproven, and McEvoy is a primarily a special teams player. We’re an injury away from Darboh being the #2 option here. Keep an eye on this closely; I suspect a few more moving parts as the season moves on, but Darboh and McEvoy might become fantasy relevant sooner rather than later.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The Bucs cut 5th round rookie Jeremy McNichols in a bit of a surprising move. He was a darling of the fantasy community and was viewed as a guy who could take both Doug Martin’s job on early downs as well as Charles Sims’ job on passing downs. Instead, it appears he’ll be taking the fry cook’s job at your local McDonald’s. The big winner here is Charles Sims in PPR leagues. Sims is one of the league’s best pass catchers out of the backfield, and McNichols was viewed as being poised to take that job first. Now it looks like Sims’ job is safe, and as a player who was being drafted in the mid-7th-to-9th-rounds last season, Sims is largely falling into the 15th or later rounds, I’ll be buying this post hype sleeper in 2017 with no threat to his job currently on the roster.
The ‘Skins cut quarterback Nate Sudfeld who many believed to be the long term option in D.C. if Kirk Cousins ever jumped ship. They’re hoping he clears waivers and they can bring him back to their practice squad, but if not, Colt McCoy might be worth a speculative add in deeper leagues. It sure seems like Kirk Cousins will more likely than not eventually leave the Redskins at some point and with no other QBs in town, that only leaves McCoy as the starter when that happens.
Thank you for reading and give me a follow at @dibari22.