Tue Sep 7th 2021
The Effects of NFL Roster Cuts
Last Tuesday, NFL teams had to cut down to 53-man rosters. This year, like most years, was full of surprises as teams waived some unexpected players. Cut day is one of the days on the NFL calendar when NFL teams communicate most clearly how they value the players on their roster and what their depth chart will look like. All of the smoke and mirrors and coach-speak about players during the preseason has gone away. Now we know what they really think of their rosters.
Cut day is also a big day for Dynasty Freeks because as NFL depth charts become concrete, players' dynasty values rise or fall significantly. Several players on the back-end of dynasty rosters were cut by their NFL teams, decreasing their dynasty value while at the same time increasing the value of the players they were competing with for a roster spot. In this article, I'll share about some of the players I think lost or gained the most dynasty value last week after the NFL's roster cut-down day.
- The biggest surprise on cut day was that New England cut Cam Newton. We knew it was a close position battle, and Jones had a chance to be named the starter for week one, but it was a surprise to hear that they named Jones the starter and cut Newton rather than retaining him as a backup. This surprise cut not only boosts the dynasty value of Jones but it affects the value of a few of his teammates. Damien Harris and Rhomandre Stevenson's dynasty value gets a bit of a bump because Newton will not be there to steal goalline carries. James White's diminishing PPR value receives a bit of a boost from a quarterback who will likely be more effective checking down to White on passing downs. The Patriots are building a run-heavy offense that will feature a lot of twelve personnel packages, so the wide receivers will likely not be reliable fantasy players while the tight ends, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, might be. Jakobi Meyers had a lot of chemistry with Cam Newton. I assume that will develop with Jones, making him the only reliable receiver from a fantasy perspective. Jones' dynasty value rises a bit, though we all knew from a dynasty perspective that he would become the future starter in New England even if Cam held him off for this season. Instead, he gets the team to himself in his rookie season and will become a back-end starter in superflex leagues and a solid backup in one-quarterback leagues.
- Patterson had one of the best preseasons of any rookie, even though he was an undrafted free agent. The Football Team rewarded him with a spot on the roster and cut Peyton Barber. This move signifies that Washington sees him as the direct backup to Antonio Gibson, making him a valuable depth piece on dynasty rosters. J.D. McKissic is locked into the passing-downs role in Washington and would stay in that role if Gibson gets injured. I believe that Washington wants to limit Gibson's touches to keep him healthy, so Patterson will have a role in the offense even when Gibson is healthy. He won't be startable in dynasty leagues unless Gibson is injured, but he's a valuable depth piece on dynasty rosters, which should carry five to six backup running backs at all times. Last weekend, I tried to trade up with every owner to get Patterson in the fourth round in my final rookie draft, but I could not make a deal. What's worse, the pick before my fourth-round pick, another manager traded up to get Patterson. He fell way too far in that rookie draft. I think dynasty managers are sleeping on him, and some in shallower leagues may even cut him on dynasty roster cut day. If so, make him a top priority on waivers after week one.
- Scott had an excellent preseason, getting carries and passes while allowing Miles Sanders to rest up for the season opener. The Eagles talented rookie, Kenny Gainwell, played well too but didn't play any better than Scott. The Eagles decided to keep them both and cut Jordan Howard. Though smaller in stature, Scott is the better dynasty handcuff to Sanders, not Gainwell. Sanders' preseason struggles catching the ball makes me believe Scott and Gainwell will be used in the passing game, but Scott would take the bulk of the carries if Sanders gets injured. I think Scott will be a startable player in PPR leagues on weeks with players on bye and a startable player every week if Sanders gets injured. He's a great depth piece to hold on dynasty rosters. This morning, I traded a 2022 fourth-round pick for Scott in a league where I have Mile Sanders on my roster. I even added him on the waiver wire in one of my ten-team leagues a few weeks ago. His dynasty value rose after Howard was cut, and Gainwell failed to outperform him in the preseason.
- Gallman was cut from the loaded running back room in San Francisco but was then picked up by Atlanta, who promptly released Qadree Ollison, the only running back behind Mike Davis to survive cut-day in Atlanta. Ollison's dynasty value took a sharp rise early last week and a tremendous fall by the end of the week. Ollison was one of the players I added to almost all of my rosters last offseason after Atlanta did not draft a running back. Mike Davis, whom Atlanta signed in free agency, was their clear starter, but the backup position was wide open, and I saw Ollison as the best running back on their roster behind Davis. He couldn't break out when he had the opportunity last season, and he did not stand out in the preseason, so Atlanta cut him to add a player who has not even been in their building. Gallman played well backing up Saquon Barkley last year, which is why I was surprised to see the Giants let him walk away in free agency. Atlanta must have seen enough tape from last season to believe Gallman is their best option to backup Davis. I dropped Ollison in every league that I had him, and I scoured the waiver wire in every league to see if Gallman was available. I was surprised to see that he was not available in any league. Because I like to handcuff my running backs, I sent trade offers to teams with Gallman on their rosters in leagues where I have Mike Davis. So far, a deal has yet to be made, but I am going to keep trying.
- Edwards' dynasty value is on the rise even though he's done nothing in preseason games. The Raiders rested almost all of their starters throughout the preseason, so dynasty managers have had to rely solely on reports from practice and coach-speak. Well, those reports have been glowing, and the Raiders released John Brown on cut day. It's clear that the Raiders plan to start Edwards and Ruggs as their outside receivers, and he will get more opportunities than he did in his injury-plagued season last year when Nelson Agholor started ahead of him. They've protected him this preseason, and he's at full health. The wheels are up for Edwards this season. Other dynasty Freeks must believe so, too, because, in the only league where I have Edwards, I got trade offers for him last week. I declined them.
- If you've been following me, you know I love Palmer. He and Dyami Brown are my most rostered rookies. I traded a 2022 second-round pick to trade up to get him in the third round of my last rookie draft two days ago. The Chargers must be high on Palmer, too, because they waiver their very talented receiver, Tyron Johnson, last week in addition to their second-year prospect Joe Reed (though they did re-sign him to their practice squad). Johnson was Palmer's primary competition for the third wide receiver spot on the team. I don't think it's Jalen Guyton, even though he's listed on the depth chart ahead of Palmer. Even so, my excitement for Palmer is not about this season. It's about his future with the team after Mike Williams' contract expires after this season. I believe he will be the wide receiver two next year and into the future with Justin Herbert as his quarterback. That's something I want to buy into, and I have a lot!
- Collins ran with the first team for most of the preseason, so he was already looking like a week-one starter for the Texans. When the Texans surprisingly let Keke Coutee go last week, Collins' role on the team was made concrete. Chris Conley ran with the first team a lot too, so Collins could face some competition in two-receiver sets, but Conley has been a career backup and will quickly be overtaken by Collins by mid-season, if not sooner. Brandin Cooks will be the most targeted receiver on an offense that will struggle to score points, but they will also be behind in a lot of games and need to pass the ball. From a dynasty perspective, the biggest question for Collins is who the Texans quarterback of the future will be. If the organization can get some things together and improve, Collins can be a significant benefactor in the future. At this point, that might be hard to believe, but that can't go much lower than they are currently. I traded a 2022 second-round pick for Collins last week.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
- Breshad Perriman was one of the surprise cuts by the Detroit Lions, who have one of the weakest wide receiver corps in the league. Tyrell Williams is their most experienced receiver, and he's an NFL journeyman. Kalif Raymond is listed as a starter opposite Williams, but he's never been an NFL starter. St. Brown and Quintez Cephus have the most draft capital, though this coaching staff drafted only St. Brown. St. Brown was active with the first team during preseason games. He was targeted quite a bit but didn't do anything outstanding. Still, I like his role and fit with this team that, like Houston, should be behind in many games. Mostly, I like his future with the team. Detroit has given coach Campbell and long ramp to improve the team, and he drafted St. Brown as his first skilled position player. I've said it before, but St. Brown has excellent character and an incredible pedigree as a prospect. I don't think he can fail in the NFL. I happily drafted him in several leagues, including with my second-round pick two days ago.
- Throughout the offseason, there were rumors that Buffalo would trade for Zack Ertz, and throughout the preseason, there were rumors that Jacob Hollister might start ahead of Knox. Well, Ertz is still with the Eagles, and Hollister did not make the 53-man roster. Knox was involved in the passing game during the preseason while playing almost all of the first-team reps. It's his job to lose, and he's not going to lose it. While he will be far down the totem pole for targets on the team, his role should grow this year on this pass-happy offense. It takes time for tight ends to develop and become relevant for fantasy, but Knox is on the road to do so. He's a good tight end to hold on dynasty rosters behind an every-week starter while he develops a more substantial role on the team. Even so, I would not be surprised to see him dropped this week as dynasty rosters have their cut day. I am not dropping him in the one league that I roster him. On the teams where I have a reliable starting tight end, I'll look to add Knox on waivers next week.
- The Chris Herndon breakout year has become the butt of jokes the last two years because he's never played as well as he did his rookie year and has lost a starting role to guys not nearly as athletic and talented as him. It's not his talent that holds him down; it's his head and his character. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery to have that breakout season. Well, he has that chance now after being traded to Minnesota after Minnesota lost their starting tight end, Irv Smith, for the regular season. Herndon's dynasty value was as low as it had ever been. He's was only rostered in super deep leagues or tight end premium leagues until last week when he saw yet another bump in his dynasty value after this trade. I believe his value should go up, but I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. He was added on waivers in several of my leagues, but I didn't make any moves for him. I roster him in one deep tight end premium league, and he made the cut for my team. He'll have to do a lot to get in my starting lineup, but I'm intrigued enough to keep him on my roster to see if he can live up to the hype around him after his impressive rookie season.
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