Much of fantasy football in-season owner strategy centers around which players to pick up from the waiver wire or to target in the trade market. However, roster spots are a premium resource. Cutting a player - or adding them to a trade - opens a roster spot for a key waiver wire addition or flexibility to keep a currently injured player through a missed game or two. Here are the key players to cut or trade after Week 4:
*15-18 roster spots*
Why: Prescott by far had his best game of the season in Week 4. Prescott avoided turnovers, averaged 9.4 yards-per-attempt, and threw two touchdowns with a positive game script for once. However, Prescott was still not a QB1 fantasy option for the week in an NFL where 300 yards through the air is quickly becoming commonplace. Dallas has arguably the worst set of receiving weapons in the NFL and Houston, Jacksonville, and Washington are up next.
Why: Despite Barber being relatively unchallenged for the opening month and Round 2 pick Ronald Jones being active for only Week 4, Barber has been a fantasy non-factor with only a single game with more than 35 total yards on the pass-happy and defensively-challenged Tampa Bay team. Jones was active Week 4 and heading into the Week 5 bye, Barber is worth dropping for even a primary backup running back with more upside.
Why: There are multiple factors at play for shallow owners moving on from Parker. First, he is injured (again) and has struggled to put any consistency to his practice schedule. Second, the Dolphins were one of the most overrated 3-0 teams in recent memory considering they beat up on Tennessee, the Jets, and Oakland. Third, we still do not know if Parker, in Year 4, is actually any good. Parker is a long shot to supplant Kenny Stills as the WR1 in Miami, which is all this offseason will support as valid rostered receivers in shallow formats.
Why: Despite all the passing production for Atlanta, Hooper continues to be just a guy within the scope of the offense and the tight end fantasy landscape. Hooper has not seen more than five targets in a game this season and is averaging a shoulder shrug 10.4 yards-per-catch. Even with injuries and bye weeks, Hooper will be hard pressed to be a TE1 projection on any given week or worth a shallow format roster spot.
*18-22 roster spots*
Why: In addition to Demaryius Thomas eroding quickly, the other negative observation from Denver's offense in the opening month is Case Keenum. In a pass-happy NFL season Keenum has thrown for more than 250 yards just once (Week 1) and putting up 245-1 passing against Kansas City's suspect (being kind) defense was the worst showing of the season for an opposing passing game. Keenum is closer to being replaced by Chad Kelly than turning into a later-season fantasy impact.
Why: Still owned in more than 50% of MFL (myfantasyleague.com) fantasy leagues, Booker is a clear RB3 in the Denver backfield, has been inefficient with his touches, and even one injury would not be enough to consider Booker a must pick-up in moderate depth leagues.
Why: Owned in 40% of MFL leagues, Beasley is the classic low-ceiling option which adds no value to teams pushing for the playoffs. Maybe Beasley sees a rogue start for a team during the bye week gauntlet, but Dallas is one of the worst passing teams in the NFL and Beasley relies on sustaining drives and volume to rise to fantasy-viable production in a given week. With Houston, Jacksonville, and Washington up next, Dallas will have tough sledding.
Why: Despite Delanie Walker being out, Smith has been an absolute afterthought for Tennessee's passing game. Smith has two receptions on the season even having more than three-to-one routes run advantage over the team's TE2 Luke Stocker. Smith has been a massive disappointment considering his pre-draft profile and Year 2 opportunity without Delanie Walker in the lineup.
*25+ roster spots, more dynasty-focused*
Why: Outside of QB-premium formats, Allen's struggles warrant using the roster spot for another option. Allen has shown the same accuracy struggles in the NFL as in college and the weapons are him are just as poor. Allen's lone positive addition is his rushing production (QB6 in rushing yards through four weeks) as overall he is QB31 in points-per-game.
Why: Mark Ingram II returns in Week 5, making all non-Alvin Kamara Saints running backs not worth a roster spot. Gillislee would be multiple injuries away from relevance and logged a forgettable 16-43-0 stat line for the opening four games. Gillislee is still owned in 19% of MFL leagues.
Why: Still getting by on name recognition and putting up 500+ yards in each of the last three seasons for deeper league owners, Benjamin has been a complete afterthought this season. The Chargers have at least three receivers ahead of Benjamin in the pecking order and Benjamin has more rushing yards (on a single attempt) than receiving yards.
Why: Willson was a potential breakout candidate with minimal depth chart competition this season in Detroit as a signed free agent. However, Detroit's passing game has centered on their three strong wide receivers and the offense has found a running game for the first time in years. Willson has a high-water mark of 13 yards in a game through the opening month and yet to see more than three targets in any week. Willson has run more than double the routes of any other Lions tight end and yet the fantasy production has been non-existent.