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The Cut List – Who To Drop for Week 9?

I feel the need to come clean on two players who have finally made my cut list – and one of them comes with an asterisk. I have been hesitant to include Odell Beckham Jr. or Allen Robinson on the Cut List despite their extremely poor play and I think I need to explain why. When I look at who should make the cut list, I first look at rostership percentages on both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. I look at players who have a 50% or fewer rostership and those are the ones I'm asking myself – who do I want to roster?

Some of the current names on Yahoo! that fit that 50% threshold include Mecole Hardman, T.Y. Hilton, Marquez Callaway, Sony Michel and Trey Sermon. For ESPN, you'll find names like Darnell Mooney, Brandon Aiyuk, Nyheim Hines and David Johnson. With names such as Robinson and OBJ, even if you don't believe in their rest of the season prospects, it only takes one good game to be able to sell to someone who does. I'll always gamble on that possibility, especially with guys that carry such large name value. The other aspect of these guys, more so for Robinson than OBJ, is there have been trade rumors surrounding both of them. With guys in such unfortunate situations, even trades to bad destinations raise their value.

There's virtually no chance OBJ is traded, but I think there's hope that Robinson might be. Should that come to pass, fantasy managers should absolutely hold on to both players. With the trade deadline tomorrow, fantasy managers will know before waivers process. While Robinson and OBJ may have made me look stupid this season, I'll bet on talent. More often than not, talent is going to end up being victorious. Now, there are legit questions today as to whether or not OBJ still has it, but there's no doubt in my mind that A-Rob can still ball. Just not in Chicago.

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Quarterbacks to Drop for Week 9?

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

55.6% rostered

Ryan had been on a nice little streak over his last four games, but that all changed in Week 8. From Weeks 3–7 (bye in Week 6), he threw for 1,204 yards with 10 touchdowns and just two turnovers. It looked like the Atlanta offense was finally starting to turn the corner. However, it should be noted that three of the teams the Falcons played in that span are in the bottom five for most points allowed. Two of the four teams have given up the most and second-most passing yards. Needless to say, Matty Ice had quite the favorable schedule over that stretch. In Week 8, they went up against the elite defense of the Carolina Panthers without star receiver Calvin Ridley and it was not pretty. Ryan finished with only 146 yards with one score and two interceptions. It sounds as if Ridley's absence could be a lengthy one, and without him their group of receivers is significantly lacking talent.

To make matters worse, the schedule is very unfriendly. They're on the road the next two weeks against the Saints and Cowboys. The Saints have given up the second-fewest points in the league and the Cowboys have given up the ninth-fewest. After those two matchups, the Falcons are at home against the Patriots , who have allowed the 10th fewest points. A nice matchup follows vs Jacksonville, but then it's Tampa Bay and back on the road to Carolina. With the lack of talent and brutal stretch of opponents, fantasy managers can safely drop Ryan.


Running Backs to Drop for Week 9?

Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts

44.1% rostered

Over the past few weeks, Jonathan Taylor has completely taken over this backfield. Quite frankly, that's the way it should be. Don't get me wrong, Nyheim Hines is a nice player, but he is not Jonathan Taylor. On the year, Hines is averaging just 6.8 touches per game and in the past three weeks, his playing time has decreased somewhat significantly. Over that span, Hines has only played on just 28% of the snaps.

Hines makes his fantasy living by catching the ball and since Week 4, as evidenced above, Taylor has been more involved in the passing game than Hines. With Marlon Mack still on the roster, even if JT were to get injured, it's unlikely Hines' role would change all that significantly with a capable early-down running back on the roster. The Colts didn't have that last season. In any case, there's very little upside here. Fantasy managers can safely move on.


Wide Receivers to Drop for Week 9?

Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

85.0% rostered

Alright, I cave. If Robinson is not traded tomorrow before the deadline, fantasy managers can cut bait. Despite Justin Fields having the best game of his young career, it didn't amount to any fantasy value for the former Nittany Lion. He finished with four targets and only three catches for 21 yards.

The limited passing volume in the Chicago offense has done a number on Robinson's fantasy prospects. The floor is now legitimately zero and the ceiling isn't anything to get excited about. There are just far too many obstacles Robinson needs to overcome to become fantasy relevant again if he's not traded. The low-passing volume is a huge concern, but coaching is another. Matt Nagy has been unable to develop a competent offense since he was hired and there's no reason to expect that to happen this season. I'm not saying you absolutely need to drop him because I have no doubt whoever you're dropping Robinson for, Robinson is more talented than whoever that is. And his quarterback, while he's a rookie, is a very talented one. If he is traded, no matter where that is, I'm holding.

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

81.5% rostered

Another player that I am finally waving the white flag on is OBJ. As far as coaches go, I'm really impressed with Kevin Stefanski. And while he operates a run-oriented offense, I had hopes OBJ could be what Stefon Diggs was in 2019 for the Vikings – which is to say he'd be a low-volume, boom or bust WR3 with week-winning upside. For the most part, that's how his role has unfolded. The problem has been it's been completely ineffective.

Whether that's because of Baker Mayfield or OBJ – it doesn't really matter. Both players are dealing with somewhat significant shoulder injuries that are no doubt affecting their play and neither injury is expected to go away this season without surgery. The rest of the Browns' schedule isn't fantasy-friendly. There are nine more weeks of the fantasy season and there are only two favorable matchups along the way – Detroit and Las Vegas. From Week 12, they play Baltimore followed by their bye week, and then against Baltimore again. After that, they have the Raiders, a matchup vs the Packers and likely Jaire Alexander, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

UPDATE: Beckham was excused from practice on Wednesday due to a "team-related" decision. ESPN's Josina Anderson is reporting that OBJ was ready to practice and the team told him that he was "excused" from attending. Beckham and the Browns appear to be at a crossroads after the New Orleans Saints were reportedly close to trading for the receiving at the deadline on Tuesday. A later report said that coach Kevin Stefanski told the team this morning that Beckham won’t be with the team for the rest of the season.


Tight Ends to Drop for Week 9?

Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers

57.9% rostered

Jared Cook is just TE16 on the season in half-PPR scoring and he's been held to under 30 yards in five out of seven games. While his 5.4 targets per game is solid for a tight end, the fact of the matter is that Cook has done very little with the opportunity. With Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler in Los Angeles, Cook is the No. 4 target for Justin Herbert on a weekly basis. Being that far down on the totem pole eliminates his upside. He's playing on just 60% of the snaps for the Chargers. Fantasy managers may have been hoping Cook could become a set it and forget backend TE1 similar to Hunter Henry was in this offense last year, but that hasn't been the case. Cook is nothing more than a touchdown dependant TE2 and those players don't need to be rostered.


On the Hot Seat

Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

60.0% rostered

When D.J. Chark went on IR, there was a lot of hope that as unfortunate as his injury was, it would be the spark Shenault needed to become a focal point of the Jaguars' offense. That has not been the case. In Week 8, Jamal Agnew led the team in targets with 12. Dan Arnold was second with 10, then came Carlos Hyde with eight and Marvin Jones Jr. with seven. Shenault had four. In Week 5, Shenault was once again fifth in targets with only three.

He's been outplayed by Jamal Agnew twice over their past three games and if Shenault is to stay on fantasy rosters, he's going to need to put forth more production. With James Robinson's injury, it's likely the Jaguars lean more on the passing game, which could open up some additional looks for Shenault. This is an offense that is lacking offensive playmakers and Shenault came into the league with that kind of pedigree, but as fantasy managers enter the playoff hunt stretch, they'll only be able to hold on for a few more weeks. I'd be more open to dropping Shenault in standard-scoring leagues where he holds less value.


Hold On

Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans

88.0% rostered

This is purely a gut call and since I already admitted defeat on OBJ and Robinson, I can understand if you'd be reluctant to buy into this one. However, I believe it's worth holding onto Julio Jones. With the Derrick Henry injury, the Titans are likely to become much more reliant on the passing game. Now, for that to matter, Jones needs to get healthy and there's no guarantee he can do that. That's the risk. However, I'd argue every waiver wire comes with some level of risk – if they didn't, they wouldn't be on the waiver wire entering Week 9 of the season.

The only thing standing in Julio's way from being a very fantasy-relevant receiver is his health. Despite the signing of Adrian Peterson, Tannehill is going to be asked to air the ball out more than he has ever had to do during his time in Tennessee. It will likely be similar to the situation in Baltimore. Lamar Jackson's passing volume has significantly increased this season and we're seeing exceptional seasons from both, Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. The Titans' passing attack, if Jones is healthy, would be very consolidated between the two of them.

When the trade was made in the offseason, fantasy managers questioned if there would be enough volume for Tannehill to support both receivers as high-end WR2's. That question no longer exists. Derrick Henry's injury has completely taken it off the table. There will undoubtedly be enough volume in Tennessee now, the question is will Jones be healthy enough to take advantage of it? I don't know the answer to that, and truthfully, I'm a little skeptical. However, the upside is high enough that I'm willing to see it through.

Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers

46.0% rostered

It's been a really long season for Aiyuk and for the 49ers, they're only seven weeks in. It's been nothing like what most fantasy managers expected from the former Arizona State standout. It's been so bad, we don't even get excited about good games per se, but the possibility of good games to come.

Last week was the most encouraging Aiyuk usage fantasy managers have seen all year. The production was not great, but if that kind of volume and opportunity continues, the good games will start rolling in. However, news came out today George Kittle is likely back in Week 9, which throws another wrench into San Francisco's passing game.

At this point, it's safe to say that Deebo Samuel will be the No. 1 no matter what, but what happens when Kittle is fully back? Even if Aiyuk settles in as the No. 3 target for the 49ers, as long as his snap share stays where it was last Sunday, he'll be worth stashing on your bench. What kind of value he'll bring will depend on just how far that target share falls.

If it falls to around that 18% range, Aiyuk will likely settle in as a boom or bust WR4. If it's closer to 22%, he has WR3 potential, but he was at 30% this past weekend, so I think it's worth holding to see how this plays out yet. Under most circumstances I wouldn't even mention this, but Samuel and Kittle haven't exactly been the definition of good health. Normally, handcuffs don't exist for pass-catchers, but when two have the injury history that Samuel and Kittle have, it's a fair point to mention.

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