Well. I did it. Had too. In two leagues in which I drafted him in the first round, I cut bait with Trent Richardson this week.
It wasn't easy, but it was probably something I should've done a few weeks ago. Still, the match-up with Tennessee on Thursday night football was too juicy. But after he ceded critical touches (and touchdowns!) to Donald Brown in that one, I knew it was time. There were critical roster spots to be filled in order to make a final push into the playoffs and, more importantly, put myself in the best position to win the tournament once I get there.
Richardson was going to help me do neither. Therefore, he had to go.
Now is the time to start cutting the dead weight from your roster. Draft position doesn't matter anymore. It's all about production.
Among the players you probably spent a high draft pick on that you might consider cutting if they are still hanging out on your roster: Darren McFadden, Lamar Miller, Matt Ryan, Mike Wallace and Steve Smith. Obviously, this all depends on whether there is someone worth cutting them for on your waiver wire, and the depth and rules of your league. For example, you're not cutting Ryan in a 10-team two-quarterback league, but in a standard 12-teamer, you can probably let him go.
If you're not sure about a player, ask yourself: Would I pick him up if he were on someone else's team and they cut him? If the answer is yes, keep him. If the answer is probably not, make the cut.
Start 'em if you got 'em
QB Mike Glennon. He doesn't get a ton of yardage, but Glennon finds the end zone every week and is pretty safe with the football. He's got an 11:4 touchdown to interception ratio on the season and gets a Detroit Lions team that is solid against the run, but allowing a lot of fantasy points through the air. I'd start him over Matt Ryan and Phillip Rivers and maybe over Eli, RG3 and even Colin Kaepernick.
QB Ben Roethlisberger. Since rumors of him being on the trade block surfaced, Big Ben has played some outstanding football. The Browns defense features a shut-down corner in Joe Haden, but they are susceptible elsewhere. And Antonio Brown is playing so well and the Steelers use him in such a way that he'll likely wriggle free from Haden a couple times. Roethlisberger is a top 10 QB this week.
RB Shane Vereen. Hurt since week 1, Vereen returned and had an immediate impact and lead the Patriots with 8 catches for 65 yards on 11 targets. He'll get a ton of work as the Patriots will be looking to keep pace with the Denver Broncos, and should get more rushing opportunities than he did against the Panthers. He's a stud in PPR leagues and a flex play at RB in standard situations. FYI, this doesn't mean to sit Stevan Ridley. He should get a good deal of work as well. While both Ridley and Vereen are listed as RBs for the purposes of fantasy, Vereen is realistically more like an H-back. The Pats have both on the field at the same time occasionally, meaning both have value.
RB Rashard Jennings. Keep rolling with this hot hand. There is no reason to think he can't thrive against the Tennessee Titans, and it seems likely Darren McFadden won't be playing again.
WR Wes Welker. Quiet in recent weeks, never count out the revenge factor when guys play their former team. Welker likely will want to and could dominate against Brady and Belichick. Of course, he's currently dealing with a concussion, so this all assumes he plays.
WR Larry Fitzgerald. Carson Palmer seems to be finding a groove and Indianapolis gives up a lot of plays. It's hard to predict, but Fitzgerald does well when he gets a lot of targets. Palmer should continue forcing the ball to him often as the Cards make a wild card push.
WR Jarrett Boykin. Remember when we thought he wouldn't produce after Aaron Rodgers got hurt and James Jones came back? He's the real deal and has chemistry with Tolzien, plus a terrific match-up this week.
TE Coby Fleener. Arizona is the worst team in the NFL defending tight ends. Patrick Peterson will likely neutralize T.Y. Hilton (see more below). And the Cards are excellent and shutting down the run (even more below). Andrew Luck has to throw to someone. Fleener's going to have a monster day.
Scale 'em back
QB Robert Griffin III. Lots of turmoil in Washington these days, and it has nothing to do with politics as usual. The Redskins might be on the verge of imploding. San Francisco has had its problems too, but that's largely to do with the team's offense. The defense is still clicking and will make life rough on RG3.
RB Donald Brown. He was a popular pick-up in recent weeks as fantasy owners (and perhaps even the Colts) have grown tired of Trent Richardson's running style of slamming into opposing defenders less than 2 yards past the line of scrimmage. But Richardson is still getting early carries and the Cardinals are formidable against fantasy RBs. I wouldn't expect the TD-heavy performance of a week ago.
RB Ray Rice. Last week against Chicago, he looked great. But Chicago is the same team that made Brandon Jacobs look great on Thursday night football a few weeks back. The New York Jets are tops against opposing running backs, so Rice should find a seat on your bench again. He does have some favorable match-ups coming his way in the fantasy playoffs, however, so hang on.
RB Chris Ivory. Running hard and grinding out yards the past few weeks, Ivory has been a nice volume back. He should get a lot of work against the Ravens, but that's kind of like running into a brick wall. Baltimore is giving up an average of just 84 yards to RBs in the past 4 games, and Ivory isn't involved in the passing game.
WR T.Y. Hilton. Even though he's technically the No. 1 WR on his team and has a ton of upside, Hilton doesn't have the tools yet find success against better corners. He'll likely be matched-up with Patrick Peterson and that's bad news.
WR Cecil Shorts. A few times this year, we've seen a wide receiver complain about his touches, which is exactly what Shorts did last week, then get fed the ball the next. While that could certainly happen here, Houston has actually been pretty good defending opposing WRs fantasy-wise, even with all the team's other problems this season.
TE Jordan Cameron. Ouch. This one pains me since I have Cameron on three of my four fantasy teams, but he just isn't having the production with Jason Campbell under center. Compounding that further is a Steelers defense that has only allowed one TE -- Rob Gronkowski -- more than 70 yards this season.
Taking a flier
QB Scott Tolzien. He may only have one week left under center for the Packers before Aaron Rodgers returns, but if you're in a pinch (perhaps you've been riding with Nick Foles?) he's been playing at a pretty solid level and gets a Minnesota Vikings team that can't stop anything. He's a terrific play in a salary cap or daily league this week.
RB Ryan Mathews. Kansas City's defense is a strong one, but their strength is attacking opposing QBs, not stopping running backs. Mathews has been running much more like a guy worthy of a first-round pick a few years ago and Danny Woodhead hasn't been getting as many touches. You could do worse, especially with top RB options like LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch on bye.
RB Monte Ball. Last week, he vultured a couple of touchdowns from Knowshon Moreno in what was, to this point, the most important game of the season for Denver. It looks like he might be taking over as the goalline back and maybe the Broncos will try to use his fresh legs down the stretch. He's worth a shot as a flex play.
WR Miles Austin. The knock on Austin is that he's frequently hurt. But when he's played, he puts up good to great numbers. He's back from his hamstring injury and the Cowboys are fresh coming off a bye and playing a key divisional game against the rival Giants. Austin has been a Giant killer over the years and could be a difference maker this week.
WR Emmanuel Sanders/Jericho Cotchery. I mentioned that Antonio Brown will likely be matched up with Joe Haden, and while I can't bring myself to tell you to bench the NFL's reception leader, I can say that I have a lot of confidence in the Steelers' other WRs. Sanders is expected to play after suffering a foot injury last week, and Cotchery has been money in the redzone. Both are WR3 material, with Cotchery getting a big time boost if Sanders can't play.
TE Delanie Walker. Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to have locked onto his tight end the past few weeks, feeding him the ball with regularity since Jake Locker went down. He has double digit fantasy points in three of the past four games and three TDs during that span, and this week faces a Raiders team that's given up a lot of points to tight ends lately. Walker has a friendly schedule the rest of the way too (@Colts, @Broncos, Cardinals and @Jaguars) and could be a top scorer at the position during the fantasy playoffs.