The first week of the NFL season is in the books, and there’s a lot to unpack from the sixteen games this week. That also means that we have to make our first waiver pickups of the 2022 fantasy football season. While everyone loves to focus on who you should add to your fantasy football rosters (all shade to Waleed Ismail and his great weekly articles), I help you figure out the hard part: which one of your little baby birds are you kicking out of the nest? Let’s take a look at some cut candidates for each position. To make this list, I looked exclusively at players rostered in more than 50% of Yahoo! leagues. Mike Gesicki felt like a shoo-in for this list, but he is on just 42% of rosters, so the people got the message.
With that in mind, every roster and situation is different, and these are merely suggestions for players that you could potentially drop to make some room for new hotnesses in week two.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (93% rostered)
This one is pretty easy to nix in one-quarterback leagues. Prescott injured his hand in the second half of Sunday Night Football and is looking to miss at least six weeks with the injury. Before that happened, the Cowboys looked dreadful against Tampa Bay, with Prescott completing just about 50% of his 29 passes for 134 yards, zero touchdowns, and a pick. So, when he comes back, there’s no guarantee things will go well for him. Considering his ETA is around Thanksgiving, you can cut bait on Dak in shallower 1QB leagues and find someone else.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (63% rostered)
The Dolphins seem to have actualized their game plan in week one, and it’s slowing the clock down as much as humanly possible while giving Tyreek Hill the ball as much as possible. It’s a delicate balance, but that leads to a lot of long drives that end in some real slobber knocker games, and games where Tua Tagovailoa isn’t asked to do a whole heck of a lot.
Miami had Tua throw the ball 33 times, leading to 23 receptions for 270 yards and only one touchdown. Those aren’t bad numbers but it was only good enough for QB19 on a week where he outscored fantasy quarterbacks with more upside who were destroyed by the situation (Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Trey Lance & Justin Fields). Tua should get some starts this season, but he gets Baltimore and Buffalo in the next two weeks. I wouldn’t start Tua there, so back to the waiver wire, he goes.
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (62% rostered)
I watched this game right before I made this list of players and Trevor Lawrence did very little to inspire me into keeping him away from it. He played the Commanders, threw the ball 42 times, and managed to end the day with 275 yards, a touchdown, a pick, and 13.4 fantasy points. He was QB23 on the week as of writing this, and I wrote this before Monday Night Football, which means that he’s likely to finish as QB24, at best. Lawrence, like Tua, was a “pick him up and see what you have” play in week one, and it turns out what you have isn’t all that exciting.
Kadarius Toney, New York Giants (72% rostered)
I’m not entirely sure what the Giants are doing with Toney, and if I had my druthers, I would hang onto him. But, this is helping you to make the tough decisions. He played seven snaps against the Titans, which likely means he’s nursing some injury. He also looked really good on the touches he had on those snaps, which also means that he was likely getting limited by something that wasn’t his play. It’s a weird scene in New York, and ideally, I’m hanging onto Toney, but I understand hitting that jettison button if you have to. Personally, if I have one of the guys below, they’re getting the airlock far before Toney.
George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers (70% rostered)
George Pickens ran plenty of routes on Sunday, running a route on 39-of-41 Mitchell Trubisky dropbacks, but he still ranked third on the team in routes run, the Steelers just pass out of a lot of three wide receiver sets, as it’s their default formation (11 personnel: 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB). Unfortunately, he was third in routes run out of the four guys who played all game, and he was dead last in targets, behind Diontae Johnson’s 12, Pat Freiermuth’s 10, and Chase Claypool’s 6 targets. Pickens was far down the pecking order, behind the established veterans on this squad. You can stash him to see how the offense looks post-Najee Harris, but given that the Steelers averaged 4.4 yards per play, and averaged a play every 44 seconds when on offense, I don’t think there’s a lot of upside to hanging onto the fourth target in a grind-it-out and slow-it-down offense.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins (52% rostered)
To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t really want any of the Patriots’ offense if I can help it. But, Parker, mysteriously, sits above 50% rostership, so he qualifies for the article. He played 100% of the Pats’ snaps on Sunday but garnered just two targets. The offense is set up to start spiraling the drain, especially if quarterback Mac Jones misses any time with his back issue. You can go ahead and move on from Parker, who isn’t likely to break out with the offense looking like warmed-over garbage with their starting quarterback, especially considering that they are likely to move on to their backup, at least in the short term.
Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers (97% rostered)
Elijah Mitchell notched the fifth injury of his career (sixth if you count the offseason surgery that caused him to miss camp), spraining his MCL in the 49ers’ opening weekend loss to the Chicago Bears in horrid conditions in Soldier Field. He’s set to miss two months, and the 49ers’ strength and conditioning staff is dreadful at managing soft tissue injuries, meaning that his near-Thanksgiving ETA is a best-case scenario. He was playing well in the muck before getting hurt (six carries for 41 yards), but you can shuffle him off your roster if you need the space.
Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (61% rostered)
Alexander Mattison had 8 carries in the Vikings’ week one game against the Packers, which means that he got just enough carries to thoroughly annoy people who believe in Dalvin Cook, and not enough to make any meaningful difference in his prospects for fantasy football managers. This is where Alexander Mattison generally tops out in Minnesota, without a Dalvin Cook injury. If you are in a real roster bind, trade him to the Cook manager in a two-for-one to upgrade at a position. Otherwise, just sever.
Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins (56% rostered)
Mostert is the clear 1B in Miami, so if you feel like Chase Edmonds is going to suffer some sort of catastrophic injury at some point in the near future, then go ahead and hang onto Mostert. But, he played 42% of snaps, and had 6 touches in the game, while Miami was winning. Conversely, they gave Chase Edmonds 63% of the snaps, and he finished with 16 touches. Mostert is nothing but a Chase Edmonds handcuff at this point, and that seems like a medium-low-level handcuff to have.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (72% rostered)
People rushed out to get David Njoku in their fantasy football drafts. After all, who doesn’t want to get a piece of this high-flying Cleveland Browns offense behind offensive juggernaut Jacoby Brissett? He played 89% of the snaps, and ran routes on 30-of-38 dropbacks for Jacoby Brissett, but had just one target for one catch for seven yards. Of what use are routes if you don’t even get a second target? The Panthers aren’t particularly adept at stopping tight ends, so that tells me that this offense might be what is stopping Njoku. Of course, since I said that, he will beat up on the Jets next week. There’s no “alpha” in this offense, so you can just keep rolling Njoku if you want, but you’re coming dangerously close to “touchdown or bust” territory.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots (69% rostered)
I don’t want any part of the New England Patriots if I can help it. That includes Hunter Henry, the quintessential fantasy football TE10 when all is said and done. That’s well and good when you need someone to plug in, but it’s week two, and that means we want to go hunting for difference makers at tight end. Hunter Henry has never really been that and has been more of a steady calming presence. Again, that’s something we can go out and find later. Right now, we’re trying to turn up to the club, not stay home with a warm cup of herbal tea. Renfrow had three targets for two catches and 20 yards, while futilely playing 77% of the snaps for the Patriots. Better days aren’t ahead for this offense, which trickles down to Henry, who can easily make his way down to your waiver wire.
Irv Smith, Jr., Minnesota Vikings (57% rostered)
Irv Smith was always a blob tight end, and not one we were particularly fond of around these parts. That means that he’s the first to go. Sorry, Irv, it’s not us, it’s you. The Vikings played Irv just 31% of the time on Sunday against the Packers, and he didn’t get a single target. To quote our former president: bye-bye!