Despite the most carefully laid draft plans, your roster will fluctuate throughout the season. But as we approach crunch time, you may not be able to afford the luxury of carrying guys you hope will eventually pan out. Time to tighten things up; you can start by kicking some of this dead weight to the curb.
Andrew Luck, Colts
Some of the shine is off Luck, who hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns in a month. To truly feel good about his fantasy prospects you’ll want a favorable matchup; closing the season with Tennessee, Cincinnati, Houston and Kansas City provides the diametric opposite.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals
Palmer wraps up the fantasy regular season with one more favorable matchup, against the Eagles in Week 13. After that it gets dicey. The Rams in Week 14 is a precursor to a brutal one-two punch in what would be your semi-finals and finals: first the Titans in Week 15, then Seattle in Week 16. No quarterback has a rougher conclusion to the fantasy slate.
Filler to consider instead: Jay Cutler/Josh McCown, Bears; Nick Foles, Eagles; Philip Rivers, Chargers.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
With Daniel Thomas out of the lineup, the temptation is rekindle the preseason hype Miller saw when the assumption was he’d be Miami’s 20-carry a game guy. Maybe he finally gets that workload, but he’ll have to get past first the Jets—no defense has allowed fewer yards to running backs—and later the Bills—only three teams have allowed fewer running back touchdowns—to do so.
Andre Brown, Giants
From hero to zero: last week Brown gets mentioned in this very column in a positive light; now it's quite the opposite. It’s been a nice run for Brown since returning from injured reserve, but in the fantasy semifinals he’ll face a Seattle defense that hasn’t allowed a running back touchdown since Week 7. If he manages to survive that, in championship week he’ll face a Lions defense that hasn’t allowed a running back rushing score or a back to top 40 yards since Week 6.
Filler to consider instead: Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals; Fred Jackson, Bills; Dennis Johnson, Texans
Marques Colston, Saints
Colston’s recent resurgence might have you thinking he’s regained fantasy favor. A date this week with Richard Sherman should scuttle that opinion—and if it doesn’t, bookending the fantasy playoffs with matchups against a Carolina secondary that’s allowed one wide receiver touchdown in the past nine games will do the trick.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars
No receiver will see more blanket coverage over the next month than Shorts. This week, to kick off the playoff stretch, Shorts will be wearing Joe Haden; he’s allowed two touchdowns all year. Houston in Week 14 offers little reprieve, though a soft matchup with the Bills awaits in Week 15 should you survive the Browns/Texans gauntlet. That sets Shorts up for a Week 16 championship battle with Alterraun Verner and a Titans’ secondary that has kept every wideout they’ve faced since Week 2 out of the end zone.
Filler to consider instead: Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs; Jacoby Jones, Ravens; Nate Burleson, Lions
Timothy Wright, Buccaneers
Wright has been a true find, both for Mike Glennon and fantasy owners alike. However, this week’s matchup with Carolina’s stout defense is the easiest on his remaining slate. Over the past five weeks the Bills, Niners, and Rams have allowed a combined 392 yards to the tight end position—barely 30 per game—and 11 combined touchdowns in 33 games.
Filler to consider instead: Delanie Walker, Titans; Scott Chandler, Bills; Garrett Graham, Texans