With just four weeks left in the typical fantasy regular season, your roster should be pretty firm by now. Depth isn’t as critical at this stage as it was just a few weeks ago, especially if most of your key players have already had their byes. This is the time of year when you want to cash in some of that depth to create the best possible starting lineup. It’s also the time when handcuffing finally makes sense. Early in the season, you want each individual spot on your roster to have its highest theoretical value. At this stage, you know where your bread is buttered, and you need to make sure you can continue spreading on the love. That might mean getting rid of a high-upside guy for a practical handcuff, just in case one of your key players suffers an injury. If you’re ready to make that move, feel free to get rid of any of our Week 9 Droppables.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts
Andrew Luck and the Colts pulled off a big upset at home on Sunday, dealing Peyton Manning and the Broncos their first loss of the season. Luck had arguably his best performance of the year, especially when you consider the opponent, throwing for 252 yards, 7.0 yards per attempt and two touchdowns against zero interceptions. Unfortunately for Moncrief owners, the receiver didn’t get in on much of the fun. He caught three passes for 30 yards, and had just four targets in the big win. Moncrief has just two games with at least 70 receiving yards this year, and he has really slowed down in the season’s second quarter. In his last three games, he has a total of nine catches for 82 yards. His five touchdowns are almost wholly responsible for his fantasy value, but it’s nearly impossible to keep scoring at that rate when you’re getting fewer than seven targets per game. As Moncrief’s touchdown rate continues to regress to the mean, his fantasy value will experience a parallel decline.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Saints
Spiller appeared to have a new lease on his 2015 fantasy life after Khiry Robinson fractured his leg last week. While Mark Ingram would continue to shoulder the load for the Saints, it stood to reason that Spiller’s role would increase, most notably in the passing game, with Robinson done for the year. Instead, he got all of two targets and two carries in the Saints’ 34-28 overtime loss to the Titans. Spiller was a total afterthought in the offense, while Ingram racked up 22 carries and five targets. Spiller’s ownership rate climbed back above two-thirds of all leagues after Robinson’s injury, but it should be abundantly clear that the Saints don’t have huge plans for him, despite all of Sean Payton’s protestations this year. He should only be owned in the deepest of leagues.
Washington running backs
Guys. I thought we were done with these two. We’ve been talking about it for weeks now. I thought we were all on the same page. Neither Alfred Morris nor Matt Jones is worth the headache. Why are they both still so widely owned? Morris carried the ball four times for 10 yards in Washington’s loss to New England on Sunday. It was his fourth straight game with fewer than three yards per carry. He has been north of four yards per carry once, and that was the first game of the season. Morris has 51 yards in his last four games. Todd Gurley has three individual runs that were longer than that. Jones wasn’t much better against the Patriots. He got 11 carries, but picked up just 27 yards. Since running for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries against the Rams in Week 2, Jones has 125 yards and one score on 49 carries across five games. There is nothing to like about either of these backs. I suppose there’s a glimmer of hope that Jones will completely push Morris to the sidelines, but why should anyone in the fantasy community believe that he can do much more damage, even if he has the backfield to himself? Please, for your own sanity, let these two go.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles
Matthews turned in top-20 weeks at the wide receiver position in both of the first two games of the year. Basically nothing has gone well for him since. Over the last five weeks, Matthews has rated as a WR4 or better (top 48 scores at the position) exactly once. He’s had the same number of games outside the top 80. That’s right, 81 receivers fared better than Matthews in Week 7. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that posting a WR4 week isn’t exactly something that gets the fantasy juices flowing. Since Week 2, Matthews has not turned in one starting effort for his owners. I don’t care how much potential he had coming into the season, there's simply no way he can be considered a fantasy starter in any week the rest of the season.
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers
The 49ers showed more signs of life on offense than expected in Blaine Gabbert’s first start of the year, but it’s not as though they carved up the Falcons. Boldin missed his second straight game because of a hamstring injury, but even when he returns he’s not going to be a reliable fantasy starter. Thanks to the ineptitude of the San Francisco offense, Boldin is no more than a depth receiver. There are only two weeks left in the bye-week portion of the schedule, with eight teams still looking at a break in either Week 10 or 11. In other words, the depth that is so crucial in the middle of the season isn’t nearly as important for the remainder of the fantasy calendar. Boldin won’t be the only casualty with byes in our rear view mirror, but he is a decent example of the kind of receiver you shouldn’t have to turn to as a starter if you have your entire roster available to you every week.
Photos: Andy Lyons/Getty Images (Moncrief), Jamie Squire/Getty Images (Matthews)