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It’s Just a Cut

The NFL just saw its final 53-man roster cuts for the 2012 season and as with every year there are several players in the wake of this carnage that many fans respond to with one simple word, “Really?!” We may hold certain places in our hearts for that undrafted free agent who flashed moments of brilliance at the college level or maybe it’s the veteran who has been with the with our dynasty team for several years and could be counted on for solid production or to make the right play just at the right time. Whatever the case may be, we root for these guys and when we see their names on the Friday cut list we can’t help but feel that someone, somewhere made a mistake.

The good way to look at things, however, is that all is not lost and some hope still exists for some of these players. The talent is there, but maybe it just wasn’t the right situation for them. Perhaps the position they play is filled with talent on the team they got cut from, or maybe they couldn’t play special teams, which is a clear avenue on to some NFL team’s rosters. Some of these guys may even re-appear on the same squad that just cut them down the road if injuries strike and their teams want to find someone who can quickly fill in who is familiar with their playbook. Who better than someone who has been part of the team before?

In dynasty fantasy football, owners who win are ones that take calculated risks and hold a long view of things. Already many owners are doing the same cuts the NFL are. In some cases it’s warranted, in others it’s not. Owners who were touting one player or another for how great his skill set is are now discarding that player because his situation is unfavorable. Situation is ever changing, but if a player can play, he will eventually find his way onto the field in most cases. It’s very rare that 32 people agree on any one thing, teams are the same way. Where one team might discard a player, another team might see a treasure.

We need look no further than last year to see an instance in which a player was discarded by not one, but two, NFL teams during the offseason only to catch on with a third where he flat out “blew up” and went on to be a starter, posting career highs in every category and became an integral part of his team’s success. While fantasy irrelevant prior to last year, he is now routinely drafted. The player I am talking about is Laurent Robinson.

All hope is not lost simply because one of your players was cut. Opportunities abound in the NFL; let’s take a look at where some of the roster casualties happened and where they can possibly find a home:

Tim Hightower – RB – Cut from: Washington Redskins

Hightower being cut is both a surprise and something you could see from a mile away. Hightower honestly has some issues, but what NFL player doesn’t. He has suffered from a knee injury for quite some time now after tearing an ACL last year. I’m not trying to tell the man what he should or should feel. Nor am I trying to give him career advice. However, if I were him I’d really look closely at what doctors I’m talking to, how closely I’m following their advice for recovery and finally, if continued play in the NFL is something I really want to do. If my answers to all of these are positive then this off time would be something I’d use to fully recover, refocus myself and build up my body for the rigors of an NFL career. Hightower seems to be a back that can do great in limited use and should probably seek out a team that plays to that limitation. If he can quickly get over the soreness he experienced during the preseason, other options exist here and now for him.

Possible Locations: New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins

Kahlil Bell – RB – Cut from: Chicago Bears

This one really surprised me. Bell did amazing for the Bears standing in for Matt Forte when he was injured last year, posting a rushing average of 4.3 yards per carry and catching four or more passes in every game he started. With the return of Forte and the addition of Michael Bush, Bell was not expected to see much playing time. This cut would almost be viewed as a blessing in disguise, providing him the opportunity to find a team while his performance last year is still fresh in some people’s minds. I believe Bell is very likely find himself on another team shortly and possibly in a better situation then what he left.

Possible Locations: St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins

Mike Kafka – QB – Cut from: Philadelphia Eagles

Kafka was a waiver darling in dynasty leagues much of this offseason due to his perceived position as Vick’s primary back-up. With Vince Young going unsigned by the Eagles following the 2011 season, the position seemed Kafka’s to lose. However, when Philadelphia drafted Nick Foles with their third round pick, the position was clearly in play. Foles appeared to have the upper hand during the preseason and that perception appears to have been reality with Kafka being cut by the Eagles. In very limited work, Kafka appears to be a passable, if average, NFL ready quarterback and teams with limited depth at that position may consider him.

Possible Locations: Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams

Deion Branch – WR – Cut from: New England Patriots

Branch has long been a staple on the New England Patriots roster. He has always posted just enough to stick around and provide some help to an already very potent offense, but never has produced enough to be anything other than an emergency option in fantasy football. The window for effective fantasy production is closing on Branch but he can still clearly produce if he is target more often. I fully expect Branch to land on a team this season.

Possible Locations: Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks

Josh Johnson – QB – Cut from: San Francisco 49ers

Johnson just can’t seem to catch a break despite his clear talent. When in Tampa Bay he could never displace Josh Freeman and while on the 49ers he and Colin Kaepernick fought a fierce battle for the backup quarterback slot. A strong preseason by Kaepernick appears to have put this competition to rest and Johnson couldn’t beat out Scott Tolzien for the third position, thus making him expendable. Johnson is a highly mobile quarterback with a knack for making tough plays. Johnson will clearly land somewhere.

Possible Locations: Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills

Brian Hoyer – QB – Cut from: New England Patriots

We actually added Hoyer to this article late because we figured he wouldn’t pass through waivers, but he surprisingly did. Ryan Mallett outplayed him in the preseason, but Hoyer was certainly expected to make the team as the Pats used a second round tender on him recently as a restricted free agent. Many owners were hoping to see him latch on as a possible starter as an unrestricted free agent next year, but few saw this coming. Hoyer isn’t without talent and could be a fit for a team with a need for a backup quarterback. It’s just telling that New England gave up on him and that he cleared waivers – it certainly seems the hype on him was unwarranted by the press in Boston. Perhaps a team like the Chiefs could use Hoyer since their backup situation is murky and Scott Pioli has connections with New England.

Possible Locations: Kansas City, Green Bay, Arizona

Steve Slaton – RB – Cut from: Miami Dolphins

With Lamar Miller now in town, the Dolphins had little need for Slaton. Some expected him to end up with the Redskins in a trade for Anthony Armstrong (who ended up in Miami anyway), but that didn’t come to fruition as the Redskins balked and didn’t even bother to claim him on waivers. Slaton has simply never been the same since he was injured shortly after his electric rookie season that featured 1,282 rushing yards for the Texans in 2008. While he will undoubtedly find a home somewhere, the allure of Slaton is long gone.

Possible Locations: Washington, Oakland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, NY Jets

There are also a host of players you may have been hoping to see land in a different situation, only to have them clear waivers and end up on a team’s practice squad. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, it would have been nice to see them make an active roster prior to the season. This list includes a host of rookies or young players like Dan Herron, Danny Coale, Anthony Allen, Marcus Easley, Zac Robinson, Josh Cooper, Jonathan Grimes, Jeff Fuller, Junior Hemingway, Jordan Todman, Marvin McNutt, Chris Owusu, Ricardo Lockette and Josh Portis.

Roster cuts are a painful part of every NFL season. Several players just don’t seem to fit on the team that they play for during the preseason. This doesn’t mean they can’t play or even that being cut is such a bad thing. When we all first hear the news that any given player has been released, we seem to automatically assume something is wrong – that’s an understandable, if misguided, way of looking at things. Sure, in some circumstances this may absolutely be the case, other times despite being a great player on a great team, the chemistry just isn’t right.

This time is absolutely one of the most confusing periods during and NFL season and it’s oddly rarely mentioned, probably because of the negative feelings surrounding it. If there is one bit of advice I’d like to impart to the readers of Dynasty League Football during this time of the season it would be this – if you believe in a player and feel your evaluations on him are correct then do not jump to conclusions immediately. Cutting a player as soon as an NFL team cuts that player can be extremely short-sighted.

If other owners in your league are cutting players you had interest in prior to your league’s draft, now might be the time to grab them and stash them later. Worst case you’re out a roster spot for a while and can cut that player later if nothing materializes. Best case, you could get lucky with this year’s surprise player of the year. There’s always one every year, why not be his biggest fan when no one else is?

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smudga
10 years ago

Steve Slaton?

Admin
Reply to  smudga
10 years ago

We went ahead and added a blurb about Slaton in the article. We thought he’d get claimed late on waivers and had the post completed already.

10 years ago

I didn’t see the Hoyer cut coming.

Ches
10 years ago

What about Hoyer???

Admin
Reply to  Ches
10 years ago

We had the post completed thinking he would be claimed by someone before we published it. That was crazy that he passed through waivers, too. Telling, though. We went ahead and added him to the article this morning.

Ches
Reply to  Ken Kelly
10 years ago

Thanks. I guess I’ll hold onto him for a bit.

Mercenaries
10 years ago

Another good example is Tori Gurley. He’s got good size and decent skills, but was buried on Green Bay’s depth chart. The Vikes tried to sign him away from the Pack back in January, but the Packers upped his salary to hang onto him, so they must have like something about him. The Vikings just signed Gurley to their practice squad. They aren’t exactly stacked at WR, so he could be one to stash or at least keep an eye on.

Ken Dogson
Reply to  Mercenaries
10 years ago

Gurley has ST value as well, as a punt blocker.

I think he gets promoted pretty quick in MN. If not for Boykin just blowing up in camp he’d be on the GB roster right now.

Chris Russell
10 years ago

It would be nice to compile a list of players cut only to find success later

SJ
10 years ago

Did Gaffney sign already? Id like him depending on where he landed

Admin
Reply to  SJ
10 years ago

No yet. He worked out for the Dolphins, but he and/or Branch could be brought back to NE after week one when their contracts wouldn’t be guaranteed.

SJ
Reply to  Ken Kelly
10 years ago

Thanks Ken!

Ches
10 years ago

So you mentioned Danny Coale in your article. I have him in my 24-team, 40 player-per-roster, PPR, IDP dynasty league. I am wondering if I should keep or cut? (I have DAL WR Donovan Kemp on my IR as well.)

Also, I cut McNutt a couple days ago, and picked up his teammate Damaris Johnson. Did I make the wrong move?

Reply to  Ches
10 years ago

McNutt was brought back by the Eagles on their practice squad so he could have some value down the line but Damaris Johnson is definitely the one you’d rather own between the two. McNutt will always have some value because he’s a big-bodied possession type receiver with nice hands. However, Damaris Johnson didn’t break the NCAA record for all-purpose yardage a couple of years ago by accident. He’s speedy, he’s fantastic as a kick returner, and he possesses all of the tools that the Eagles covet in their position players. Johnson is already the WR4 in Philly and showed nice repoire with QB2 Nick Foles in the preseason so his potential future fantasy impact is through the roof. Hold on to him tightly!

Also take a look at Eagles TE2 Clay Harbor if he’s available in your league. If (when?) Michael Vick were to go down, Foles also showed that he was very comfortable throwing to Harbor, especially in the red zone.

Reply to  Jeff Beran
10 years ago

*rapport

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