Fantasy Fallout of Cam Newton, Breshad Perriman, More Player Movement As NFL Teams Cut Rosters Down To 53
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Newton.
With just days before the kickoff of the 2021 NFL season, it’s a critical time of year for cuts and moves as teams pare down their rosters to 53 players.
Below, we examine seven roster moves over the past two days and how the aftermath from each could impact fantasy football.
Cam Newton, QB (Cut)
The Patriots’ decision to cut Newton and name rookie Mac Jones as their starter was the most shocking news of cut day and carries the most implications for fantasy football.
Jones, the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is a mid- to low-end QB2 at this point — pretty much on par with or slightly below where Newton would have fallen. He offers much more upside as a pure pocket passer with a strong football IQ, but he lacks the athleticism and running threat to give managers any semblance of the rushing floor Newton had.
Jones should help pass-catchers Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, James White, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor. He may decrease carries for Damien Harris but will likely increase goal line opportunities.
Michael Thomas, WR (PUP)
It should come as little surprise that Thomas was designated to the PUP list on Tuesday due to a lingering ankle injury, meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks of the season. His original timetable for return was multiple weeks into the season.
This leaves the Saints quite lean in the pass-catching department outside of Alvin Kamara. Next up on the receiver depth chart are Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway. Smith was the original heir apparent to the No. 1 spot with Thomas out, but Callaway has made a convincing case to usurp that role. The 2020 undrafted free agent had an electric performance in the Saints’ preseason Week 2 win over the Jaguars and connected with quarterback Jameis Winston on 5-of-5 targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
Tight end Adam Trautman appears to have escaped major injury after a scary moment in Week 2 of the preseason in which he was carted off the field. The 24-year-old has low-end TE2 upside with Thomas sidelined.
Former undrafted free agent Juwan Johnson is also an interesting late-round sleeper to keep an eye on. The second-year receiver-turned-tight end has dual WR/TE eligibility on most platforms and could offer deep-league flex appeal given the Saints’ lack of depth at both positions.
Breshad Perriman, WR (Cut)
Perriman was released by the Lions on Tuesday after inking a one-year deal with the team during free agency. Detroit’s wide receiver room is extremely shallow and currently consists of Tyrell Williams, Kalif Ryamond and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
The release of Perriman makes the path for St. Brown — the Lions’ 2021 fourth-round pick — to become the team’s No. 1 wideout and a late-round fantasy steal even easier.
Perriman was signed to a one-year deal by the Bears on Wednesday. He isn’t expected to be a factor for fantasy behind Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd, among others.
Chris Herndon, TE (Traded)
Herndon was dealt to the Vikings on Tuesday, a day before head coach Mike Zimmer revealed that tight end Irv Smith Jr. underwent surgery to repair a meniscus injury and is expected to miss four to five months, according to ESPN.
Smith will likely be sidelined all season which could give Herndon the opportunity to (finally) break out. The fourth-year tight end finished as TE15 in half PPR in 2018, but appeared in just one game in 2019 and finished as TE35 in 2020.
If anything, Herndon’s presence vs. Smith’s may mean more targets to go around for wideouts Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook. He is only worthy of consideration in the deepest of leagues.
Jordan Howard, RB (Cut)
Howard’s second stint with the Eagles is officially over after the former Bears running back was released on Tuesday. He began the 2020 season with the Dolphins after signing a two-year, $9.75 million deal and was released in November. The 26-year-old later signed with the Eagles, for whom he played two games and saw seven attempts for 27 yards.
Howard went unclaimed and was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad on Wednesday. For now, his absence helps the other members of the running back depth chart; namely, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell.
Travis Fulgham, WR (Cut)
Fulgham was a more shocking bubble casualty for Philadelphia. The wideout posted a strong Year 2 and finished as the Eagles’ receiving yards leader. He reeled in 38 of 67 targets for 539 yards and four touchdowns over 13 games.
The move could signal new head coach Nick Sirianni’s confidence in 2020 No. 21 overall pick Jalen Reagor and 2021 No. 10 overall pick DeVonta Smith. Reagor posted a disappointing rookie campaign, catching 31 of 54 targets for 396 yards and a touchdown over 11 games. Smith is a former Heisman Trophy winner and two-time CFP National Champion for Alabama.
Fulgham went unclaimed and was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad on Wednesday as well.
John Brown, WR (Cut)
Brown was projected to make the Raiders but was surprisingly cut on Tuesday after having requested his own release from the team per NFL’s Tom Pelissero. The 31-year-old joined the Raiders this offseason on a one-year deal during free agency. He had previously played for the Bills for two seasons, the Ravens for one season, and the Cardinals for the first four seasons of his career.
Brown’s release leaves the Raiders — who lack a true No. 1 wideout after the departure of Nelson Agholor during free agency — even leaner at receiver. Barring any additional moves before Week 1, Las Vegas will enter the season with Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow as their top three WRs.
Ruggs was a first-round pick just one year ago . He caught just 26 passes for 452 yards and two touchdowns through 13 games in his rookie season. Edwards was also drafted last season in the third round. He caught 11 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown over 12 appearances. Renfrow supassed both Ruggs and Edwards last year and reeled in 56 of 77 targets for 656 yards and two touchdowns.
All three could see more targets with Brown gone, as could star tight end Darren Waller. Waller led the team in receiving last season with 107 catches on 145 targets for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns.
Brown could be an interesting addition to a number of teams with shallow receiving corps and could be fantasy-relevant in deep leagues.