Who Should I Drop in Fantasy Football: 7 Proven Strategies

Oct 30
7 minutes

“Who should I drop in fantasy football?” The question lingers in the minds of almost every fantasy football player throughout the season. However, the question is a difficult one to answer. Your mind goes to a time when you dropped a player only for them to become a 20-point monster for an opponent. Or you think about when you dropped a player in favor of another who underperformed or got injured almost immediately.

While dropping a player is often a risky venture, it can also have a great upside that can propel you to the league trophy. With great risk comes great rewards, but only if you put together a strategy to drop the wrong player and add the right one. Discover who you should drop on any given week, and hopefully, make the right decision for the week(s) ahead.

What Is Dropping a Player in Fantasy Football?

Injured football player in agony in front of his grieving teammates

Before you can answer “Who should I drop in fantasy football?” you should certainly know what the term “drop” means. Dropping a player in fantasy football is the same as cutting a player from your team. However, you can’t leave that roster spot open. Not only is doing so disadvantageous, but most fantasy football leagues require you to add a player right after you drop one.

Dropping a player will require research to make a smart roster move, but also to fight a suitable replacement. Bench players are usually easier to replace, as they don’t contribute to your weekly totals. But if you need a fresh player in your starting lineup or flex spot, strategizing is a necessity that can make or break your weekly fantasy point total.

Who Should I Drop in Fantasy Football? 7 Strategies To Make the Right Moves

Philadelphia Eagles player being tackled by the Houston Texans

Deciding who to drop isn’t as simple as it sounds. There’s definitely a strategy to every roster move you make during the season. So whether you want to add a strong defense to your D/ST spot, a sure-handed receiver for your PPR league, or a running back to tally touchdowns and guide you to glory in your weekly matchup, use these strategies to drop players.

1. Look at the Matchups

Your greatest ally in figuring out who should I drop in fantasy football is the matchup of each of your players. This isn’t looking at the projections provided by your fantasy football app. It’s the opponent’s defense of each player, where their defense ranks, and any potential one-on-one matchups that could cause problems.

This is typically only a matter of thought for your mid- or low-tier players. Let’s take Kadarius Toney as an example. In the 2023 Week 1 matchup against the Lions, the Kansas City Chiefs wideout couldn’t catch a beachball. Conversely, Chiefs receiver Skyy Moore showed promise and became a strong target weeks thereafter. (Although in all honesty, the offseason and preseason don’t shed much light on in-season performance, and Week 1 is particularly a crapshoot.)

The idea is that you need to strongly consider if a player can rebound from a poor performance or if that performance is likely to lead to fewer touches or targets. You should also contemplate the secondary of a team against your receivers and tight ends, as well as the defensive line against whoever you have in the backfield.

Some players also need little to no consideration for dropping. For example, if you have a strong wide receiver like AJ Brown or a receiving tight end like Travis Kelce, they’re likely to get points no matter who they play, whether they’re up against a rebuilding Patriots defense or a hot New York Jets defense. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

2. Use Tools and Rankings To Guide You

Tools and rankings are your cheat sheet for learning who to drop and add on a weekly basis. The first stops on this journey are stat websites. Sites like ESPN and NFL.com provide team defense and offense statistics, as well as individual stats. Diving into these metrics offers insight into how a particular player might perform.

You can also use tools like Wise Guys Edge to look at team defensive rankings or the player-comparison tool to contrast the stats of up to five players. This is especially valuable if you need to fill a flex spot or your D/ST.

3. Consider Injuries

Injuries are the giant question mark throughout the year, but they’re inevitably going to happen. Players like Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Cooper Kupp, Zay Jones, and Austin Ekeler all succumbed to injuries are were listed as questionable in the first few weeks of the 2023 season.

As such, you need to keep a watchful eye over your players. If you see an O (out), D (doubtful), or Q (questionable) next to a player’s name, you need to get on your horse to find a replacement. Follow up-to-date injury reports for doubtful or questionable players and whether they practiced that week. Some might be game-time decisions, so trust your research and make moves accordingly.

4. Glance at the Waiver Wire

You’re not the only person in your league looking to add to your depth by dropping players. Free agents/waiver wire acquisitions are the lifeblood of the victorious fantasy football player, so it’s wise to keep an eye on it to avoid becoming the league cellar-dweller.

You may have to wait a day after Monday Night Football to see who your league mates drop from the roster, so enable push notifications on your phone. From there, use your matchup guidance and stats to help you decide on an adequate addition for the player you drop.

5. Plan Ahead for the Bye Week

Bengals Paul Brown Stadium empty on a bye week

The bye week can pose plenty of problems if you’re not ready for it. But if you overlooked it in your mock draft and even at your auction draft because you were too excited (or a bit tipsy), all is not lost. Even if the Rams and Ravens have a bye week that constitutes three players on your team, you can move some to the bench and drop others.

A proactive plan is ideal. A week or two before the bye week, look for sleepers, rookies, or injured players on the waiver wire who may be in top form for your bye. You’re not likely to land Jonathan Taylor or Darren Waller, but you might be lucky to snag DeAndre Hopkins or another player who’s been a bit unpredictable.

6. Look at Drops Across All Leagues

If you go to the player menu in your fantasy football app, you can see each player and how many players throughout the league dropped them on any given week. This isn’t to say you should do the same, but it certainly sheds some light on news, trends, and insights in the fantasy football ranks.

If you see tens of thousands of people drop a player, that’s a strong sign that you might want to do the same — or at least read more news about why such a mass exodus from a player occurred. Again, stick to your research. But if you’ve noticed a player went from 80% rostered to 20% in a matter of a week, it’s something that should concern you.

7. Keep Calm

One of the biggest mistakes that new and even veteran fantasy managers make is overreacting to a player’s performance — especially the top dogs like Justin Jefferson, Christian McCaffrey, or Patrick Mahomes. The truth of the matter is that performing at a high level each and every week is almost impossible, and only a handful of players can do it throughout a season, let alone a career.

Dropping a top-notch player in favor of a sleeper might be a high-risk, high-reward play, but it rarely pans out over the long term. Consider that if you drop a top-tier player, another player in your league is sure to swoop them from the waiver wire. Don’t give them that opportunity.

As the popular British World War II poster states, “Keep calm and carry on.” It might just be the guiding principle of answering “Who should I drop in fantasy football?” — whether you’re upset over your Week 1 results or mulling over your lineup in a playoff matchup.

When You Can Drop Players

Whether your league is with ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, or another organization, you can typically only drop players during a certain timeframe. Generally speaking, this period starts after Monday Night Football and lasts until the kickoff of the player’s game whom you want to drop.

For example, if you want to drop a player who’s playing on Thursday, you need to make the transaction before the kickoff of the Thursday game. If your player is suiting up on Sunday or Monday, you have a bit more time — just make sure to drop the player before the official start time of the game.

Check with your league commissioner or read the league rules to ensure you don’t miss the time frame to add and drop players on your roster.

Compare Players and Potential Matchups With Wise Guys Edge

You can work for hours on end to answer the hard-hitting question of “Who should I drop in fantasy football?” And while these strategies can point you in the right direction, you’re ultimately going to have to make a selection that’s best for your team.

Before you choose your starting lineup, use the five-player comparison tool from Wise Guys Edge. Using odds produced by Vegas sportsbooks, this tool allows you to see past performance and potential upside of up to five players on your shortlist — quickly and easily.

You may not always pick the right option — even NFL coaches don’t get it right all the time. But with a bit of homework and Wise Guys Edge, you can give yourself a fighting chance each and every week.