15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 2
I don't know, guys. This whole idea of not overreacting to what happened in Week 1 doesn't always make sense to me.
It's like any new Adam Sandler movie. You start watching it and are like, "Let's just give it time, it can't be this bad if so many people are seeing it." And then it is that bad, because every new Adam Sandler movie is bad.
Sometimes you just know. Sometimes the small sample size really is enough. And, in fantasy football -- or anything, really -- if you're ahead of the curve, you're winning. Even if it means you have to stop being an ultra-conservative owner.
So while a few of this week's transactions may be shocking, it's because the attempt is to see things unfolding before everyone else does. That's how you win fantasy championships.
Sell Devonta Freeman
No, Devonta Freeman owners, it's really not.
Entering 2015, the upside with Freeman was that he was, at the very least, the pass-catching running back in what was projected to be an above-average offense. Then Tevin Coleman went down with an early-season injury, and Freeman ended up going HAM, finishing the season as fantasy football's top running back.
The thought coming into this year was that, sure, Coleman may take some of Freeman's early-down work, which is why last year's top running back was a second-round pick instead of a first-round one.
And then Week 1 happened.
Against the Buccaneers on Sunday, Freeman played 55% of the team's snaps, while Coleman was on the field for 49% of them. Freeman saw 11 rushes, while Coleman saw 8. And, even more shocking, Freeman saw 4 targets, while Coleman saw 6.
Last season, Freeman encountered fewer than 11 rushes and 4 targets in a game just twice, with one of those instances came when he left a game due to injury.
This isn't fine.
The Falcons saw a negative game script against Tampa Bay, which should've meant more Freeman. I mean, last season, Freeman saw 49 of his 73 receptions when the team was trailing. He's supposed to be the primary pass-catching back in the offense.
With Coleman in the mix, there's little chance for Freeman to reach RB1 status this season. If you can get a strong return given folks don't like to overreact after Week 1, I'm all for it.
Buy Tajae Sharpe
This exact transaction was in last week's column, but after seeing what went down in Week 1, it needs to be reiterated.
Make no mistake, guys: Tajae Sharpe is the Titans' top wide receiver. Against the Vikings on Sunday, Sharpe played 96% of the team's snaps while being targeted 11 times. No other receiver on the team hit even the 60% mark in percentage of snaps played. And Andre Johnson -- somehow on just 36% of the team's snaps -- was second on the Titans in wide receiver targets with seven.
Sharpe's potential output this season could be a lot like what we saw out of Stefon Diggs a year ago but with a little more upside. The Titans should -- should -- throw more touchdown passes than the Vikings did last year, but even if they don't, Sharpe has an opportunity to provide a really solid weekly floor for fantasy squads. That's nice to have at a volatile position.
Add Eli Rogers
If you don't know, now you know.
Eli Rogers scored a very fortunate touchdown -- one that wasn't intended for him -- for the Steelers on Monday night, but he was heavily involved in the offense, seeing the second-highest snap count among the team's wide receivers. He also was targeted seven times as the primary slot receiver, albeit against a Washington defense that can be beat down the middle versus outside.
Markus Wheaton was sidelined with an injury in Week 1, and while folks may think a return will hurt Rogers, that isn't exactly true -- a healthy Wheaton would be playing on the outside, while Rogers still has the slot role on lock. In an offense that can thrown the ball effectively during this era of three-plus wide receiver sets, Rogers will be on the field a lot this year. In many leagues, he could be considered the top waiver wire priority this week.
Sell Melvin Gordon
Check out the Chargers' offense last season with and without Allen (eight games in and out of the split), courtesy of the RotoViz Team Splits App.
|Points Per Game||Points Per Drive||Point Differential|
This all naturally translated to fantasy, too. Philip Rivers was a top option at the quarterback position through the first half of the season, but things were awful without Allen active.
|Yards/G||TD/G||FP/G||Avg Weekly Rank|
It's hard to feel confident about Rivers moving forward in fantasy, but a relatively nice schedule over the next few weeks makes him a better "hold" than a "drop". And some of the matchups he faced last season without Allen were rough.
The player you want to sell, though, is Melvin Gordon.
In Sunday's tilt against the Chiefs, Gordon scored a pair of touchdowns, which gives him an attractive line to show off to a potential owner. But even in the most positive game script imaginable (for the most part), Gordon still saw just 32% of the team's snaps, being out-snapped by Danny Woodhead, who was on the field for 69% of the team's snaps. As a result, Woodhead had two more carries and seven more targets.
Gordon wasn't much of a fantasy asset last year, and a lot of it had to do with the fact that Woodhead was the one scoring the ground touchdowns for San Diego (three scores versus zero for Gordon). When Allen was out, because the team saw more negative game scripts and fewer points scored, Woodhead's average rushing touchdowns per game went from 0.25 to 0.12, while his receiving did increase.
Woodhead's overall fantasy production dropped, but much of it was because of what he missed in the ground game. In other words, Woodhead should still have a decent role in the receiving game, making the Allen thing an irrelevant knock on his overall value. But Gordon will more than likely see far fewer scoring opportunities and positive game scripts, which is going to hurt him a whole lot.
Add Tyrell Williams
Some folks are benefiting from the Keenan Allen injury, to be fair. One of them is Tyrell Williams, who could take over as the number-two wideout in San Diego's offense.
As of now, it looks like Dontrelle Inman is the dude, as he played 80% of the team's snaps this past weekend versus Williams' 60%. But Inman's had this sort of opportunity in the past -- Allen was out last year, Inman saw just two top-24 (WR2 or better) performances in PPR leagues.
Williams and Inman have pretty similar measurables, but I'll lean with the ambiguous upside here and say Williams is the guy you want off the waiver wire. We shouldn't expect close to Keenan Allen production, though.
Buy Darren Sproles
Darren Sproles didn't come through with a huge Week 1, but there are a lot of positives about his performance.
First, we know Sproles has more upside as a receiver versus being a traditional pure runner. Against the Browns, the Eagles had a positive game script throughout the entire game, so there was a higher need to use running back Ryan Mathews.
Even still, Sproles saw 49% of the team's snaps while Mathews saw 48%. Mathews just happened to touch the rock on 60% of his plays, while Sproles was at a measly 11%. Again, because of the game flow of the contest.
After the Bears this week, the Eagles will face the Steelers (at home), Lions (road), and Redskins (road), all games where they're more than likely to be underdogs. That means Sproles could be featured more, resulting in nice PPR stat lines.
Add Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco made it in this column last week, not because of his Week 1 matchup against the Bills, but because of his schedule after that contest was over.
The Ravens travel to Cleveland in Week 2, where they'll face a Robert Griffin III-less Browns. They're currently 7-point favorites with a 25-point implied team total in that contest.
Then Baltimore will face Jacksonville and Oakland, two squads who should be fairly porous against the pass this year. At the very least, the games have a chance to be high scoring, which is great from a fantasy quarterback perspective.
Flacco was a fringe QB1 last season when he was healthy, producing five top-12, QB1 performances in 10 games. With a pass-friendly Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator, there's reason to believe he can be a really nice streaming signal-caller over this early-season stretch.
Sell Adrian Peterson
No one should be overly optimistic about Adrian Peterson and the Vikings offense after Week 1, even if Shaun Hill isn't under center in Week 2. Peterson ended with just 31 yards rushing on 19 attempts, totaling a -5.73 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) total. That's good (bad) for a -0.31 Rushing NEP per rush rate, which is over 10 times worse than the average running back rate last season (-0.03). And this was against a Titans rush defense that ranked very average (13th) entering the season according to our numbers.
Peterson also played 60% of the snaps, which isn't elite by any means -- 16 running backs had a higher percentage of snaps played entering the Monday night contests. And that's because Jerick McKinnon handled passing down duties, which we knew would happen going into the season.
Knowing all of this, if you take a look at the Vikings' upcoming schedule -- specifically the next four games -- you can't feel very good about Peterson's outlook. The Vikings face Green Bay next week, where they're 2.5-point underdogs in what's projected to be a fairly low-scoring game, which means touchdown opportunities may not be there all while McKinnon will continue to see the field. The Packers are also coming off a performance where they held T.J. Yeldon to 39 yards on 21 rushes.
The Vikings will then face the Panthers in Week 3 in Carolina, which is another negative game script waiting to happen against an elite front seven. In Week 4, they host the Giants, a team that looks revamped on the defensive line, especially after holding Ezekiel Elliott to a modest 51 yards on 20 touches in Week 1.
To close out the four-game stretch, the Vikings will face the Texans -- a probable top-10 defense this year -- in Minnesota.
There's a legitimate chance Peterson struggles in each of these matchups. Don't be afraid to sell him now if you can get a reasonable return.
Add Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell
Chris Hogan is owned in 40% of ESPN.com leagues, so this transaction may only cater to 10- or 12-teamers. But he's an important player to roster -- only Julian Edelman played a higher percentage of New England's snaps against Arizona, while Hogan was targeted four times and saw a long touchdown.
If you want a little more upside, I'm also into adding Malcolm Mitchell. He's a strong route-running 24-year-old rookie who can make explosive plays, with a top physical comparable being Sammy Watkins. Mitchell saw some action in Week 1, playing 55% of New England's snaps. With a fairly shallow wide receiver group, there's a lot to like about his overall situation.
Hold Dez Bryant
Look, the splits are scary. Over Dez Bryant's career with Tony Romo under center, he's averaged 0.74 touchdowns and nearly 17 PPR fantasy points per game. Without Romo (and excluding yesterday's performance), those numbers fall to 0.50 and 11.69.
Sunday didn't make things any better, as Bryant ended the Romo-less game with just one catch on five targets.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw the ball 45 times, and nearly 58% of those passes went in the direction of Jason Witten (14 targets) and Cole Beasley (12). But that makes sense -- if there's an area to attack against this year's Giants defense, it's the middle of the field. That, along with good cornerback play, could really explain the lack of Bryant use.
A different defense could bring better results for one of the most powerful wideouts in the NFL. It may not happen Week 2 against a tough Washington secondary, but after seeing Josh Norman and company, the Cowboys face Chicago and San Francisco, two very beatable teams. Don't sell Dez just yet.
Buy Eric Ebron
There was some uncertainty surrounding Eric Ebron entering the season, but Week 1 should shove most of the negativity aside.
Ebron ended up playing 92% of Detroit's snaps, resulting in five targets and a touchdown. The volume wasn't necessarily there considering quarterback Matthew Stafford threw the ball 39 times, but the snap percentage is a really positive sign that Ebron's role in the offense will be real this year. Especially close to the red zone, where the Lions lack true big-bodied receiving threats.
You can find Ebron on a lot of waiver wires still, but if someone owns him in your league, send them a low-ball offer and see if they bite.
Add Travaris Cadet
In 2015, Mark Ingram saw at least two targets in all 12 games that he played, tallying three or more in 11 of them.
In Week 1, Drew Brees looked Ingram's way just twice.
The thing is, Ingram didn't have real competition for targets last year at the running back position. It was hopeful that C.J. Spiller would become a thing, but that never came to fruition.
But if you recall, Ingram wasn't much of a pass-catcher prior to 2015. He averaged five targets per game last year, but in 2014, that number was 2.77. And during the first three years of his NFL career, Ingram caught a combined 24 passes.
This year, Travaris Cadet might -- and I stress "might" -- get in the way of Ingram. He saw seven targets on Sunday, and while he wasn't efficient with them (3 catches for 14 yards), he did score a touchdown. Cadet also played 38% of the team's snaps, which is just shy of Ingram's 42% mark.
I wouldn't aggressively go after Cadet in a standard league, but in points per reception (PPR) formats, he's worth a look.
Sell Theo Riddick
First and foremost, Theo Riddick should be involved in the Lions offense this year. Don't take this as me hating the dude in fantasy this season, because that's not the case. I just think there's a possibility that we just witnessed his best game of the season.
Riddick ended up seeing a career-high seven carries to go along with five targets through the air. Those 12 touches converted to 27.8 PPR points, a top-five performance at the position for the week.
Riddick was out for part of the game due to a potential concussion, but, regardless, he played just 37% of the team's snaps. That means he was either targeted or ran the football on half of the plays he was on the field, which is a top-10 number for a running back. That's not sustainable for a scatback.
Again, it's not as though Riddick is in store for a bad season. Send a feeler out, though -- you might get something nice in return given his huge Week 1 performance and likely regression.
Add Dennis Pitta
One of my favorite under-the-radar adds this week is Dennis Pitta, who played as the primary tight end in Marc Trestman's pass-friendly offense in Week 1. Pitta was on the field for 82% of Baltimore's snaps, while Crockett Gillmore saw 44%. In turn, Pitta saw four targets while Gillmore saw just one.
In an offense that has no go-to pass-catcher, Pitta's a nice speculative add in deeper formats, and he's got a good matchup this week against Cleveland.
Add the Baltimore Defense
Speaking of that good matchup, the Ravens' defense makes for a great streaming play, especially after their performance against Buffalo in Week 1, where they held the Bills to just seven points. They'll be in Cleveland where they're early seven-point favorites. Yes, please.