15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 5
"Who should I trade for?"
It's the question that fantasy analysts get asked most during the season. And my answer to it is almost always the same.
Don't simply target individual players when trying to make a trade. Target owners who would want what you have based on their needs. Treat it like a sale, where both sides win -- both sides should win.
Because, let's be honest: your trading consideration set shouldn't be narrowed down to just a handful of players, as there are a ton of usable assets in fantasy football. You limit yourself dramatically by going after just one or two guys.
When it comes to selling players, it's a bit different. You have more control -- you're the owner wanting to get rid of the player, so when you target owners (remember, you target owners, not players), you already know the asset you're trying to move. In other words, if you're trying to send off a player you no longer want, you can make a ton of different trades offers to a ton of different teams in order to get a deal done. If you're targeting just one individual player, there's only so much you can do.
So, with that being said, are you a DeAndre Hopkins owner? If so, it might be time to fire up those trade offers.
Sell DeAndre Hopkins
There was reason to be hesitant with crowning DeAndre Hopkins an elite fantasy piece entering the year. He balled out last season, sure, but he also saw his production decline a good bit down the stretch when the Texans' defense started to play like the top unit it was. From Week 1 through Week 7 a season ago, Hopkins never saw fewer than 11 targets in a single contest, averaging 14.43 looks per game. The Texans' drop-back-to-run ratio was sixth-highest in the league at that time, and the defense, per our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, ranked 23rd.
From Week 8 through the end of the year -- a timeframe where the defense jumped to 3rd overall in our rankings while the Texans became one of the most run-heavy teams in football -- Hopkins saw his per-game target numbers fall to less than 10. He was still an animal on the field, but not in the same way he was at the beginning of the year: he had just two top-10 performances (PPR) over his final eight fantasy-relevant games, failing to finish as a top-24 wide receiver three times.
He went from being a -- the -- top option in fake football to one that was more of a lower-end WR1.
Over the entire season, Hopkins saw 31.2% of Houston's targets, which is an elite number for a wide receiver. That enabled him to maintain such crazy target totals even when the Texans became more of a running squad.
Fast forward to this season, and not only are the Texans a run-first team (1.28 drop-back-to-run ratio, which is 24th highest in the NFL), but Hopkins' market share has dropped dramatically. Through four weeks, he's seen 22.9% of the team's targets, a dip of 8.3%.
This isn't because of Brock Osweiler. It's because of rookie Will Fuller. Hopkins' biggest competition for targets last year came from Cecil Shorts, who's currently struggling to get on the field, and Nate Washington, who's a free agent. This year, Fuller is getting attention, and Fuller himself actually has a higher market share than Hopkins through a quarter of the season.
We should expect Hopkins to take the lead in the target department eventually, but it would be silly to think that, with a healthy Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins is going to sniff his market share from last season. And with a run-first mentality in the Texans' offense, that's troubling.
There's also the schedule. In two of Houston's next three games, they'll face the toughest competition out there against wide receivers in the Vikings and Broncos. Yikes.
It's not as though Hopkins will be worthless moving forward, but he's not looking like the consistent elite wide receiver we grew to love last year. With Will Fuller in the picture, he'll have a tough time producing WR1 numbers in fantasy.
Add Zach Zenner
If you missed last week's 15 Transactions column, then you didn't see the Dwayne Washington love that was spewing from my body. Needless to say, his Week 4 second-quarter injury sent me into a world of endless tilting.
That injury was a sprained ankle and foot, and Washington may miss this weekend's game because of it. That means you should be firing up everyone's preseason darling, Zach Zenner, in your waiver slots this week.
Theo Riddick ended up playing 81% of Detroit's snaps thanks to Washington's injury, but Zenner did see the field, rushing 3 times for 12 yards and catching his only target for 22 more. As I said last week, Riddick isn't the stereotypical early-down back -- he's a converted college receiver, and hadn't seen more than seven carries in an NFL game until this season.
Zenner is the bigger-bodied guy who should be involved given the Lions' depleted backfield. Hopefully Washington can go, but have a backup plan if he can't.
Add Bilal Powell
It could be that Matt Forte just really likes the X-Ray room. Because there was a report Sunday that said he headed there on a cart after the game but, yesterday, Jets' coach Todd Bowles noted nothing was wrong with Forte.
Given the recent news, I considered leaving Bilal Powell off this week's list of transactions. But then I was slapped with a little reality: Is the 30-year-old Matt Forte really going to run the ball 324 times this year, the number that he's pacing towards? And maybe Bowles just didn't know about Forte's potential injury? Maybe?
Regardless, Powell should be rostered in most formats right now. Not just because he's a handcuff, but because his standalone value is starting to show a bit in the Jets' offense. New York has seen two losses in a row -- negative game scripts -- and that's resulted in 8.4 and 6.3 fantasy points, respectively, in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues for Forte over the last two weeks. Powell, meanwhile, has scored 11.1 and 14.0. That's because, when they're trailing, Powell will be on the field more -- he saw 41% of the team's snaps in Week 3 and 52% of them in Week 4.
Even if this isn't an injury for Forte, Powell should continue to be involved in the offense, especially in negative game scripts. The Jets are seven-point underdogs against Pittsburgh this weekend, so perhaps he outscores Forte once again.
Add Kenneth Dixon
Kenneth Dixon is still owned in just a little over 20% of ESPN.com leagues, so it's necessary for him to be in this column again. As I noted last week, the Ravens' backfield is a mess, and Justin Forsett was a healthy scratch for Baltimore's Week 4 game against Oakland. Terrance West threw together a nice game as a result, running the ball 21 times for 113 yards and a score. (West, though, played just 44% of Baltimore's snaps, so his usage was kind of an outlier.) The Ravens, even with that game, still rank 21st, according to our schedule-adjusted numbers, in rushing offense, though.
The rookie Dixon could return this week, and while he might be eased into the offense, he's got a lot of upside given what's currently going on in Baltimore. You probably won't want to use him this week, but he's a great, great stash moving forward.
Drop Golden Tate
This escalated quickly.
Golden Tate was drafted as early as the fourth round in July drafts, but he saw his average draft position fall with the rise of teammate Marvin Jones. Through four weeks, 79 wide receivers have more PPR fantasy points than Tate's 24.9.
What's worse is that things aren't magically going to get better. He was benched in Sunday's contest against the Bears after running the wrong route, resulting in an interception. He played just 57% of the team's snaps, which was lower than Anquan Boldin's total.
There's always a chance Tate turns things around and becomes a WR3 type, but in most leagues, he doesn't need to be rostered. You can get that type of production off the waiver wire.
Add Chris Hogan
Chris Hogan's production hasn't been much better than Golden Tate's -- he ranks 76th at wide receiver in PPR leagues thus far. But he's played no fewer than 78% of New England's snaps in a single game this year, including 93% of them in Week 4. Hogan is, for all intents and purposes, New England's number-two wide receiver.
Now the Patriots get Tom Brady back. In turn, their 0.95 drop-back-to-run ratio (lowest in the NFL) will rise (they've been above 1.40 in four of the last five seasons), which means more targets to go around in the passing game. That could benefit Hogan, especially with Rob Gronkowski not looking 100%. Add him if he's out there on your waiver wire -- who knows what type of role develops.
Sell Matt Jones
After a disappointing rookie year, Matt Jones has actually been pretty solid in 2016. He's first in the league with a 50.8% Success Rate, which measures the percentage of positive runs, via NEP, a running back gets. Anything above 40% is generally considered good at the running back position these days. So good on you, Matt Jones.
The problem I have with Jones moving forward is schedule-related. In Washington's 10 games from Week 4 through Week 15, they, per our numbers, will face four top-five rush defenses (Baltimore, Green Bay, Carolina, and Minnesota), the Bengals (9th), the Eagles twice (11th), and the Cardinals (16th). The only plus matchups Matt Jones will see through this stretch is a Week 12 contest against the Cowboys (18th) and a Week 7 game against the Lions (31st). That's enough for me to sell high.
Buy Terrelle Pryor
What Terrelle Pryor is doing right now is nothing short of awesome. Thus far, he's seen no fewer than 7 targets in a contest, and he's put together back to back 15-plus point performances in PPR leagues (31.9 in Week 3, 15.0 in Week 4). And he did the latter against a Josh Norman-led Washington secondary.
Pryor's 29.63% target market share is now fifth-highest in the NFL, ahead of players like Mike Evans and Odell Beckham. Those targets are coming from a rookie quarterback, yes, but the Browns are also winless and looking like one of the worst teams in football -- there will be negative game scripts, which means there will be throwing. With that high of a market share, that equates to a ton of volume.
And given the news surrounding Josh Gordon, that market share may not fall drastically throughout the season. Corey Coleman will return eventually, yes, but Pryor could make up for that lost share with better efficiency, as he may end up seeing number-two wide receiver coverage. Hell, he may just be the number-one wideout on Cleveland when Coleman's back from his hand injury.
It's time to accept the fact that Pryor's fantasy outlook looks pretty sweet, and that trading for him isn't a bad plan at all.
Sell Travis Benjamin
If you were to ask fantasy owners who they thought the number-one wide receiver for the Chargers was now that Keenan Allen is out for the year, I would assume the top answer would be Travis Benjamin. They may not be wrong by season's end, but that's not exactly how things look right now. Take a look at the snap percentages and targets seen by San Diego's main wide receivers since Keenan Allen's Week 1 injury.
Benjamin has actually played the lowest percentage of team snaps among the big three wideouts in San Diego, all while barely seeing more targets per game -- thanks to Sunday's 11-target contest -- than Dontrelle Inman. Tyrell Williams has been the biggest beneficiary of Allen's injury.
The Chargers have a decent matchup upcoming against Oakland, but they do face the Broncos in two of their next four games. Those could be duds for Benjamin. And if he sees any Desmond Trufant coverage against Atlanta in three weeks, that could be a tough one, as well. Perhaps now is the time to sell, knowing he's been fairly productive despite not standing out, and knowing that there may be fantasy owners out there who truly view him as the team's top target.
Add Robert Woods
Sammy Watkins is donezo, so someone has to step up and be a target hog -- or, at least, see a higher market share -- in the Bills' offense. Robert Woods has been that guy so far, as he saw 10 targets in Buffalo's win on Sunday, adding to the 8 he had the week before against Arizona. For those of you who hate math, that's 18 over the last two weeks -- the two games where Sammy's been completely sidelined. No other wide receiver has more than 10. Volume matters in fantasy football, so, quite simply, add him off your waiver wire this week.
Buy Jimmy Graham
I'm into it. I'm into this notion that Jimmy Graham is back.
Graham hasn't seen fewer than 67% of Seattle's snaps in any game this year, which is a good enough number for a relevant fantasy tight end. And, over the last two weeks, Graham has seen 17 targets -- he saw 5 over the first two weeks of the season. He's turned this volume into 213 yards and two top-12 tight end performances in both standard and PPR formats.
It's true that Graham wasn't anything special last year -- he played 11 games (not all of them healthy) in 2015 and finished as a top-12 tight end four times in PPR formats. That rate of having a usable start -- 36% -- is low-end TE1-esque.
What if that's his floor, though?
We can't ignore Graham's body of work. We know he's been an elite tight end in the past, and that upside does exist. And this is a good week to snag him in a trade -- the Seahawks are on a bye, so the owner may be more willing to give him up. That owner, too, may have another tight end already on his or her roster that's performing well. It's not as though Graham was an early-round pick.
Trading for Graham now is certainly a risky move, and it's the type of transaction I rarely make because tight end is mostly replaceable in fantasy football. It's the "what if" that's keeping me intrigued here.
Sell Michael Floyd
Michael Floyd's team snap rates by week: 95% (Great!), 80% (Not bad!), 90% (Yeah!), 46% (What?).
In Week 4's loss to the Rams, Floyd was out-snapped not just by Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown, but by Jaron Brown, as well. This coming after multiple stories were published surrounding the fact that he needed to start playing better.
All of this is alarming, especially with John Brown reemerging (he saw 16 targets in Week 4) as a top target in the Cardinals' offense.
The thing is, Floyd still saw 7 targets and scored a touchdown, salvaging his fantasy day. If you can sell him based on performance alone, feel free. Because the elements surrounding his circumstance aren't favorable at all. In truth, this Arizona Cardinals wide receiving group could just be a carousel of unpredictability week to week this season.
Add Brice Butler
With Dez Bryant out of the picture in Week 4, it wasn't Cole Beasley or Terrance Williams stepping up and leading the Cowboy receivers in targets. It was the 6'3'', 213-pound Brice Butler, who saw 9 targets from Dak Prescott compared to Williams' 6 and Beasley's 4. And it wasn't flukey, either -- Butler played 82% of Dallas' snaps, which was highest among all receivers.
The Cowboys do have some tough matchups upcoming against the Bengals, Packers, and Eagles, but as long as Bryant is off the field, Butler can be an interesting fill-in each week.
Buy Quincy Enunwa
The ambiguity surrounding Eric Decker's torn rotator cuff could help you take advantage in fantasy football. Quincy Enunwa owners may see that the injury is "week to week" and assume Enunwa will eventually fall back to his number-three role in the Jets' offense. That could happen, as a doctor on NJ.com says the injury could heal in a couple of weeks. But he also says it could take multiple months before it's better.
Even if Decker misses just a couple of more games, New York gets some juicy matchups for secondary wide receivers coming up, with a game this weekend against Pittsburgh (any type of wide receivers can beat them, especially in a negative game script), then Arizona (Brandon Marshall will draw Patrick Peterson) and Baltimore (Enunwa will see a lot of Shareece Wright). If Decker is out longer, we could see Enunwa then face Cleveland and Miami -- two beatable pass defenses -- after the nice stretch of games.
Essentially, the next five contests feature decent to great matchups for Enunwa. And even if Decker returns in between, it's not as though Enunwa has been worthless as the team's third option (he's got two top-30 performances under his belt already), so a trade for him isn't completely lost.
Add the Rams' Defense
Since Week 1, the Rams' defense has been solid from a fantasy perspective. They held the Seahawks to just three points in Week 2, scored a defensive touchdown against the Bucs in Week 3, and forced five turnovers against the Cardinals in Week 4. This week, they host a Bills' offense that ranks a mediocre 17th, according to our numbers, in a game that Vegas pegged with a 40-point over/under with the Rams as 3-point home favorites. They're out there in about 70% of ESPN.com leagues, and they make for a great play in Week 5. And potentially beyond.