15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 7
I’m not a father -- though I do run like a dad -- so I can only imagine how difficult it is to be objective when it comes to your kids. I’m sure you’d always think they’re the best at everything even if they actually suck at playing the tuba or if they’ve got the worst goals against average in their youth soccer league.
Again, I don't have kids of my own. But I do know the feeling of wanting something you love to be great.
Back in June, I wrote about Marvin Jones being the most undervalued wideout in fantasy football. Jones is currently a top-five-ish wide receiver depending on the scoring system you use, and I can tell you confidently that I've fist pumped in my living room more than 15 times as he's accumulated that fantasy total.
I'm going to be wrong all the time as a fantasy football analyst -- I freaking told you guys to avoid Kelvin Benjamin this season. But because I know I'm going to be wrong, I also want to be right.
So, with Jones specifically, this 2016 start has been hilariously awesome (I've got folks in my mentions tweeting gifs of goats anytime he makes a big play) but also needed (I've got to hit on something, right?). As a result, I've sort of fallen in love with Marvin Jones.
Cue the epic part of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You"
Marvin, you've been great to me. You've been great to us. And I'll always love you. But it's time that I put on my objectivity hat and tell you that your tuba skills -- I mean, fantasy football skills -- aren't as good as they appear.
Sell Marvin Jones
So far this year, Jones is the sixth-best wide receiver in PPR leagues and the third-best one in standard ones. He's caught 29 balls, scored 4 times, and traveled 529 yards. For anyone who got him in the middle of fantasy drafts, you've been more than pleased. To be honest, you've probably been shocked.
But there are warning signs here. (And they don't revolve around Golden Tate.)
If you own Jones, then you know the journey to being a top-five fantasy wideout hasn't been the smoothest one in the world. In fact, despite ranking so high in cumulative points scored, from a PPR standpoint, Jones has ranked in the top 10 in weekly scoring just once (41st, 11th, 1st, 34th, 28th, and 52nd). His big Week 3 game against Green Bay accounts for over 36% of his season's PPR total.
Wide receiver is volatile, so these rankings aren't entirely bad, but he's been buoyed a bit by big performances.
Jones' target market share is also falling in the offense, though. Over the last three games, we've seen his market share drop 2.82%, which may seem insignificant, but that's within an offense that's also seen injuries to pass-catching back Theo Riddick and tight end Eric Ebron.
There's also the schedule. The Lions have faced a Vontae Davis-less Colts, the Titans, a Sam Shields-less Packers, the Bears, the Eagles, and the Rams this season. The only team that ranks in the top-10 against the pass according to our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) numbers among this group is the Eagles.
Upcoming for Marvin Jones and Detroit is a fairly beatable Washington secondary -- but one with corners who could potentially take Jones out of the game -- and then Houston and Minnesota before the team's bye. Houston's been third-best in football at limiting wide receiver points per game, while Minnesota ranks second.
What this means is that Jones more than likely -- at least in the short term -- is going to regress a bit, potentially ending this stretch in WR2 territory.
Don't get me wrong: he's still a good fantasy asset to have. But if someone in your league is high on him, consider a deal.
Sell Matthew Stafford
So, I've already mentioned the schedule for the Lions, but this Matthew Stafford recommendation goes beyond that.
By looking at the last three years of data and relating yardage totals to touchdowns, Stafford is playing a little over his head. A quick glimpse at the box score shows that -- he threw 4 touchdowns with fewer than 300 yards this past week, and 3 touchdowns on 180 yards the week prior.
The truth is, if you regress his touchdown totals based on the last three years of data, he's thrown roughly five more scores than his yardage total suggests.
Now, he should be fine against Washington this week and, to be honest, Stafford's touchdown totals shouldn't be compared exactly to the norm. The Lions lack a true goal-line running back presence, so they'll have a higher pass-to-run ratio closer to the end zone.
Given his number-two fantasy ranking right now, the potential for regression, and the upcoming schedule, though, dealing Stafford for running back or wide receiver assets isn't a bad call.
Add Ty Montgomery
There are a lot of interesting dynamics going on with Ty Montgomery. As we saw in Week 6, he's the Swiss Army Knife of the Packer offense -- with James Starks sidelined and Eddie Lacy banged up, Montgomery ran the ball 3 times, lining up in the backfield on 22 of his 33 snaps. On those plays, he caught 6 passes for 52 yards. At wide receiver on Sunday, he caught 4 passes for 46 yards.
The Packers play on Thursday, and James Starks has already been ruled out (for four weeks, actually). Meanwhile, Eddie Lacy and Randall Cobb didn't practice on Monday, and neither did Davante Adams, who's battling a concussion.
Process of elimination tells us that Montgomery could see another interesting role in the Packers' Week 7 game. And that's big news considering they're huge nine-point favorites at home against Chicago.
Add Jay Ajayi
The Dolphins' ability to run the ball effectively against the Steelers might have been shocking, but it was also the first time Mike Pouncey, Laremy Tunsil, and Branden Albert were able to play together on the offensive line. Combine that with the Steelers' defensive injuries -- like to Cam Heyward and Ryan Shazier -- and it all kind of makes sense.
No player benefited from the near-perfect storm than Jay Ajayi, who ran the ball 25 times for 204 yards and a pair of scores on Sunday, despite Arian Foster's return to the lineup. Ajayi now has seen 38 of a possible 50 running back rushing attempts for Miami over the last two weeks, and given his performance on Sunday, there's a chance that he continues to be a workhorse for the Dolphins. At the very least, he'll be heavily involved.
Understand that this could go south, as Miami could go back to a massive committee system. So while Ajayi may be a top waiver claim this week, his situation isn't that ideal.
Buy Doug Martin, Add Jacquizz Rodgers
We're now over a week removed from Jacquizz Rodgers' ridiculous 30-attempt game in Carolina, and because the Bucs had a bye in Week 6, Rodgers is still available in over 70% of ESPN.com leagues. He's not a bad speculative add this week, as Doug Martin sat out Monday's practice due to his lingering hamstring injury.
If you recall -- and you should because this didn't happen 14 years ago -- Charles Sims was placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury prior to Week 5. In his two games with Martin, Sims saw a combined 13 rushes and 8 targets, good for 6.5 rushes and 4 targets per game.
Since Sims entered 2016 as the primary pass-catching back for Tampa Bay (he had 51 grabs last year), the biggest hit on Martin entering the year was that he didn't have receiving upside. That could easily change with Sims out, even if Rodgers ends up playing the backup role.
You've also got to feel prettay good about that Bucs' upcoming schedule. They'll face the 26th-ranked 49ers' rush defense (schedule-adjusted, per our numbers) in Week 7, then they get Oakland (32nd), Atlanta (23rd), and Chicago (19th). If Martin gets healthy this quick, he could go on a tear.
Add or Buy Cameron Meredith
As many of you know, Kevin White was a target hog in his four games this year prior to his season-ending injury, hauling in 36 targets in four games. That outpaced number-one receiver Alshon Jeffery by nearly three targets per contest.
Since White's injury -- and as noted in last week's 15 Transactions column -- Cameron Meredith has stepped in, seeing 27 targets (not a typo) in two games. White and Meredith's combined target total now is 63, which is just a single target below the top-ranked Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton.
No, Meredith won't average 13.5 targets per game from here on out. But there's also real evidence that this number-two role in Chicago can be for real. Like how Brian Hoyer tends to look to that side of the field, or the fact that Chicago will more than likely face negative game scripts (they rank 28th according to nERD, which measures the number of points we'd expect a team to win by against an average one on a neutral field).
If Meredith is somehow still on your waiver wire, you can confidently use your top waiver wire pick on him this week. If his owner thinks this is a complete fluke, then trade for him.
Sell Ryan Mathews
In standard scoring leagues, Ryan Mathews hasn't been all that bad, averaging RB30 numbers despite missing most of the Eagles' game against Pittsburgh. But his snap rates are super, super concerning, and they have been all season long. Mathews has actually not played more than 48% of the team's snaps in a single game this year, and he was on the field for just over 21% of them in Philly's Week 6 loss. Logically, it would make sense that he sees the field less in negative game scripts, too, which is what the Eagles could see more than we initially anticipated after their 3-0 start.
You probably won't get a ton for Mathews, but he's not someone I'd want on my fantasy team right now. (And if he's out there, Wendell Smallwood is still an interesting bench stash.)
Add Ladarius Green
Hey, remember this guy?
Ladarius Green is eligible to return from the physically unable to perform list in Week 7, just in time to not play with Ben Roethlisberger, who's out with a knee injury. The Steelers also have a bye in Week 8, so you may not be getting much from Green until Week 9 against the Ravens.
With that being said, Week 9 may be too late. The Steelers need help in the receiving game, like, yesterday, as Sammie Coates was a game-time call against Miami and Markus Wheaton sat out completely. The Steelers' tight ends -- notably Jesse James -- haven't been overly effective, either, as James has seen under 13% of the team's targets this year.
There's a chance Green is involved as early as this week, but we more than likely won't know his status until waivers are through. If your bench is deep enough, he's an interesting, high-upside add.
Add Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick's debut could've definitely gone better. He finished his day against the Bills with a -1.50 Passing NEP total, which equates to a -0.05 Passing NEP per drop back average. That's about 0.18 expected points worse than the average passer has seen this year.
From a fantasy standpoint, though, Kap gave us what we love: rushing yards. He ran the ball 8 times for 66 yards, which catapulted his fantasy total to over 18 standard fantasy points. Keep in mind, in this same Chip Kelly offense, Blaine Gabbert had seen over 34 yards per game on the ground, which essentially eliminates a turnover and a half in fantasy scoring. And Kap is certainly a better runner than Gabbert.
Week 7 is a great matchup for him, too. The Bucs rank 10th against the run and 18th against the pass according to NEP, meaning it's a team you can throw on. The game has a fairly high 47.5-point over/under as well, which gives the San Francisco offense some upside.
Buy Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall's volatility this season has been frustrating for his owners in fantasy football, there's no doubt. In PPR formats, he's finished as a weekly top-15 wide receiver twice, but he's also finished outside the top-70 twice, too.
The Jets' quarterback situation certainly isn't helping. Not only is it unclear who will even be under center this weekend for New York, but throughout the season, only six teams have a worse schedule-adjusted passing offense than New York. Ryan Fitzpatrick, per NEP, has a -0.02 Passing NEP per drop back average, which is 0.15 points off from the league's average among starters.
So why in the world should you be buying Marshall? Well, he's actually been fine without Eric Decker in the lineup so far this year, scoring twice in three games while seeing 12, 15, and 6 targets. That six-target game is no good, I know, but he also faced Patrick Peterson in the matchup.
Upcoming for New York are plus matchups against the Ravens (4th-most points allowed to wideouts this year), Browns (13th), Dolphins (8th), and Rams (7th). No matter who's under center, Marshall should be fine.
Sell Matt Jones
Jones was in this column a couple of weeks ago, and if you held onto him, now is the time to sell. He's coming off a nice performance against a good defense, but there are plenty of things to be worried about. First, both Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley were involved in the rushing attack, as Jones saw 16 of the 30 rushes out of the backfield. That market share is far lower than his 64.49% mark on the year. Jones also saw just 41% of Washington's snaps -- Chris Thompson led the backfield with a 49% snap rate.
And, as I mentioned a couple weeks back, the Washington schedule is brutal as we move forward. They handled Philadelphia and shouldn't have a ton of trouble against Detroit, sure, but they'll also get Cincinnati (14th against the run according to our schedule-adjusted numbers), a bye, Minnesota (5th), Green Bay (2nd), Dallas (7th), Arizona (13th), Philadelphia (22nd), and Carolina (4th) through Week 15. Yikes.
Drop Antonio Gates
Even if Antonio Gates isn't fully healthy, it doesn't really matter -- Hunter Henry is a clear part of this San Diego Chargers' offense. Since Gates' return in Week 5, he's been out-targeted by Henry 11 to 12, and more importantly, Gates has played 38 fewer snaps. Gates is fine still in deeper formats, but in shallow 10-team leagues, he can be safely dropped.
Buy A.J. Green
You spent a first-round pick on A.J. Green, and I'm sure you were expecting a little more, especially after his Week 1 performance against the Jets. Throughout the season, though, Green has given you four performances outside the top-20 at wide receiver -- his numbers are being boosted a bit by that Week 1 game and a third-ranked performance against Miami in Week 4.
He hasn't had it easy, though. The Cowboys -- the team he faced in Week 5 -- have been strong against top wide receivers this season, as number-one wideouts have failed to score more than Alshon Jeffery's 12 PPR points against them. And then, last week, Cincy faced New England, a team known for taking away an opposing offense's best weapon.
The reality is, Green is still in a great situation from a fantasy perspective. He's got the fourth-highest target market share in football, he's seen now fewer than eight targets in a single game, and his team's rushing offense ranks in the bottom 10 in effectiveness. The Bengals need to throw the ball, and the biggest beneficiary to that fact is A.J. Green.
Add Jack Doyle
Thanks to Dwayne Allen's ankle injury sustained on the first drive of the Colts-Texans Sunday night tilt, Jack Doyle was on the field for 89% of Indianapolis' snaps in Week 6, the highest rate he's seen all year. He ended up scoring a touchdown to go along with his 4 catches for 53 yards, making him a top-10 tight end for the week. If Allen ends up missing time, Doyle makes for a great streaming option, as about 22% of Indy's targets have been thrown at the two tight ends combined this season.
Add the Atlanta Falcons' Defense
When it comes to selecting defenses in fantasy football, it's easy to be fooled by games with highly projected over/unders. The reality is, you should be targeting home favorites against teams that turn the ball over and allow sacks.
That's what you've got in Atlanta this week.
The Falcons may be playing in a game with the highest over/under on the week's slate, but they're at home as 6.5-point favorites against a Chargers team that's tied for second in giveaways this season. San Diego's also giving up an average of 2.2 sacks per game, allowing at least 1 sack per contest. Without many strong streaming D options, Atlanta makes for a decent play.