15 Transactions for Week 3
You’re only reading about not panicking. Sure, it’s just two weeks of a long NFL season, but at some point you’ve got to realize some of your players aren’t panning out.
For instance, look at Maurice Jones-Drew. If you own him, you have to feel at least a little on edge. His Week 1 performance was dreadful, and now, after a Week 2 full of promise, he’s sitting at home with a “loose” sprained ankle tendon. Anytime you hear the word “loose” used with an injury, it just doesn’t seem right.
Or David Wilson owners – man oh man have you had a roller coaster few weeks. You drafted him thinking he’d see 20-plus touches a week, and all you have to show for it is 14 carries and zero receptions. He’s got a negative fantasy total through two weeks, people.
You can panic. It’s only normal to panic. Just panic correctly. You don’t want to make impulsive decisions that can alter the way you play fantasy football through the end of the 2013 season. Be smart. Make educated risks. Follow the cheat sheet below.
Buy Trent Richardson
The only thing worth mentioning with the Cleveland offense has been the emergence of Jordan Cameron, and for good reason: they’ve been terrible. Brandon Weeden’s been sacked 11 times over the first two games (most in the NFL), and the only receiver worth mentioning is the 10-reception, 85-yard Davone Bess.
Trent Richardson has seen 31 attempts (tied for 14th-most in the NFL) and has only rushed for 105 yards. But the Browns get Josh Gordon back this week, a wideout who should really stretch the field and allow things to open up for Cleveland. If there’s an owner willing to get rid of Richardson at a cheap price, I’d jump on the opportunity. He’ll see volume, and that’s what you need in fantasy football.
Add DeAndre Hopkins
The rookie receiver made the most of his Andre Johnson-less opportunity on Sunday, grabbing seven receptions for 117 yards and an overtime score. He dominated without Johnson, giving a glimpse of what the Texans passing attack could look like in the near future.
He’s owned in just 67 percent of ESPN leagues, and as a number two receiver behind a stud who has missed time due to health in the past, Hopkins is a must have. In terms of receiving net expected points, a metric that looks at how many real points a player contributes for his team, Hopkins ranks ninth among all NFL receivers. He’s ahead of A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson and teammate Andre Johnson.
He’ll be a rookie pass-catcher – inconsistent at times – but Hopkins provides nice depth for your lineup. Snag him if he’s available.
Buy Chris Johnson
It should be noted, however, that Johnson hasn’t been incredibly efficient with his touches over his first two games. Of the 18 running backs with 30 or more carries, only Frank Gore has been worse in terms of rushing net expected points per attempt. In other words, among these running backs, Johnson has lost more points for the Titans than anyone not named Frank Gore.
He won’t get into the end zone much, but Chris Johnson is worthwhile given the quantity of touches he sees in the Titans offense.
Add Charles Clay
Get familiar with the hybrid Dolphins tight end, you guys. Over the first two games of the season, Charles Clay has 13 of Ryan Tannehill’s targets, accounting for 18.6 percent of the Dolphins targets. That’s 12th-best among tight ends.
Clay has caught 10 of those targets for over 160 yards, and even had a rushing yard against the Colts on Sunday. From an efficiency standpoint, Tannehill’s versatile pass-catcher is seventh-best among tight ends in receiving net expected points; he’s contributing more points for the Dolphins than the majority of NFL players at his position.
Though you’re more than likely going to stream tight ends if you’re looking for one at this point in the season, Clay is a guy that has a lot of upside in a young offense.
Sell Darren McFadden
Though Terrelle Pryor seems to open things up for DMC on offense, let’s keep in mind that McFadden has faced an Indianapolis team that can't stop much on the ground, and a Jacksonville team that may look more appropriate on a college football field.
McFadden gets Denver this weekend, a squad ranking 5th-best in rush defense efficiency according to our metrics. If there’s a time to sell the Raiders runner, it’s now. Make sure you get what you deserve in return.
Add Minnesota’s Defense
Remember how I said the Browns have given up the most sacks in the NFL? Well, this week they’ve got Minnesota, a defense that actually forced four turnovers against the Bears on Sunday. They’re the perfect streaming defense to add this week, and our fourth-best play at the D/ST lineup slot.
Buy Frank Gore
As I said, Frank Gore has been the least-efficient running back among every-down backs in terms of rushing NEP this year. But it’s not time to sell if you’re a Gore owner; have faith in the geezer.
The 49ers get the Colts this week, and that’s good news for Frank owners. The Colts have allowed a rushing touchdown in each of their first two games, and they’ve faced pretty moderate rushing attacks (Oakland and Miami). Don’t let the crazy Seattle defensive performance shadow the truth about Frank Gore: he’s still valuable in fantasy, and he’ll turn things around.
Drop Fred Davis
When I wrote about Fred Davis as a potential tight end sleeper this season, I failed to recognize the one piece that stood in his way: Jordan Reed. So far, Reed has eight catches on nine targets while Freddy has three on just six. It’s very clear that RGIII is looking Reed’s way, especially considering Reed scored a late touchdown against the Packers this week.
Another reason to drop Davis? Tight ends are plentiful. If Oprah cared about fantasy football, she’d probably have a fantasy football special where you get a tight end, you get a tight end, you get a tight end and you get a tight end! There’s no reason to hold onto a guy that’s not getting enough looks.
Sell the Chargers Passing Game
Week 1: San Diego faces a Texans defense that was average against the pass in 2012. Philip Rivers throws for fewer than 200 yards, but hits the four touchdown mark.
Week 2: San Diego faces an Eagles secondary that couldn’t stop a middle school offense. Rivers tosses the rock for 419 yards (that’s almost a quarter of a mile) and three touchdowns.
So what is it? Are the Chargers this potent through the air, or have they faced middling competition?
Can we just say a little bit of both?
Here’s the deal: Mike McCoy, as we’ve said in the past, is a quarterback whisperer. However, Philip Rivers is more than likely playing better than he will throughout the season. Yes, Eddie Royal’s been a ridiculous fantasy asset, and he’s certainly worth an add off the wire. But before you get overly excited about the Bolts’ offense, wait until they face a defense that will sincerely challenge them for 60 minutes. That could be this weekend against Tennessee.
Add Alex Smith
Andy Reid’s done a good job with Alex Smith thus far, as the ex-49ers signal-caller has managed the Chiefs offense consistently and effectively. This week he’ll see the Eagles, who have given up almost 750 yards through the air over the last two games and rank 28th in terms of defensive efficiency against the pass. Owned in just 17.5 percent of ESPN leagues, Smith is a sound play in Week 3 for teams who don’t have elite options at quarterback.
Buy Stevan Ridley
Against the Jets during a Thursday night game? Should’ve seen it coming. Ridley was a non-factor in the Patriots win, something I didn’t necessarily predict. But really, the Jets are going to be a team that stops the run effectively throughout the season, and they’ve shown that so far, ranking third in efficiency according to our advanced numbers.
Ridley has the starting job locked up, especially with the Shane Vereen injury. However, if you do buy Ridley low, keep in mind that he faces a good rush defense this week against Tampa Bay. Ridley’s buy low could be even lower next week, but because his volume may lead to a potential touchdown, Ridley should be bought now.
Sell Daryl Richardson in Standard Leagues
Richardson was a sit for us last week, and he didn’t disappoint thanks to a game that got away from the Rams early. He’s been mediocre running the football this year, capturing a -2.89 rushing NEP total. That number tells us that he’s created a near negative three-point swing for the Rams so far this year compared to a runner in a similar situation.
I’m not expecting another St. Louis back to run away with the starting gig, but would be surprised if there’s not some sort of committee between the many Rams backs moving forward. Richardson will see the most touches, and he has a lot more upside in PPR formats because he can catch the ball, but if I can get something valuable for him in a standard league (Hey there, Stevan Ridley) I’m doing it.
Drop Ben Roethlisberger
Through two games, Big Ben has just two touchdowns and 442 yards passing. Even worse, he’s captured a negative passing net expect points total, something he hasn’t come close to doing since his miserable 23-interception 2006 season.
The lack of running game and offensive line woes have forced Ben to the back of the fantasy quarterback line. Given the depth at the position, there’s no need to hold onto a guy with Ben’s upside. Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, as noted last week, will still be PPR assets, but aside from them, Pittsburgh’s offense should be avoided.
Buy DeMarco Murray
The Chiefs defense is much improved, and DeMarco Murray couldn’t get anything going against them on Sunday. But have no fear, Murray owners: a healthy DeMarco brings a smiling fantasy owner.
As I wrote in August, DeMarco is one of the most consistent fantasy running backs when he’s healthy, and it doesn’t even matter if he’s a little inefficient. Even in an awful running game, Murray had five catches for 49 yards. Unbelievable? No, but good enough to not lose your fantasy week.
Don't let his lack of efficiency scare you. In that offense, Murray doesn't have to light it up. He's not a sexy play each week, but like, say, Andre Johnson, he gets it done.
Get Rid of Mark Ingram
I say “get rid” because a simple drop may not be the best move. There are Ingram lovers out there, and some of them may be in your league.
So far this year, Ingram has 17 carries for 31 yards. On a per play basis among 10-plus attempt runners, only Isaac Redman and David Wilson have been worse efficiency-wise. And those two backs have had struggles holding onto the football.
Pierre Thomas - a guy I valued higher than Ingram entering the season - is the better fantasy option in New Orleans. If you can find someone who would take Ingram off you, trade him immediately. Ingram's the kind of throw-in player in a trade that may tip the scales in your favor.