15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 14
Just like you, I want to win my fantasy football leagues. And just like you, I get annoyed when players in my lineups lay eggs.
But maybe unlike you, I only really get frustrated by underperforming starters if, in hindsight, the implosion was actually predictable. If I started a wideout against a perceived struggling secondary that had just regained a couple of starters, and if that receiver was held catchless, then, yes, I'm frustrated. I'm mad at myself for not thinking through that matchup.
If I started Drew Brees at the Superdome against an improving yet porous Lions' secondary in Week 13? I'm irritated, sure, but I know, deep down, that Brees was a near-perfect play from a process standpoint. Even with the single-digit fantasy points scored result, I know that I'd make the same choice again. And again. And again.
The same goes for Colin Kaepernick.
No, you shouldn't have been nearly as confident in Kaepernick on the road against Chicago in Week 13 as you were with Brees. But Kap had a lot of things going for him -- the Bears were without Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, he had averaged 62 yards per game on the ground over the last month and a half since becoming the starter in Chip Kelly's offense, and the 49ers were favorites on the road. That's just the tip of the iceberg, too -- Kap had ranked as a QB9 or better fantasy-wise in each of his last four contests, the Bears entered the week having surrendered the 10th-most plays to opposing offenses this year, and the team's secondary, per our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) numbers, is the 12th-worst one in football.
The upside was in question given the probable low-scoring game and the snow-covered field but, overall, Kaepernick was a fine season-long play.
Sometimes things happen. Sometimes players underperform dramatically. But if you feel confident that your process was right, you can't beat yourself up over the result.
Hold Colin Kaepernick
If the 49ers come out today and say that they're going back to Blaine Gabbert, then this transaction is obviously irrelevant. But if they continue to start Kaepernick, holding onto him in fantasy football isn't a bad plan.
Starting him in Week 14 would be risky, of course, and the matchup isn't that attractive against the Jets, a team with a good front that ranks in the bottom-five in rushing yards allowed to quarterbacks this year. That could limit what Kaepernick does best in fantasy, and that's run the football.
You could use next week as sort of a test, though, because his matchup against Atlanta in Week 15 is pret-tay juicy, as the Falcons have surrendered the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. So, if you see something good for Kap in Week 14 -- if you see him back to his November self -- then you can at least know you've got a lot of upside at quarterback for your semifinal matchup.
Add Ladarius Green
It was bound to happen. It was just a matter of when.
With Sammie Coates and Markus Wheaton struggling and battling injuries, the Steelers have lacked a third receiving option in the offense all season long. Ladarius Green, who returned to action four weeks ago, might (is?) be that guy.
The Steelers have been slow to get Green involved -- he played 16% of the team's snaps in Week 10, 12% in Week 11, 26% in Week 12, and a season-high 48% this past week against the Giants. His volume through the air has been far better than his snap rates, though, as he's seen 4, 2, 3, and 11 targets, respectively, over these four weeks. To further this point, over the last four weeks, Green owns four of the top-25 target percentage rates -- that is, the percentage of snaps that result in a target (split out into games) -- among the tight end position. That's absurd.
Essentially, Green is being used heavily when he's on the field. And he's seeing the field more and more each week. In an offense that needs more pass-catchers to snag balls from one of the best quarterbacks in the league, he could help teams dramatically down the stretch.
Add Charles Sims
Charles Sims is eligible to return from IR in Week 14, but he's back and practicing with the Bucs. If he regains his old role -- which is very possible -- he could be an intriguing PPR play down the stretch (he finished as the 9th-best back in Week 3 and the 22nd-best in Week 1), as Tampa Bay will face New Orleans twice in the fantasy football playoffs (Week 14 and Week 16). If you've got room on your bench for a stash, Sims isn't a bad choice.
Drop John Brown
Reports surfaced yesterday that the Cardinals would limit Brown to roughly 20 snaps per game as they work to figure out how he can play with his sickle-cell issues, which more or less means his fantasy football season is done. He hasn't finished as a worthwhile fantasy starter since Week 8, and he isn't needed on your bench -- use it on some of the other guys on this list instead.
Add Malcolm Mitchell
The Patriots had a host of injuries offensively a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco, and it forced rookie Malcolm Mitchell to play 86% of New England's snaps. Then, in Week 12, Mitchell's snap rate fell to 47%, despite seeing a season-high (at the time) 7 targets.
This week -- without tight end Rob Gronkowski -- Mitchell's snap rate rose again to 85%, and he ended up seeing 10 targets with the Patriots using more three-wide receiver sets. Danny Amendola was injured during the game, too, and could be sidelined with a high ankle sprain. That means there's even less competition for Mitchell on the outside.
Add Ty Montgomery
The Packers continue to have a running back problem, and they went back to the Ty Montgomery well this week, as Ty Mont saw 6 rushes while playing 50% of the team's snaps. Though he didn't out-touch Christine Michael on the ground -- C-Mike had nine carries -- Montgomery did see far more snaps, with Michael on the field for just 19% of Green Bay's snaps. The backfield roulette will probably still be very real and very annoying moving forward, but don't forget that Montgomery had two top-15 PPR performances in a row before James Starks came back from an early-season injury. There's at least some interesting upside there.
Drop Wendell Smallwood
Ryan Mathews is expected to practice this week, which will make Smallwood as irrelevant as a VHS of Christmas Vacation. And, no, Smallwood isn't a good handcuff: even with his increased opportunity without Mathews over the last three weeks, he's ranked no higher than 26th in weekly PPR scoring at the running back position. As the "lead back", Smallwood played just 30% of Philadelphia's snaps in Week 13 against Cincinnati. He can find a new home on the waiver wire.
Add Justin Forsett
You may have missed it yesterday, but Justin Forsett is now a Denver Bronco. And I mean this in all sincerity -- there's a low-key chance he provides something for your fantasy teams (at least deeper-league ones) down the stretch.
Forsett already knows Kubiak's offense, thriving in it back in 2014 -- he finished as fantasy football's eighth-best running back in PPR formats that year. Though he's two years older and was on the waiver wire for a reason, the fact that he'll be able to learn things quicker -- hypothetically, at least -- is a plus.
The other thing in Forsett's favor is that Devontae Booker has been not great, Bob! Since taking over the lead back duties in Week 8, Booker has a 2.80 yards per carry average, and, on the year, he's got a Success Rate -- or the percentage of positive runs made, per our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric -- of 34.24%, which is a bottom-10 rate among 50-plus attempt backs in the league.
There's reason to believe the Broncos were actually about to use less Booker in the offense, too. Kapri Bibbs -- who's now on IR with an ankle sprain, which is why the Broncos signed Forsett in the first place -- saw five carries in the first half of Denver's Week 13 game against Jacksonville to Booker's nine. Bibbs ran the ball 49 yards on those 5 carries, while Booker finished the whole contest with 35 yards on 18 attempts.
Like I said, he hasn't been great.
Denver beat writer Mike Klis was expecting Bibbs to eventually take over the spot, but now that could be Forsett. And it's because Devontae Booker has been that bad.
Add Brandon LaFell
Without A.J. Green in the Bengals lineup (the last two weeks), Brandon LaFell has played 127 of a possible 139 snaps for the Bengals. His biggest competitor for wide receiver targets (and the guy most fantasy owners have targeted since the injury), Tyler Boyd, has played 97 snaps, good for a 30-snap difference. Though their numbers have been fairly similar -- aside from the fact that LaFell scored this past week -- LaFell being on the field should result in more overall opportunity. Boyd is still a fine add if he's out there, though, too.
Add Alfred Morris
This is another reminder to add as many high-end handcuffs to your roster as you can. There's no reason to have, I don't know, Travis Benjamin chilling on your bench as a WR6 when you know you're never going to use him -- add a strong handcuff who could become a fringe RB1 if an injury were to occur. Alfred Morris is interesting in particular, as the Cowboys could have home field locked up before the fantasy football season is over. And he, of course, would slot into a very good situation, playing with one of the most efficient passers and top offensive lines in football.
Monitor and Add the Buffalo Bills’ Defense
This is another transaction from last week, but -- breaking news -- the Bills' ownership has dropped 14.4% on ESPN.com since this time a week ago. As I said before, Buffalo has Oakland and Pittsburgh in back to back games (Weeks 13 and 14), two of the worst opponents for a fantasy defense. We saw just how tough Oakland can be this past week, as the Bills scored negative points, finishing as the worst defense in fantasy football. That'll surely lead to even more owners sending them to the waiver wire.
But once Week 15 hits, Buffalo will face Cleveland (26th-worst offense, according to our numbers) and Miami (17th). Both games are at home, too, giving them one of the best Week 15 and 16 schedules in the NFL. Add them as soon as they're dropped.
Add Vernon Davis
There's no timetable for Jordan Reed's return, which means Vernon Davis could get some run for Washington down the stretch. In Week 13's contest against the Cardinals, Davis played 98% of the team's snaps, which was the third-highest total of the week among all tight ends. He turned that into 5 catches for 47 yards on 6 targets, and while that's nothing to write home about, it did come against the best team in football at defending the position -- it was the third-best PPR performance allowed by Arizona to a tight end this year.
Add Brock Osweiler
Hopefully you're set with the quarterback position entering the playoffs, because it's brutal out there. You should be in most leagues, as there are about 20 usable passers for you to choose from each week. But if you're looking to stream, Brock Osweiler isn't the worst option in the world (OK, maybe he's close to it), as the Texans will be facing Indianapolis this week. The Colts, per our numbers, have the fourth-worst secondary in the NFL, and the game itself has a decent-enough over/under of 46.5 points.
Osweiler is coming off of his best performance of the year -- a road game against Green Bay -- and could give you 12 or 13 points to help you get by this week. Not that you should have a ton of confidence -- this is just to show that ownership is all over the place at quarterback right now, so finding a true streamer is nearly impossible. If you have someone like Andy Dalton on your waiver wire, for instance, he makes for a better option.
Add the Cincinnati Bengals’ Defense
There's a possibility that Robert Griffin III suits up for the Browns this weekend, but even if he doesn't, the Bengals are a good defensive play. Only one team (Miami) has ranked worse than 16th against the Browns in weekly defensive scoring this season, while 7 of the 12 teams Cleveland's faced have finished in the top-10 in weekly scoring. There's no better matchup for a defense in fantasy football.
Add the Detroit Lions’ Defense
Don't overlook the Lions this week, as they'll be hosting Matt Barkley and the Bears. Though Chicago has looked a lot more competent than most would think with Barkley under center, he's yet to start a game on the road this year, and he also faced San Francisco and Tennessee, two of the worst secondaries in football.
Detroit ranks third-worst against the pass, per our numbers, but they've improved dramatically of late. After Week 6, they ranked dead last with an Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play rate of 0.41, which paced to be a historical low. Today, their per-play rate is 0.25. That 0.16 difference is the same gap we've seen between the Broncos secondary and the Eagles secondary this season, for some context.
The Lions should be fine as a streaming defense this week.