It was going great, and I felt like a genius. 5 yards. 8 yards. 24 yards.
They were in the red zone, and Mike James had 37 yards on the first drive of the game on Monday Night Football. He was my main man last night, appearing in a handful of my fantasy football lineups, including daily league ones.
And then I felt a feeling that I hadn’t felt since the series finale of Dexter. Mike James went down with an ankle injury and was carted off the field. I was sad, non-James owners were fortunate and Dexter was still a lumberjack.
Disappointing is an understatement. But part of the beauty of fantasy football is that there are thousands of others there to commiserate with you. After tweeting about my misfortunes, I saw that dozens of others shared my pain. It reminded me that as bad as your beat seems, there’s always one that’s worse.
Especially the guy in the 24-team league who faced Bobby Rainey.
This is fantasy football, and this is why we love it so much. You could love it even more if you follow these 15 transactions for Week 11, too.
Bench Ray Rice
This should have been done last week when I mentioned to hold him, but it’s become clear that the Ravens have major issues with their offensive line and running game.
Guys, Ray Rice is now officially the least desirable running back in the NFL. Perhaps not as a player, but combining his efforts with that of the Ravens’ offensive line, Rice owns the worst Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) total in the entire NFL.
Yes, it’s worse than Willis McGahee’s.
The one thing that could be in Rice’s favor is his schedule. According to our analytics, they face four teams in their final seven contests that rank 20th or worse in rush defense, which is adjusted for strength of schedule. The other contests are against the Jets (2nd), Lions (5th) and Bengals (6th).
Even still, I wouldn’t target Rice in a trade, nor would I be starting him in my fantasy lineup. He’s not droppable for obvious reasons, but he’s certainly a player to avoid as much as humanly possible.
Add Case Keenum
Alright, so here’s the deal. Keenum’s been fantasy fantastic, throwing three touchdowns in each of the last two contests, including last week against a very tough Cardinals defense. From a Passing Net Expected points standpoint, Keenum’s per pass efficiency has been positive, and ranks 14th-best in the league among qualified passers.
But the one warning I have with Case has to do with his Pass Success Rate. This number shows us how many of his passes were deemed to make a positive impact on his Net Expected Points total. In Case’s case (so bad), he has a Pass Success Rate of 45.05%, meaning less than half of his passes have contributed positively towards his NEP. That’s good for 23rd in the league.
This difference – 14th in passing efficiency and 23rd in Success Rate – tells me that he’s benefited from the big play. And when you rely on that, there’s a good chance for weekly fluctuation.
That being said, Keenum’s worth an add (owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN.com leagues) for a couple of reasons. First, there’s a chance that this is just who he is. He could be a roller coaster quarterback who comes out on top in each contest he’s in. And that’s a plus for fantasy owners.
Second, the Texans schedule is easier than beating World 1 in Super Mario Bros. 3. They face the Jaguars in two of their next four games, the Raiders next week, the Colts in Week 15 and the Broncos in Week 16. Each of those teams are in the bottom 11 in adjusted pass defense.
I’m expecting Keenum to be serviceable, and he’s needed for a quarterback-depleted team. Just don’t think he’s going to perform at a high-end QB1 level from here on out due to his lack of consistency during games.
Add Shane Vereen
Use this as a friendly reminder that Shane Vereen is returning to action this week, and should be added in almost all leagues. He’s probably available in shallower ones, and especially if it’s PPR, he should be rostered.
As I noted a few weeks back, a big reason Tom Brady hasn’t been Tom Brady (Pittsburgh game aside) is because of the lack of receiving weapons in the backfield. Essentially, Patriot running backs are 55 percent less productive than they were last season. While this could be a big Danny Woodhead result, Shane Vereen will certainly help.
Add him if he’s available, and watch Brady rely on him down the stretch. I wouldn’t be very high on him this week coming off an injury against the league’s best defense outside of Kansas City though.
Sell Tavon Austin
No, you probably don’t own him in a redraft league, but if you do, I’d look to sell, sell, sell. Tavon caught two passes in Week 10, and ended up as the top wide receiver option in fantasy thanks to a couple of big plays and a punt return. Congrats if you started him, but not really – that’s an instance where luck was in your favor.
That brings Austin to 15 receptions since Week 4.
It’s fine to be a believer that the Rams are going to try to get him the ball more as they approach the end of the season, so adding him as an upside bench player makes sense. But don’t go dropping someone who’s seeing consistent game action, and definitely don’t go out there looking to trade for him. Chances are, this is an extreme outlier.
Add Mark Ingram
Like Austin, I’m not necessarily expecting Ingram to all of a sudden be a full-blown fantasy stud. However, he’s worth an exploratory add given the way he ran on Sunday night. He looked like the Mark Ingram that the Saints thought they had originally drafted a few years ago.
Game flow was big for Ingram’s role in that game too, as the Saints pounded the ball after going up big. He finished the contest with 14 carries to Pierre Thomas’ 17.
Ingram’s been the less-effective back of the two, and I mentioned this in depth at the beginning of the season. In terms of Rushing NEP, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory (who was running in New Orleans over the last two seasons) ranked in the top-15 out of 80 qualified rushers over the last two seasons. Mark Ingram, in the same system, came in as the 28th- and 45th-ranked running back.
Runners can thrive in that offense because of Drew Brees, but don’t get overly excited about Ingram just yet. Add him though because there’s always a chance.
Sell DeAngelo Williams
What’s a 15 Transactions column without a DeAngelo Williams mention?
He got a touchdown this week – just his second of the season – which is great, but he also received just eight carries. Jonathan Stewart saw 13, and Mike Tolbert saw two. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got ourselves a full-blown, classic Carolina Panthers running back-by-committee.
Because of DeAngelo’s touchdown, you may be able to sell him at a decent price. I’d jump on a deal to get another low-end RB2.
Add Riley Cooper
Cooper made an appearance in this column last week, and he continues to be a big-play wideout for flawless Foles. We'll have more on Cooper on the site this week, so stay tuned. For now, he's most definitely worth a roster spot considering his production with Foles under center, and the Eagles favorable schedule down the stretch.
Sell Jarrett Boykin
After leading the Packers in targets (13) against Philadelphia and catching eight of them for 112 yards, I’d be looking to shop Boykin. Use their upcoming schedule (Giants and Vikings) as an additional reason for your trading partner to buy, too.
With James Jones not necessarily to 100 percent health and Jordy Nelson present in the passing game, it’s tough to put a lot of faith in a third wideout who is only getting a shot due to an injured Randall Cobb. He’s performed well, but with Scott Tolzien under center, I’m not convinced he’s anything more than a high-end WR3. Try to get a WR2 for him now.
Bench Trent Richardson
Last week was it – it was the game for T-Rich to come through big for patient fantasy owners. It was his time to get into the end zone. But nothing – he gave you nothing.
The game moved in a way that not a lot predicted, so it forced the Colts to run Richardson just five times. But even with those five rushes, the ex-Brown gained only two yards. It’s just another sign that this isn’t an ideal fit…yet.
Donald Brown has been the superior back in that system despite a two-carry, -1-yard performance. When that’s the case, you know you’ve got issues.
This season, Richardson has a Rushing NEP per Rush of -0.16, ranking 58th of 70 30-plus attempt running backs in the NFL. Donald Brown, on the other hand, has a Rush NEP/R of 0.10, ranking 7th of 70.
Richardson’s situation is similar to Ray Rice’s. Until he shows you something, he can’t be trusted.
Add Ryan Fitzpatrick
With Jake Locker done for the year, it’s time to lean on good ol’ bearded Ryan Fitzpatrick.
I wrote yesterday about quarterback effectiveness running the football, and I think Fitzpatrick could fall into this category of mediocre passers succeeding in fantasy due to rushing. In two of his three games where he played a significant portion of the game, Fitzpatrick scored a rushing touchdown. And in all three of those contests, the smartest man on the gridiron (he went to Harvard) had 96 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
Fitzpatrick hasn’t been bad throwing the ball at all, either, coming in with a better per pass expected point value than teammate and starter Jake Locker, and one that’s identical to Case Keenum. In fact, Fitzpatrick’s success rate is right in line with Keenum’s as well, showing that he’s a similar type of quarterback production-wise.
But the rushing statistics make him extremely attractive in pretend pigskin, especially when you consider the Titans upcoming schedule. They get the Colts twice, the Raiders and the Broncos over the next four weeks. None of those matchups should frighten you.
Fitzpatrick, at the very least, has become a solid quarterback streaming option. In deeper leagues, I’m fine with adding him given the quarterback carousel in 2013’s NFL.
Add or Buy Andre Brown
Andre Brown was the most efficient runner in the NFL last year, and that production continued with his return in Week 10. Though Tom Coughlin didn’t plan to use Brown much – or so we were told – he relied on him heavily after Peyton Hillis fumbled away his chances. You know how Coughlin works.
Brown stepped up and rushed 30 times for 115 yards and a score. A great outing for those who stashed him away, and even if owners didn’t start him, it was a glimpse of what could come.
The Giants will face Green Bay (17th against the rush), Dallas (26th), Washington (25th) and San Diego (32nd) over their next four games. If you don’t own Andre Brown and he’s on your wire – which he shouldn’t be if you’ve read this column in the past – it’s time to spend your number one waiver priority on him.
Hold Marques Colston
Colston’s a tease. His seven-reception, 107-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Cowboys gave him a standard league scoring total of 16.7 this week. That’s more than his last five weeks combined.
If anything, this game showed that he’s not completely irrelevant in fantasy. The Cowboys did a good job taking Jimmy Graham out of the game, and it should be noted that Graham also saw just 33 snaps as he eases back into action. That, more than likely, forced the Saints to throw Colston’s way.
The fact of the matter is that Colston looks slower and isn’t seeing the volume that he has in the past. He's not back to his old self just yet.
Add Bobby Rainey, Brian Leonard
With Mike James out, Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard are expected to share time in the backfield for the Bucs. It’s not an ideal fantasy situation for fake footballers, but given the scarcity at running back, both players are rosterable in leagues with 12 or more teams.
I’d say that Rainey has more upside than Leonard, as the latter’s been a career third-down back with little volume. Rainey’s at least got potential, and showed some of it in the Bucs first win against the Dolphins.
Buy Keenan Allen
It’s no secret that Keenan Allen’s been a favorite of mine this year – I’ve been writing about him in this column nearly every week since Week 3. My love hasn’t changed despite his poor output in a glorious matchup, and I think this could be an opportunity to buy him a little low.
The rookie has been fantastic, coming in with a Target NEP rank of 20 out of 50 qualified receivers. For those of you who are unaware, the Target NEP metric looks at how many expected points a receiver is adding on all targets. Therefore, catch rate is factored in.
He’s playing like Eric Decker from a production standpoint. And considering Allen can do it all – he’s a crisp route runner that can catch a deep pass as well as the quick ones – that ranking is very favorable.
The Chargers do get the Chiefs in a couple of weeks, but outside of that contest, none of their opponents are difficult against wide receivers. Allen is the top option for quarterback Philip Rivers, and I don’t expect that to change down the stretch.
Add the Bills Defense
Prior to their big win against New Orleans, the previous three fantasy defenses that faced the Jets scored 11, 11 and 23 standard fantasy points. Geno Smith is a turnover machine, and fantasy football D/ST’s love it.
The Bills get the Jets this week in Buffalo. They’re not a spectacular defensive squad - the 15th-best defensive unit in the league according to our Power Rankings - but you don’t necessarily have to be tough defensively to be effective against the Jets. They also have yet to give you a minus score in fantasy all season long, which is always a plus.
Buffalo's a great defensive streaming option for Week 11.