15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 7
Maybe 2015 was this bad? Maybe? But I don't remember it being this bad.
Injuries are crushing the NFL right now. And they're crushing your fantasy teams, as well.
Those are just some the marquee names. Julian Edelman's out for the year, Danny Woodhead's sidelined for a handful more weeks, Charles Clay's out after starting the season off hot, Stefon Diggs can't seem to get right, and Emmanuel Sanders left the Broncos' Sunday night game with a gruesome injury of his own.
Aside from being soul-crushing, these players getting hurt have allowed others to step in and, at times, give us some very surprising performances. Perhaps none more shocking than what we saw from Adrian Peterson on Sunday.
Hold or Sell Adrian Peterson
Peterson's Week 6 performance was legit. He ended up seeing 74% of Arizona's snaps, he carried the ball on 26 of a possible 29 running back carries in the offense, and he had a Success Rate (percentage of positive expected point runs by our Net Expected Points model) of 50%. He looked like the 2012 version of himself.
Let's put this into context, though. The Buccaneers have been banged up a bit on the defensive side all season long, and linebacker Kwon Alexander missed Sunday's game against the Cardinals. As did Jameis Winston after being knocked out of the contest with just a little over nine minutes to go in the first quarter. That allowed for a nice positive script for the Cardinals that won't be a lock moving forward.
The Cardinals also matched up very well against the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay's had a tough time getting to the quarterback this season, having sacked opposing passers just six times when you include Week 6's contest. Meanwhile, only two teams have allowed more sacks than Arizona. Tampa Bay's also struggled defending the slot, where Larry Fitzgerald roams. That's a key reason he went bonkers on Sunday.
This is the first time Peterson's rushed for more than 67 yards since December of 2015, and it's the first time he's gotten past the 5.0 yards per carry mark in a game since November of that year. That's not any sort of end-all argument, but let's not pretend Peterson's Week 6 game was something that's occurred frequently.
Given his recent production, there's a chance -- you could even call it a decent one -- that Peterson won't be able to keep this up week in and week out. He is, after all, a 32-year-old NFL running back who just played in a plus matchup.
Granted, the Cardinals had offensive line pieces that returned in Week 6, and that could also have contributed to Peterson's big game. In fact, it almost certainly did.
The bigger thing here, though, is the game theory component. Peterson may be back. He may be his old self moving forward. That's a distinct possibility. But in this game of probability, there's also a window to sell a big name after a big game, even if things -- like an upcoming schedule -- look favorable. And on top of this, David Johnson still has a chance to return this year. If and when that happens, Peterson won't see the field, or he at least won't see the field nearly as much as he did on Sunday.
So, to recap: Peterson may be back. Sure. That's a possibility. But he also may have faced the best game script of his season against a banged-up defense. Both could be true, too. Regardless, if you own AP, it's not a bad idea to see how much weight his name has in a potential deal.
Buy Julio Jones
Over the last six seasons, a wide receiver has caught a touchdown for every 165.91 receiving yards. Over Julio Jones' career, he's caught a touchdown for every 199.43 receiving yards.
This year, Jones has zero touchdowns with 367 receiving yards.
Yes, Jones has always had somewhat of a scoring problem. Even last year, he saw fewer red zone targets than teammates Mohamed Sanu, Tevin Coleman, and Devonta Freeman. Freaking Justin Hardy had as many red zone looks as Julio did in 2016.
Things haven't really changed on that end this year, unfortunately. There've been 128 players in the NFL this season with 3 or more red zone targets, and Jones isn't one of them. He only has two.
Aside from that being inexcusable, it's part of the reason he's not finding the end zone.
There are good things happening, though. In one fewer game than most players, he has 10 deep ball (15-plus air-yard throws) targets. That's a top-30 number in football. And, just to stress the point, that's in one fewer game than most players.
Regression should, in some way, hit this offense eventually, as well. I mentioned it last week, but Matt Ryan's gone from overproducing at a 7.1% touchdown rate last year to underproducing (3.5%) this year. His career rate is 4.5%, so we should expect things to get a little better.
Add Orleans Darkwa
As surprised as I was to see Adrian Peterson do what he did on the ground, Orleans Darkwa's performance was far crazier. The Broncos were pitiful on Sunday night, and Darkwa took advantage, rushing for 117 yards on 21 carries. Just to give you some context as to how dumb that performance was, heading into Week 6, no running back had rushed for more than 54 yards against Denver. And the Broncos have faced Melvin Gordon, LeSean McCoy, and Ezekiel Elliott.
Darkwa had 21 of the 31 running back carries for the Giants in the game, but he did play just 50% of the team's snaps. We should be adding him off the waiver wire -- you should always add even moderately usable running backs off the wire -- but in a negative game script, Darkwa will more than likely not be nearly as usable.
Add Dion Lewis
Mike Gillislee fumbled in the first quarter of the Patriots' contest against the Jets on Sunday, and that allowed Dion Lewis to step in and carry the ball 11 times for the Patriots. Lewis ended up playing 43% of New England's snaps compared to Gillislee's 19%, and he's now carried the ball 18 times versus Gillislee's 22 over the last two weeks. Lewis also has the lone goal-line carry between the two players.
It's not as though Gillislee's been outperforming Lewis up until this point in this season. It's not like he's the clear-cut better runner for this offense. Gillislee has a 39.24% Success Rate on the year while Lewis' is now north of 43%. Lewis also has a 0.05 Rushing Net Expected Points per rush rate, which is not only way above the league's average, but far superior to Gillislee's -0.19 (this is partially due to the fumble) rate.
Lewis, who's owned in 10% of Yahoo! leagues, is worth an add in case this switch happens.
Buy Mark Ingram
Sometimes in fantasy football, you have to buy high. And if you want Mark Ingram, that "buy high" time is right now.
Week 6's performance was no fluke. Well, maybe I should rephrase: Ingram may not touch the ball 30 total times again this year, but his overall market share numbers weren't flukey.
Ingram saw four goal-line carries against the Lions in Week 6, while Alvin Kamara saw zero. Ingram played 66% of New Orleans' snaps, while Kamara played 42% of them. Ingram carried the ball 25 times, while Kamara had 10 attempts. It's a split backfield, sure, but Ingram is the lead dog.
Now, I talk about game script all the time, so it wouldn't be right for me to ignore that side of things after the Saints jumped out to a massive lead on the Lions in Week 6. Here's the thing, though: New Orleans' defense is much better than we've seen in past years, and their upcoming schedule isn't all that frightening. They're four-point favorites in Green Bay this week (thanks to Aaron Rodgers' injury), and then they'll play at home against Chicago, at home against Tampa Bay, at Buffalo, and at home against Washington. The Saints may only end up being underdogs in one of those contests (Buffalo), and even that may end up being a stretch.
Fantasy owners -- including yours truly -- love to sell players off of big weeks. Ingram owners may be doing the same. But given his usage, the potential for positive game flow situations, and the Saints' better-looking defense, Ingram should be able to give you higher-end production over the next five-plus games. That's huge.
Add JuJu Smith-Schuster
The Martavis Bryant trade rumor that's getting people talking this week does sort of make sense. Not that I think he'll actually be traded, but it would make sense for him to be upset with his playing time. Because Juju Smith-Schuster is playing more than he is.
Over the last four weeks, Smith-Schuster's played 80%, 71%, 82%, and 69% (nice) of Pittsburgh's snaps. Bryant, meanwhile, has played 70%, 63%, 79%, and 52%. In other words, Smith-Schuster's been on the field more than Bryant in each of the team's last four games.
Smith-Schuster has still seen five fewer targets over this period, but being on the field is the first step in being fantasy relevant. And if the Steelers do decide to pull the trigger and trade Bryant, Smith-Schuster would all of a sudden be in an incredibly favorable fantasy position.
Sell Will Fuller
Yet, he's scored five touchdowns. Of course.
Fuller, as most of you already know, is a prime regression candidate. Through Sunday's games, Fuller ranks first in touchdowns per target among all wideouts with 10 or more targets, and it's not even close. He's scoring 0.35 touchdowns per target, while number-two on the list, Brice Butler, is scoring 0.18 touchdowns per target. That's a significant, significant difference.
If Fuller was seeing more than 15% of Houston's targets, I may feel differently about him moving forward. But considering how unsustainable his production's been, it's worth sending out offers to see if someone thinks this is remotely sustainable.
Add Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris
I'm not sure if you've heard (you have), but Ezekiel Elliott's suspension is "in place." And that means Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden should be owned in every league, which currently isn't reflected on major fantasy platforms. Hence this transaction.
Morris or McFadden, though? Which back should you be prioritizing?
That's a good question, and one that we have no definitive answer for. With that being said, let's try to dissect the pros and cons for both backs.
For Morris, the pro is fairly obvious: he's been the backup this season, and he's actually, you know, been active on game days. Unlike McFadden, Morris has gotten playing time this year. There's also an interesting quote from offensive coordinator Scott Linehan in September from the Dallas Morning News:
Last week in practice, the Cowboys were getting Alfred Morris ready to start if Elliott had been suspended. Instead, Elliott had his six-game suspension blocked by an injunction order.
"We were preparing Alfred before the thing with Zeke came final for the week," Linehan said. "He had taken a lot of reps with the first group to be honest with you, and we felt like he had earned that at that point.
That seems pretty clear that Morris will be the starter.
However, Morris has never been a three-down back at the NFL level, having caught no more than 17 passes in a single season despite seeing hefty workloads in the past. And that's where McFadden becomes more intriguing, because he is a pass-catching back. And Cowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus thinks McFadden will be the guy, too.
My money is on Morris seeing more early-down work, but McFadden may end up having the better floor in PPR formats. Snagging one or both isn't a bad call if they're, for some reason, still floating on your waiver wire.
Add Bennie Fowler
This transaction was originally intended for Chris Ivory, but it sounds like Leonard Fournette was actually cleared to re-enter the Jaguars contest on Sunday after an injury, so it looks like things are fine on his end.
As I mentioned at the top, Emmanuel Sanders was injured during the Broncos' Sunday night loss to the Giants. It looked bad, and he was carted off. X-rays were negative, but he'll miss some time -- at least this week -- with an ankle injury.
That leaves Bennie Fowler as the next man up. Fowler played 75% of the team's snaps in Week 6, and he ended the game with 8 targets. If Sanders misses time, he should get a number-two wide receiver workload, which is something to note if you need a little wide receiving help. But definitely don't blow much -- if any -- of your free agent auction budget on him.
Buy Adam Thielen
Like Julio Jones, Adam Thielen still hasn't scored this year. And you could make a strong argument that Thielen is the one getting robbed from touchdowns more than Jones.
Thielen's not dominating red zone looks, but he does have five, giving him a 20.00% target market share in that area of the field. For reference, that's a better rate than Michael Thomas' for the Saints.
And literally everything else for Thielen looks strong. He's top-10 in the league in targets at his position, he's top-10 in overall target share, and he's sixth in the NFL in deep ball targets.
Given he's not a big-name player, he may be the better buy -- the better value -- than others on this week's transactions list.
Add TJ Jones and Kenny Golladay
Golden Tate was on his way to a huge day against the Saints -- it would've been great if he had scored another touchdown, only because his first score came with an epically awesome touchdown celebration -- but he left the contest in the third quarter with what now appears to be a sprained AC joint. He may miss a few weeks. That's a big blow to the Lions' offense given Tate has a 21.17% target market share this season. He's utilized quite a bit.
Tate runs the majority of his snaps from the slot, which won't necessarily help out someone like Kenny Golladay. Though Golladay played all over the field in college, he's been a perimeter player in the limited time he's played in the NFL. He's worth an add only because he could be healthy soon, and targets are often just dispersed throughout an offense when an injury occurs to a wide receiver. Golladay would also hypothetically see the field more in two-wide receiver sets.
But don't sleep on T.J. Jones. He ended up running 61% of his routes from the slot in Week 6, according to Pro Football Focus, when roughly 39% of his routes have come from there this season. He looks to be the player who would step in for Tate in the slot.
Buy Theo Riddick
Don't forget about Theo Riddick, though. He's a Swiss Army knife in the Lions' passing attack who could benefit from Tate's absence. The Lions do have a bye this week, but they face the Steelers in Week 8, where there could be either a decent bit of scoring or a negative game script for Detroit. Over the last three losses for the Lions, Riddick's seen a combined 21 targets. If they choose to use him differently given Tate's injury (he's played about 40% of the team's snaps this year), that number could look even more favorable.
Don't go sending worthwhile assets for him. Please. Don't do that. The idea here is that Riddick may be rotting on someone's bench in your fantasy league, and trading for him (especially in a PPR format) is a simple way to take a chance on this Tate injury. At the very least, you'll end up with a decent-enough flex play in PPR formats.
Add Tyrod Taylor
Did you guys see what the Cardinals did to the Buccaneers' secondary on Sunday? Well, Tyrod Taylor gets Tampa Bay this week in Buffalo. The Bucs have now allowed a top-10 quarterback performance in three of their last four games (somehow Tom Brady is the one passer who didn't hit the mark, but Thursday Night Football gonna Thursday Night Football), and they have a bottom-ranked secondary, per our schedule-adjusted metrics. Even without a strong wide receiving group, Taylor makes for a good streamer off the waiver wire.
Buy Hunter Henry
Tight end has been a mess in fantasy football all year long, and given this, sometimes you have to make a move to try and find a player at the position who has the potential to give you week in and week out production.
Hunter Henry may be on his way. Though Week 6 saw some big plays at the end of the game which skewed his overall results a tad, Henry now has 15 targets over the last two weeks after seeing 10 over his first four contests. This has been tied directly to the team starting to throw him on the field more. From Weeks 1 through 4, Henry played, at most, 61% of the team's snaps in a game. Over the last two weeks, he's played 76% and 83% of the Chargers' snaps, respectively.
And, per Pro Football Focus, Henry had run just 62 routes (33rd-most at the position) during the first four weeks of the season. He's run 57 over the last two games.
The Chargers' upcoming schedule features a game against Denver, one against New England, and one against Jacksonville. Each of those teams -- two of them because of strong outside cornerback play -- can be beat by the tight end position. We should expect Henry to produce.
Add the Dolphins Defense
The Dolphins' defense actually hasn't been horrendous this year, having scored at least five fantasy points in three of their five games played. And one of the games that they failed to reach five points was against the Saints. They've also gotten at least one sack in each contest.
But who am I kidding? This is about their Week 7 opponent. Every defense that's faced the Jets this year has scored at least five fantasy points -- usually the sign of a fringe top-15 weekly defense -- and that's included opponents like Oakland, Cleveland, and New England.
Miami's at home as 3.0-point favorites in a game with a 39-point over/under. Things are looking good for them this week.