15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 8
There's regression to the mean, and then there's Amari Cooper's Week 7 performance.
For weeks, Cooper owners got nothing from him in fantasy football. And by nothing, I mean "See that flaming dumpster over there? That's Amari Cooper's fantasy value."
But Amari Cooper truthers were united during an island game last Thursday, watching him snag 19 targets while catching 11 of them for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns.
And that leads us today: what the hell should we do with Amari Cooper in fantasy football?
Hold Amari Cooper
Cooper was a "buy" in this column a couple of weeks ago, but after this week's performance, you shouldn't be going after him all that aggressively. The fact of the matter is, fantasy owners think strongly with recency bias, focusing far too much on what's happened recently as opposed to looking at the greater picture.
And that greater picture has been pretty ugly for Cooper this year. For as good as his Week 7 numbers were, the five games leading up to that point showed a wide receiver who was straight-up losing fantasy matchups for owners. It was tough to bench him because of who he is and what he's accomplished at a young age, but that's also the problem: there's a difference between a bench wide receiver getting three points versus a dude in your starting lineup posting them.
If you recall, the reason Cooper was a "buy" a couple of weeks back was because of the fact that he'd done things to start his career that only elite, Hall-of-Fame wide receivers had done. Alongside this, some of his matchups were pretty rough. So taking a four-game sample size and saying, "Yup, Amari Cooper's a bust!" really wasn't a fair thing to do.
With that being said, let's not use this one game to brag about Cooper's return. Quarterback Derek Carr threw the ball 52 times in Week 7's contest, something he's done just four times in his career. And while the Raiders intelligently moved Cooper around the field more than they had previously this season, he still saw a lot of Terrance Mitchell, who's been torched this season.
And the Chiefs also may appear to have a strong defense, making Cooper's performance look even better, but that's not really the case. Entering the week, our numbers pegged them as a bottom-half group in the NFL, and the team had allowed the most air yards by far to opposing offenses, according to AirYards.com.
It's almost like you can gobble up a lot of fantasy production against them.
So why not sell Amari Cooper, then? Well, if you can get sweet value, feel free. But there's still the notion that he did have tough matchups prior to that Week 7 game and, to be honest, the upcoming schedule isn't that bad for Cooper in the short term. They get a middle-of-the-road matchup against Buffalo in Week 8, then they'll face a beatable Miami secondary in Week 9. After a Week 10 bye, Cooper gets a beautiful matchup against the Patriots.
There's a chance that his value increases a bit over the team's next three games. That's why he's a hold. But if you can't take on the risk of holding him -- or if you fear things won't be so easy moving forward -- it's fine to look for a trade partner to get as much value as you can for Cooper right now.
Add Corey Davis
Corey Davis is on 75% of Yahoo! waiver wires, which is understandable given he hasn't seen game action since Week 2. He's been sidelined with a hamstring injury, but he did note that he was "real close" to returning to action this past week. With the Titans on their bye this week, fantasy owners may not pay attention to the Davis situation until Week 9, giving you less competition for him off the waiver wire. And he could be a big boost to your bench -- at the very least -- given the small sample we have. In Week 1, Davis saw 10 targets (over 24% of Tennessee's targets) for a nice 69 yards.
Buy Demaryius Thomas
In that contest, though, Thomas had an 81-yard catch and run called back. And the Chargers cornerbacks are talented, guys: Casey Hayward was a bonafide stud last year, and per Pro Football Focus, Trevor Williams had allowed the 15th-lowest quarterback rating against this season entering Week 7.
Thomas has been fine from a target (over seven targets per game) and target market share (23.70%) standpoint this year. And he ranks 16th in receiving yards at the position despite already having his bye and being held to 11 yards in Week 4 and just 9 this past week.
He's not doing much in fantasy football because of touchdowns. He hasn't scored yet. But given his yardage and reception totals, he "should have" between two and three touchdowns.
Upcoming for the Broncos are the Chiefs, Eagles, and Patriots. Perhaps this is the stretch where Demaryius finally starts scoring -- Kansas City and New England rank first and second, respectively, in air yards allowed this year.
Add Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington
On the season, Richard's been the one who's seen a little more work between the two backups. He's averaged five carries and a little over two targets per game versus Washington's four-ish and three-ish. And he's hit 30% of the team's snaps in three games, while Washington's done it in just two.
Regardless, we should expect some sort of split between the two guys against the Bills, especially considering they both ended up playing almost an identical number of snaps (26 for Richard and 25 for Washington) while carrying the ball nine times each in Week 7.
If you're looking to prioritize one over the other, I'd probably add Washington over Richard. And the only reason for that is because he had a slightly better college profile compared to Richard, and he's the one who got the goal-line look against the Chiefs.
The other thing to note here is that this may not be a one-week transaction. Lynch has struggled this year. According to our Success Rate metric, which looks at the percentage of positive expected points runs made by running backs, Lynch is sitting with a 29.14% rate this year. The sample size on the other Raider backs is probably too small to matter, but Richard does have Success Rate north of 34%, while Washington's is a mediocre 17.39%.
Don't break the bank for a one-week split backfield, but know that there may be a little more value in these backups post-Week 8.
Sell Jarvis Landry
Jarvis Landry now has three touchdowns across his last three games, and all three of those scores have come from within the opponent's 10-yard line. Across an entire season, that would mean Landry would see roughly 16 targets from that area of the field, which wouldn't make much sense considering, in three seasons prior to this one, he tallied a total of 24 of those types of targets.
It's probably not a coincidence that Landry's seen those three targets and touchdowns in games that DeVante Parker has either been injured or out. Over the Dolphins' first three games, Landry had just one target from within his opponent's 10-yard line, and he failed to score. Parker had two.
And that's really what this comes down to. We know Landry can provide a high floor each week in PPR formats, but he's traditionally not been a touchdown scorer. With Parker in the mix, those looks should be limited a bit. And the Dolphins have also been the pass-heaviest team (2.75 pass-to-run ratio) from within their opponent's 10-yard line this season. That may regress towards the league's average (1.13) down the stretch, as well.
Add or Buy Marlon Mack
Marlon Mack ended up playing 10 more snaps than Frank Gore in Week 7, out-snapping him for the first time this year. I'm not ready to say Mack is going to take over the Indianapolis backfield for good, only because the Colts saw an ultra-negative game script this past Sunday against the Jaguars. That naturally means more passing and, in turn, more Marlon Mack.
But let's make no mistake: Mack's the best running back on the Colts' roster.
Gore has a -0.22 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush rate this year, which is one of the worst numbers in the NFL. Usually the running back average is around -0.02. Fumbling has to do with that, but regardless, it's far from Mack's 0.01 rate. Anything on the positive end is very strong for a running back.
On top of this, Mack has a 37.50% Success Rate to Gore's 25.53%. In other words, Mack isn't just providing better efficiency, but he's doing it at a more consistent rate, as well.
Whether the Colts realize this by the end of the fantasy season is the real question. But Mack, at the very least, should be owned right now.
Buy Adam Thielen
Being without Stefon Diggs has hurt Adam Thielen in fantasy football. Per Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus, over the first five weeks of the season, Thielen ran from the slot on 64% of his routes. Over the last two weeks -- weeks without Diggs -- that number's fallen to 37%. That means Thielen's been forced to the outside more to face tougher cornerback matchups.
But as I mentioned last week, the peripherals are there for Thielen. He's currently got a top-10 target market share in football, and he ranks in the top-10 in total air yards this year, as well. He just continues to defy all logic in not finding the end zone -- his reception and yardage totals show us that he should have more than three touchdowns this year, and he has yet to score one. Maybe things will get going this week in London against the Browns.
Add TJ Jones
Another player written up in last week's column was T.J. Jones, who should probably benefit most without Golden Tate in the picture for a couple of weeks for the Lions. In Week 6 (Detroit had a bye in Week 7), Jones ran 61% of his routes from the slot (per Pro Football Focus), when roughly 39% of his routes came from there this season prior to that point. If he takes on the role, he could end up being a nice filler during these hectic bye weeks, especially in two weeks against Green Bay. Of course, there's always the off chance that Tate is back by then.
Buy Joe Mixon
Am I a believer that Joe Mixon, by season's end, will officially be the Bengals' every-down back? No, no I'm not. Am I believer that the Mixon owner in your fantasy league is sick of rostering him? Most definitely.
Your eyes tell you that Mixon is the best running back in the Cincinnati backfield, and our numbers back that, as well. Jeremy Hill has a 21.21% Success Rate on the year, Giovani Bernard's is at 26.09%, and Mixon's is 35.62%.
The known problem is that the Bengals aren't utilizing him enough, but he's seen a spike of 3.37% in rushing market share over the team's last three games. Maybe -- just maybe -- things will start to turn around. And Cincinnati has a fairly soft schedule upcoming for running backs, as they'll face the Colts, Jaguars (far better at stopping the pass than the run), Titans, and Browns in four of their next five games.
Drop Mike Gillislee
If you're noticing an inverse relationship, it's because there's an inverse relationship.
Lewis once again out-snapped Gillislee in Sunday night's win over the Falcons, and he out-attempted him on the ground for the second game in a row, as well. Gillislee is essentially worthless in fantasy football without a touchdown, and even those goal-line looks haven't been solely his -- Lewis has two goal-line carries to Gillislee's one over the last two games.
Lewis was an add in this column last week, so you should most definitely snag him off the waiver wire if he's still there. And while you're at it, drop Mike Gillislee.
Sell Pierre Garcon
Selling Pierre Garcon right now goes against everything I've written about in this column this year because he's yet to score a touchdown. Regression is going to eventually hit, so selling him now would mean you're getting rid of him at a low point. Because, really, his volume numbers are there -- he'll be fantasy relevant on that alone.
But the 49ers are about to hit a stretch where they'll face teams that can stop opposing number-one receivers. Next week is a decent-enough matchup against the Eagles, but then San Francisco gets the Cardinals, Giants, and Seahawks over three straight games. So Garcon will see Patrick Peterson, Janoris Jenkins, and a lot of Richard Sherman. And in the fantasy football championship (Week 16), San Francisco faces off against the Jacksonville secondary, which is the best in football. By far.
Garcon's fine from a floor perspective each week, but even that floor may disappear in some of his upcoming matchups.
Add Josh Doctson
It appears as though the shift from Terrelle Pryor to Josh Doctson is here. Because on Monday night, Doctson ended up playing 84% of the team's snaps while Pryor sat on the sideline for a lot of the first half, finishing with 47% of Washington's snaps.
Doctson was a really good prospect who just hasn't been able to find the field due to injury. But he had great workout measurables, and his college production was really strong, especially his touchdown-scoring ability. During his final year at TCU, he accounted for almost 36% of the team's touchdowns. That's not Calvin Johnson-elite, but it's strong. And it's something Washington could use given their starting wide receivers -- specifically Pryor -- haven't been good this season at finding the end zone.
Doctson finished Monday night's game with 5 targets, 3 receptions, and 39 yards. It was nothing special, and perhaps slightly concerning when you consider the cornerbacks he was facing. Nevertheless, he's still just trying to get real-game reps, and his increased snap count means he could be a usable fantasy football asset moving forward.
Add Josh McCown
Josh McCown has actually come through for fantasy owners when matchups have looked good on paper. He's failed to throw a touchdown pass in two games this year -- one of them came in Week 1 on the road against a better-than-we-thought Buffalo secondary, and the other came against the Jags' top pass defense unit.
Over the last three weeks, McCown's faced Cleveland, New England, and Miami -- all beatable secondaries -- and he's tossed seven touchdowns. This week he'll be at home to face the Falcons, who've given up a touchdown pass to every quarterback they've battled this year. That includes Mike Glennon and Jay Cutler. So while their net yards per attempt against may not look awful, our schedule-adjusted metrics still show them as a bottom-10 unit against the pass. That could lead to another decent day for McCown in fantasy.
He's probably the top option off the waiver wire unless someone like Andy Dalton is out there.
Add Tyler Kroft
That injury could be big for tight ends facing the Colts, too. Or, at least, the Colts become an even better matchup for opposing tight ends -- even with Hooker, they've ranked 10th from the bottom at defending the position in terms of fantasy points allowed.
Tyler Kroft, who's been playing over 90% of the Bengals' snaps over their last four games, gets them this week. He's averaged five targets per game during this Tyler Eifert-less stretch, and he should be able to take advantage of this Colts' defense.
Add the Bengals Defense
Hey, let's keep picking on the Colts!
The Bengals' defense doesn't have super high ownership in fantasy football right now because they faced Pittsburgh at Heinz Field this past weekend, but you've got to love their matchup against Indy back at Paul Brown Stadium this weekend. Every non-Tennessee team that the Colts have faced has been able to get at least three sacks on Indianapolis this year, and only Tennessee and Cleveland -- two of the lower-tiered secondaries in football -- weren't able to pick off a Colts passer. As 10-point favorites, the Bengals are an obvious add off the waiver wire this week.