15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 10
Kyle MacDonald is the red paperclip guy.
For those of you who've never heard his story, MacDonald turned a red paperclip into a pen, a pen into a doorknob, a doorknob into a camp stove and, eventually, he traded a movie role for a two-story farmhouse.
MacDonald's story shows us that everything does indeed have value. Even a stupid red paperclip. It's just a matter of understanding the general market and, more importantly, finding the right trade partner.
That's really the unsaid notion about these transactions each week. I can say to "buy" or "sell" certain players, but you can't do so if your leaguemate who owns said players values them the same way.
That's especially important and true for elite assets, like the headliner for this week's 15 transactions.
Buy Kareem Hunt
According to a super scientific study done on Twitter, it looks like the majority of fantasy owners view Kareem Hunt as more of a mid-RB1 rather than a top-tier one. Perhaps this is due to Recency Bias -- Hunt's now had back-to-back down games -- but even if that's the case, it doesn't matter. It's how folks are viewing him right now.
Hunt's Week 9 was troublesome. He played just 54% of the team's snaps, which was his lowest snap rate of the season. And it was the first time he was on the field for fewer than 70% of the team's snaps since Week 4. As a result, he carried the ball just nine times.
Hunt's stat lines have left something to be desired, mostly because he started the season off so hot. Probably the biggest thing owners are annoyed with are the lack of touchdowns, as he hasn't scored since Week 3.
To be fair, though, the Chiefs haven't exactly been in great scoring situations for Hunt. Despite averaging 26.67 points per game during this time when Hunt hasn't found the end zone, they've run just 19 plays from within the opponent's 10-yard line. That's fewer than 19 other NFL teams, and the Chiefs haven't even had a bye week during this time, meaning that number should hypothetically be higher than the rest of the league. Moreover, they've run only seven goal-line plays (within the opponent's 5), which is the third-lowest number in the NFL.
That's kind of crazy, to be honest. Scoring that many points and rarely having an opportunity close to the goal line isn't normal. And we should expect some regression.
We shouldn't assume Week 9 happens again, either. The fear for Hunt is that a negative game script hits, because that'll force Charcandrick West onto the field. Fortunately, after this week's bye, Kansas City will face the Giants, Bills, Jets, Raiders, Chargers, and Dolphins. The Chiefs could end up being favored in each of those games. And each of those teams rank outside the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to the running back position this year.
Hunt should still be considered a top-five running back from here on out. And with the Chiefs on a bye this week, it could be a time to purchase him for a price lower than he should be bought for.
Sell DeAndre Hopkins
I've been kind of shocked by analysis that's painting DeAndre Hopkins' situation as an OK one after his Week 9 performance. Hopkins ended the day with 6 catches for 86 yards and a score, and he accomplished that on 16 targets.
Volume does equate to fantasy football success, but we've been down this road before with Hopkins.
And that's part of the reason he's a sell this week. Sure, 16 targets is amazing, but ignoring the quality of those targets wouldn't make much sense. Not only did he catch just six balls, but he did so against arguably the league's worst secondary that was without the unit's top cornerback, among other pieces. Hopkins has been a volume-hoarding receiver in the past (read: last year), and he didn't really make much of it. In 2016, he hit double-digit targets in six fantasy-relevant games (excludes Week 17), and in those contests, just once did he rank higher than 17th in weekly PPR scoring at the wide receiver position.
The other piece to this transaction is that his fantasy playoff schedule is pretty brutal. In Week 15, they'll face the league's best secondary, Jacksonville. In Week 16, they get Pittsburgh, who entered this past weekend with the eighth-best secondary in the league, according to our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metric.
If you're locked into a playoff spot -- or if things are looking good for your squad -- I'd be looking to see what I could get for Hopkins right now. Especially if I can pair him with another player to upgrade to someone like Antonio Brown.
Add Devontae Booker
Lost in the beatdown that Denver took in Philadelphia is Devontae Booker's emergence in the team's backfield. He's now played 34% of Denver's snaps in each of the team's last two games, and in both contests, he carried the ball 6 times while seeing 3 targets through the air. This may end up being a situation where it simply hurts C.J. Anderson more than it makes Booker a standalone value, but at this point in the season, he's not a bad bench stash. Especially with teams like the Patriots, Raiders, Dolphins, Jets, and Colts upcoming.
Buy Michael Thomas
It's always important to put things into context. Is Michael Thomas having the season that some thought he'd have? Definitely not. He's chilling with just two touchdowns through eight games. He scored nine during his rookie campaign.
That nine number was bound to regress a bit, but not this far. Over the last six years, a player with 545 receiving yards (that's Thomas' current total) would be expected to have roughly 3.36 receiving touchdowns based on simple regression analysis. Thomas not only has just two, but he has two with Drew Brees throwing him the ball. We should expect a better touchdown rate moving forward based on math alone.
There's a lot of good surrounding Thomas, too. According to AirYards.com, Thomas is seeing 40% of the Saints' total air yards, which is tied for the fourth-highest share in the league. And in 2017, he's seen 26.74% of the Saints' targets, another top-10 number.
On top of this, the Saints have a pretty intriguing fantasy playoff schedule this year, as they'll face the Falcons in Week 14, the Jets in Week 15, and the Falcons once again in Week 16. According to our numbers, both Atlanta and the Jets are bottom-10 pass defenses.
Add Danny Woodhead, Sell Buck Allen
Hey, remember this guy?
Danny Woodhead resumed practicing last week, and he's eligible to return to the field in Week 11. That should put him on your fantasy radar, because even without him, Baltimore ranks in the top half of the league in running back receptions per game. And with Woodhead back in the mix, Buck Allen may -- and I stress the word "may" -- become pretty irrelevant, as the majority of his fantasy value comes from the air. This season, he's fourth among running backs in total targets and has a target market share north of 16%.
The fear within this Ravens offense is that there's just a massive rotation. But Woodhead is one of the best receiving backs in the league, and if he's deemed healthy, I'd want him on my squad. At least in PPR formats.
Add Charles Clay
I mentioned Clay in last week's 15 Transactions column, noting that he would be returning to action soon, and that when he's been active this season, he's averaged over six targets per game. Not too shabby for a tight end.
It looks as though Clay could return as early as this week, which would be huge for fantasy owners and the Bills' offense alike. Because not only is the tight end position a giant pile of flaming dog you know what, but Buffalo has a great rest-of-season schedule, as they'll face teams like New Orleans, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Miami, and New England (twice). Snag Clay this week before it's too late.
Sell Adrian Peterson
It's been a boom-or-bust three games for Adrian Peterson as an Arizona Cardinal, but two of the three contests were more boom than bust. Since Peterson became a Cardinal, he's led the NFL in carries and rushing yards. That's quite the feat for someone who was written off just a little over a month ago.
But here's the thing -- and I mentioned this a few weeks back in this very column -- Peterson's had two games where the perfect storm has happened. When he went bonkers in Week 6 against Tampa Bay, Arizona, at one point, had a 24-0 lead. And Tampa Bay's been awful defensively. Then, this week, they faced one of the league's worst rush defenses in yet another positive game script. Things worked out for Peterson.
During his lone down week -- a contest against the Rams -- the Cardinals lost quarterback Carson Palmer, and Peterson played just 53% of the team's snaps. His snap rate in the other two games? 74% and 77%.
Game script matters and will matter for Peterson. If Palmer were still healthy, I'd feel a lot more confident that the Cardinals would be able to face positive scripts given their upcoming schedule. But without Palmer, I can't feel nearly as confident that scoring opportunities and a run-first offense will exist. So if you can get rid of Peterson for a fairly significant value -- which you may be able to considering his name and his performance -- go for it.
Buy Mohamed Sanu
As noted with Michael Thomas above, the Falcons will face the Saints in two of their three fantasy playoff matchups this year. And, in Week 15, they'll see the Bucs.
Those are solid matchups for a slot receiver like Mohamed Sanu who, per Pro Football Focus, has run about 65% of his routes from the slot this year. So far on the season, we've seen players like Larry Fitzgerald and Danny Amendola do some serious work from that area of the field against Tampa Bay, and Golden Tate and Chris Hogan exploited the Saints via the slot, as well.
Regardless of the specific matchups, all three of these games could feature a lot of scoring, and that alone is good for Sanu. He's also been pretty involved in the offense since returning from injury three weeks ago: he has 20 targets in that span, good for a 20% target share.
And let it be known that the Falcons offense really isn't as bad as the consensus seems to think. As a group, they're 2nd in the NFL in yards per drive, 8th in scoring rate per drive, and 10th in touchdown rate per drive. Let's not pretend Sanu's part of just an average offense.
Add Robert Woods
Bobby Woods has now seen four or more targets in each game this year, averaging about a 20% target share in the Rams' offense. Cooper Kupp has been the man in the red zone (he leads the league with 15 red zone targets), but just one-third of Kupp's targets have come within the 10 -- Woods actually has just two fewer targets than Kupp within the opponent's 10-yard line. Not bad.
Los Angeles has a couple of tough matchups upcoming, but some of them are against teams with top shadow corners (Xavier Rhodes and Patrick Peterson) who may try to take Sammy Watkins out of the game. That'll leave Woods with softer coverage, so we should expect his high floor in PPR leagues to continue each week.
Hold Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of his first four games this year, but he hasn't scored over his last four. He's also seen his rushing volume go from 17.5 carries per game over these first four contests to 11.0 during his last four. You couldn't be trending down any more than Freeman is right now.
The Falcons are 1-3 over their last four games after starting 3-1, though, and that's forced a more pass-happy attack. During their first four games, the team had a 1.29 pass-to-rush attempt ratio, but over their last four, it's risen to 1.52. And in this split (first four games versus the last four), their ratio while the game's been within plus-or-minus seven points (neutral script) is almost identical (1.41 vs. 1.40), meaning this negative game script and change in total ratio is impacting Freeman overall.
Especially at the goal line. Freeman was second in the NFL in attempts from within his opponent's five-yard line from Weeks 1 through 4 (8), but he hasn't seen a goal-line carry since. The Falcons, though, went from 15 plays run in that area of the field over the first four weeks to just 8 over the last four. Meaning, they're not exactly providing the same type of opportunities.
In this split (again, the first four games versus last four), Freeman has gone from seeing 66.66% of the team's carries to 49.43% of them. Teammate Tevin Coleman, meanwhile, went from a 27.62% rushing attempt share to a 38.20% one.
All the while, Freeman's playing a similar number of snaps.
So what we have here is some regression (goal-line volume), as well as the team utilizing Coleman a bit more on the ground. This could be due to an effort to keep Freeman's legs fresh, or perhaps Freeman's "this is fine" shoulder injury pushed the Falcons to move in Coleman's direction a tad more. Or maybe this is what they wanted to do all season long, but they fed Freeman a little too much to start the year.
Regardless of the true reason, that's probably the biggest worry for Freeman. Had his rushing attempt market share remained the same throughout this losing stretch, he'd probably be a buy candidate. But because Coleman's digging in a little more, we should be somewhat cautious.
So why hold and not sell, then? Well, the Falcons, as noted with Sanu, have a really nice fantasy playoff schedule. We've seen Freeman with an elite running back ceiling, and giving up on that because of a four-game stretch probably isn't wise. You'd be selling low, when things can still return to somewhere in the middle of the first four weeks and the last four weeks.
Add Curtis Samuel
In Week 9, Samuel played 75% of the team's snaps, which was actually the most of any wideout on the team (Devin Funchess played one fewer snap). Samuel, in turn, saw five targets, but he was just one of three receivers for the Panthers to catch a ball. And Cam Newton threw the ball just 24 times, so Samuel's target share wasn't all that bad. He's a worthwhile stash as things get sorted out in that offense.
Sell TY Hilton
Week 9 saw Hilton go completely nuts in a plus matchup against the Texans, but, again, let's put this all into context. It's just the third usable game for Hilton all season long, and his other two big performances came against two beatable secondaries in San Francisco and Cleveland.
His average stat line in these three games: 9.00 targets, 6.33 receptions, 168.33 yards, 1.00 touchdowns.
Hilton's average line in every other contest: 5.42 targets, 2.14 receptions, 28.14 yards, 0.00 scores.
Unfortunately, the only plus matchup remaining for the Colts and Hilton is a game against the Titans, but even that brought just a single catch for 19 yards when they met the first time back in Week 6. Otherwise, he's still got Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Denver, and Baltimore. You might not be able to find a tougher way to finish the season as a wide receiver.
Hold Aaron Jones
Aaron Jones put together his worst performance of the season on Monday night for the Packers, running the ball just 5 times for 12 yards. He did see five targets through the air, but he was only able to catch two of those for a negative yardage total. It was rough.
And so was the entire Green Bay offense, if we're being honest. It felt like quarterback Brett Hundley didn't know how to throw the ball across the line of scrimmage, making the entire offense not just ineffective, but entirely predictable.
Unfortunately for Jones owners, after he started the game and got the most run for the team, Ty Montgomery came in and ended up outsnapping him and outperforming him in total. And then Jamaal Williams trolled everyone with a late, meaningless touchdown.
Jones, according to our numbers, has been by far the superior runner on the team this season. In fact, in the small sample size we have, heading into Week 9, he was one of the most efficient backs in the league with about a 53% Success Rate, his percentage of positive expected-point runs. Usually we see backs under 40% within the metric.
Sadly, this offense without Aaron Rodgers is a mess. And it's impacting everyone. The fear is that Green Bay will have a knee-jerk reaction and truly make this a committee when the thought was this backfield was Jones'. The issue in fantasy football, though, is that you can't really sell him. Most owners aren't even going to know that Jones was a strong prospect with incredible college production, so they'd be buying him on just a couple of strong performances. And with Ty Mont digging into his workload, it makes Jones an even less desirable asset.
You just have to hold on tight and hope this wasn't the signal for the end of Jones as a lead back in 2017. But I'm not optimistic.
Add Josh McCown
We're still seeing low ownership for Josh McCown when he's averaging more fantasy points per game than Marcus Mariota, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, and Derek Carr. He's now thrown a touchdown pass in all but two games this year, and one of those contests was against the Jaguars, who don't let quarterbacks throw touchdowns against them -- they've surrendered four all season long. Four!
McCown gets the Bucs this week, who've been torched through the air all season long. Every quarterback outside of Mike Glennon and Tom Brady (it was Thursday night football, let's give that one a pass) have finished as top-15 weekly passers against Tampa Bay this year, as they've surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points against the position. When adjusted for strength of schedule, our numbers see Tampa Bay as a bottom-five secondary. This all makes McCown a nice option off the waiver wire this week.
Add the Giants Defense
Trust me, I know how bad the Giants defense looked in Week 9. And I know how inconsistent it's been. But this transaction is entirely based on their Week 10 matchup.
The 49ers are that bad offensively.
We've seen three games with C.J. Beathard as a starting quarterback, and in those games, opposing defenses are averaging 4.67 sacks, 12.00 quarterback hits, an interception, and 1.33 fumble recoveries. Each defense the 49ers have gone up against during this time has finished as a top-five defense in weekly scoring. That should give the G-Men somewhat of a decent floor in Week 10.