15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 6
Through five NFL weeks last year, 15 teams were averaging 30 or more yards per drive. This season? 26. And that number really should be 27 now that Baker Goatfield -- sorry, Mayfield -- is under center for the Browns.
Not only are more teams sustaining longer drives, but there's also a greater difference between the top offenses in football and the bottom-tiered ones. The Rams, for example, are averaging 50.4 yards per drive, most in the league. The top team last year through five weeks was Atlanta, who averaged 41.2. All the while, the lowest-ranked team in 2017, Miami, had a 21.0 yards per drive rate across the first five weeks. This year, we've got two teams under that mark.
If it seems like the bad offenses in football are more obvious this year, it's sort of because they are. There's a larger gap between the bottom-of-the-barrel ones and the top ones.
And that's been a bummer for fantasy football purposes.
I mean, just take a look at the six teams -- we'll remove the Browns from the conversation given their quarterback change -- who haven't hit the 30 yards per drive mark this year. We've got the Titans, Seahawks, Jets, Dolphins, Cardinals, and Bills.
Name one player from those teams who you're confidently starting each week in fantasy football right now. I'll wait.
Did you think of David Johnson? Yeah, well, about him...
Sell David Johnson
Johnson was featured in this column as a sell candidate after Week 2, but at the time, we had far less information compared to today. Back then, we were wondering when Sam Bradford would lose his job. We didn't fully know if Arizona would keep running so few plays offensively. And we didn't know if offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was so bad. (OK, for that last one, maybe we did.)
Here's what's changed since then: Arizona made the move to Josh Rosen, they've gone from 50.5 offensive plays run per game to 48.7, and -- yes -- Mike McCoy is still bad.
This has all hurt David Johnson. His fantasy point totals haven't been all that unfriendly -- Johnson is actually a low-end RB1 in cumulative PPR points scored at the position after five weeks -- but how he's accumulating those points isn't sustainable in this type of offense. He's tallied 242 rushing yards, and based on the rushing yards to rushing touchdowns rate we've seen by backs over the last half decade, Johnson's rushing touchdown total should be between one and two. Instead, it's four.
And it's not like he's in a Todd Gurley-like situation where his team is consistently putting him in plus situations. Arizona's run the fewest plays in the league this year, and that includes teams who've had their bye. No team has run fewer red-zone plays than Arizona, and even with Rosen under center over the last two weeks, the Cardinals have still averaged the third-fewest yards per drive in the league.
We also haven't seen much of a change in Johnson's receiving usage since the first couple of games, either. His average depth of target has jumped slightly to 1.3, but it's still far off from his 4.7 mark a couple of seasons ago. And in Rosen's two starts, Johnson's target share has dropped from about 17.2% to 13.5%.
The Cardinals' offense can and hopefully will improve as the season progresses, and that will make David Johnson more viable. But this is also a time to sell because he's clearly overachieving in the touchdown column to start the year, and many fantasy football owners won't see that.
Buy the Cincinnati Passing Attack
Another transaction mentioned a couple of weeks back was to add Andy Dalton, mostly because of his upcoming schedule. Well, now that the Bengals had a mediocre offensive outing, it's time to fire off some offers for pieces of the team's passing attack, whether that's Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, or even Joe Mixon.
And the reason for that is the team's schedule. Upcoming for Cincinnati are contests against the Steelers, Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Saints. Those are all very beatable secondaries, and the over/under in those games should be high. We're already seeing that this week, with the Steelers-Bengals opening with a 54-point game total. Three of those four games will be played in Cincinnati, too.
You'll want a piece of the Bengals' passing attack over the next month.
Drop Chris Hogan
It's not happening.
You can hand your boy the L -- I was into Chris Hogan this year, and that was a mistake. He's been horrific for fantasy football purposes, playing loads of snaps for New England each week but securing just a 10.6% target share. And he's now got more competition for targets incoming with Julian Edelman back from suspension and Josh Gordon getting acclimated to the Patriots' offense. There will probably be spiked weeks for Hogan, but those won't be predictable. You can drop him.
Add Keke Coutee
Coutee is being highlighted for a second week in a row because his ownership percentage didn't rise enough after his Week 4 performance -- he's still out there on 66% of Yahoo! and 80% of ESPN waiver wires. On Sunday night, Coutee hauled in 6 of his 7 targets for 51 yards and a score, and he's been on the receiving end of 22 of 86 Houston attempts over the last two weeks, good for a 25.6% target share. He's filling the underneath role that the Texans' offense has desperately needed, and he should provide a high weekly floor in PPR formats.
Drop Rashaad Penny
The Seahawks have made it pretty clear that Rashaad Penny isn't going to be a big part of their 2018 plan, or at least not yet. Over the last three weeks, Penny's played 14.5%, 24.2%, and 0% of Seattle's snaps. That's right -- the Seahawks' first-round pick played behind Chris Carson and Mike Davis on Sunday, failing to find the field even once. He can safely be dropped now.
Buy the Cleveland Passing Attack
Similar to Cincinnati, the Cleveland Browns find themselves in a really great spot fantasy-wise over the next month or so. At least their passing game does. Week 6 features a game against an underperforming Los Angeles Chargers secondary, but that's also the toughest matchup they'll face until the end of November. After the Chargers, they get the Bucs, Steelers, Chiefs, and Falcons. It's a similar schedule as Cincinnati because they play in the same division, and it's one that should push forth some strong production.
So if you need a quarterback streamer, add Baker Mayfield. If you want a high-floor, high-ceiling wide receiver, trade for Jarvis Landry. If you want a plug-and-play tight end, David Njoku is it. Buy the Browns' passing attack.
Add Philadelphia Eagles Running Backs
Jay Ajayi was put on IR on Monday, opening up the Philadelphia backfield quite a bit, as he was averaging over 11 attempts per game. The problem is, there's no clear-cut player set to take on a much larger workload in his absence.
Will it be Corey Clement? Well, he's been dealing with a quad injury. Wendell Smallwood? He might be the add for teams with short-term needs, considering he played 49.2% of the Eagles' snaps on Sunday, the same number as Ajayi. But then there's Darren Sproles, who's been nursing a hamstring injury, and Josh Adams, who hasn't been all that involved even with all these running back injuries. The team could also always add a running back.
Clement would be my pick, but not very confidently. If we look at how the team viewed the depth chart before things got messy, Clement was clearly ahead of Smallwood to start the year. He was third in snaps behind Ajayi and Sproles in Week 1, and then he led the backfield in snaps in Week 2 and Week 3. As he's been banged up over the last two weeks, Smallwood has emerged.
Both Clement and Smallwood should be added (as should Sproles), but the most likely scenario is a running back-by-committee in Philadelphia. Unless they trade for a running back, of course.
Sell Russell Wilson
If you started Russell Wilson in Week 5, consider yourself fortunate. A three-touchdown performance on a sub-200 yard passing day isn't all that common. In fact, Wilson's Week 5 performance was the first of its kind this year, and it's something that occurred just four times between Weeks 1 and 16 during the 2017 season.
Wilson now has a 7.0% touchdown rate on the year, which is 1.3% higher than his 5.7% career average. In other words, touchdown regression is going to come. That's his first knock.
The second -- and, honestly, more important -- ding is his lack of rushing here in 2018. Last season, Wilson averaged nearly six rushing attempts per game, and he added about 4.8 fantasy points per contest via the ground. This year, he's running the ball just 2.2 times per contest, and he's providing fantasy owners with just 0.8 additional points per game with his legs.
Things can change, but at a position as deep as quarterback, there's no reason to buy into that change. There's no need to buy into Russell Wilson right now.
Buy Emmanuel Sanders
It's really hard to buy players -- wide receivers, specifically -- who are in offenses with bad quarterbacks. So this particular transaction is one that's inherently risky.
But here's why Emmanuel Sanders is an interesting buy right now. He's seen 22.9% of Denver's targets to start the season, which is strong. He's also going to see advantageous matchups given he's playing 61.3% of his snaps from the slot. And after not seeing a single red zone target through the first four weeks of 2018, he ended with four in Week 5, which is a positive sign, especially for a player who's underperformed in the touchdown column so far this year.
The top reason I'm into Sanders, though, is his schedule. He should have a decent floor each week with his usage, but Denver's upcoming matchups include games against the Rams, Cardinals, Chiefs, Texans, Chargers, and Steelers. The Broncos could be forced to throw a lot in the majority of those games, which will help Sanders see a little more volume as long as he maintains his current target share, which seems like a reasonable ask.
Like I said, this isn't totally safe. But after another mediocre outing for Sanders where he didn't score, it's not a bad idea to offer something up to the team who has him.
Add Josh Reynolds
Both Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks were knocked out of Sunday's game against the Seahawks with concussions, and if either of them misses Week 6 or beyond, Josh Reynolds should see a bump in playing time as the next man up. He was the one who stepped in versus Seattle, and he caught 2 of his 3 targets for 39 yards. The Rams have used three-wide sets at the highest rate in football this year, meaning Reynolds should see volume if one of the two is out. He's worth an add, especially if you've got Kupp or Cooks.
Buy Marshawn Lynch
I'm really not a fan of rostering running backs who can be game scripted out of contests, and that's what you're getting when you have Marshawn Lynch. We saw that on full display Sunday, as the team opted to play Jalen Richard when the game flow was bad. Richard ended up on the field for 50% of Oakland's snaps, while Lynch played 40.4% of them.
The Raiders have now played two games where they've gotten blown out, but in the other three, Lynch played 54.3%, 55.3%, and 63.1% of the team's snaps. And in those matchups, he carried the ball an average of 19 times with 3 targets per game. That's strong usage.
I bring this up because Oakland's playing at home in two of their next four contests, with their one true road game being against a one-win San Francisco 49ers team. They'll get the Seahawks in London this week where Seattle's only a three-point favorite, then the Colts at home in a plus matchup, followed by the 49ers.
Now, the Raiders have a bye after their Week 6 game across the pond, but you could also use that in negotiation when trying to acquire him. And, no, don't break the bank. He's an RB2 in a world where there's a large gap between the true RB1s and the rest of the position. He's just got a pretty favorable October and early November, and he's coming off a down game.
Add Jameis Winston
Winston is still available in 80% of Yahoo! leagues (probably because everyone has a quarterback they can rely on), and even if he doesn't become a plug-and-play starter, you can use him this week. The Buccaneers get the Falcons in a game with a 57.5-point over/under. There will be scoring. Atlanta's been a great matchup for opposing passers this year, having allowed a 20-plus point performance to every quarterback they've faced who's not named Nick Foles. Winston is easily the top streamer in Week 6.
Buy Julio Jones
This was inevitable. A "Buy Julio Jones" transaction was bound to happen as his touchdown-less streak continues.
Let's do this.
Excluding the playoffs, Jones has scored just three times in his last 21 games. We know that's the biggest reason he's not ranked higher in fantasy football right now. But there's so much going for him that we shouldn't ignore.
He's got a 29% target share on the season, which is one of the highest marks in the league, and he's captured 48% of Atlanta's air yards, the top rate in football. His 15.1 yard average depth of target is one of the best you'll find across the NFL, and that combined with his target share is what makes him a truly elite asset in fantasy football.
But touchdowns. I get it -- the touchdowns. Jones has only three red-zone targets this season, the same number as teammate Mohamed Sanu and two fewer than rookie Calvin Ridley. That's going to limit his overall upside in fantasy. Even though his receiving yardage total tells us that he should have between three and four scores this year -- or, at least, players with his total historically have seen that many touchdowns -- we also know that context is important. And context is saying that Jones isn't some premier red-zone threat.
Here's the thing: the fact that Jones is a fringe WR1 in PPR formats despite not having a touchdown is bonkers. Had he found the end zone once this year, he'd be a top-six option. At this point, touchdowns are almost icing on the cake.
And they really should come. Maybe not in bunches -- maybe not at the rate of other elite wide receivers in football -- but they should come. Hopefully as soon as this week against Tampa Bay, a team he scored twice on last year.
It's worth it to just talk to the Julio Jones manager in your league. See where they're valuing him. Because, considering his usage, he should still be valued as a WR1 from here on out.
Add Cameron Brate
With O.J. Howard looking like he'll miss a couple of weeks with a sprained MCL, Cameron Brate makes for a great tight end option. The two tight ends were sort of digging into each other's workloads in the Tampa Bay offense, with Brate running 78 routes this year versus Howard's 77, per Pro Football Focus. Heading into Week 5, those numbers ranked around 30th at the tight end position. Howard being sidelined should allow Brate to run more routes, though, and in what should be a high-scoring affair in Atlanta this weekend, he makes for a strong streaming option.
Add the Dallas Cowboys Defense
Green Bay should be added this week if they're on your waiver wire, but they're only available in about half of leagues. Digging deeper, you could look to Dallas. The Cowboys are hosting Blake Bortles and the Jaguars, and we know there's always upside when facing Bortles. Over the last three weeks, each defense to face the Jags has ranked as top-10 options in fantasy football, and that includes Kansas City, a unit that's been struggling all season long. The game between the Jags and Cowboys has a low over/under, too, so there should be a fairly nice floor for Dallas.