15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 7
Because professional football is played weekly, there's a lot of waiting. And when there's a lot of waiting, there's a lot of overanalyzing.
It's like hanging out in the waiting room before a doctor's appointment. Instead of just getting called back to be looked at without any mental anxiety, you sit there and wonder. What's my blood pressure? Did I gain weight? Am I going to die?
When you're waiting on new information, it's natural to overthink things, even when you know everything is fine. Even when you know your blood pressure is totally normal.
Keep that in mind with the first transaction for Week 7.
Buy Alvin Kamara
After New Orleans' Week 5 matchup against Washington, Alvin Kamara managers were in a panic. How do I know? Because someone told me that they traded Calvin Ridley, Kenyan Drake, and Keke Coutee for Kamara prior to Week 6. Another fantasy footballer gave up Phillip Lindsay and Jordan Howard for him. One person sent James Conner for Kamara straight up.
Yeah, I know, these things don't happen in your league. But they're happening in leagues, so I'm going to talk about it.
Whenever a player sees a dip in usage, you've got to first ask, "Why?" Why did Kamara carry the ball only six times in Week 5? Why did he see just four targets?
Fortunately, there are plenty of logical reasons for it. Kamara was actually on the injury report leading up to their game against Washington. He had a knee injury. It was nothing major, but he was limited in practice all week heading into their contest.
Mark Ingram also returned to the lineup after being suspended, and Ingram's return was going to hurt Kamara's workload. If you didn't see that one coming, then, well, you were probably overrating Kamara to begin with. Through the first four weeks of the 2018 season, Kamara had about a 59% rushing share and a 29% target share. Last season, those numbers were about 27% and 20%, respectively.
The game against Washington got out of hand. The Saints ran away with it early, which meant there was less of a need to throw their talented, banged-up running back onto the field. Kamara touched the ball only four times in the second half, and all of his targets came in the first half.
Like I said, Kamara wasn't going to maintain the type of market share numbers that he was seeing throughout the first four weeks of the season, but to expect this type of split moving forward would be foolish. There's no need to assume his target share numbers will drastically change from last year, and given what we saw from Weeks 1 through 4, his rushing share should be higher than the sub-30% mark from a season ago, too.
He's going to score fewer touchdowns from here on out this year compared to his rate of scoring last year. The Saints had the same number of rushing touchdowns as they did passing touchdowns in 2017, and that's something that typically bounces back year over year.
But to that point, New Orleans is a more pass-friendly team here in 2018 than they were in 2017. Last year, they had a pass-to-rush attempt ratio of 1.28. This season, it's 1.51. The difference? The Saints have been a lot worse defensively this year, so they can't just run the football whenever they want.
And that's the good news for Alvin Kamara. If -- and, again, there's no reason we should think otherwise -- he maintains that 20% target share for the rest of the season, then he's gobbling up one-fifth of a larger pie. There are more passes. And that can help combat any lack of touchdowns that he'll score versus how he performed last year.
He's splitting work, but he's splitting work in a very effective offense. And he's going to see plenty of work through the air. After one game, we shouldn't be selling Alvin Kamara. We should be buying based on how fantasy managers seem to be viewing Mark Ingram's presence.
Sell Tyler Lockett
Russell Wilson was a "sell" in this column last week and, well, he went out and threw three touchdowns in Week 6. But that doesn't really change the crux of the argument for selling Wilson -- he continues to throw touchdowns at an unsustainable pace. His 7.9% touchdown rate is over two percentage points higher than his career average. He's failed to hit the 200-yard mark in half of his games this year, and he's come close to 300 yards only once, which came back in Week 1.
To put this all another way, Seattle has been a run-heavy team that just happens to be scoring touchdowns via the air. Yes, Russell Wilson is good, but touchdown rates like this are usually difficult to maintain across an entire season.
No player has benefited from this high touchdown rate more than Tyler Lockett. He's scored a touchdown in all but one game this year, and he's finding the end zone for every 72 yards receiving. The league average at wide receiver over the last seven years has been a touchdown scored on every 166.8 yards.
With Doug Baldwin looking healthy again, we shouldn't expect Lockett to keep this up.
Add D’Onta Foreman
I'm not much of a believer in players coming off of injuries, let alone potential career-changing ones. And that's what we're getting with D'Onta Foreman. Last season, Foreman tore his Achilles, and he's been out ever since.
But it sounds like things are progressing well, at least. He's on track to return this season, and he's eligible to come off of the PUP list in Week 7. All the while, Houston's running backs haven't been all that effective on the ground this year. Offensive line issues aside, Lamar Miller has just a 36.5% Success Rate (the percentage of positive expected point runs, according to numberFire's Net Expected Points model), while Alfred Blue's is just 32.7%. Typically, the league's average Success Rate at running back is just south of 40%.
It's unlikely we see Foreman make an immediate impact. Bill O'Brien doesn't sound confident that he'll even be activated this week. But he's a decent stash in an offense with lots of potential.
Buy Jarvis Landry
Since Baker Mayfield became the starter, Jarvis Landry's actually seen his production drop. He has just 114 yards across Cleveland's last three games, when he tallied 175 in his first two of the season.
There are lots of things going in Landry's favor right now, though. He has a top-10 target share in the league, he's close to the top-10 in air yards and, as I noted in last week's 15 Transactions column, the Browns' schedule is juicy over the next month. They'll face arguably the top matchup for passing attacks this week in the Buccaneers, and then they'll see the Steelers, Chiefs, and Falcons. It's the perfect time to buy Jarvis Landry.
Sell Alex Collins
Here's the good news: Alex Collins saw two goal-line carries in Week 6. He's had issues holding onto the football dating back to college, and there was fear -- fear that I've written about in this column -- that he'd lose all goal-line duties as a result of his inability to hold onto the football. That hasn't totally happened.
Collins hasn't been great, though. He's reached 10 receiving yards in just one contest this year, and he's not having a ton of success on the ground, failing to hit the 70-yard mark in any game.
And it's because of teammate Javorius Allen. Allen has more than double the number of targets Collins has, and across the entire season, he has just as many goal-line rushes. Over the team's last three games, Allen has played 14 more snaps than Collins, too.
Collins is coming off a game in which he was able to find the end zone twice. Considering his yardage totals and how running backs have historically scored with those totals, he should have closer to just one total touchdown this season versus the four that he has. This is the perfect time to sell.
Add Ito Smith
Devonta Freeman has a foot injury that kept him inactive in Week 6, allowing Ito Smith to play as the team's number-two back. The split between Smith and Tevin Coleman wasn't very significant this past Sunday, with the former playing just seven fewer snaps.
Smith's been pretty effective this year -- he actually leads all Atlanta running backs in Success Rate. The Falcons aren't afraid to use him in high-leverage spots, either, as he has two carries within the 10-yard line over the last three weeks versus Coleman's one.
He's earned a role in that backfield. If Freeman misses more time -- and it sounds like he won't play in Week 7 -- then Smith works as a flex play with upside.
Buy Odell Beckham
It's tough to buy players who are associated with Eli Manning right now. With Odell Beckham, you're buying the peripherals and the upcoming schedule. Beckham still has a top target share in football, and he's got one of the best air yards target shares in the league, too. Volume isn't really the problem. The issue has been taking that volume and turning it into big performances, specifically big performances where touchdowns are being scored.
Fortunately, the Giants will face the Falcons and Buccaneers in two of their next four games, and those two are two of the worst teams at defending opposing wideouts. They'll also get Washington and San Francisco in between, neither of whom pose as super serious threats.
So, similar to Jarvis Landry, the usage and schedule should create a nice bounceback for OBJ.
Add Marlon Mack
Rostered in just 26% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues, Marlon Mack returned to action in Week 6 and got the start for the Colts. The game script went south for Indy, so the team utilized pass-catcher Nyheim Hines more, but Mack still was on the field for 34.8% of the team's snaps. With games upcoming against Buffalo and Oakland, game flow should be a lot better for Mack. He's worth an add this week, though he shouldn't be a huge priority for most teams considering his situation.
Sell James White
Prior to Week 5, I called James White more of a higher-end RB2 in fantasy football as opposed to the RB1 that he was performing like. He then went out and caught 10 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown while also scoring once on the ground.
Week 6 was more or less what we should expect moving forward. New England didn't face much of a negative script, and White was on the field for about 42% of their snaps. That type of snap share should continue with the emergence of Sony Michel. White did see seven targets, but those seven looks accounted for 20% of New England's passes, when his target share entering the game was 24.5%.
This is what will give him a high floor each week, especially in PPR formats -- he's going to still see a good number of targets. But goal-line work looks to be Sony Michel's, and White was over-performing in the touchdown column big time heading into Week 6: given his rushing and receiving yardage totals, White should've had over three fewer touchdowns than he scored up to that point. Even if you account for the Patriots' offense, he was still in store for touchdown regression.
If you can sell White as an RB1, you do it. He's a strong piece to have in your RB2 spot, but don't expect him to score at the rate he was to start the year. New England performing at New England levels again only strengthens that point because they may not see as many negative game scripts.
Hold Will Fuller
If you listened to last week's Late-Round Podcast mailbag episode, well, first off, thank you. I appreciate the love. But important to this transaction, I talked about Will Fuller's lack of love in the Houston offense, and how it seemed to correlate directly to when Keke Coutee became part of the offense. Fuller missed some time in their matchup against the Colts a few weeks ago, but over his last two games, he's compiled just six targets for an 8.7% target share in the offense.
Let's just say I don't think it's not time to panic.
Anytime you add a genuine piece to an offense, other non-elite players will suffer. DeAndre Hopkins is elite, so his target share won't fluctuate much week to week with the addition of Coutee. Fuller isn't on Hopkins' level. He's a really good player who can score points in bunches, but when the deep balls aren't connecting, it can be a problem. And that's what we're seeing.
The problem is, you can't exactly sell Fuller after these two down games. If you can, I'm not against it because Coutee's presence seems to be hindering Fuller's upside a bit.
Add Christian Kirk
The arrow has been pointing up for Christian Kirk for a few weeks now, it's just that the Cardinals' offense hasn't been very good, so his output hasn't been there. With Josh Rosen under center this year, though, Kirk has seen 19 targets, good for a 21.1% target share. With Sam Bradford, that number was 15.0%. After this week's game against Denver, Arizona will face three plus matchups for Kirk when they go up against the 49ers, Chiefs, and Raiders. Rather than wait for that stretch, it's not a bad idea to get him now.
Sell Trey Burton
As I tend to say each week, if your tight end is breathing, your tight end is probably usable in fantasy football. In Trey Burton's case, it's not that he won't be a start-worthy tight end for a lot of teams for the rest of the season, it's just that folks rostering Burton have been very fortunate that he's found the end zone this year. His actual production hasn't exactly coincided with his fantasy production -- he has just 15 receptions and fewer than 200 receiving yards. He's just scored three times, making him a fringe TE1 in fantasy football.
So, sure, if you've got him, feel free to unload him. I'd rather roster someone like Vance McDonald across the rest of the season.
Buy Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks has found the end zone just once this season, and that's hurt his fantasy football production. He's one of the top positive touchdown regression candidates you'll find, though. Despite missing the majority of his Week 5 game against the Seahawks with a concussion, Cooks still ranks in the top-10 in receiving yards, and he has a 24.1% target share in games outside of the Seattle one where he was knocked out. Cooks also has seven red-zone targets, which ranks in the top-25 across the league. It's not like they're only utilizing him as some deep threat.
The Rams face San Francisco, Green Bay, New Orleans, Seattle, Kansas City, and Detroit over their next six games. Some of those games will project to be high-scoring ones, and none are all that scary from a matchup standpoint. All of this makes Cooks a great buy.
Add Mitchell Trubisky
Mitchell Trubisky's numbers have been awesome over his last two games, but we shouldn't get too excited. He's thrown a touchdown on almost 16% of his passes, which is not going to continue -- the league's average touchdown rate usually hovers around 4.5% these days.
With that being said, he's in a good spot in Week 7 and makes for a good quarterback streamer. The Patriots are visiting the Bears, and the Pats are 3.5-point favorites with a fairly high 49.5-point over/under. On the year, New England ranks in the bottom half of the league in net yards per attempt allowed, and they've surrendered the 10th-most passing yards. Three quarterbacks have also posted high-end QB1 numbers against them in six games. You could do much worse than Trubisky off the wire this week.
Add the Indianapolis Colts' Defense
Since Week 2, which is when Josh Allen took over as starter for the Bills, defenses have averaged 3.6 sacks and 1.4 interceptions per game against the Bills. The Colts get them this week in Indianapolis, where the Bills are fairly big underdogs in a game that has a low 42.5-point over/under. In other words, Indy could be playing with a positive game script at home against a turnover-prone offense. They make for a strong defensive streamer.