15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 9
Last week, someone asked a pretty straightforward trade question on Twitter.
"Stafford for Julio straight up?"
Umm, come again? I mean, I know Julio Jones is struggling to find the end zone, but...what?
After asking if the trade was real or not, the fantasy manager added perspective -- it was a two-quarterback league. Then it at least made a little more sense.
This isn't all that uncommon. It's easy for people to forget that their league may be different than the norm. But it's an important thing -- a vital thing -- to remember. Without proper context, you can end up making the wrong moves. And without proper context -- without reading what's below the headlines -- you can also misunderstand some of the transactions in this column each week.
This is all a long-winded way of me saying: please don't headline read. Or, if you do, don't misinterpret the meaning behind each transaction.
Add Keke Coutee
Will Fuller is out for the season with a torn ACL, which is bad news for Deshaun Watson, who hasn't had the greatest splits with and without Fuller during his short NFL career. But it's good news for Keke Coutee, who becomes the number-two option in Houston, a team without a lot of depth at receiver.
The biggest question is how Coutee will be utilized. Up until this point, he's been more of a short-yardage slot guy without a lot of work down the field. To quantify that statement: he has a 5.0-yard average depth of target this year while playing 72.8% of his snaps (per Pro Football Focus) from the slot, and he's seen just 10% of his targets travel 15-plus air yards. Fuller played primarily on the outside. His average depth of target was 13.8, and he saw a deep ball on almost 29% of his targets.
Considering this, there's a chance that Coutee doesn't take on the type of role that us fantasy managers want, but even still, without Fuller, Coutee should have a lot of opportunity from a volume standpoint. He's rostered in just 20% of Yahoo! leagues, and he's a very strong waiver add this week. Do know that he's dealing with a hamstring issue, though.
Buy John Brown
You sort of know what you're getting with John Brown at this point. He's a dynamic wide receiver who can stretch the field, but the high depth of his targets can lead to some inconsistency week to week. That's what we saw in Week 8: Joe Flacco didn't complete a deep ball on eight attempts, and Brown was on the receiving end of three of those passes. In turn, he had just 3 catches for 28 yards.
Brown is still second in the NFL in air yards, and his 17.3% target share is nice for a deep threat. But Brown's not a buy because he had a bad week and his season-long numbers are still strong. I mean, that's part of it, but a bigger piece to this is the Ravens' upcoming schedule. They'll face the Steelers at home on Sunday, a team that Brown crushed earlier in the year, catching 3 passes for 116 yards and a score. Then, they'll get Cincinnati, Oakland, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay. Not only could a lot of those games end as high-scoring ones, but the Bengals, Raiders, and Chiefs all rank in the top-seven in average depth of target allowed this year. It's a fantastic schedule for the Ravens' passing attack, specifically Brown.
Add DJ Moore
The Panthers finally deployed D.J. Moore like their number-two receiver this past week. Through Week 7, Moore hadn't hit the 50% snap share mark in a single game this season, and he ranked fourth among Carolina wide receivers in routes run, per Pro Football Focus. In Week 8, Moore was on the field for about 71% of the Panthers' snaps, and he ran the second-most routes at the position. So his big 5-catch, 90-yard day was no fluke: they used him more. Part of that reason was because Torrey Smith didn't play, and up until Sunday, Smith was second on the team in snaps. But with Moore's performance and his natural development as a rookie, we should expect him to steal more and more work as the season moves forward.
Buy Corey Davis
You shouldn't have to give up a lot to get Corey Davis. He's averaging just 10.8 PPR points per game, and he's finished higher than WR42 in weekly scoring just once. Why would you need to sell of starting assets for that?
So why target him given this production? Well, the Titans have faced a good number of defenses that can stop wideouts, especially top wideouts. The only matchup they've had against a team that ranks in the top-15 in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers has been Philadelphia, and in that game, Davis caught 9 of 15 targets for 161 yards and a score. Meanwhile, the Titans have seen cornerbacks Xavien Howard, Jalen Ramsey, Jimmy Smith, Casey Hayward, and Tre'Davious White.
Davis' peripheral numbers are there. He has a 28.4% target share in the offense, and he ranks 10th at wide receiver in air yards market share. With a softer schedule upcoming -- at least a softer schedule than what they've seen -- and a bye week in the rearview, this is the time to buy Davis super low. You're betting on talent and upside.
Add DeVante Parker
Without Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, the Dolphins were forced to put DeVante Parker on the field on Thursday night. He delivered, catching 6 of 9 targets for 134 yards. He also played every single offensive snap. You're adding Parker this week because he's got a shot to do it again in Week 9 with Stills' injury status up in the air. The Dolphins are also facing the Jets, who've allowed the seventh-most points to wide receivers this year.
Sell Eric Ebron
After years of Eric Ebron doesn't score touchdowns!, all he's done in 2018 is score touchdowns. He's got 7 of them in 8 games, when he tallied 11 in 56 contests prior to this year.
Yes, regression is coming, but that's not really the main reason you should be selling Ebron this week. With Jack Doyle back in action, Ebron saw his usage drop dramatically in Week 8, as he played just 21.8% of the team's snaps. There were actually three Colts tight ends who played more snaps than Ebron on Sunday. And for reference, without Doyle in the lineup this year, Ebron had played about 73% of Indy's snaps.
That lack of snap share hurt Ebron's...everything. He only ran 10 routes, when that number had never dipped below 20 without Doyle. And then he saw just three targets, a season low.
If you were relying on Ebron up until this point, you're probably going to have to find another option.
Add Jack Doyle
Naturally, if Ebron's a sell, then Doyle's an add. He's still out there on 75% of Yahoo! waiver wires, making him easily the top target at the position this week. He played the most snaps and ran the most routes among Colts' tight ends in his first game back from injury on Sunday, and he tied Dontrelle Inman with a team-high seven targets. Keep in mind that Indianapolis has a bye this week, but that may make obtaining Doyle a little easier.
Add Tre’Quan Smith
Tre'Quan Smith had only 3 catches for 18 yards against the Vikings on Sunday night, but that looks a little better when realizing that Drew Brees threw it just 23 times for 120 yards. Smith, once again, was New Orleans' number-two wideout, playing 77.4% of the team's snaps while running just two fewer routes than Michael Thomas. The Saints haven't been as pass-happy as they were to start the year thanks to an improving defense, but their upcoming schedule should help that a bit. They get the Rams this week, then they'll face the Bengals, Eagles, Falcons, Cowboys, Bucs, Panthers, and Steelers. That's a list of a lot of good opposing offenses to keep the game close and the Saints passing. Or, at the very least, those are a handful of good matchups for the New Orleans' passing attack.
Sell Tyler Lockett
This is getting silly. Lockett's found the end zone in all but one game this year, scoring a touchdown on every 5.7 targets and for every 65.7 receiving yards. The average wide receiver this year is scoring on about every 18 targets and 149 receiving yards. If his targets were coming close to the end zone, it'd be one thing. But Lockett has just four red-zone looks this year -- 83 players have more. And his 18.6% target share isn't anything special in a low-volume offense, either. To put it simply, Lockett is breaking math. He's an easy sell candidate.
Add Elijah McGuire
Without Bilal Powell in Week 8, Trenton Cannon played 53.7% of the team's snaps, running the ball 6 times while seeing 4 targets through the air. Cannon actually out-snapped starter Isaiah Crowell thanks to a negative game script, and his nine total touches (attempts plus receptions) were only four off of Crow's 14.
Now, Elijah McGuire is set to return from injured reserve this week, completely muddying the backfield. There's a case to be made for McGuire having some upside, though. During his rookie year in 2017, he finished with a better Success Rate, or the percentage of positive expected point runs, than Powell, and his 76.5% Success Rate as a receiver was best among all Jets backs. And then there's also New York's running back coach, Stump Mitchell, who compared McGuire to Ladainian Tomlinson this offseason. But we can ignore that coachspeak.
The bottom line: there's a shot that McGuire can carve out a role in this backfield, and that means there's a chance for him to be viable in fantasy football, too.
Buy Aaron Jones
On Sunday, Jones ran the ball 12 times and saw a pair of targets. He'd actually seen that type of usage earlier this season -- in Week 4 when the Packers beat down the Bills, Jones had 11 rushes and a target.
The biggest difference between Week 8 and that Week 4 game is snap share. And that's what's really key here. In Week 4, Jones played 38.2% of the Packers' snaps, which was a season high entering Sunday's game. In Week 8, that number jumped to 61.5%.
You better believe I'm buying this performance. Jones has been arguably the most efficient runner in football since the beginning of last year. Among all 80-plus attempt backs in 2017, Jones tied Duke Johnson for the highest Success Rate, and he became just the 29th player since the turn of the century to finish a year with that type of volume, a 50% Success Rate, and a 0.15 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush rate. To put that another way, his 2017 was hyper-efficient, and that's continued into 2018, as Jones has an even higher Success Rate compared to last season.
If -- and, yes, this is still a big "if" -- the Packers continue to feature him, he should be able to do work for your fantasy football team.
Add Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Even with Randall Cobb back in action for the Packers on Sunday, Marquez Valdes-Scantling played the second-most snaps at wideout for Green Bay. And the routes run breakdown paints a pretty optimistic picture for MVS: According to Pro Football Focus, Davante Adams ran 25 routes, Geronimo Allison was at 23, Valdes-Scantling at 22, and Cobb at 17. This is great for Valdes-Scantling, but not-so-great for those of you rostering Cobb. If this trend continues, MVS has potential in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
Buy Alshon Jeffery
Sometimes going after players who are on a bye is sound strategy. That's even truer for teams who are looking towards the playoffs. If your squad is in good shape, target Alshon Jeffery. He had a rough matchup in Week 8 against Jalen Ramsey and company, but in his four games prior to Sunday's matchup, Jeffery had seen 24.7% of Philadelphia's targets and 36% of the team's air yards. He had turned those market share rates into 6.3 receptions, 76.5 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown per game. Those are all great numbers.
With a down game on Sunday and a bye upcoming, he's a definite buy-low guy. And post-bye, there's not a difficult matchup on his schedule. If you're trying to add Jeffery, this is the time to do it.
Add Ryan Fitzpatrick
It's risky to play a Tampa Bay quarterback at this point because we have no idea if and when they'll be pulled mid-game. But during a week where there aren't slam dunk streaming quarterback options, why not be a little bold?
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named starter of the Buccaneers (again), and we know that Tampa Bay's quarterback is a valuable one in fantasy football. With the help of all the team's weapons and the lack of running game, Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston have combined to score 26.6 fantasy points per game. If they were one quarterback, they'd be second to only Patrick Mahomes in points scored per contest.
So the matchup side of things matters a little less -- whoever's under center should score points. But it's not like the Panthers have some ultra-tough secondary. They've actually allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to the position this season.
The game is in Carolina, which is a bummer, but there's a high 54.0-point game total. There's the potential for a shootout. That makes Fitzpatrick this week's top streaming option.
Add the Miami Dolphins' Defense
This week, the Dolphins will be at home as 3.0-point favorites against the Jets. New York has allowed at least one sack in each game, and Sam Darnold has been picked off in all but two contests this year. Rostered in just 11% of Yahoo! leagues, Miami's a fine enough streamer this week.