NFL

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 3

You've got to react.

We can talk about how it's only been two weeks, and that the sample sizes we're working with are small. But some of you probably said that last year when JuJu Smith-Schuster was the seventh-best wide receiver through two games. Or when Phillip Lindsay ranked as fringe top-10 running back. Or when Ryan Fitzpatrick...well, you get the point.

There are frauds at the top of the fantasy football leaderboards, but plenty of players who've put up monster performances through two weeks are for real. The question is, who are those players?

The answers to some of those questions lie within these 15 transactions.

Sell Josh Jacobs

Josh Jacobs looked like he was going to be a true workhorse back after Oakland's Week 1 performance against Denver, but the Raiders also played in a positive game script for that entire game. Week 2 was different against Kansas City, where Oakland ran 43 offensive plays while trailing. That turned into just 12 rush attempts for Jacobs (he had 23 in Week 1) and, surprisingly, Jacobs failed to see a single target.

The strongest piece to his college production profile was that he was a solid pass-catcher, but the Raiders opted to use DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, who combined for five targets, instead. Jacobs has now run just 21 routes during Oakland's first two games, with Richard also at 21 and Washington at 11, per Pro Football Focus. That ranks outside the top-40 at running back.

This is a big deal because the Raiders are unlikely to be a very competitive team this year. If they're trailing, we may see less Josh Jacobs than we'd like.

And upcoming for the Raiders are matchups against the Vikings, Colts, Bears, Packers, and Texans. Those games don't exactly scream "positive game script" for Jacobs.

Buy Christian Kirk

If you listen to The Late-Round Podcast (if not, get on that), then you might recall a recommendation from last week about buying Christian Kirk. The idea was to wait until after his Week 2 game against Baltimore to pull the trigger, since the matchup was tough on paper for the Arizona offense.

Naturally, Kirk went out and caught 6 passes for 114 yards but, fortunately for those of you seeking a trade, Kirk failed to find the end zone.

The idea in fantasy football -- in anything, really -- is to typically buy players at a low point and sell them at a high one. If a player's failing to produce, but their peripherals look really good, then they're typically a good buy candidate. If the opposite is true, then you'd likely want to trade that player away.

For Kirk, you're not exactly buying low. He's coming off a 100-yard game. You're buying into a potentially high ceiling, though.

Through two games, Kirk has a 22.5% target share, which is a top-30 rate at wide receiver. The difference between that type of share and someone from, say, San Francisco, is that the Cardinals are a pass-heavy team that runs a lot of plays. After two weeks, no team has more pass attempts than Arizona has. They played a full overtime period, sure, but even if you remove all pass attempts from that OT, they'd still rank seventh. And this is actually sustainable because of pace. So far, Arizona leads the league in seconds per play by over two seconds.

What this means is that pass-catchers seeing a high target share in the Cardinals' offense will then see more overall volume than a typical receiver otherwise would. They're seeing a similar chunk of a larger pie.

Kirk is the player I'd want among all Arizona receivers given he's a second-year guy with loads of potential. But if you prefer buying Larry Fitzgerald or, really, the rest of the Arizona O, feel free. Their contest against Baltimore in Week 2 was pretty impressive when you consider the matchup.

Add Demarcus Robinson

Mecole Hardman was an add in this column last week due to Tyreek Hill's injury, and he came through with 4 catches for 61 yards and a score. That line could've been even better had LeSean McCoy not been called for a holding penalty on a 72-yard touchdown to Hardman.

Hardman played the third-most snaps at wide receiver on Sunday, though, placing Demarcus Robinson ahead of him in the pecking order. Robinson had the same number of targets as Hardman on Sunday, but he was able to do more with them, finishing the game with 172 receiving yards and a pair of scores. In this high-octane Kansas City offense, Robinson needs to be rostered.

Drop Donte Moncrief

Typically, drops are an overrated statistic in football. Because in order to drop the ball, a receiver has to get open and targeted. If a receiver's open, that means he likely ran a good route. And if he runs good routes consistently -- if he's targeted consistently -- then drops aren't as big of a deal. Not only that, but the difference in drop rate from one receiver to the next isn't likely to be significant.

Unless you're Donte Moncrief.

Moncrief now has 5 drops on 11 targets this season. His big Week 2 drop resulted not just in an interception but a benching as well. JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson all played more snaps at wide receiver than Moncrief on Sunday for Pittsburgh.

Moncrief's rostered in almost half of Yahoo! leagues, which is why it was necessary to call him out in today's column. So in honor of Moncrief, feel free to drop him.

Buy Mike Evans

Evans made this list of transactions last week, and he turned in a 4-catch, 61-yard performance in Week 2. He's now touchdown-less through two games, and he's been outplayed by teammate Chris Godwin. It hasn't been the greatest start.

Evans, though, has just two fewer targets than Godwin so far this season, and according to AirYards.com, he has 55 more air yards than his teammate. In fact, Evans' 18.0 average depth of target this season is the fourth-highest in the league among all 10-plus target pass-catchers.

There are positive signs for Evans. And, remember, he was sick during his Week 1 matchup against the 49ers. Expect things to get better for him across the rest of the season.

Add Darwin Thompson

LeSean McCoy had an MRI on his ankle on Monday, and Damien Williams had an early exit in the Chiefs' Week 2 win against the Raiders with a knee injury. Both players could miss zero time, but it's always good to be aggressive with running back adds, since we know injuries can go south quickly. So adding preseason favorite Darwin Thompson is a good call this week. And the same can and should be said about Jaylen Samuels for Pittsburgh, as James Conner is dealing with a knee injury of his own.

Add Deebo Samuel

The snap distribution for San Francisco wide receivers will put you on mega tilt. In Week 1, Deebo Samuel led the team with a snap share north of 88%. As you probably know, Dante Pettis, who wasn't 100% healthy, was on the field for just two snaps. And Marquise Goodwin played almost three-quarters of San Francisco's snaps against Tampa Bay.

On Sunday, things looked a lot different. Goodwin led the team with just a 51.4% snap share, followed by Pettis at 48.6%. Samuel was actually fourth on the team in snaps despite a productive 87-yard day where he found the end zone.

Really, this is all about buying into the player who looks to be the best at his position on his team. Samuel's a rookie, so the hope is that his snap share climbs as talent emerges. And it doesn't hurt that he has a 19% target share through two games.

Sell Sony Michel

During the offseason, there was a little hype surrounding Sony Michel's potential as a pass-catcher in the New England offense. Thus far, he's got zero targets in two games.

It's true that New England hasn't been in any sort of negative game script, but this is still concerning. Michel should see the field a lot in this type of game environment, and that's what we saw on Sunday, where he was on the field for almost half of New England's offensive snaps. And he now has two goal-line rushes on the year.

But the Patriots, as usual, are still targeting their running backs in the passing game quite a bit. We've seen over 32% of their targets go to backs, which is the second-highest mark in the league. And, technically, they should rank first given how Chicago used Tarik Cohen in Week 1.

So the argument that Michel hasn't been involved as a receiver because of game script doesn't really do it for me. In a negative script, he may just not find the field. We also know that the Patriots are arguably the league's best team, so how often will they be in a negative script, anyway?

So, what's this mean? It means Michel is a touchdown-dependent, low-floor option each week. Yes, of course the scoring upside is there -- we're talking about the lead early-down back on a team that could do historic things on offense this year. But use that -- and his pretty strong Week 2 performance -- as a selling point, knowing that his production is likely to be inconsistent week to week.

Add Golden Tate

Golden Tate's currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances, but we're approaching Week 3, which means he's close to returning. And the Giants could use him with Sterling Shepard dealing with a concussion and the team lacking depth at the position. He really could just walk into seven- or eight-plus targets per game. We've seen three New York wide receivers hit seven or more targets over these first two games.

Rostered in just 35% of Yahoo! leagues, don't wait to add Tate.

Buy Robert Woods

In Week 1, the odd man out among the Rams' wide receivers was Brandin Cooks. In turn, he was a buy in this column last week.

On Sunday, it was Robert Woods, who saw just 2 targets, 11 fewer than his total from their first game. It makes sense to buy him now, too. He still has a near 23% target share in the LA offense this year, and as I mentioned with Cooks last week, the Rams have a favorable schedule for their passing attack moving forward. They won't face a tough secondary until their Week 11 game against the Bears, and then they'll face the Ravens the following week. Until that point, though, things are looking good for Jared Goff and his passing attack.

Hold Kerryon Johnson

For Kerryon Johnson to hit his ceiling in 2019, two things had to happen. First, he needed to see goal-line work. Last year, goal-line touches were dominated by LeGarrette Blount in the Lions' backfield.

The second thing that needed to happen? Johnson had to see an uptick in receiving work. He wasn't likely to see 250-plus carries this year, so volume in the passing game was an important piece to his weekly baseline production.

So far, neither of those things are really happening.

At the surface level, what's most concerning about Johnson is his usage as a receiver. He did have a nice receiving touchdown in Week 2, but his 7.0% target share, a number that currently ranks outside the top-30 at running back, isn't going to cut it.

On top of that, Johnson's now carried just 53.9% of the Lions' running back rushes, which ranks outside the top-20 across the league. He did miss a large chunk of Sunday's fourth quarter with an injury, but the Lions only ran 10 plays without Johnson. On those plays, C.J. Anderson had four rushes (and one of the plays was a quarterback kneel). Even if you remove those runs from the equation, Johnson still has a running back rushing share outside the top-20.

The goal-line work is where things are sort of up in the air. Detroit hasn't run a single play from within their opponent's five-yard line this season, so we don't know what the backfield distribution is going to look like there.

It makes sense if you want to sell Johnson given this usage. If it continues, he's unlikely to live up to his draft-day cost. It may be advantageous to hold, though. Not only is he the best running back in that backfield, but our sample sizes are small enough to where target shares can be volatile -- it's not as though they're just not using him in the passing game like we're seeing with Sony Michel. And if Johnson does indeed get the team's goal-line work, he should be just fine.

Add Frank Gore

The year is 2026. Tom Brady has won his 10th Super Bowl with the Patriots. Patrick Mahomes is coming off a season where he threw 69 touchdown passes. Melvin Gordon is still holding out. And Frank Gore is listed as an "add" in every waiver wire column on the Internet.

Every year, Frank Gore finds a way. It's remarkable. Right now, his teammate, Devin Singletary, is dealing with a hamstring injury that could -- we don't know the extent -- keep him sidelined. If that's the case, Gore will be the Bills' primary running back. He's sort of already been that on early downs this year, having handled over 73% of the team's running back attempts.

Buy Leonard Fournette

Generally speaking, targeting running backs who are in objectively bad offenses isn't the best idea strategically. But in a fantasy football world where there are so few running backs who are seeing true bell-cow workloads, it's hard to fault anyone for going after Leonard Fournette right now.

Only Christian McCaffrey has seen a higher percentage of his team's running back carries so far this season, and Fournette is currently sixth at running back in target share. He hasn't been overly productive with 113 yards on 28 carries, but he also hasn't found the end zone yet, which is helpful for a buy-low opportunity. He should provide a nice floor each week, and if Gardner Minshew continues to show promise, perhaps Fournette will have a higher ceiling than expected, too.

Add Jimmy Garoppolo

Depending on your league, Jimmy Garoppolo might be available, and he makes for a good streaming option in Week 3. Pittsburgh's secondary has been awful through the first two weeks of the season, allowing 8.3 net yards per attempt, a top-five number in the league, and 6 touchdown passes, tied for the second-most. Jimmy G looked a lot better in Week 2 versus Week 1, and as a strong home favorite, he should be able to come through in this one for your fantasy squad.

Add the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense

It's surprising to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense being a recommended add, but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has the unit playing far better than expected this year, with the Bucs ranking in the top five in yards per play against. They haven't been able to get to the quarterback that much, but they'll get Eli Manning and the Giants this week, one of the more advantageous matchups in the league. The Bucs are 6.5-point home favorites according to FanDuel Sportsbook, which is exactly what you want out of a streaming defense.

Update: With Eli Manning not starting, the Buccaneers defense is less attractive. If you're in need of one, you could go with Green Bay.