NFL

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 9

You could easily make the argument -- there may not even be an argument -- that the New England Patriots defense is, thus far, this year's fantasy football MVP.

And that brings forth an interesting dilemma for those of us -- yes, I've got them, too -- with the unit on our fantasy squads.

Can the Patriots really keep this up? Is this sustainable?

Are we witnessing fantasy football history?

Sell the New England Patriots Defense

The analogy I've been using on my podcast (which is called The Late-Round Podcast, and you should subscribe to it) to describe the Patriots defense is as follows:

Imagine you've got a friend who ran a mile in five minutes, but that mile was done on a track. There were no hills -- there was no rise and fall in elevation.

Would you tell your friend that their mile wasn't that impressive as a result? Hell no. A five-minute mile is fast, no matter where you ran it.

The New England defense has been good, no matter who they've faced.

...but they haven't gone up against the most formidable opposition this season.

Among their seven opponents (they've faced the Jets twice), six rank in the top-eight in fantasy points allowed to opposing defenses. Even when you remove the Patriots defense from the equation since they skew those numbers a bit, those six still rank in the top-11, with five of them in the top-7.

Things will look a little different over the next month and a half. They get the Ravens this week (sixth-worst matchup for a defense in fantasy points against), then the Eagles (17th), Cowboys (1st), Texans (14th), and Chiefs (2nd) over their next five games. It's unlikely we see this type of production -- this absolutely insane production -- from the New England defense during this stretch.

Now, it should be noted that if you're in a good spot to make the playoffs and lock up a bye, the Patriots do face Cincinnati and Buffalo in Weeks 15 and 16. It's always worth hearing offers, but they'll be an elite option during the playoffs.

In all, though, we know that defenses are relatively replaceable in fantasy football given the number that are available to choose from each week in most leagues. So if there's a leaguemate who'll buy into what's happened across the first half of the season, it may not be a bad time to sell.

Buy Le'Veon Bell

It's been a rough couple of weeks for the Jets offense, and things haven't been any better for Le'Veon Bell. Since Sam Darnold's return from mono, Bell's ranked no higher than RB22 in weekly PPR scoring, and he's caught just five passes. That's not what you like to see from a guy who was often selected in the first round of fantasy drafts in August.

Fortunately, things should get better. It was good to see Bell with a target share north of 17% on Sunday, and he's still managing almost 86% of the team's running back rushes. The volume is there. And that volume should come in handy against New York's cakewalk of an upcoming schedule. Get this: over the Jets' next six games, they'll face the Dolphins, Giants, Redskins, Raiders, Bengals, and Dolphins again. Not only do the Jets have a good chance at some positive game scripts against those opponents, but five of the six rank as top-12 matchups for a running back from a fantasy points allowed perspective.

Don't expect Bell to give you solid RB1 numbers, but you likely won't have to come close to paying that if you trade for him this week.

Hold David Montgomery

In most cases, it would make sense to try and move David Montgomery after his first top-10 performance of the season. (Sunday was actually the first time he scored more than 14 PPR points.) And, really, if I had to make one move -- if I had to either buy or sell Montgomery -- I'd likely go with the latter.

But, as I talked about on my podcast last week (did I mention that you should subscribe to it?), Chicago's got some easy matchups on their schedule, including games against the Packers (sixth-worst team against fantasy running backs this year) and Chiefs (fourth-worst) in the fantasy playoffs. There's at least some reason to hold onto Montgomery instead of instantly selling him. And what if his market share numbers hold? On Sunday, he saw 81.8% of Chicago's running back rushes with a 15.1% target share. All of a sudden, you'll have a strong RB2 on your roster with upside.

Drop Jared Goff

A few weeks ago, after an atrocious performance against the 49ers, Jared Goff was a "hold" in this column. And it was strictly due to the Rams' Week 8 and 9 opponents -- they were facing Atlanta and Cincinnati. Now that those matchups are behind us and Los Angeles is on a bye, in most leagues, you can feel free to drop Goff. Don't let the last two weeks overshadow the fact that he can be brutal in difficult matchups.

Buy James White

It's tough to find a more consistent PPR running back than James White. On the season, he's finished no worse than RB23 in weekly scoring, but he's been no better than RB14.

Like I said: he's consistent.

It's nice to have that week-in, week-out floor, but what's interesting about White's profile is that he also hasn't found the end zone much. He's scored just once -- meaning, he's maintaining this production without the big scoring boosts.

He should have more scores, though. White currently has 358 receiving yards and 66 rushing yards. Touchdowns correlate pretty well with yards, and over the last five years, a running back with those totals has scored, on average, 2.2 touchdowns. So White's underperforming in the touchdown column when looking at regression in this way.

Digging deeper, he definitely should have more touchdowns. Entering last week, White was actually leading the NFL in red-zone targets. Post-Week 8, he's just one behind the league leaders Julian Edelman and Mike Evans. He's also got four targets from within his opponent's 10-yard line.

No, he won't see goal-line work very often -- he's touched the ball from within the five just once this year -- but looks in the red zone will eventually bring better results.

And, remember, this is all happening while the Patriots have steamrolled teams. Given their tougher upcoming schedule, what happens if they're in more of a neutral game script? What happens if they -- dare I say -- trail in contests? We could end up seeing White on the field more, which ups the chances he scores more fantasy points.

Rex Burkhead is somewhat of a threat, but White's still one of the best lower-key trade targets this week.

Add Dallas Goedert

This isn't meant to be a humble brag (OK, maybe it kind of is), but Dallas Goedert's been featured on The Late-Round Podcast for a few weeks now. And he was an add in last week's 15 Transactions column, too.

Basically, things have been trending up for Goedert for a few weeks, but not enough teams are rostering him on the big fantasy football platforms.

Change that.

Goedert's now seen at least 10% of Philly's targets in each of the team's last five games, and he's coming off a contest where he played over 75% of the Eagles' snaps, his highest snap share of the season.

Over the last three weeks, Goedert's straight-up outplayed Zach Ertz. He's seen 17 targets to Ertz's 18, but he's more than doubled Ertz's fantasy output (35.9 PPR points versus 17.2). And he's been targeted once within the opponent's 10, when Ertz hasn't seen a look from there.

The tight end position is mostly a dumpster fire, making Goedert an obvious add for those of you who didn't add him last week.

Sell Kenyan Drake

On Monday, the Cardinals made a surprising move and sent a later-round draft pick to the Dolphins for Kenyan Drake. That seems to signal that David Johnson may not be ready to return anytime soon, but Chase Edmonds hurt his hamstring on Sunday, and he'll be out for a few weeks.

The immediate reaction may be to buy Drake, who's likely to see, at least this week, the bulk of Arizona's touches. But they're facing off against San Francisco, one of the toughest matchups on paper, and then in Week 10, they'll get the Bucs, who've allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL this year. After that, it's San Francisco again before their bye.

So that's potentially four straight weeks of crap for Kenyan Drake to deal with, and that's under the assumption that Johnson and Edmonds are sidelined. If one is good to go -- especially Johnson -- then Drake's volume potential will tank. And by the time this bad stretch of games is over, both running backs could be healthy.

Add Rashaad Penny

Penny's available in 69% (nice) of Yahoo! fantasy leagues right now, but that number should be higher. It's not because he has immense standalone value -- he saw just 28% of Seattle's running back rushes on Sunday without a target. It's because it's handcuff season. And Penny, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, could be dealt before the trade deadline. If that's the case, his value will likely rise.

Buy Mike Williams

As mediocre as Mike Williams has been this year, his peripheral numbers aren't bad at all. He's seen at least 14% of the Chargers' targets in every game since Week 1, including shares north of 20% in three of his last four contests. Per AirYards.com, just seven wide receivers have more air yards this season. Unsurprisingly, that gives Williams the highest average depth of target on the LA roster.

He just hasn't found the end zone on his 50 targets this year, which is interesting considering he found it 10 times on 66 targets in 2018. (It's almost like touchdowns can be random.) His receiving yardage total, though, does tell us -- and this is based on the last five years of wide receiver data -- that he should have over two and a half more scores. That would likely change the way a lot of us view Williams and his borderline dreadful fantasy campaign.

Things should get better through the end of the year, making this a good buy-low moment.

Add Josh Reynolds

Brandin Cooks suffered another concussion on Sunday, which allowed Josh Reynolds to play about 89% of the Rams' offensive snaps. He ended the day with a really strong 26.7% target share. The Rams are on a bye this week, which should make Reynolds incredibly easy to snag off the waiver wire. Since Cooks has a concussion history, there's a shot he misses an extended period of time. Reynolds is one of the borderline wide receiver adds this week to go along with guys like Chris Conley and Alex Erickson, but it made sense to call out Reynolds since the cost of acquisition should be minuscule due to the bye week.

Add Tra Carson

Are you ever going to actually put Tra Carson in your starting lineup this year? In most leagues, probably not. But fantasy football is a game of probability, and maybe -- just maybe -- Carson ends up seeing a bigger role for Detroit as the season goes on.

He did handle 52% of the Lions' running back rushes on Sunday, so there's that. The downside is that Ty Johnson led the backfield committee in snaps played, and Carson wasn't targeted once. He'll need to be more involved in the passing game if he's going to be fantasy relevant. He's worth a flier addition right now, though.

Sell Joe Mixon

Out of seemingly nowhere, we got a good Joe Mixon game. Unfortunately, we still didn't see a big improvement with his involvement in the passing game (he had an 8.5% target share), and he still only played 50.6% of Cincinnati's snaps. His highest snap share over the last three weeks has been just 54%. Given the offensive situation, his overall usage, and specifically his receiving work, Mixon is a pretty obvious sell-high candidate entering Week 9.

Add Mitch Trubisky

Trubisky is rostered in a quarter of Yahoo! leagues, so he qualifies as a traditional streaming quarterback. And he's got the right matchup in Week 9. The Bears are going up against Philadelphia, a team allowing over 21 points per game this year when you exclude quarterbacks from the subset named "Luke Falk." They rank 13th-worst in yards per attempt, so there's nothing special about the secondary (as we know), and they're a top-10 team in pass attempts against. FanDuel Sportsbook has the Bears as five-point underdogs, so we probably shouldn't expect them to get away with being incredibly run-heavy. And if they're throwing more, that not only has a chance to help Trubisky's passing stats, but he's got more rushing and scrambling upside, too.

Add Derek Carr

A safer streaming option is probably Derek Carr, who's at home facing the Lions this week. The contest has a pretty high 51.5-point over/under and, like Philadelphia, Detroit hasn't been special at defending the pass this year, ranking as a very average secondary according to yards per attempt allowed. The Lions haven't been very good at getting to opposing quarterbacks, either, with the sixth-worst sack and hurry rate in football.

Add the Cleveland Browns Defense

The Jets are the obvious defensive add this week off the waiver wire since they're facing Miami, but don't ignore Cleveland. The Browns are traveling to Denver, so they get dinged for being on the road, but the Broncos are going to be starting Brandon Allen after it was revealed that Joe Flacco has a herniated disc in his neck. Anytime you can get a defense facing a backup -- in this case, you could almost consider him a third-stringer -- you go for it.