15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 4
Back in March, the San Diego Chargers signed Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown despite having the two-headed monster of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead already rostered. It was an odd move to many, not only because the Colts could've used Brown in 2014, but because Brown, who was incredibly efficient in 2013, looked like he'd be buried on the Chargers depth chart.
This is why we don't run NFL teams.
After three weeks of the NFL season, Donald Brown, thanks to injuries to Woodhead and Mathews, is the starter in San Diego. It's amazing how things work out.
Let's start this week's 15 Transactions article taking a look at his situation.
Buy Donald Brown
If Brown's available in your league, you should be using your top waiver wire priority on him this week. And it's mostly for the same reasons shown last week, just with even more upside.
Danny Woodhead's now out for the year, and Ryan Mathews could be out another four weeks. Not only that, but there's no guarantee Mathews will be 100 percent when he returns. That means Donald Brown's 31-carry Week 3 could very easily happen again.
As I noted last week, the Chargers are a fairly run-heavy team, and will still run the football close to the goal line. That's now Donald Brown, and will more than likely only be Donald Brown. That's also fantasy points, and a lot of them.
I say "buy" here because most league more than likely don't have Brown on the waiver wire. However, his owner may be underwhelmed by his low yards per carry average against the Bills, and may be willing to sell at a reasonable price thanks to Mathews' eventual return. But not only will Brown be a lead back in a runner-friendly offense for a few more weeks, he'll also have value when Mathews comes back. Let's not forget that Danny Woodhead had over 100 carries last year and was heavily involved in the passing game, catching 76 balls.
Get Donald Brown on your fantasy team.
Add Lorenzo Taliaferro
I'm not going to lie, seeing Lorenzo Taliaferro get work and do good things with it brought a smile to my face this weekend. Not only was he a guy I wanted fantasy owners to add prior to Week 1, but I touted him after Ray Rice was cut prior to Week 2 as well.
(Sick brag, dude.)
The reason for this is pretty straightforward. Starter Bernard Pierce has been one of the least efficient runners in the league according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric over the last two-plus years, and Just Forsett is on his fifth NFL team at the age of 28.
Owners should probably still expect Pierce and Forsett to be involved, but Taliaferro showed on Sunday why he deserves the gig. He's a great guy to have on your bench given his upside.
Add Alfred Blue
Arian Foster missed Week 3, and Alfred Blue stepped in admirably. The most important thing was that Blue saw at least 10 more carries than any other Houston Texans back, proving he's clearly Foster's handcuff.
Foster's timetable to return is up in the air, but even when he does come back, Blue could have a little standalone value in deeper leagues given the team's drive to run the football. If Foster gets hurt, you then have the team starter. Blue is a great stash.
Buy Demaryius Thomas
For a first-round fantasy wide receiver, Demaryius Thomas' start hasn't been ideal. Newcomer Emmanuel Sanders has out-targeted him 33 to 27 through three games, and has a Reception Net Expected Points total that's over eight points higher.
If a fantasy owners is worried or dissatisfied with Demaryius' performances, now is a good time to try and make a deal. Not only did Thomas have a tough Week 3 test in Seattle, but he's still averaging nine targets per game, tied for the 13th-most in the NFL at wide receiver. Don't give up on him now.
Add Niles Paul
With Jordan Reed still sidelined, Paul is a nice plug-and-play tight end in fantasy.
Add Teddy Bridgewater
There are two reasons quarterback-needy teams may want to look Bridgewater's way this week on the waiver wire. First, of course, is his potential ceiling. Though it's mostly due to ambiguity, Bridgewater could end up being a rare talent that's fantasy football gold. We've seen crazier, haven't we? The fact that he can run the football doesn't hurt.
He's also facing the Falcons this week. I know, I know - Atlanta looked great last Thursday night. But that game was in Atlanta, and the Falcons defense is still not the strength of the team. There's a chance for a high-scoring contest as well, which is good for the Vikings' quarterback.
He's not a must-add in standard, 10- or 12-team leagues, but Bridgewater should definitely be rostered in superflex or two-quarterback ones.
Drop Tom Brady
Among all NFL quarterbacks, Tom Brady ranks eighth-worst in Passing NEP. And it's just as bad in fantasy football, as Brady has yet to score more than the 12.5 fantasy points he saw in Week 3.
Tom Brady hasn't been good.
With the plethora of quarterbacks available in single-passer fantasy leagues, there's really no reason to hold onto him. I know that sounds crazy, but it's just what's realistic. The team is a fairly run-heavy one (1.37 pass-to-run ratio) and Brady is proving to us - after a not-so-friendly 2013 fantasy season - that he's just not the same fantasy asset he was just a couple of years ago.
Add Travis Kelce
I haven't renamed this article "Get Travis Kelce" just yet, but I probably should. This is the fourth 15 Transactions piece of the year, and in each one, Travis Kelce's been named. Last week, he finally scored.
Kelce now ranks third among tight ends in Target NEP, which measures the number of points a pass-catcher adds on all passes thrown his way. He now has more targets than tight end teammate Anthony Fasano, and has 3.5 more yards per target than him.
Kelce's still owned in fewer than 15% of ESPN.com leagues. Given the injuries to some fantasy starters at tight end this week, he's the perfect waiver wire add.
Add James Jones
Admittedly, owning and playing an Oakland Raiders wide receiver is going to be a headache. But with Rod Streater breaking his foot on Sunday, there could be a little less randomness to this wide receiving group in fantasy football.
James Jones is the guy to own in Oakland, having seen more targets than any other Raiders pass-catcher through three weeks. He also has the best Reception NEP score, ranking 28th in the NFL among wideouts.
Jones is still unowned in about 43% of fantasy leagues, so he could be available on your wire. If you need some wide receiver help, you could do worse.
Add Brian Quick
All that stuff about James Jones? Yeah, well, ignore it if you need just one wideout and Brian Quick is sitting on your waiver wire.
Quick, despite little volume in Week 3, is gobbling up the wide receiver targets in St. Louis this year. In fact, he has twice as many targets as any other Rams wideout.
Though the St. Louis passing attack isn't anything to get excited about, Quick should be owned in most formats. That's not happening according to ESPN.com's 24.3% ownership.
Sell Jason Witten
If you can get something in return for Jason Witten - maybe based on name alone - do it. Not only is Witten doing little in terms of fantasy points scored, but the number of usable tight ends out there - like the aforementioned Niles Paul and Travis Kelce - give Witten very little value. And having him on your team is only forcing you to start him, where he's providing just four or so fantasy points per week.
Witten just isn't the same tight end he used to be, evidenced by the fact that he ranked 28th out of 37 tight ends with 5 or more receptions within our Reception NEP per target metric. That's worse than guys like Zach Miller and Levine Toilolo.
Add the Chargers Defense
According to our Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points metric, the Chargers have played like the 20th-best defense in the NFL through three weeks. That's up from last year, which is a positive sign. But it's still not superb.
So why add them? Well, they're facing a Jaguars offense that's played 35 points below expectation through three weeks, or nearly 12 points per game. The squad ranked ahead of them - the second-worst offense in the league - is Tampa Bay, who's been roughly 17 points under expectation to start the year. In other words, Jacksonville's been so bad offensively that they're twice as inefficient as the 31st-ranked offense in the NFL.
Blake Bortles may be under center now, and while that may help Jacksonville, there's still a good chance for turnovers and sacks for San Diego this week.
Add Jordan Matthews
It was only a matter of time before Jordan Matthews got things going. He scored a pair of touchdowns in Week 3, and now has a Reception NEP that's nearly three times as large as teammate Riley Cooper's total. In essence, Matthews has played better. Much better.
He also has two more targets through three games and, as a rookie, that should only grow. Though the Eagles are relatively tough to predict week to week (despite their fantastic start), Matthews is worth an add if he's out there, given his red zone ability and upside.
Buy Andrew Hawkins
I fully admit that I didn't completely buy into the Baby Hawk hype entering the season, and he's now making me feel like an idiot.
It's been three games, but only six wide receivers have more receptions than Hawkins, with two of those receivers seeing less efficiency in terms of NEP. The passing situation in Cleveland is also playing out far better than we all expected, ranking 10th in the league according to our opponent-adjusted NEP numbers through three weeks.
Hawkins hasn't posted jaw-dropping numbers, but what he gives your fantasy football team is a nice floor every single week. If you're in a PPR league, I'd look to snag him if, for whatever reason, his owner isn't completely buying.
Sell Marques Colston
Marques Colston's day was saved with a late touchdown, but his owners know that having him in their lineup is an incredibly unpleasant experience.
The start to this season - one good game followed by a goose egg followed by a last-minute touchdown - is no different than what we saw a season ago from the veteran Saint. He typically puts together nice cumulative numbers based on a handful of monster games, but disappears during those in-between weeks. You may remember, but last year Colston had a three-game stretch with just 6 receptions on 11 targets for 44 yards and zero touchdowns.
Colston's touchdown may have saved his fantasy value for another week, and even though next week's matchup is a good one, predicting how Drew Brees is going to throw to his non-Jimmy Graham receivers is no easy task. If you can get rid of Colston, do it before Week 4.