15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 6
This isn't anything out of the ordinary. Running backs get hurt every year.
But as I noted in the offseason, the idea of running back busts - whether it's due to poor play or these injuries - is a little overblown by the fantasy community. Though the position is the least consistent at the top when looking at preseason rank to postseason result, it's also exponentially more difficult to predict as you move through your fantasy drafts.
Because it happens every year.
With that being said, the running back position is the one in highest demand in pretend pigskin. Even if you don't think you need one, adding runners who are about to see starter snaps is a good move. So let's start this week's 15 Transactions article with a look at a few of them.
Add Branden Oliver
It's been difficult to get excited about the San Diego Chargers rush offense this year. So far, they rank 31st according to our schedule-adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, and that includes a solid day on Sunday against one of the best rush defenses in the league.
Considering Donald Brown's terrible start - only about 20% of his rushes have been deemed successful this season, when most running backs see rates above 35% - Oliver is a must add off the wire. And in Week 6, San Diego faces Oakland. Yes, please.
Add Andre Williams
Unlike Donald Brown, Rashad Jennings has started the season well. Entering Week 5, only Chris Ivory had a higher Rushing NEP than the new Giants' starter.
Williams is a bruising back capable of handling the load, but lacks pass-catching skills to give him PPR upside. He's definitely a top add this week though, as Jennings has been overworked to start the year, giving Williams season-long appeal.
Add Ronnie Hillman
The Broncos depth chart lists Ronnie Hillman as the number-two back in the offense, but there's questions surrounding whether or not he can handle a legitimate workload. At 5'9'', 200 pounds, he represents a very Denard Robinson-like running back.
I'd prioritize him over CJ Anderson off the wire, not only because he saw 15 touches in Week 5, but Anderson was also a healthy inactive against Arizona. Anderson's a good add in deeper leagues, but Hillman should get opportunity while Ball's sidelined.
Sell Pierre Thomas
Pierre Thomas was sick-nasty in Week 5, scoring twice and catching eight passes. Now, it's time to sell.
If you can get rid of Thomas for some value now, you may get a reasonable return given his Week 5 performance. Chances are, he'll continue to see only five or so carries per game, and while his reception upside is there, the Saints are continuing to rotate their backfield. He's just tough to trust each week.
Buy Ben Tate
Tate looked great in his return, rushing for 123 yards on 22 carries in the Browns comeback victory over the Titans. The biggest concern with him isn't even the talented running back depth chart in Cleveland, but it's his health - it's pretty clear that, when healthy, Tate is a legitimate RB1 in the fourth-best rushing offense in the NFL.
What's great about Tate, too, is the team's upcoming schedule. In Week 6 they'll face the Steelers (28th against the run according to our metrics), Week 7 is Jacksonville (18th) and Week 8 is Oakland (16th). Not a bad three-week stretch.
Sell Steve Johnson
This is a pretty obvious statement, but despite back-to-back weeks with a touchdown reception, Steve Johnson isn't ownable in any sort of standard league. Even with Vernon Davis out, Johnson played just five snaps in Week 5, per FantasyData.com. He just so happened to score a touchdown.
This is a friendly reminder to not get cute on your waiver wire this week.
Add Joe Flacco
Admittedly, I felt pretty good about Joe Flacco as a streaming option against Indy this past week, and instead of getting his usual 14 or 15 points, he decided to go all Chad Henne on us. Seven points isn't going to cut it, but there's reason to believe he'll turn things around.
The Ravens face the Buccaneers in Week 6, a team that ranks dead last pass defense-wise according to our metrics. Flacco gets Atlanta the week after, who rank 25th against the pass. So not only are you getting a decent streaming option in Week 6, but Week 7 as well.
Just keep in mind that it's Joe Flacco, and there's always the possibility that Week 5 happens again.
Sell C.J. Spiller
Through five weeks, Spiller's per rush NEP average of -0.17 isn't just far worse than Jackson's -0.03, but it's third-worst among the 48 running backs with 30-plus carries this year. Jackson's Success Rate is 41.86% versus Spiller's 29.51%, and Freddy has triple the effectiveness through the air so far, catching double the amount of passes.
Spiller can always break long runs, but Jackson's not going anywhere. That makes Spiller a tough start each week.
Add Marvin Jones
I mentioned Jones in last week's article, but he was unable to return from his broken foot in Week 5 due to an ankle injury. I still see him as a solid add given the role he'll take - Mohamed Sanu has played the most snaps among all Bengals wideouts, and has been used as well, catching 10 passes over his last two contests.
Sanu could still be involved, but Jones is worth a stash if you can afford the bench spot. He was one of the most effective wideouts a year ago according to our metrics.
Add Alfred Blue
Alfred Blue still appears to be one of the better handcuffs in the league. After being a health question mark throughout the week, Arian Foster carried the ball 23 times against the Cowboys, giving him 78 carries in just three contests this year.
If they want Foster to stay healthy, that's just not sustainable. He's already missed time due to injury, and it shouldn't surprise anyone if his woes continue. Blue is owned in just 3.1% of ESPN.com leagues, so he should be out there to stash if you have room.
Add the Tennessee Titans Defense
First, if San Diego's defense is on your waiver wire, get them. They're a top streaming option this week against Oakland.
If they're not, you may be scrambling for a defensive option this week. I'd go with Tennessee, who gets to face Jacksonville and their 32nd-ranked offense. Be prepared for potential disappointment though - Tennessee hasn't scored positive fantasy points since Week 2. The options are just rough in Week 6.
Buy Kelvin Benjamin
Benjamin had a disappointing Week 5, catching just 3 of his 11 targets against Chicago. Not great.
I don't expect a Benjamin owner to be eager to get rid of him despite this, but that's fine. Benjamin's not only one of the most targeted wideouts in the game, but he has a pretty favorable remaining schedule. After he gets by Cincinnati in Week 5, Carolina and Benjamin will face Green Bay, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minnesota, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Atlanta in 9 of their final 10 games. Each of those teams present a plus matchup for the Panthers wideout.
Buy Calvin Johnson
This may seem like an off-the-wall recommendation, but I love the idea of a team with a winning record targeting Calvin Johnson in a trade. Yes, he may miss Week 6. And yes, he hasn't really done a thing since Week 1. But teams with Megatron may currently be suffering and needing a win, and his price tag may be the lowest it'll be all season long.
If you're in good shape and are thinking a little more long-term, snagging the Lions' wideout in a trade isn't a bad idea.
Buy Bishop Sankey
Rookie running back Bishop Sankey saw the most snaps among all Titans running backs for the second straight week, despite seeing fewer rushes than Shonn Greene. Through five games, Sankey has a positive Rushing NEP total while Greene is losing points for the Titans, and a 46.88% Success Rate, which is a top-quarter score among 30-plus attempt backs.
The arrow is pointing up, and there's no debating this. He's probably not on your waiver wire, but if you want to send some bench assets for him in a trade, go for it.
Drop Toby Gerhart
Owners who drafted Toby Gerhart did so with the hope that he'd see 15 to 20 touches per game in the Jacksonville offense. Instead, Gerhart's averaging 9.6 carries per contest, and hasn't seen more than 10 since Week 1.
He sprained his foot in the team's Week 5 loss to Pittsburgh, playing just 10 snaps. With Jacksonville's young offense, they may end up giving some other backs a chance. Even if they don't, Gerhart has almost zero upside given the team's lack of scoring and poor offensive line play. On a per rush basis, no running back has been worse in 2014 than Gerhart.