NFL

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 3

At least we have football.

That was a thought that crossed my mind on Sunday as I watched Parris Campbell get hurt then Saquon Barkley get hurt then Jimmy Garoppolo get hurt.

At least we have football.

We want perfect health for the players who put their bodies on the line for our enjoyment every week. Let's not lose sight of that, which is most important.

But on the more meaningless level -- from a fantasy football perspective -- even if you want to throw your computer against the wall as you watch your team get destroyed by bad hamstrings, just remember: at least we have football.

That wasn't a guarantee two months ago. This column wasn't a guarantee two months ago.

If your team is depleted, I'm here to help. Just breathe. Because, at the very least, we've got football.

Sell Nick Chubb

It was a big Week 2 for Nick Chubb, who ran the ball 22 times for 124 yards and a pair of scores. For anyone with Chubb in fantasy, it was necessary. Chubb was coming off a Week 1 performance where he scored just 7.6 PPR points, so the bounce-back game put managers at ease.

Should it have?

No one is arguing that Chubb isn't a good fantasy option. He is. But his peripheral numbers are a little worrisome after two weeks of football. Against the Ravens in Week 1, Chubb handled just 41.7% of the Browns' running back rushes. His low from last year was a 62.5% share.

Yeah, yeah -- I know. It was a negative game script against Baltimore. When that happens, the pass-catching Kareem Hunt will be on the field more.

That's kind of a problem, though. Can we just expect Cleveland to not put themselves in that position again?

Even if we push aside the negative game script issues, look at what happened in Week 2 against Cincinnati. Cleveland leads, they win, and Chubb's numbers look great. Sure. But he also still had a running back rush share of 68.8%. Hunt continued to see a lot of work.

How big of a deal is that, you ask? Well, for some context, in 2019, Chubb ended the season with 83.2% of Cleveland's running back rushes, and he had the third-highest rush share (includes all team rushes) of any running back since 2011. When Kareem Hunt returned from suspension, Chubb's per-game running back rush share was 77.5%, a number significantly higher than his Week 2 total.

To put this bluntly: under this new coaching staff, the Browns are using Kareem Hunt more on the ground than they did last season. And that's not a good thing for Chubb, since he's not being utilized as the primary pass-catcher: Hunt has a 14.3% target share through two weeks, when Chubb's is at 3.6%.

And remember, in 2019, Chubb averaged about six fewer PPR points per game when Hunt came back.

Don't mistake this as Chubb being a weak fantasy football asset. He's one of the best pure runners in the league, and he can take it to the house on any play. He's still an RB2. It's just tough to see a true RB1 ceiling for Chubb with Hunt as active as he is in the backfield. So if you can sell this big performance, it's not a bad idea.

Add Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson

One of the unfortunate injuries from Week 2 was to Raheem Mostert, and he's expected to miss Sunday's game. Oh, and Tevin Coleman is going to miss multiple weeks with a knee injury, too.

Week 2 was totally cool and normal.

This will allow Jerick McKinnon -- and potentially Jeff Wilson -- to see more work in the 49ers backfield.

During Sunday's game, McKinnon carried the ball just three times and only saw one target on about 21% of the team's snaps, but he tallied 77 yards on the ground. He was effective on limited work. And through two games, San Francisco has targeted their running backs on almost 37% of their targeted attempts, the highest mark in the league. Despite seeing just one target on Sunday -- which was in an ultra-positive game script, by the way -- McKinnon has a 10% target share through two games.

If McKinnon sees more touches on the ground to go along with his receiving work, he should be usable in fantasy. And because of the Coleman injury, Wilson should be elevated and see early-down and goal-line work in the offense. Last year, Wilson converted 4 of his 6 goal-line rushes for touchdowns.

Keep tabs on the 49ers this week. They also may try to do something with rookie JaMycal Hasty, who's on the practice squad.

Hold or Buy AJ Green

As you know, I'm a numbers-driven fantasy football analyst. That's why you're reading this article on a website called numberFire. Contrary to the belief of Internet trolls, I do watch the game, too. I don't just stare at boxscores from my mom's basement.

My eyes tell me that A.J. Green is having some issues with separation, and he looks...slow. That's why this transaction includes a "hold" -- there's at least some chance that Green isn't close to the same wide receiver he used to be.

The numbers tell a very intriguing buy-low story. Green has 338 air yards through two weeks -- the highest mark in the league -- but he's only totaled 80 receiving yards during this time. That difference of 258 yards is almost 100 yards greater than the player in second, DeSean Jackson.

Green has a strong 23.4% target share, and he's seeing targets down the field. I'm not opposed to sending some low-ball offers to frustrated Green managers before Week 3.

Add Mike Davis

News broke on Monday that Christian McCaffrey would be out 4 to 6 weeks with a high-ankle sprain. That makes his backup, Mike Davis, viable in fantasy football. On Sunday, in a negative game script, Davis actually hauled in 8 targets, good for a 20% target share on the day. That's a big plus -- we know he'll likely be used as a pass-catcher in that offense. And considering how bad the Carolina defense is, that skillset can come in handy when the Panthers inevitably fall behind.

Will he produce like McCaffrey? Of course not. Signs point to him being a highly-used running back, though, and that makes him a priority pickup this week.

Add Michael Pittman Jr.

Parris Campbell is now out indefinitely with a PCL injury, which leaves an opening for Indianapolis wide receivers. Rookie Michael Pittman Jr. is one of those players. With Campbell out for almost all of Sunday's game, Pittman played 92% of the team's snaps, highest among wide receivers. According to Pro Football Focus, Pittman also ran the most routes at 26, with Zach Pascal (25) and T.Y. Hilton (24) right behind him. If you're in need of wide receiver help, he's a good one to add this week.

Sell Todd Gurley

You can't be in love with Todd Gurley's usage so far as a Falcon. Through two weeks, Atlanta ranks in the top-five in points scored, but Gurley's been fairly irrelevant in fantasy, ranking as the RB20 in Week 1 and outside the top-40 at the position in Week 2. He's seeing decent-enough rushing share numbers, but his lack of passing game usage is a huge concern: he has just a 5.7% target share.

Since the Falcons have a pass-to-rush touchdown ratio so far of 6.0 -- they've thrown 6 passing touchdowns to just 1 rushing touchdown -- we should expect some regression moving forward that would favor Gurley. The problem is that, on Sunday, teammate Ito Smith saw a pair of carries inside the opponent's 10-yard line (one of them at the goal line), when Gurley had none. Maybe that was just random variance, but if Gurley's not going to be the locked-in goal-line back, then his ceiling is even worse than originally thought. And this is on top of the low target share.

If you can sell Gurley to a running back-needy team -- which there should be many this week -- I'm for it. He has the floor, but the ceiling is looking like it's capped given his usage.

Add Dalton Schultz

Blake Jarwin, who's sidelined for the season with a torn ACL, missed his first game of the year on Sunday against Atlanta. Fortunately, Dallas has Dalton Schultz, who balled out in his place.

Schultz caught 9 of 10 targets for 88 yards and a score, coming through with a 21.7% target share on the day. Per Pro Football Focus, he ran 35 routes, only 5 to 10 fewer than his stud wide receiver teammates. Perhaps game script aided some of this, but he still deserves to be added this week, especially with a potential high-scoring game in Week 3 coming up against the Seahawks.

Buy Jerry Jeudy and Add KJ Hamler

With Courtland Sutton now done for the year -- yet another early-round pick who's finished -- there should be more target share stability for the other pass-catchers in the Denver offense.

One of the players who'll benefit is Jerry Jeudy, who seems to be overshadowed a bit right now by Noah Fant in Denver. Jeudy has 118 yards and has caught just 8 of his 15 targets, but he ranks in the top-15 in the league in air yards. Some may be concerned with the quarterback change of Drew Lock to Jeff Driskel, but use that to your advantage when trying to trade for Jeudy. The injury may only sideline Lock for a couple of weeks -- Pro Football Doc is optimistic -- and Driskel is at least serviceable. He actually had a higher average depth of target than Lock last season.

Aside from Jeudy, another wide receiver stuck out against Pittsburgh on Sunday: rookie K.J. Hamler. It was his first game action of his career, and he ended up running the most routes and tying Jeudy for the most targets among Broncos' wide receivers. He's only rostered in 1% of Yahoo leagues, and he may go overlooked during an active waiver wire week.

Add Darrell Henderson

So many injuries that happened in Week 2 that some of the lower-key ones are barely being talked about. That includes a rib injury that sidelined Cam Akers for a large portion of his game against the Eagles and, in that same backfield, Malcolm Brown hurt his finger. Somehow, all of a sudden, Darrell Henderson is the healthiest running back for the Rams.

And he did well on Sunday, toting the rock 12 times for 81 yards and a touchdown while hauling in 2 of 3 targets for 40 yards. From a market share standpoint, that was good for 46.2% of the team's running back rushes and 11.5% of the team's targets. He's still out there in over two-third of Yahoo! leagues, and he should be claimed this week given the injuries in the Rams' backfield.

Buy Allen Robinson

Do I feel good about buying a wide receiver who's catching passes from Mitchell Trubisky? Hell to the naw.

I do think it's a reasonable thing to do right now, though. Allen Robinson is top-10 in the league in air yards, and only seven wide receivers have a higher target share through two weeks. Similar to AJ Green above, Robinson hasn't turned that into a whole lot, which is why he ranks fifth in unrealized air yards.

It would be highly unlikely for Robinson to keep this up. He's caught only 44% of his targets thus far, a career low. He's yet to find the end zone despite scoring seven times in a relatively similar environment last year.

It won't be this bad all year long. Or it shouldn't, at least.

Add Mo Alie-Cox

As a Mo Alie-Cox truther, I've been waiting two years to write this transaction. It's time to add this man to your fantasy roster.

Without Jack Doyle in Week 2, Alie-Cox -- we'll call him MAC -- went berserk, catching 5 of 6 targets for 111 yards. Those six targets may not be a ton, but the Colts didn't throw the ball a whole lot -- MAC actually finished with a 24% target share.

Even if Doyle returns next week, it may be tough for Indianapolis to put Alie-Cox back in the garage. After all, this was MAC's first ever game with 5 or more targets, and he hit 100 yards receiving. Doyle has 30 of those games and he's got the same number of 100-yard games.

Maybe Mo Alie-Cox is just a better, more dynamic pass-catcher. (Spoiler alert: He is.)

Buy Kenyan Drake

The peripheral numbers for Kenyan Drake to start the year aren't as awesome as they were when he became a Cardinal in 2019, but things aren't terrible. They're sort of Joe Mixon-esque. He's eighth in the league in running back rush share, but among all running backs, he barely breaks the top-50 in target share. That's a big concern.

So why buy? Well, he's had two relatively difficult matchups to kick off the year -- San Francisco and Washington both ranked in the top-four in Pro Football Focus' defensive line rankings entering the year -- and things really start to open up moving forward. Over their next six games, Arizona will face Detroit, Carolina, New York (Jets), Dallas, Seattle, and Miami. Things get a whole lot better from a matchups standpoint for Drake, not only just on the personnel end, but on the positive game script one, too.

Even if they don't start using him more as a receiver, game flows should favor him enough to get a boost in fantasy value versus where he's perceived to be at right now. Some people are already taking an L with Drake, but it's far too early for that.

Add Devonta Freeman

As you know, there were a lot of running back injuries across the league this week. Chances are, the best free agent running back, Devonta Freeman, is going to get an offer to enter a backfield shortly. Nothing's been announced yet, but he should be added this week since he has more upside than some of the backups who could hypothetically see more work.

Add Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman

To be honest, I'd rather take a chance on Freeman off the waiver wire this week versus snagging Dion Lewis or Wayne Gallman. Lewis was pushed into a starting role on Sunday when Saquon Barkley was hurt, and he handled all of the running back rushes post-injury. That's because Gallman was a healthy scratch. The two are likely to share the backfield moving forward now that Barkley's out for the year, unless someone else is signed. If that someone is Devonta Freeman, then you'll likely want to leave Lewis and Gallman on the waiver wire.

Add the Cleveland Browns Defense

The Cleveland defense has another favorable matchup this week as they face Washington as seven-point favorites according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Not only could The Football Team be in a negative game script -- we want that for our streaming defenses, since they'll have a higher chance to get sacks and turnovers -- but so far this season, they rank third-worst in sack rate allowed. And Cleveland, in our small sample, has been the best team at generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They're an intriguing streamer this week.