Fantasy Football FAB Report: Week 3
Free agent budget waivers (FAB) are, without a doubt, the way to go. While some leagues are still sticking to the ancient ways of rolling list waivers (yuck) or waiver priority determined by the reverse order of standings (barf), many of the savvy ones are moving over to budgets. It makes sense -- why not give every manager an equal shot at every player. Do you really want to reward people for sucking at fantasy? Okay...rant over.
Every Tuesday evening, I (along with most managers in leagues with FAB waivers) spend countless hours trying to figure out how much to offer for the week's top available players -- which so happens to be exactly what this piece will cover.
Unfortunately, Week 2 was "dammit-to-hell!" week in the NFL, as the injuries just kept coming and coming, and coming, and coming, and coming, and coming, and com...well, you get the point. That leaves us with a lot to decipher. Let's get to this week's top players and how much of my budget I'd be willing to offer to acquire them.
(The suggested offers are for 12-team, half-PPR leagues.)
Depending on your scoring and roster formats, how much you should spend at quarterback varies from league to league. If you're in a traditional, four-point-per-touchdown, one-quarterback league, there is rarely an occurrence where you should be spending a big chunk of your budget on the position. However, if you're in a superflex or straight up two-quarterback league, that story changes entirely. With that in mind, let's look at this week's top options.
The suggested salaries in this piece will be for standard scoring leagues.
Gardner Minshew (32% rostered) - Through two weeks, Minshew is the QB9, and the defenses he's faced were not lacking on talent. In Week 3, he'll get to face a Miami Dolphins team that's allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season after allowing the second-most last season. Through two weeks, only the Philadelphia Eagles have been worse in terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play. Minshew could also turn into a season-long option. From now until Week 15, Minshew has two matchups -- the Chargers in Week 8 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11 -- that you'd likely have to find another streamer. If you're getting tired of spending time and small chunks of your budget on streamers at quarterback each week, just go scoop up Minshew.
Suggested offer: 3-5%
Ryan Tannehill (46% rostered) - Despite everything he's done since taking over as starter in Tennessee, Tannehill is still rostered in under half of Yahoo leagues. In Yahoo scoring, Tannehill has scored at least 16.9 in 11 of his last 12 regular-season games as starter -- that includes performances of at least 23.7 in 6 of his last 10. That is elite production. So far this season, Tannehill is sixth in Passing NEP per drop back and second in Passing Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of drop backs that lead to positive NEP for a team’s offense). This week, Tannehill will take on a Minnesota Vikings squad that's fifth-worst in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Stream him with confidence.
Suggested offer: 3%
Justin Herbert (3% rostered) - Herbert posted solid fantasy stats in replacing Tyrod Taylor on short notice, and if Anthony Lynn can actually do the smart thing, he'd keep the rookie in there the rest of the way. As long as he's the starter, Herbert will be a high-end streamer starting with Week 3's matchup against Carolina. According to our metrics, Carolina has been the league's ninth-worst defense on a per-play basis this season. Herbert is the third-most added quarterback in Yahoo leagues, and as long as you don't have to overpay, feel free to go get him.
Suggested offer: 2%
Unlike quarterback, running back is a premier position in almost every format. For that reason, this is a position you'll want to be generous with. Of course, some backs have more value in PPR (point-per-reception) leagues than they do in standard, so be sure to keep that in mind.
Mike Davis (5% rostered) - Davis is already the most added back in Yahoo leagues, so you can expect him to go for a pretty penny in your leagues as well. Those who lost Christian McCaffrey 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain could do worse than make a significant investment in the 27-year-old journeyman. In 2018 with the Seattle Seahawks (his last season where he got significant touches), Davis finished 7th among the 47 backs with at least 100 carries in Rushing NEP per carry, and 4th in Rushing Success Rate (i.e., the percentage of carries that lead to positive NEP for a team’s offense). He can play. Davis caught all 8 of his targets in Week 2 (most of them coming after CMC got hurt) and turned them into 74 yards -- that shows that he's likely to see usage in the passing game.
Suggested offer: 30-35% if you're desperate, 20% if you're not.
Jerick McKinnon (23% rostered) - Those who lost Saquon Barkley or CMC shouldn't just look to Davis (and others) as replacements while McKinnon is just sitting there on your waiver wire. Despite the fact that he had never played a regular-season snap with the team, the 49ers chose to restructure McKinnon's contract in March. They clearly still like the player they signed to a $30 million deal to in 2018. McKinnon has wasted no time showing the world why San Fran chose to keep him around. Through two games, the 28-year-old has posted 121 yards on 9 touches, to go with 2 scores. That pace is obviously unsustainable, but an uptick in touches will be in short order, especially with Raheem Mostert dealing with a sprained MCL and Tevin Coleman slated to miss multiple weeks with a knee injury. Jeff Wilson is also worth a speculative add, but don't overspend.
Suggested offer: 15-18%
Darrell Henderson (32% rostered) - Henderson was not very good on limited touches in 2019 -- of the 80 backs to receive at least 35 carries, Henderson ranked 70th in Rushing NEP per carry. But that's far from a large enough sample size to write a player off. In Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Henderson was on the field for 42% of the snaps, totaling 12 rushes for 81 yards (including one tuddy) and 2 receptions for 40 yards. His 0.32 Rushing NEP per carry ranked fourth among backs with at least 10 carries in Week 2. Henderson benefited from Cam Akers' ribs injury in that contest, but he is still worth a speculative add.
Suggested offer: 8-10%
Joshua Kelley (39% rostered) - Kelley garnered 23 rushes and 3 targets in Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, though he turned the carries into just 64 rushing yards. Kelley had five more touches and just four fewer snaps than Austin Ekeler, despite the latter being far more efficient. Among the 53 backs with at least 10 carries so far, Kelley ranks 35th in Rushing NEP per carry, and his Rushing Success Rate of 42.9% is well below Ekeler's 51.4%. That said, the rookie does look like he'll have a regular role -- though, with a capped upside (due to Ekeler's presence), there's no need to put a real dent in your budget to acquire him.
Suggested offer: 6-9%
Dion Lewis (6% rostered), Devonta Freeman (13%), and Wayne Gallman (1%) - Saquon Barkley suffered a torn ACL, which means the running back spot is open for the New York Giants. Lewis and Gallman had been on the Giants' roster, while Freeman will sign with the team today, barring any setbacks. No matter what happens, none of these players are going to be worth their cost on waivers. First, managers need to consider that even Barkley looked terrible behind this line.
Saquon Barkley averaged NEGATIVE 0.7 rushing yards BEFORE contact per attempt tonight pic.twitter.com/hoX3kgaj9O
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 15, 2020
Second, among the 68 backs with at least 50 rushes last year, Lewis and Freeman both ranked bottom-8 in Rushing NEP per carry. Gallman had just one touch in 2019, and it's hard to imagine him having much of a fantasy-relevant role. Of the three, I'd be willing to offer the most for Freeman.
Freeman and Lewis are two of the five most-added running backs on Yahoo today -- don't overpay.
Suggested offers: No more than 5% for Lewis or Gallman, and no more than 8% for Freeman.
While it may vary based on scoring (standard versus PPR), wideouts are generally valued at similar rates in most formats. However, leagues that require you to start at least three wideouts could see inflated offers at the position.
Russell Gage (22% rostered) - Through two games, the Atlanta Falcons have surrendered a whopping 78 points. It's no wonder that Matt Ryan has already attempted 90 passes -- after all, the Falcons had the highest pass-to-run ration in 2019 for a reason. Meanwhile, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the huge passing volume is Russell Gage. Through two contests, Gage has garnered 21 looks, turning them into 15 receptions for 160 yards and a score. Gage has been on the field for 76% of his team's snaps and leads the team's wideouts in opportunities per snap. As an added bonus for those looking to add Gage -- you rarely have to consider his schedule, as opposing defenses will spend their time worrying about Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones.
Suggested offers: 15% if you're desperate, 8-12% if you're not.
The rest of the group of likely-free-agent wideouts are more speculative adds than anything else. Even if you desperately need help at the position, I wouldn't spend more than 5% of your budget on any of these players:
K.J. Hamler (1% rostered) is one of the more underrated adds of the week. Hamler finished tied for the team-lead in targets in Week 2 and was on the field for 62% of the snaps (higher than fellow rookie wideout Jerry Jeudy). With Courtland Sutton out for the year, Hamler could be stepping into a role that will make him a legitimate fantasy asset in 2020. At the very least, he's worth a speculative add. Meanwhile, Michael Pittman Jr. (15% rostered) picked up the slack left behind by Parris Campbell's knee injury, leading all Indianapolis Colts wideouts in snap percentage and targets -- and that was despite a game script that did not favor the pass.
Laviska Shenault (17% rostered) has been on the field for less than 60% of Jacksonville's snaps this year, but that doesn't mean he's not worth an add. He's ahead of both Keelan Cole and Chris Conley in Reception NEP per reception, and he could be on his way to earning more playing time. Shenault has already seen seven carries this year, and he will be a flex-worthy fantasy play were he to carve out a Deebo Samuel-esque role for himself.
Why Curtis Samuel (27% rostered) is not among the 12 most-added wideouts today is beyond me. Outside of Davis, no Carolina player stands to benefit more from McCaffrey's absence than Samuel. This is a guy who had 65 more rushes than receptions at Ohio State. Though yards per carry is far from the greatest stat, Samuel did average 7.5 yards per tote on 172 carries in college. He's certainly worth a flyer with an absurd amount of volume opening up.
Logan Thomas (32% rostered) - Through two games, Thomas has played 74% and 91% of the snaps, respectively, and has seen 25.8% of Washington's targets. While his Week 2 outing was a dud, that comes with the territory when rostering non-stud tight ends. However, if I'm looking toward waivers to fill the position, I'd look toward the guy playing on most of the snaps and receiving a huge target share. Plus, Thomas gets a matchup with the Cleveland Browns this week, which doesn't hurt.
Suggested offer: 5-7%
Dalton Schultz (2% rostered) - In his first games sans Blake Jarwin, Schultz saw 10 looks and turned them into 9 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown. He was on the field for 70% of the team's snaps. The Dallas Cowboys have almost no depth at wideout beyond their three studs, and Schultz should reap the benefits of the scraps those guys leave over. He's worth an add, but don't expect him to be a consistent weekly performer.
Suggested offer: 5-7%