15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 4
It can take time to get used to things.
My daughter switched to her big girl bed about four or five months ago. At first, it wasn't the prettiest nighttime situation in the world. There was whining, there was crying -- she missed the bars on her crib. But, with time, she got used to it. Now she loves the hell out of that big girl bed.
With no preseason this year, there was concern about rookies in fantasy football. And understandably so. This week, though, we saw some more first-year players really emerge.
Maybe they just needed a little bit of time to get used to their big girl bed.
Add Justin Jefferson
The Vikings have been in desperate need of a number-two pass-catcher in the offense to emerge, and Justin Jefferson was clearly that player in Week 3. The rookie watched his snap share rise from 54% in Week 2 to about 79% on Sunday, and that translated to a team-high 36% target share. He also had 128 air yards, a top-15 number on the week. We can't expect that type of usage week in and week out, but it'll be tough for the Vikings to hold Jefferson back after the performance. Best of all, they get three plus matchups over the next three weeks, where they'll face the Texans, Seahawks, and Falcons.
Hold James Robinson
Make no mistake: James Robinson's start to 2020 is no fluke. He looks good, and he now ranks well into the top half of the league in efficiency according to numberFire's expected points model.
There's some reason for concern -- he's an undrafted rookie, more competition will eventually be in that Jacksonville backfield -- but this transaction is to note that, after his monster Thursday Night Football performance, now isn't the time to sell. Upcoming for the Jags are contests against the Bengals, Texans, and Lions. Those are the top-three teams in running back rushing yards allowed so far this year.
With almost 92% of the team's running back rushes and a target share north of 10% through three games, Robinson should continue to be a useful starter for your fantasy squad.
Drop Carson Wentz
To say that Carson Wentz has struggled to start the season would be an understatement. The dude looks lost. And that's translated to fantasy football, where he's ranked as a low-end QB2 through three games.
And those three contests were against beatable secondaries. In Week 1, Wentz posted just 13 standard points against Washington. Across their next two games, the Football Team allowed a 32-point outing to Kyler Murray and a 14-point one this past weekend to Baker Mayfield.
Then, in Week 2, Wentz scored a little over 12 points against the Rams. LA's faced tough quarterback competition to start the year but, for what it's worth, that was the lowest point total they've allowed this year.
Week 3 was the nail in the coffin. Cincinnati's secondary has played fine to start the year, and Wentz finished as a top-10 quarterback option. The problem is that 12.5 of his 21.5 points came from the ground. He still isn't getting it done as a passer whatsoever.
And there's no hope on the horizon. Over the next three weeks, the Eagles get the 49ers, Steelers, and Ravens. You may think San Francisco is beatable given the injures they've seen on the defensive side of the ball, but are you really going to trust Wentz this week after how he's performed thus far? And if he plays well, you're not going to want to start him against two of the toughest matchups in football in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
In most leagues -- and I stress the word "most" -- you can let Wentz go.
Buy Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks
The Houston Texans had the hardest opening schedule in the NFL, and it's not even close. They kicked things off against Kansas City in Week 1, and over the last two weeks, they've faced Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
All three of those teams ranked well above average in adjusted fantasy points allowed to wide receivers last year, and it shouldn't shock anyone if they're some of the toughest opponents for wide receivers this year as well.
That means it's time to buy the team's pass-catchers.
With Will Fuller, you're buying into the more alpha, high-end wide receiver profile. He was injured in Week 2, but in Weeks 1 and 3, Fuller saw a 32.3% and an 18.5% target share, respectively, en route to two usable performances. He'll be tougher to acquire, but he's worth it now that the Texans are past this rough portion of their schedule.
Brandin Cooks may be the better value to trade for, though. He's been relatively silent production-wise, but he's posted almost a 20% target share with a nearly identical average depth of target to Fuller. He's just not getting the same kind of buzz, so you should be able to get him for pennies on the dollar.
We should be bullish on this passing attack moving forward.
Add Jordan Akins
Speaking of the Texans, Jordan Akins is getting a lot of run for them this year. He ranks in the top-10 in routes run at the tight end position through three weeks, and he's seen a reasonable-enough 13% target share. That's a top-20 number. With the schedule opening up for Houston, he could end up being more than just a streamer in the coming weeks.
Add Brandon Aiyuk
Another rookie wideout with a strong Week 3 outing was Brandon Aiyuk, who played 72% of San Francisco's snaps for the second straight week while scoring over 21 PPR points. In Week 2, Aiyuk saw about an 11% target share. In Week 3, that jumped up to a 23% share.
Perhaps Nick Mullens being under center had something to do with that, and maybe Raheem Mostert being out helped Aiyuk get three carries on the ground (he scored on one of those, by the way). Regardless, it's tough to ignore the fit for Aiyuk in this offense: he's a versatile pass-catcher who can create a lot of yards after the catch. Or, to put it another way, the Kyle Shanahan special.
Sell JuJu Smith-Schuster
There's a lot of love out there for JuJu Smith-Schuster. He's a fun personality, he has one of the best age-adjusted career beginnings that we've seen at wide receiver...the list goes on and on.
Thus far, he's lived up to expectation in fantasy football -- he's been a WR1 through three weeks. That also brings forth a selling opportunity, though.
One issue for Smith-Schuster thus far is that the Steelers have spread the ball around a good bit. Diontae Johnson was easily leading the team in targets prior to a Week 3 concussion, but James Washington and Chase Claypool currently combine for over 22% of Pittsburgh's targets. And we saw Eric Ebron with a season-high 20% target share on Sunday, too.
All of this is to say that Smith-Schuster, thanks to the number of able pass-catchers in the Steelers' offense, has a target share under 18%. Among top-20 wide receivers, only Mike Evans and Allen Lazard have lower target shares.
That likely means that Smith-Schuster is getting by on touchdowns, and he kind of is -- he's scored three times this year despite ranking well outside the top-30 in receiving yards. Over the last decade, it's taken wide receivers, on average, 164 yards to score a touchdown. Smith-Schuster's currently scoring one on every 53 yards.
I'd feel fine about all of this if he was being peppered close to the end zone (targets within the 10 and end-zone targets) and down the field (air yards). You want your wide receivers to score touchdowns and get big chunk plays.
That hasn't exactly been the case for Smith-Schuster. He does have a pair of end-zone targets, but he still ranks outside the top-15 within the statistic. And when it comes to air yards, Smith-Schuster's not seeing them. He's got one of the lowest average depth of targets among relevant wide receivers, and is outside the top-100 in total air yards when including all positions.
It's just unlikely that he'll be able to maintain his current touchdown rate given the way Pittsburgh's using him. It seems like people are viewing him as a better fantasy football asset than he actually is.
Add Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris
One of Week 3's biggest surprise performances came from Rex Burkhead. He carried the ball 6 times on the ground for 49 rushing yards and a pair of scores, and he added 10 targets, 7 receptions, 49 receiving yards, and a receiving touchdown to that line, giving him one of the best PPR performances of the week at the running back position.
It's tough to buy into something like that happening again, especially with the pass-catching James White out due to a horrific family tragedy. If White is in, this outing for Burkhead likely doesn't happen.
I do think he's worth an add this week, but don't sleep on Damien Harris from that same backfield, too. He was getting buzz throughout the summer, but he's been sidelined with a hand injury to start the year. He's able to come off injured reserve this week, and given the muddiness of that New England backfield (they had a three-headed monster this past weekend), he's got a shot to take over.
But do note that I said "a shot" -- we know how this Patriots' backfield has operated historically. Harris is nothing more than a speculative add, but if I'm thinking more about long-term viability, I'd probably prefer him to Burkhead off the wire this week.
Add Tee Higgins
If you listened to The Late-Round Podcast last week -- a podcast done by yours truly -- then you're ahead of the game. As a 16th transaction (See what you're missing out on by not listening to the show?), I mentioned adding Tee Higgins as a stash.
That escalated quickly.
In Week 3, Higgins hauled in 5 of his 9 targets for 40 yards and a pair of scores. Aside from the touchdowns, the most important thing about the performance was Higgins' usage. He played the most snaps at wide receiver for Cincinnati, he ran the most routes (per Pro Football Focus), and he had the second-highest target share. Every secondary number has shifted up for Higgins week over week, and he should be rostered in most fantasy leagues moving forward.
Buy D.J. Moore
That was met with some backlash, which told me that, even though this is a repeat transaction from a previous week, it needs to be restated.
Moore's peripheral numbers actually look pretty good so far this season. He's one of just a handful of players with a target share above 25%, and he's got 239 air yards, a top-10 number in the league.
Like I said, he just hasn't scored. And even though he's seen just one target within the opponent's 10-yard line, he's been targeted three times in the end zone this season, one of the higher marks in the NFL. That's more than the aforementioned JuJu Smith-Schuster.
To reiterate, I'm bringing up Moore because people seemed very frustrated with his performance through three weeks. And I get it: he's not winning you weeks, and his wide receiver teammate, Robby Anderson, is outperforming him. Just be patient: better days are ahead.
Add Carlos Hyde
There's a chance Chris Carson plays in Week 4 against Miami with a knee bruise that he suffered against Dallas in Week 3. It's good that Seattle seems optimistic, but there's still a chance he doesn't go, and the Seahawks are touchdown-plus favorites against the Dolphins this weekend according to FanDuel Sportsbook. If Carson isn't totally ready, they could easily split that backfield up, especially if they get a lead. That means Carlos Hyde, the number-two there, could get more run than usual this weekend.
Add Scotty Miller, Justin Watson, and Tyler Johnson
Chris Godwin is now dealing with a hamstring issue, and that opens the door for other wide receivers to see more volume in the Tampa Bay offense. The problem is, dissecting which wideout to pick up isn't so simple.
We have a one-game sample already this year of a Godwin-less Bucs' offense, and in that Week 2 contest, Justin Watson was actually the one who ran the most routes for Tampa Bay. Because Godwin plays a lot of his snaps from the slot -- he's played 72.4% of his snaps from that area of the field this year according to Pro Football Focus -- Watson, a slot guy, is the player who benefits most from the injury. In that Week 2 contest without Godwin, Watson spent a similar amount of time in the slot.
The problem is, Watson didn't play on Sunday because of a shoulder injury. That led to rookie (and ultra-productive college wideout) Tyler Johnson getting some action and seeing the field on 31% of Tampa Bay's snaps. So if Watson were to miss Week 4's game, Johnson would be the add for the team's slot role.
And then there's Scott Miller. His snap share may not rise dramatically without Godwin, but he'll have more opportunity to see targets.
Depending on your league size, all three players should be on your radar this week.
Sell Adrian Peterson
As annoying as the Patriots' backfield is, the Lions might have the most obnoxious one in the league for fantasy purposes. Across the first two weeks of the season, D'Andre Swift led the Detroit backfield in snap rate. On Sunday, Swift was on the field for just 9% of their snaps, while the 56-year-old Adrian Peterson handled 60% of the team's snaps and 88% of the team's running back rushes. That rush share was one of the highest of Week 3.
Typically, this would be a sign of good things to come. But since we've seen the seemingly unpredictable rotation of backs for Detroit so far this year, I'm staying as far away from the situation as possible. Maybe I'd trade a bench player for Swift strictly for upside purposes, but at this point, you can't reasonably trust these backs week in and week out.
Add Ryan Fitzpatrick
Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Dolphins are 6.5-point underdogs against the Seahawks this week, and the game has a hefty 54-point over/under. There should be plenty of scoring, and after two straight strong performances from Fitzpatrick, you should feel confident streaming him.
Add the Denver Broncos Defense
Not playing a defense against the Jets? In this economy?
The Broncos are three-point favorites this week with an over/under of just 39.5. Given the current state of the Jets' offense -- one that allowed a pair of sacks and three picks to the Colts in Week 3 -- you can feel good about starting Denver's defense as a streamer this week.