NFL

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 5

With Kenyan Drake struggling, is it time to invest in Chase Edmonds?

You're painting the biggest room in your house. Before you get going, you've got to clear all the furniture, put up some tape, pick the color you want for the room, and, of course, you've got to buy the paint.

Once everything's good to go, you start painting. This room -- again, the biggest one in your house -- is going to be blue.

You spend an hour painting, and things look fine. You're not looking forward to having to finish the room, but things could be worse.

About a quarter of the way through, though, you look at the wall and notice that things don't look right. The blue is just a little too bright.

Now, at this point, do you keep painting? Do you say "screw it" and just paint on?

Or do you stop, realize the mistake, and try to correct it?

That's where we're at in the fantasy football season. We've painted a quarter of the room. And for some players... well, they're a little off. They're not living up to expectation. What we ended up getting isn't exactly what's showing up.

And let me tell you: you shouldn't keep painting the wall.

Buy Chase Edmonds

Kenyan Drake was supposed to be the guy for Arizona this year. That, at least, is what his average draft position said this offseason.

He's sort of been that, handling 80.7% of the Cardinals' running back rushes while playing 67.3% of the team's snaps. Those are both top-10 numbers at the position.

Drake's usage hasn't resulted in fantasy points. He's now finished outside the top-30 in scoring in each of the last three weeks, failing to score a touchdown since Week 1.

And there's some concern. He's only seen 3.7% of the team's targets this year, and his target share over the last two weeks has been 3.0% and 0.0%, respectively. For some context, when Drake was traded to the Cardinals last year, he dropped below a 10% target share in a single contest in just one of eight games.

Meanwhile, Chase Edmonds is benefitting. He's seen 12.7% of Arizona's targets this year out of the backfield, including a robust 19.4% share in Week 4. Edmonds now has four total red-zone touches to Drake's four, and he has the same number of goal-line touches (1), too.

This probably isn't the right time to sell Kenyan Drake. He's still seeing volume, his rushing numbers aren't as bad as they appear (he has a 3.8 yards per carry average, but a relatively fine Success Rate, or the percentage positive expected point runs made by a player), and the Cardinals have a very juicy upcoming schedule. You'd be selling too low. In Drake's range of outcomes, though, is Edmonds taking on a slightly larger role on the ground, which could result in a higher-valued fantasy asset given the amount of volume he's seeing through the air.

So whether you have Drake or not, Edmonds should be a trade target this week.

Add Justin Jackson

The most unfortunate fantasy football injury of the weekend came to Austin Ekeler, and he's now expected to miss a good chunk of time with a serious hamstring injury. Rookie Joshua Kelley is likely to see an uptick in work moving forward, but Justin Jackson will, too. On Sunday against the Buccaneers, Jackson actually out-attempted and out-targeted Kelley, but he did play nine fewer snaps. He'll be involved -- especially as a pass-catcher -- with Ekeler out, and that makes him a priority off the waiver wire this week, especially for running back-needy teams.

Sell or Hold Joe Mixon

Look, I've got Joe Mixon on some of my fantasy teams, and I, too, am incredibly happy with his Week 4 performance. It was perfect: he scored 42.1 PPR points while handling 93% of Cincinnati's running back rushes and 17.1% of the team's targets.

Is this the new norm?

As much as I want to be bold, I don't think we can assume this type of usage continues week over week. On the plus side, the Bengals got a win, and that was with this type of Mixon workload. And we know Mixon is talented -- that's never been in doubt.

The question with Mixon always comes down to receiving. His highest single-game target share last season was 13.9%. He hit the 10% target share mark in fewer than half of his games. Through three NFL seasons, Mixon's top single-season target share has been 10.4%, and that was during a season where the pass-catching Giovani Bernard missed four games.

Make no mistake: I'm a firm believer that Mixon is a far more capable receiver than Bernard. That's what makes this situation so tough.

As a numbers-driven analyst, I can't let one game against the Jaguars overshadow the fact that, historically and even from Weeks 1 through 3 this year, Mixon hasn't been used this heavily as a receiver. And let's face the facts: prior to Week 4, according to numberFire's expected points model, Mixon was one of the least efficient runners in the league.

Yes, yes -- I understand. His offensive line sucks. Again, this is no knock on Mixon himself. It's a knock on his environment and his coaching staff, which is one that doesn't typically feature him as heavily in negative game scripts and hurry-up offenses.

And that's the fear. Moving forward, Cincinnati gets Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh. There are some softer matchups in the latter part of the fantasy season, but there's a chance we don't see the Bengals with much of a lead against teams in the short term.

So where I stand is as follows: if you're a winless or a one-win team, it might be good to sell Mixon high. You need the wins now, and the upcoming schedule isn't super fun for Mixon. If you've got a competitive Mixon roster, feel free to hold tight. He's the most talented running back in the backfield, he's a more than capable pass-catcher, and, perhaps, this wasn't just a fluke and actually a sign of what's to come.

Buy Marquise Brown

You know what you're generally getting with Marquise Brown: he's a big-play receiver who's likely not going to provide a high target total week to week thanks to Baltimore's defense and run-first mentality. As it stands, though, he's a very clear buy candidate. On the season, Brown's lowest single-game target share has been 22%, and he ranks well inside the top-15 in overall target share at the position. That's important because he'll need a higher-than-normal target share to maintain a high target total in the offense he's in.

Brown's also seeing his typical high average depth of target -- he's top-10 in air yards so far this year. The issue is that he hasn't found the end zone yet. Even if he's not being targeted heavily in the red zone, given his big-play ability and air yard total, Brown should've scored by now. And for what it's worth, he was actually down at the 1-yard line on Sunday.

The peripherals are there. A huge Hollywood game is coming.

Add Ke'Shawn Vaughn

There's a weaker waiver wire this week, so that means there's opportunity for more speculative adds. You could put Ke'Shawn Vaughn in that bucket after getting his first NFL touch in Week 4 and playing 25% of Tampa Bay's snaps. Leonard Fournette was out and LeSean McCoy was ruled out of their game against the Chargers with an ankle injury, but Vaughn caught 2 of his 3 targets for 22 yards and a touchdown. He actually tallied more yards through the air than Ronald Jones on just a third of the targets.

Jones also had a pair of drops, and, per Pro Football Focus, he's now tied for the league lead among relevant running backs in drop rate. The statistic of "drops" is pretty irrelevant in fantasy football in terms of its predictive power, but this is nothing new for RoJo. And maybe it ends up leading to more playing time for Vaughn, who was one of the better pass-catchers -- at least from the standpoint of final-season reception share -- in the 2020 running back draft class.

Sell Mike Evans

We saw a nice outing from Mike Evans on Sunday, where he hauled in 7 of 8 targets for 122 yards and a score against a pretty good -- at least on paper -- Chargers secondary. He's now scored 5 touchdowns this year on 26 targets, and that's part of the reason he's a sell -- it's unlikely he's able to keep up this touchdown-scoring pace. He does rank higher-than-average in end-zone targets (3) and targets from within the 10-yard line (8), but his targets per touchdown rate of 5.2 is far higher than his 17.4 career average. And he's scoring a touchdown for every 46 receiving yards when his career average is a touchdown on every 151 yards.

There's also the Chris Godwin effect. Godwin's now missed two games, and in those contests, Evans has seen a 28.6% and a 17.8% target share, respectively. In the two games with Godwin, those target share marks are both under 12%.

There's nothing wrong with Evans. Without any cost, you'd want him on your fantasy team. He's just playing a little over his head in the fantasy points scored department.

Sell Tom Brady

The same can be said for Evans' quarterback, Tom Brady.

Anytime you get an opportunity to sell high on a pocket passing quarterback, you should jump on it. And that's what we've got with Brady. He's now thrown 11 touchdowns with just 1,122 yards on the season. Since 2011, a player with that yardage total -- and, remember, yards correlate strongly to touchdown production -- would've been expected to have thrown fewer than seven touchdowns. That four-touchdown difference for Brady is second-highest in the league behind only the unicorn, Russell Wilson.

Brady's touchdown rate shows this as well. He's thrown a tuddy on 7.1% of his attempts this year, a rate he hasn't hit since 2010.

Regression is likely coming.

Buy Darius Slayton

One of my favorite lower-key buys this week is Darius Slayton. The Giants have been an offensive disaster to start the year, having thrown just two passing touchdowns while ranking third-worst in yards per play. They've also faced the Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams, so it hasn't been the easiest time in the world.

Through this tough stretch, one of the positives has been Slayton. He's seen almost 21% of New York's targets, and he ranks inside the top-20 across the league in air yards. He's seeing looks, and he's seeing them down the field. That combination will come in handy when the Giants face easier opponents over the next few weeks, starting this week with the Cowboys.

Add Teddy Bridgewater

Week 4 was a big one for Teddy Bridgewater, where he threw for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns, and then he showed off some mobility with 32 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. The nice part is, he's still underperformed this year. His touchdown rate is just 2.8% -- well below the league's average -- and he's thrown only 4 passing touchdowns on 1,147 yards. Doing the same conversion as we did with Tom Brady above, Bridgewater should have over three more passing touchdowns than he currently has. Combine that with a game against the beatable Falcons secondary this week, and Bridgewater is an obvious streamer.

Buy Jonathan Taylor

Things haven't trended in the right direction for Jonathan Taylor since becoming the lead back for Indianapolis. In Week 2 -- his first game as starter -- Taylor had a 74.3% running back rush share and an 8.0% target share. Then, in Week 3, those numbers fell to 44.8% and 4.0%. In Week 4, it was 48.6% and 3.6%.

That's not what Taylor managers want to see.

The good news is that, over the last couple of weeks where Taylor's seen his rushing share dip, he's been the most effective Colts running back. He has a 36.7% Success Rate, per numberFire's expected points model, and that's 11% better than Nyheim Hines' rate and over 14% better than Jordan Wilkins' rate.

Taylor's target share has dropped, too, but, according to Pro Football Focus, he's run the most routes on the team since taking over in Week 2. Over the last two weeks, Hines has just five more routes run. It's unfortunate that the Colts haven't thrown much, but within the context of his team, things haven't been horrific.

This is also about buying into a good running back. Taylor had one of the most complete analytical profiles of any running back we've seen over the last decade, and he's only four games into his career. It's logical to at least give him a little time to get used to things, especially after no preseason.

Most importantly, Indy will continue to see a nice schedule moving forward, especially over the next three weeks when they face the Browns, Bengals, and Lions. Those potential positive scripts should help Taylor give you at least a high floor each week.

Add D'Ernest Johnson

Nick Chubb is going to miss several weeks with a knee injury, so Kareem Hunt gets a big boost in fantasy value stemming from Week 4. D'Ernest Johnson does, too, though.

In their Week 4 game against the Cowboys, Johnson saw 37.1% of Cleveland's running back rushes, running the ball 13 times for 95 yards. He'll likely split the backfield with Hunt moving forward, and he may have some flex appeal given the Browns have been one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL to start the season.

And, in deeper leagues, don't sleep on Dontrell Hilliard. He'll probably have a shot at some work, too, and he's got far better measurables than Johnson.

Add Damien Harris

Damien Harris made the 15 Transactions column last week, but after a pretty strong performance on Monday night, the transaction needs to be restated -- he's only rostered in about 30% of Yahoo! leagues. Sony Michel is now on injured reserve with a quad injury, and without Michel against the Chiefs, Harris ran the ball 17 times for 100 yards. He accounted for 54.8% of New England's running back rushes, which certainly isn't a bad thing after doing very little during his rookie season and having not played at all this year. He's worth an add to at least see how things unfold.

Add Robert Tonyan

Originally, this was going to be a "drop Kerryon Johnson" transaction, so if you've got Johnson, feel free to put him on your waiver wire. But Robert Tonyan happened in a big way on Monday night, and it wouldn't feel right to omit him from this week's list.

Against the Falcons, Tonyan caught all 6 of his targets for 98 yards and 3 touchdowns. That's coming off a game where he saw a 16.7% target share, catching 5 of 5 targets for 50 yards and a score. His uptick in looks has correlated with Davante Adams' injury, but it may be tough for them to ignore Tonyan moving forward.

Add Justin Herbert

He may be a rookie, but Justin Herbert ranks in the top-five in yards per attempt so far this year, and he's posted 22-plus fantasy points in two of his three games played. He's balling out. And those fantasy totals may continue moving forward, with the Chargers facing the Saints, Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, Raiders, and Broncos. So far this year, four of those teams have been plus matchups when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position.

Herbert should at least be a good streamer this week against the Saints in a game with a 52-point over/under, per FanDuel Sportsbook.

Add the Houston Texans Defense

The Texans may be winless, but they're 6.5-point favorites this week against a Jaguars team that's allowed back to back top-10 defensive performances. The Jags rank eighth-worst in sack rate allowed this year, and Gardner Minshew has thrown at least one pick in each of his last three contests. Houston, even with their issues, make for a decent-enough streamer this week on D.