15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 10
Putting together this transactions list each week isn't easy.
No, that's not a complaint. I'm writing and podcasting about fantasy football in my gym shorts every day.
Things could be worse.
It's just sometimes tough to read the fantasy football market. Like, we often have obvious buy-low candidates in fantasy, right? There are players each week who obviously should be traded for. But if everyone knows they're a buy-low candidate, what good is the transaction if it's not all that actionable?
That's how I feel about this week's first transaction. It's pretty clear-cut. Maybe, as a result, it won't be actionable.
But it absolutely needs to be stated.
Buy Derrick Henry
Week 9 wasn't very kind to Derrick Henry. He rushed for just 68 yards, didn't find the end zone, and didn't see a single target.
Buy. I'm begging you: trade for Derrick Henry.
This was just the second time this season where we've seen Henry finish outside the top-15 in weekly running back scoring in PPR formats. It also was the first time he finished a game without a target. It feels like this hasn't been talked about enough, but Henry has -- even after his goose egg in the receiving column this week -- a 7.4% target share this year. His highest single-season target share came last year, where he finished at 5.9%. Prorated to 16 games, it was around 6.3%.
We know Henry's historically been a running back who ramps up his production towards the end of the season. That narrative alone may make it difficult to trade for him. It's just that, this year, his fantasy playoff schedule is (chef's kiss) brilliant. From Weeks 14 through 16 -- the fantasy football playoffs -- the Titans face the Jaguars, Lions, and Packers. Those three teams each rank as top-six matchups for running backs according to adjusted fantasy points allowed.
Henry should go bonkers in the fantasy football playoffs. After a down week, now is an ideal time to buy, even if his immediate schedule isn't as appetizing.
Sell Ezekiel Elliott
Before Dak Prescott suffered his season-ending injury, Ezekiel Elliott was averaging over 22 PPR points per game to go along with a running back rush share per game of about 88%, and a target share per contest of roughly 13.5%. He was a locked-in, no doubt RB1 in fantasy football.
Since the injury, Elliott's watched his running back rush share plummet to just 62%, while his target share per game has dropped by 2.5%. Most importantly, he hasn't found the end zone. As a result, he's averaged just 8.8 PPR points per game.
In most cases, I'd just advise you ride this out. And, honestly, you might have to. But if you can find a league manager who's willing to buy into the name, it's not a bad idea to shop Zeke.
Not only is his usage declining, and not only are the scoring opportunities dwindling, but from now through the end of the fantasy season, guess which team has the worst schedule for running backs when looking at my adjusted fantasy points allowed method? That's right: the Cowboys. Some teams are close, to be fair, but this is more so to point out that the rest of the season won't be a cakewalk.
Maybe you can sell the fact that Garrett Gilbert looked competent against Pittsburgh on Sunday? Maybe you can point to the fact that the running back position as a whole is putrid, so Zeke, who's still seeing volume, has worth? There are ways to at least frame Elliott favorably in a trade negotiation, and I'd try to do that this week.
Buy Tom Brady
Typically, I'm not a fan of buying quarterbacks in fantasy football. It's a replaceable position -- there are usable passers on the waiver wire each week in most leagues -- so there's no need to go out and give anything significant for one.
You probably won't have to send off any significant piece of your fantasy football team if you go and trade for Tom Brady this week, though. He looked lost against New Orleans on Sunday night, throwing for just 209 yards while getting picked 3 times. It was his worst fantasy performance of the season, and the first time he scored single-digit points since facing Carolina in Week 2.
So, why buy him? There are two reasons. The first is that we know he's got a good supporting cast. This was his first game with Antonio Brown, and Brown looked pretty good, all things considered. Second -- and this is the main reason -- is the schedule. Specifically, the playoff schedule.
In Week 14, Tampa Bay gets Minnesota, a neutral matchup in terms of adjusted fantasy points allowed. Week 15 is a game against Atlanta, the team that's been the most advantageous matchup over the last five weeks and the second-best matchup across the entire season. And then in Week 16 -- championship week -- the Bucs face the Lions. Detroit's been the fourth-best matchup for quarterbacks in adjusted points allowed over the last month and change.
When you bring it all together, an easy case could be made that Tampa Bay has the best stretch of matchups for a passing attack in the NFL during the fantasy football playoffs. Since Brady had such a crappy game, he's an easy trade target this week.
Hold or Buy Ronald Jones
Speaking of the Buccaneers, Ronald Jones hasn't been playing nearly as much over the last couple of weeks. In Week 8, the Bucs had him on the field for just 24% of the team's snaps, which was a season low. On Sunday, that number was just 32%, his second-lowest snap rate of the year.
As is the case with anything data-related, context is important. In that Week 8 game against the Giants, RoJo was seeing the early-game work -- on the first drive, he out-touched Leonard Fournette 4 to 0. At the start of the second Bucs' drive, Jones saw another carry. Brady then targeted Jones on the next play, he caught it, quickly fumbled, and the rest is history. It became a Leonard Fournette game.
Against the Saints on Sunday, we saw a similar-ish trend. Jones opened the game as the starter and played as the main back for Tampa Bay well into the second quarter. The game then got out of hand, so the Bucs threw their pass-catching back onto the field, which is Leonard Fournette. Fournette went on to see six targets.
Fournette's now hit the six-target mark in each of his last three games. So make no mistake: he's the clear pass-catching back in that offense.
Plenty of fantasy managers, though, are going to look at the end result of these Buccaneers' games and assume that Fournette is the clear-cut back in this Tampa Bay backfield. That's not really the case. Or, I should say, we don't have enough evidence to make that assumption.
What seems to be going on is that Ronald Jones is the early-down starter. He's the guy they'll feature more in a friendly game script. Fournette's likely the safer option, but these transactions aren't about liking one player over another. It's fine to be pro-Fournette, but if the market is also pro-Fournette, then you're not extracting value.
To me, there's some value to be had with buying into Ronald Jones right now. As I just mentioned, the Buccaneers' playoff schedule is pretty attractive, and that could end up really helping Jones. And since he's coming off two down games, it shouldn't be hard to acquire him, hopefully for just some assets on your bench. It's worth a shot.
At the very least, just hold onto him. These were two very bad situations for Jones in back to back weeks.
Add Duke Johnson
David Johnson suffered a concussion during the first quarter of Houston's game against Jacksonville on Sunday, and that allowed Duke Johnson to grab hold of a huge workload. Johnson (the Duke variety) handled 89% of the Texans' running back rushes in the game while seeing a 13.3% target share. That helped him finish with 15.3 PPR points and a top-10 running back finish across the league. If David Johnson were to miss time, Duke would become a fantasy starter within a really mediocre positional group.
Buy Dallas Goedert
If you've been reading this column over the last month, then you already know my feelings about the Eagles' passing attack moving forward. I'm bullish. Not just because the group is getting healthier, but because the schedule is gorgeous. From now through the end of the fantasy season, the Eagles will face the Giants, Browns, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, and Cowboys. There's a lot of potential for high-scoring games.
Before Philly's Week 9 bye, Dallas Goedert returned from injury and had a game that wasn't anything special. He only had a 4% target share, catching 1 pass for 15 yards. But let's not forget: during the first two weeks of the season, when Goedert was healthy, he had about a 20% target share in the Eagles' offense, tallying 131 receiving yards and a score.
And in that Week 8 game against Dallas -- the one where he only had that one catch for 15 yards -- Goedert ran a route on over 80% of Carson Wentz's drop backs. It's not as though the Eagles were holding him back. He just didn't put together a great game coming off an injury.
The tight end position is a mess. It's a disaster. With Goedert, you have the ability to buy-low on a player who realistically could play as a top-six or -seven option at the position from here on out.
Add or Buy Austin Hooper
The same goes for Austin Hooper. Within a dreadful fantasy football position, Hooper is one of the few cheaper players who offer some hope.
After dealing with appendicitis, Hooper is expected back this week. Prior to his diagnosis, he was averaging almost a 20% target share per game, and that's after seeing just 5.7% of the team's targets in Week 1. Now Odell Beckham is done for the year, which could open things up. And -- And! -- Cleveland has one of the best schedules for fantasy tight ends through the end of the fantasy season, per adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position.
Hooper's still available in 60% of Yahoo! leagues, so if he's out there, snag him. If he's not, consider making a small trade in order to solidify your tight end spot.
Add Kalen Ballage
It's 2020, so, sure, we'll willingly add Kalen Ballage to our fantasy football teams. Sure. Why not?
After Justin Jackson left during the first drive of the Chargers-Raiders game on Sunday, the Kalen Ballage show began. He toted the rock 15 times for a nice 69 yards and a touchdown, and he caught 2 of 3 targets for 15 yards through the air. Ballage handled 62.5% of the Chargers' running back rushes when it was all said and done.
Depending on the severity of Jackson's injury, we could get some usability from Ballage.
I can't believe I just typed that.
Sell Will Fuller
It's totally understandable if you want to ride Will Fuller's season into the sunset. He's a top-15 wide receiver in points per game, and for someone who's been labelled as inconsistent, he's been anything but that this season, finishing as a top-30 wide receiver in 6 of 8 games.
When I say "Sell Will Fuller", I'm not saying to give him away for peanuts. I'm here to just note that he's seen a slight target share dip over his last two games (16.2%) compared to the four that came before them (23.4%). And I'm here to remind you that it'll be shocking if he keeps up this touchdown-scoring pace.
He's now tallied a touchdown in each of his last six games. If you look at how many yards it's taken an average wide receiver to score a touchdown over the last decade -- and keep in mind, yards correlate well to touchdowns -- based on Fuller's yardage total, he's exceeding touchdown expectation by 2.4 scores. That's one of the highest marks in the league. Pro Football Focus' expected touchdown model shows almost identical results.
Not only that, but the Texans don't have the best schedule in the world ahead of them. It's a bottom-10 one for wide receivers in adjusted fantasy points allowed, and in the fantasy playoffs, Houston will face the Bears, Colts, and Bengals. There's nothing special about that slate of games.
Add Matt Breida and Salvon Ahmed
The Dolphins had their first game of the season without Myles Gaskin this week, and it went as we all sort of expected -- it was kind of a mess for fantasy football purposes. Jordan Howard saw the highest running back rush share at 55.6%, but he turned his 10 carries into just 19 yards. Patrick Laird picked up the backfield's only target.
But then there was rookie Salvon Ahmed. He actually led the backfield in snaps with a 45.9% share, and he carried the ball 7 times for 38 yards. Per numberFire's expected points model, he had the superior Success Rate to Jordan Howard on Sunday, beating him 43% to 30%. Ahmed may be more of a deeper league or dynasty add than anything else, but he should at least be on your radar given the number of snaps he played.
If Matt Breida's able to return from a hamstring injury this week, though, then I'd prefer him. He has the most intriguing workload upside in the backfield given his efficiency in the past to go along with a pass-catching skillset. So keep an eye on where things are at with Breida throughout the week.
Add JD McKissic
J.D. McKissic saw 35.9% of Washington's targets on Sunday, marking the second-highest target share a running back has seen all season. Naturally, it came with the king of checkdowns, Alex Smith, under center. Since Kyle Allen could be done for the year, Smith is probably going to continue quarterbacking this Washington offense. And if that happens, McKissic may benefit. Considering his 17% target share across the season, McKissic's a cheap PPR option that should provide a high floor each week.
Buy Sterling Shepard
Since Sterling Shepard's returned from injury, he's seen target shares of 27.5%, 24.4%, and 24.2%. He's turned that into fantasy performances of 17.9, 15.4, and 11.7 PPR points.
It's not sexy, but Shepard's getting the job done.
For anyone needing relatively cheap production at wide receiver in the short term -- perhaps for a playoff push -- Shepard's probably your guy. Over the Giants' next four games, they get the Eagles, Bengals, Seahawks, and Cardinals. None of those teams should scare you matchup-wise.
Add Baker Mayfield
The top quarterback streamer this week has to be Baker Mayfield. Cleveland's facing off against Houston in a game with a high 53.5-point over/under (per NFL odds), and the Browns are favorites, giving them a really high implied team total. Houston's secondary is also beatable. We watched Jake Luton tear them up in his first NFL start on Sunday, and on the season, they rank as a fringe top-10 opponent in adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Mayfield is a solid start.
Add Tua Tagovailoa
We've got an awesome matchup this weekend between the Chargers and Dolphins, which means it's rookie Justin Herbert versus rookie Tua Tagovailoa. The game is projected to be close with a 2.5-point spread, and the over/under is set at a reasonable 48.5. After showing off his arm in a more neutral game script versus Arizona, Tua gets a Chargers secondary that's allowed the sixth-most adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing fantasy quarterbacks this year. He's a decent fallback plan if you can't get the safer option in Mayfield this week.
Add the Minnesota Vikings Defense
The Vikings defense is in play this week as a defensive streamer against the Bears. Chicago's been a middle-of-the-road matchup so far this year for opposing defenses, but they've been a safe target. Since Week 1, only the Panthers defense was unable to finish in the top-16 in weekly scoring against the Bears, and over the last three weeks, we've seen three top-eight performances from defenses going up against Chicago. With this Vikings-Bears game having a pretty low over/under at 44.5 and with Minnesota as a favorite, they've got a shot of making that four straight weeks.
There may be better defensive options, like Philadelphia, sitting on your waiver wire this week. But the Vikings are rostered in just 23% of Yahoo! leagues, so they have a better shot at being available in yours.