15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 8
So much for Matt Asiata getting more carries, eh?
After Mike Zimmer said that he wanted to get Asiata more involved, Minnesota went ahead and gave rookie Jerick McKinnon 19 carries to Asiata's 6 against Buffalo in Week 7.
As I've written about plenty in this column through the weeks, McKinnon needs to be owned in more fantasy football leagues (ownership is still a far-too-low 11.7% in ESPN.com leagues). But what should owners do with Asiata?
Let's take a look.
Drop Matt Asiata
If Asiata was the one with off-the-chart measurables, I wouldn't recommend dropping him. But because he runs like a dad™, Asiata's drop-worthy in most leagues.
McKinnon's Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush average now sits at 0.02, meaning every time he touches the ball on a run for Minnesota, he's adding points above what would be expected from him. Asiata's average, meanwhile, is a -0.01. It seems like a small difference, but when you're talking about a lot of volume, it can add up.
Given that McKinnon's a rookie and has even more room to grow, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for Minnesota to go back to Asiata. Even if they did, the rushing split wouldn't be significant enough to make Asiata a consistent fantasy producer.
Add Tre Mason
Even if Jeff Fisher just goes with the "hot hand" in St. Louis, rookie Tre Mason should be added off the waiver wire this week.
Against Seattle, one of the best rush defenses in the league according to our metrics, Mason rushed 18 times for 95 yards and a score, seeing 16 more attempts than any other Rams running back. Playing above expectation, per NEP, Mason's got a chance to grab hold of the starting job in an offense that can move the rock better than most would think.
Add Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon
Anthony Dixon's dressed for the team all year, and has seen some work as a result. Entering Week 7, Dixon had 14 rushes for a 0.55 Rushing NEP, seeing a 50% Success Rate. Those are solid numbers for a running back, but he hadn't seen a high volume of touches. When he was forced to against Minnesota on Sunday, he was ineffective, totaling a -1.26 Rushing NEP. The Vikings haven't been especially strong against the run, either, ranking 23rd prior to playing Buffalo.
That brings me back to Brown. He's got better measurables, which you always want to look for when analyzing backups who are assuming larger roles - did we not learn anything from the situation in Minnesota? That's why I'd prefer Brown, despite not dressing, over Dixon off the waiver wire. There's just more upside.
Add Allen Robinson
I couldn't have been more clear about adding Allen Robinson in last week's 15 Transactions article. Now that he finally scored a touchdown, more fantasy owners will be after him. Shame on you for not picking him up.
Robinson now has 53 targets on the season, which ranks 22nd in the entire NFL at wide receiver. That includes a three-target Week 1, too. He still hasn't seen fewer than six targets since Week 2.
He's getting volume, which is half the battle in fantasy football. If he continues to find the end zone, he's going to be more than just a bye week fill-in.
Add Denard Robinson
Denard Robinson had quite the day against a below-average Browns rush defense, toting the rock 22 times for 127 yards and a score. In the end, Robinson had a Rushing NEP total close to four, which was by far the best performance of any Jacksonville back so far this year. In fact, entering Week 7, the best running backs on the Jaguars were Robinson and Storm Johnson, who averaged -0.11 Rushing NEP per rush. Yes, a negative number - one that low - is a bad thing.
Denard is worth an add this week, but if you can find an owner who's willing to trade legitimate value for him, don't be afraid to pull the trigger. Jacksonville's been historically bad offensively this year according to our metrics, and outside of Robinson's game, the best performance from a Jacksonville running back came from Storm Johnson in Week 6, when he was the 28th-best PPR back.
Add Ronnie Hillman
I almost feel a little dirty putting Ronnie Hillman in the column this week because it's such an obvious add. But he's owned in only 11.9% of ESPN.com leagues, and could end up snagging the lead running back gig in Denver, even when Montee Ball returns.
Don't believe me? Hillman's per rush NEP is 0.00, which is 0.15 points better than Ball's average. While Hillman's played around expectation, before his injury, Ball had lost over eight points for the Broncos via the ground game. And this is coming with identical volume.
From a receiving standpoint, too, Hillman's advanced metrics beat out Ball's. With one fewer catch, Hillman has a Target NEP - points added on all targets - that's three expected points higher than what Ball saw before his injury.
A starting running back in a Peyton Manning-led offense needs to be owned in every league.
Sell Eddie Lacy
Rather than reiterate an article I wrote yesterday on this topic, I'll send you to read it (here). In essence, you should be selling Eddie Lacy because his volume, and he needs said volume - or a lot of touchdowns - to be a weekly fantasy football starter given his poor efficiency.
Buy Rueben Randle
If you can afford to take a hit with the Giants' Week 8 bye, trading for Rueben Randle would be wise. His fantasy numbers have been consistently moderate, but mostly because he's only found the end zone twice this year. That should regress a bit, as Jordy Nelson is the only player with more targets in the red zone this season.
Since Week 3, Randle's had at least nine targets - that's not a typo - in every game. After just three looks in Week 1, Randle ranks 15th in wide receiver targets this season. Volume should keep him relevant, and if he converts more of his red zone looks, Randle could be a WR2 from here on out.
Drop Steven Jackson
Steven Jackson hasn't seen more than 14 carries in a single game this season, and has now gotten just 14 over the Falcons' last two games. From a Rushing NEP standpoint, both Antone Smith and Jacquizz Rodgers have been more effective than SJax, and are continuing to dig into his workload as well.
A big problem with Jackson's volume and fantasy potential is that the Falcons are the second pass-heaviest team in the NFL. This has a lot to do with their poor defense, rarely having leads in games. As a result, Jackson just isn't getting enough opportunity to be effective.
Add Doug Baldwin
Folks will overstate the loss of Percy Harvin in Seattle. Not only was quarterback Russell Wilson better with Harvin off the field, but Harvin had just 26 targets in 5 games. Let's not pretend he was getting a lot of looks in this offense.
Doug Baldwin, however, looks to be a player who's going to benefit from the Seahawks' loss. A season ago, he was top five in the league in Reception NEP per target, which looks at how efficient a player is on each target. He hasn't seen enough volume to really show off this efficiency, but his team-high 11 in Week 7 resulted in 7 catches for 123 yards and a score.
The matchup was favorable (St. Louis ranks 29th against the pass according to our metrics), but he's got another juicy one against Carolina upcoming in Week 8. A higher floor for someone like Baldwin could create nice WR3 value from here on out.
Drop Jason Witten
Jason Witten's seen more than five targets just twice this year, and hasn't hit the six target mark since Week 2. Meanwhile, Cowboys' tight end Gavin Escobar is stealing looks in the end zone, scoring three times over the last two games.
Witten's been more efficient on a per target basis this year than last, but the Cowboys are no longer a team that throws the ball around the field. In fact, they're tied with Houston with the lowest pass-to-run ratio in the NFL through seven weeks.
With so many young options at tight end and the ability to stream the position in most leagues, plugging and playing Witten each week isn't a desirable thing to do. And people are still doing that, as he was started in over 77% of ESPN.com leagues last week.
Sell Wes Welker
Outside of Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, the pass-catchers in Denver may be a little tough to predict each week. Since returning from suspension, Wes Welker's seen 9, 9, 1 and 3 targets, a disparity that would make any fantasy owner go mad. Considering he caught all three of his targets last week and scored a touchdown, you may be able to sell high. I'd try to do that, aiming for someone with more consistent volume.
Buy Justin Forsett
Forsett's surprised me just as much as anyone else - through seven weeks, no running back has a higher Rushing Net Expected Points total. He's been more valuable to the Ravens than any other running back has to their respective teams. Let that sink in for a second.
Clearly I'm buying for that reason - he's been great. But the Ravens upcoming schedule, too, makes me believe he'll continue to run effectively. They get Cincinnati in Week 8 (32nd against the run according to our metrics), then Pittsburgh (19th), Tennessee (22nd), BYE and New Orleans (24th). I fully expect Forsett to keep things going.
Add Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer's ownership numbers don't make a whole lot of sense to me. In three games played this year, he's yet to score fewer than 16 fantasy points, tossing a pair of touchdowns in each contest. How couldn't you with the weapons they have in Arizona?
For whatever reason, he's still owned in fewer than 10% of ESPN.com leagues. Palmer gets a great matchup this week against a Philadelphia team that ranks 28th against fantasy quarterbacks, and is more than likely the best streaming option available in your league.
Add the Cowboys' Defense
According to our Adjusted Defensive NEP metric, Dallas has the 11th-best defense in the NFL. They're currently a pretty middle-of-the-road unit in terms of fantasy points scored, ranking 17th. But in Week 8 they'll face what should be a Colt McCoy-led Redskins team. Yes, please.