NFL

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 12

Can you trust Taysom Hill moving forward in fantasy football?

We'll always remember Taysom Hill Week.

After Drew Brees' injury in Week 10, the Saints had a decision to make. They could throw their high-variance pocket passer, Jameis Winston, under center, or they could get creative and use their tight end do-it-all Swiss Army knife at quarterback. You know, the fantasy football vulture who the fantasy football world loathes.

No way they'd actually start Taysom Hill, right?

Well...

Hill attempted all 23 passes that the Saints had on Sunday against the Falcons. Now, he's a top waiver claim for Week 12.

Add Taysom Hill

If there was some hesitation to start Taysom Hill in your quarterback spot on Sunday, it's understandable. We didn't have total clarity on that situation heading into Week 11, so don't beat yourself up over it.

Hill delivered. It was a plus matchup -- the best matchup possible for a quarterback when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed -- but Hill still exceeded expectation with a 24.4-point outing, a top-five number at the quarterback position in Week 11. He did it through methodical, high-percentage passing -- he had the fewest air yards of any starter on Sunday. But he completed all three of his 15-plus air yard tosses and, most importantly, he got it done on the ground. Hill brings that much-needed rushing edge to the position, and against the Falcons, he ran the ball 10 times for 51 yards and 2 scores.

Drew Brees will be out at least the next two weeks since he's on injured reserve, and over those two games, Hill will face Denver and then Atlanta once again. Those are two matchups where you can play him with confidence.

Buy Allen Robinson

The Bears are an offensive disaster, but it's tough to ignore what their rest-of-season schedule looks like. And that should benefit Allen Robinson, who always flies under the radar because he's in said bad offense.

Robinson has seen almost 25% of Chicago's targets this year, and while that may not seem like anything super special, keep in mind that the Bears have the third-most pass attempts to go along with the highest pass-to-rush ratio in football. He's seeing a hefty target share in an offense that's throwing a lot, which can help mitigate the low-quality passes he's seeing.

Robinson's also got a little bit of touchdown regression coming on the positive end, where he's scored just three times, but models like Pro Football Focus' expected touchdown metric show that he should have closer to 3.5.

But the schedule. That's what this is really about. The Bears do get a tougher matchup this week against Green Bay, but I wouldn't want to wait and see if Robinson has a down game given Chicago's coming off of their bye. I'd pounce now. Because after the Packers, the Bears will face the Lions, Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars through the end of the season. Those are all top-half matchups for wide receivers when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position.

Sell Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon had his first top-10 performance since Week 4 on Sunday against Miami, but it really wasn't as good as you might think. Yes, he found the end zone a couple of times, and he averaged nearly six yards per carry, for what that's worth. The problem is that his peripheral numbers weren't all that great, especially compared to the production. He handled only 48.4% of Denver's running back rushes, and he failed to see a single target.

Since Phillip Lindsay came back from injury, Gordon's averaged a running back rush share per game of only 54.3%. Without Lindsay this year, that number's been 80.0%.

You have an opportunity to sell Gordon off of a big game, and it makes sense to try and do so.

Add James White

The waiver wire sucks this week. It's the worst waiver wire week of the season. So for a lot of the "adds" this week, there's a little less confidence than usual. These players aren't necessities.

James White, if he's available in your league, is probably the top add among non-quarterbacks. He's still out there in 60% of Yahoo! leagues, and he walked away from New England's contest against Houston on Sunday with a 23.7% target share, his highest mark since Week 6. He also played his highest snap share of the season at 56.5%.

Much of this is the result of a Rex Burkhead injury that came in the early portion of the third quarter. It's feared that Burkhead tore his ACL. If he's done for the year, then White will walk into a bigger pass-catching role, one that was essentially lost this year to Burkhead. We shouldn't count on him being a week in, week out starter, but White should be serviceable in PPR formats.

Sell Damien Harris

Having Rex Burkhead out of the New England backfield may seem like a plus for Damien Harris, and overall, it probably is. Before Sunday's game, Burkhead was seeing a running back rush share per game average above 31% this season, and his target share per game rate was 12.6%. Those numbers shifting out of the backfield is good news for someone like Harris.

The problem is two-fold. First, James White, as I just noted, is the likely recipient of a lot of Burkhead's pass-catching work. Harris has four targets this season in seven games played. On top of that, Sony Michel could -- and should -- be back. He was activated off injured reserve this past week, but he didn't play against the Texans. Given the way New England has traditionally used their running backs, where they've got an early-down bruiser and a pass-catching specialist, Michel's likely to hurt Harris in some way.

We should still expect Harris to be the 1A in that backfield. It's just that he's coming off some strong performances, and that combined with Burkhead's injury may allow you to sell for a good price. He won't be worthless moving forward, especially with a decent running back schedule for New England moving forward. It's just always smart to not buy into players who don't see significant receiving volume. Unless their name is Derrick Henry.

Buy Jamaal Williams

Aaron Jones was featured as a buy in last week's 15 Transactions column, and he came through with a top-10 performance in a tough matchup against the Colts on Sunday. The reason for the Jones transaction last week wasn't for Week 11, though. It was the fact that he had underperformed a bit, so there was a buy-low opportunity, and he and the Packers had -- and still have -- a great fantasy playoff schedule.

Enter Jamaal Williams. Jones' backup has handled over a third of Green Bay's running back rushes over the last two weeks after playing really well while Jones was out in Weeks 7 and 8. He also scored on a goal-line target, which shows us that the red zone isn't just Aaron Jones' area of the field for the Packers.

And if the fantasy playoff schedule is good for Jones -- and it is, with Green Bay facing Detroit, Carolina, and Tennessee -- then it's good for Williams, too. He can be a worthwhile flex down the stretch while giving you handcuff upside if another injury (knock on wood) occurs to Jones.

Add Russell Gage

Julio Jones only played 22 snaps against the Saints on Sunday because of a hamstring issue, and that allowed Russell Gage to do his typical high-volume, low-upside thing. Like, Gage is fine, and you should probably look to add him this week with Jones banged up, hence the transaction. It's just that even with high target share games in the past, he hasn't done a whole lot. In Week 1, he posted 20.4 PPR points on 12 targets against a bad Seattle secondary, but since then, he's averaged just 7.9 PPR points per game. That includes two games without Jones, where Gage tallied just an 11.1% target share per game while scoring -- wait for it -- 8.2 combined points.

As I just said, the waiver wire is bad this week, and that's what makes Gage an add. You just shouldn't go nuts trying to add him.

Hold or Buy Jonathan Taylor

Coming out of the bye, Indianapolis decided that Jonathan Taylor wasn't going to be featured in their offense. Like, at all. From Weeks 8 through 10 -- the team's three games post-bye -- Taylor averaged a running back rush share per game of 29.4%. Across his five games prior, that number was 67.0%.

On Sunday, it shot back up to 68.8%. And his target share hit 10% (11.8%) for the first time since Week 1.

What now?

I...don't really know. The thing with the running back position is that coaches will often drive fantasy value. If a coach doesn't want a running back on the field, then that running back is going to suffer. At least with wide receivers, more are on the field at once, and in order to see a target, they need to get open. In turn, volume is earned more than we see at running back.

This does mean that running back talent should hypothetically matter. If a running back is good, we'd hope his coach throws him on the field more. And, for what it's worth, Taylor hasn't been that bad. He has a near identical Success Rate -- which measures the percentage of positive expected point runs made by a back, per numberFires expected points model -- to Nyheim Hines, and his Success Rate is a solid five percentage points better than Jordan Wilkins'. And Taylor has by far the best per-rush efficiency from an expected points standpoint among the trio of backs.

Maybe the Colts' staff finally realized that Wilkins shouldn't see the rock so much. He only played about 10% of the team's snaps on Sunday, when that number had been significantly higher over his three previous games. That showed up in the stat sheet, with Wilkins getting just four carries, down from his three-game average of 13.

So where does that put us? Again, I don't really know. Even though Taylor's not totally living up to the hype, he's objectively been the most effective running back in that backfield this year. The Colts should continue to feature him. And because of the upside that brings -- and because there's a decent upcoming schedule for Indy -- it's not a bad idea to shoot an offer for him and see if you can still buy low. If you can't, no problem -- he shouldn't be a huge priority considering how the Colts' staff has handled this backfield all season long.

Add Jacob Hollister

A lot of you are in need of tight end help, and there's a chance -- albeit not the biggest one -- that Jacob Hollister can help you down the stretch this season at the position. Greg Olsen is going to be out for an extended period of time, and that leaves Seattle's tight end duties to Hollister and Will Dissly. Both are in play as adds, but I prefer Hollister because of his most recent peripherals -- he's run more routes and seen more targets than Dissly over the last three weeks.

Add Gus Edwards

We learned on Monday that J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram tested positive for coronavirus, and as long as nothing changes, that means that Gus Edwards is likely to see the majority of Baltimore's backfield snaps against Pittsburgh this week. The Steelers rank as a bottom-five running back matchup from an adjusted points allowed standpoint this year, but it's tough to find volume at running back on the waiver wire. And for those in deeper leagues, you could add Justice Hill, too.

Buy Robby Anderson

Robby Anderson currently has a 27% target share on the season. And he's scored just once.

Since 2011, we've only had one wide receiver with at least 25% of his team's targets find the end zone only once. That was Brian Hartline (remember him?) in 2012. A couple of players -- Kendall Wright in 2013 and Vincent Jackson in 2014 -- only scored twice with at least a 25% target share.

What I'm getting at here: Robby Anderson is very unlikely going to maintain this pace of scoring touchdowns.

Now, it's not like Anderson's failing to score while also being utilized heavily close to the end zone. His seven red-zone targets tie him for 30th within the statistic at wide receiver, and he's seen just 3 targets from within the 10-yard line. There are 38 wideouts with more targets within the 10.

With that being said, most models show that he should have closer to three to four touchdowns versus the one he currently has. I mean, he has 818 receiving yards -- he's scoring one touchdown for every 818 yards. The average this season at wide receiver has been a touchdown on every 162.9 yards.

The Panthers do still have their bye, so keep that in mind, but Anderson should be able to find the end zone once or twice more before the season is over. This current rate -- considering his high target share -- isn't sustainable.

Add Nelson Agholor

We've seen some spiked weeks from Nelson Agholor this season, but they've been nothing like what we saw from him on Sunday night. Prior to Week 11, Algholor had hit a double-digit percentage target share in just three games this season. On Sunday, that number was 29.0%, his highest share of the year. He turned those looks into 6 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown while leading the team in wide receiver snaps. He's worth looking at this week when putting in your waiver claims.

Buy Miles Sanders

Plenty of fantasy managers are turned off by the Philadelphia Eagles offense. It's hard to blame them -- Carson Wentz isn't exactly giving anyone much confidence right now.

That's likely going to turn people away from Miles Sanders. Thus, a buying opportunity.

Since Sanders returned from injury -- so our sample size is two games here -- he's handled about 78% of Philly's running back rushes and with roughly a 14% target share. That's a very, very good backfield market share. He's ranked as the RB19 and the RB27 in PPR formats, but a lot of that has been the result of not being able to find the end zone. Of course, we need Philly's offense to be better in order for those opportunities to arise. Fortunately, the only tough game for the offense through the end of the fantasy football season is against New Orleans during the first week of the fantasy football playoffs.

Sanders, to me, seems like a great buy-low pick for a team that's likely to see a first-round bye. Because in Weeks 15 and 16, the Eagles get the Cardinals and Cowboys, two decent matchups for Sanders to exploit.

Add Derek Carr

Derek Carr looked great against Kansas City on Sunday night, giving him another top-10 performance versus the Chiefs this season. Those are the only top-10 games that he's had this year, and that may turn you away from him, since he's not facing the Chiefs this weekend. He gets the Falcons instead. According to my method of opponent-adjusting fantasy points, Atlanta is the absolute best matchup for quarterbacks in fantasy football. With a super high 55.5-point over/under over on FanDuel Sportsbook, that game could shoot out, making Carr the top streamer of the week.

Add the New York Giants Defense

With the Giants on bye this past week, they're now available in over 85% of Yahoo! leagues. And in Week 12, they get the Joe Burrow-less Bengals. Ryan Finley is set to start, and that's why the Giants are 4.5-point favorites in a game with just a 42.5-point over/under. Those numbers from FanDuel Sportsbook are enough to say, "The Giants are a good streaming defense this week!" but consider this: in Finley's three starts last season, he was sacked 11 times while being picked off twice. Behind a Bengals offensive line that's surrendered the fifth-highest sack rate this season, New York shouldn't have much trouble.