15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 9
It was one of the highest scoring weeks we've ever seen in fantasy football. Ben Roethliserger threw for 522 yards and 6 touchdowns, Tom Brady added 5 passing scores of his own, and Rob Gronkowski and Arian Foster both scored 3 times.
But all fantasy football degenerates could talk about on Monday was Michael Floyd and his goose egg - his zero points scored in a game that featured 329 Carson Palmer yards, in a week where 170 standard fantasy points scored by a lineup wasn't out of the ordinary.
Sometimes talented players in favorable matchups don't work out. And sometimes, like the first guy we'll dive into this week, a player can blow up because of some silly-good opportunity.
Sell Golden Tate
There's no doubt that Golden Tate's been ridiculous over the last five weeks without (or with a decoy version of) Calvin Johnson. He's scored 19.6, 26.4, 11.4, 31.4 and 28.1 PPR fantasy points with Megatron hurt on 10, 9, 12, 13 and 15 targets.
And that's precisely the problem. The Lions have a bye upcoming, and exiting it, Calvin Johnson should be back. In the three games with a healthy Megatron this year, Tate saw 6, 8 and 7 targets, ranking 27th, 33rd and 51st at wide receiver in PPR leagues.
He should still possess a nice high weekly floor, but his ceiling will be capped with Calvin's return. If you can sell him high before his bye week, go right ahead.
Buy the Falcons' Passing Attack
Rather than reiterating what I wrote yesterday on the Falcons, I'll send you to the article. If you want a short version: buy the passing game because, after the team's bye, the schedule is cake. And I'm sure owners are discouraged by their recent performance.
Add Charles Sims
If you're in need of running back help, you may want to make Charles Sims your top waiver wire claim this week. He was placed on short-term injured reserve during the summer, but is now eligible and ready to return. Given the backfield's inefficiency this season, led by Doug Martin's -5.44 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) total, there's going to be opportunity for the rookie.
Add Donte Moncrief
Another rookie to look at is Colts' wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Though he was out-snapped by Hakeem Nicks against the Steelers, Moncrief was the more effective player during Reggie Wayne's absence, compiling a Reception NEP that was over seven points higher.
Wayne's injury isn't a long-term one, but Moncrief deserves a stash considering Nicks has a -11.53 Target NEP (number of points added on all targets) this year, fourth lowest in the entire NFL, and Moncrief's a rookie growing in an explosive offense.
Buy Kelvin Benjamin
As Kevin Durant said on Twitter, "Kelvin Benjamin is a video game." He's right. Through eight weeks, Benjamin ranks as the 12th-best wide receiver in the league. As a rookie. That's filthy.
I've mentioned Benjamin in this column in the past because the team's schedule is so favorable moving forward. That's still the case, as our own Leo Howell laid out yesterday with a look at Cam Newton. The toughest matchup for Carolina through the end of the year is against Minnesota, a team that grades out well according to our metrics but still allows the 17th-most fantasy points to wide receivers. Benjamin should finish strong in an offense that really goes through him.
Sell Tom Brady
I'm fully aware that I once told you to drop Tom Brady and move on from what was a headache. Since then, Brady did have one more poor outing, but he also started throwing the ball better than any other fantasy passer in the game.
I'm fine with the logic and process I used to make that decision but, man, was I wrong.
Based on history, telling you to get rid of Tom Brady in this column probably means he'll be the best fantasy quarterback from here on out. But, really, I don't see him being able to perform at the high level he has through the end of the year.
New England's schedule through Week 16: Denver (13th according to our pass defense metrics), BYE, Indianapolis (10th), Detroit (6th), Green Bay (18th), San Diego (27th), Miami (3rd), New York Jets (23rd). There are a couple of easy games in there, but it's still one of the harder passing schedules in the NFL moving forward.
The quarterback position is a replaceable one, and if you can get a significant return for the Patriots' passer, go for it.
Add Brandon LaFell
With that being said, you should still be adding Brandon LaFell off the waiver wire this week. Owned in just 8.8% of ESPN.com leagues, LaFell now has four touchdowns over his last five games, and is seeing reasonable volume, including Sunday's team-high 11 targets.
The main issue with any New England wide receiver is the weekly fluctuation in their play. LaFell's been a top-10 PPR wideout three times now this season, but he's also ranked 61st, 88th and 42nd at the position. It's not going to be a consistent ride.
Buy LeSean McCoy
Things are improving for the Philadelphia Eagles' ground game, and it's starting to impact LeSean McCoy's fantasy performances.
After seeing fewer than five fantasy points in Week 3 and 4 combined, McCoy has scored double-digit PPR fantasy points in three straight games. He's obviously talented enough to be a "buy low" candidate, but the offensive line is getting healthier and the upcoming schedule is fantasy football gold, as the Eagles will face Houston (7th against the run according to our metrics), Carolina (30th), Green Bay (31st) and Tennessee (28th). To make things even better, he's already had his bye. Get him if his owner allows it.
Sell Marshawn Lynch
There's plenty of off-the-field talk surrounding Marshawn Lynch's future in Seattle, but let's look at things from a pure fantasy and football perspective. He ranks seventh in PPR scoring among all running backs this year - that's a good start (and selling point). But he's also yet to top 9.1 points (again, in PPR leagues) over the last three weeks against teams that rank 26th, 11th and 30th against the run, per our metrics. During this stretch, Lynch has watched his Rushing NEP drop from 5.40 to 4.48, meaning he's played below expectation since the end of Week 5.
From Week 12 through Week 16 - the most important in fantasy football - Lynch and the Seahawks will face Arizona twice, San Francisco twice and Philadelphia once. Arizona ranks 9th against the run according to NEP, San Francisco is 16th and Philadelphia is 4th. It's not going to be an easy time for him, and when you combine his schedule with his ineffective running, he becomes a sell.
Add Allen Robinson
Every week, guys. Every week I have to remind you to pick up Allen Robinson, and yet he's still out there in over 96% over ESPN.com leagues. Robinson saw another 10 targets on Sunday, and now leads the Jaguars with 63. He had just three in Week 1, meaning he's averaging 8.57 targets per game over the last seven weeks of the season.
Even though Jacksonville's offense is a dumpster fire, trending towards one of the worst our database has ever seen, you can't ignore Robinson's volume, consistency and output. And hey, he's found the end zone in each of his last two games, too.
Sell Lamar Miller
You couldn't ask for more consistency from Lamar Miller this season. In PPR leagues, the Dolphins' lead runner has hit double digits in all but one week, never scoring more than his 18.7-point Week 4.
Generally speaking, that's translated to strong advanced analytics. Miller's Rushing NEP per tote is a solid 0.02, far better than anything he's seen in his career.
But, like most of the "sell" candidates in this column, Miller's schedule gets rough moving forward. From Week 9 through Week 14, the Dolphins will face San Diego (19th against the run), Detroit (1st), Buffalo (5th), Denver (6th), New York Jets (12th), and Baltimore (8th). That's four games against top-10 rush defenses, with the other two contests coming against average to above average ones.
Miller's been rolling, but this might be the time to sell.
Add Jonas Gray
As I mentioned in my breakdown of Shane Vereen a week and a half ago, it's tough to trust a Bill Belichick running back. While some contests will be Vereen games, others will feature - it looks like - Jonas Gray.
There's nothing wrong with that as long as you're aware that his usage will be inconsistent. Against the Jets, Gray saw just three touches because of game script and matchup. This week, against a weak Chicago front, Gray ran the rock 17 times for a solid 86 yards. Vereen, meanwhile, only played four more snaps than Gray, far different than what we saw from New England against New York.
Gray's certainly worth an add though, especially in games where the Patriots are favorites. This week against Denver, however, could be a Vereen game.
Drop Chris Johnson
Second, he's not even average. Johnson has a -5.96 Rushing NEP, losing 0.09 points for the Jets with every rushing attempt. Ivory, meanwhile, has an 11.01 Rushing NEP, adding 0.11 points for New York with each tote. Johnson ranks 37th among the 53 running backs with 50 or more touches in per rush NEP, while Ivory ranks 3rd. Behind the same offensive line, in the same system.
I have no idea why he's still owned in 85% of ESPN.com leagues.
Add Alex Smith
If you're in need of a quarterback streamer this week, boring Alex Smith may be your man. He hasn't set the world on fire - and he never will - but the Jets' secondary, which is below average according to our metrics, ranks dead last in terms of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. In fact, every quarterback they've faced has thrown at least two touchdown passes.
Though Smith doesn't have many weapons in the receiving game, he's a good option off the wire.
Add the Browns' Defense
The Browns have been a decent fantasy defense regardless of matchup this year, ranking 14th in fantasy points scored. They forced three turnovers against the hapless Raiders, and host a Buccaneers team this week that ranks 31st in offensive efficiency. Get them off the waiver wire.