15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 11
Watching Carson Palmer tear his ACL on Sunday was tough. The fact that he's on the majority of my fantasy teams doesn't really matter (have I mentioned that quarterback is replaceable?) - you've got to feel for Palmer, who seems to always get hurt at the absolute worst times.
But since this is a fantasy football column, I have to look at things from the fake football angle: Palmer's injury may have been a blessing in disguise for some fantasy squads. His high floor has been enticing when he's been healthy this year, but his end-of-season schedule looked a little hopeless - plugging and playing Palmer down the stretch could have resulted in some frustrating results.
Unfortunately, his team's running back could be facing a similar problem.
Sell Andre Ellington
Ellington's floor is 8.5 PPR fantasy points - that's the lowest score he's posted in 2014. He's hit three or more receptions in all but one game, and has scored a touchdown in four of nine contests.
I'm afraid it's time to sell.
Look, no one likes high-floor running backs more than I do. No one. But things aren't looking up for the Cardinals offense. Not only is Palmer out for the year, but they'll face Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta, Kansas City, St. Louis and Seattle through Week 16. Detroit and Seattle are top-three rush defenses according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, and St. Louis ranks ninth. That's four top-10 rush defenses in six games.
Ellington's also not been great toting the rock this year from an advanced analytics standpoint. He ranks dead last in Rushing NEP among the 25 running backs with 100 or more touches. Add in the fact that defenses may focus on him without the threat of Palmer, and you've got yourself a perfect sell candidate.
Buy or Add Eli Manning
Eli hasn't been a bad fantasy quarterback this year. His three contests with fewer than 15 standard points came against Detroit, Philadelphia and Seattle - two of those three can be tough for opposing passers to score points.
When he has a plus matchup - aside from that awful Philly game - he generally produces. And that's exactly what he'll have for a lot of the the rest of the season.
The Giants get San Francisco this week, which could maybe give Eli a little trouble, but they'll then face Dallas (22nd against the pass according to our metrics), Jacksonville (21st), Tennessee (18th), Washington (28th) and St. Louis (26th) during Weeks 12 through 16. If he's on the waiver wire in your league, or if you can get him as a nice backup quarterback for the playoffs, do it.
Add CJ Anderson
With the news that Ronnie Hillman could miss some time with a foot injury, it'd be smart to add CJ Anderson this week off the wire. In Week 10, Anderson did a little work for the Broncos, ending with 13 carries, 90 rushing yards, 4 catches, 73 receiving yards and a ridiculous YAC touchdown reception. If given the opportunity, he certainly presents a lot of upside.
Keep in mind, however, that there are other runners in the Denver backfield who are looking for playing time if and when Hillman is officially out. Juwan Thompson has seen work already this season, and Montee Ball should be returning from injury.
I like Anderson as an add because of what he showed us on Sunday, but be prepared for a full-blown committee, too.
Add Jordan Matthews
The Eagles' rookie receiver is out on over 75% of ESPN.com waiver wires (and remember, this data was updated by ESPN last week), meaning there's a possibility Mark Sanchez's favorite target is available.
Over the last two weeks, Matthews has 13 targets in the Eagles offense, including 9 in last night's contest versus Carolina. Though matchup certainly dictated some of this love, we can't ignore a couple of things here. First, there was a quarterback change, and Sanchez seems to have a good thing going with the rook. Second, first-year wide receivers tend to see more production during the tail-end of their freshman seasons, as they learn their respective NFL offense and catch up to the speed of the game.
In an offense that's bound to put up points, Matthews should be a top add for wide receiver-needy teams this week.
Buy Tony Romo
Romo looked great against Jacksonville in London, and now ranks seventh in the NFL in Passing NEP despite missing Week 9. Among all relevant passers this season, Romo's per drop back NEP is fifth-best in the league.
He's playing well, and the team's rushing attack is strong. Most importantly, Dallas may have the most fantasy-friendly schedule to close the year in the NFL.
A bye this week may allow you to buy (or add) Romo for cheap, but once the Cowboys return, they'll face the Giants, Eagles, Bears, Eagles and Colts through Week 16. Though the Eagles and Colts rank high against the pass according to NEP, fantasy quarterbacks haven't had as much trouble thanks to the team offenses posting so many points. This would be the week to try and acquire Romo if you're looking forward to the playoffs.
Add Josh Gordon
This is just your friendly reminder that Josh Gordon will be returning in Week 12. While we probably shouldn't expect 2013's Gordon to show up - Cleveland has gone from being one of the pass-happiest teams in the league to one of the most run-heavy - Gordon will certainly be a viable fantasy option each week. And he's still owned in only 61.2% of ESPN.com leagues.
Add Alfred Blue
If you recall, Arian Foster tweaked his groin in Week 9, just before the Texans' bye. He's currently listed as day-to-day, but just to be on the safe side, it'd be smart to grab Alfred Blue, who's been serviceable in relief. Foster's likely to play, but having a backup plan never hurts.
Add Robert Griffin III
I never thought the day would come, but Robert Griffin III is a streaming quarterback option this week. Owned in just 32% of fantasy leagues, Griffin can be found off the wire and gets a cake matchup against Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Bucs rank last against the pass according to our schedule-adjusted numbers, despite performing admirably against a good Falcons' attack in Week 10. So far this season, only St. Louis (Week 2) and Minnesota (Week 8) haven't posted at least 14 quarterback fantasy points on the Buccaneers.
Though RGIII wasn't phenomenal in his comeback game against the Vikings, we should keep in mind that Minnesota's secondary has been solid this year, ranking eighth in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP. At home, RGIII shouldn't have trouble against such a bad pass defense.
Buy Chris Ivory
The name of the game is "finding players who have good schedules down the stretch", and Chris Ivory fits that description. Ivory's coming off a disappointing outing against Pittsburgh where he had a few opportunities to score close to the goal line, but was only able to put together a 51-yard day. However, his Week 14 to 16 playoff schedule is against Minnesota, Tennessee and New England, who rank 26th, 28th and 24th against the run, respectively. And, keep in mind, the last time he faced New England, Ivory ran for over 100 yards and a score.
He's not a player that a lot of people think about when they picture a fantasy football stud, but he's been a really solid RB2 this season. If you're struggling at that second running back spot and are feeling good about your playoff chances, targeting Ivory in a trade now - his bye week - could be big.
Add Jarvis Landry
Hey, imagine that. Another rookie wide receiver in 2014 who's producing enough to be relevant in fantasy football!
Landry's worth a look off the waiver wire because he has 49 targets over his last eight games. He's seen 16 over his last two, becoming quarterback Ryan Tannehill's favorite non-Mike Wallace receiver.
The only issue with adding Landry is, like most problems this time of year, schedule related. That brings me to my next transaction...
Sell the Dolphins' Offense
Again, adding Landry is fine because he's a player on the waiver wire who's seeing volume. But it's time to temper expectations if you have high ones for the Dolphins' offense.
First off, our analytics aren't in love with Miami's offense a whole lot to begin with. Through 10 weeks, they rank 18th in Adjusted Net Expected Points, below teams like Washington and Kansas City.
But most important to the conversation is their remaining schedule. We saw little fantasy relevance from the Dolphins against Detroit, the second-best defense in the NFL (Miami ranks first). And things may not get a whole lot easier. Through Week 16, Miami has just one matchup against a team defense that ranks worse than 12th overall. And that's the Jets, a division rival, in Week 13.
The Dolphins' fantasy playoff schedule? Brutal. They'll face Baltimore in Week 14, New England in Week 15 and an improved Minnesota defense in Week 16.
I've mentioned Lamar Miller as a sell candidate time and time again due to all of this, and because the pass defenses are getting more difficult to handle, the entire team is generally not worth it from here on out.
Add Josh McCown
McCown raised his status from Henne to Cassel on Sunday against one of the worst pass defenses - and the worst total defense - in the NFL. He ended his game against Atlanta with over 300 yards and a pair of scores, good for 19 fantasy points.
Things are set up pretty well for another solid outing from McCown this week. The Buccaneers will travel to Washington to face the Redskins, a team that has yet to surrender fewer than 10 points to opposing fantasy quarterbacks this season. They also rank 28th against the pass according to NEP.
Drop Wes Welker
Still owned in almost half of ESPN.com leagues, it's time to part ways with Wes Welker. Since his Week 3 return, Welker has two games with five or more catches. And they came during the first two games he played in 2014. Since Week 6, Welker's best game saw him catch three passes for 50 yards and a score, which is still his only double-digit fantasy day of the season.
Welker's still seeing looks from his quarterback, but he's been insanely inefficient. His Target NEP - the number of expected points added by a player on all targets - is a negative total. Considering he's playing with the best quarterback in football, that's a huge concern.
Welker also ranks 76th out of 89 15-plus reception receivers this season in Reception NEP per target. Not surprisingly, his teammates all rank in the top quarter within the metric.
Despite playing with and seeing volume from the best signal-caller in the NFL, Welker's done absolutely nothing. It's time to drop him and use his roster spot for more upside.
Add Mychal Rivera
Rivera now has 21 receptions over his last three games (that's not a typo), and is currently scoring more fantasy points at the tight end position than everyone not named Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. This does correlate to when Tony Sparano took over for the Raiders, but even if it's not just a coaching thing, we have to recognize just how good Rivera's been in fantasy.
While Rivera is certainly worth an add, I do want to point out the pessimistic side to this equation. First, the upcoming schedule for Oakland isn't very tight end friendly. Second, Rivera is listed pretty low in terms of NEP, which means regression could be coming. He still only ranks 22nd in Reception NEP, and on a per target basis, Rivera is the 6th-least efficient tight end in the NFL.
Add the Chargers' Defense
Speaking of Rivera and the Raiders, their Week 11 opponent is San Diego. That instantly makes the Chargers defense a viable streaming option.
The Raiders have allowed three top-five performances to team defenses this season in fantasy, including two over the last three weeks. The Chargers are available on 75% of waiver wires, making them a perfect streaming option despite ranking so poorly overall as a defense (29th according to our power rankings).