15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 12
There's no more waiting for things to happen. Week 11 is in the books, fantasy football trade deadlines are either about to pass or already have, and the pretend pigskin playoffs are just a short three weeks away. Your degenerate self needs to get over the fact that Zac Stacy's time as the lead back for the Rams is done (that should've been realized weeks ago), and Vincent Jackson isn't an every-week, plug-and-play option at wide receiver (that should've been realized on Sunday).
Let's take a look at 15 transactions you should be looking to make for Week 12 that could end up being championship-winning moves. Or, at least I hope they are.
Drop Branden Oliver, Sell Ryan Mathews
Hidden among more important NFL storylines is the fact that the San Diego Chargers offense has been borderline terrible over their last two games. After Week 8, the Chargers ranked fifth in Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP). Now, they rank 12th.
A lot of this has to do with how bad the running game has been. Branden Oliver had his run of fantasy relevancy, but his Rushing NEP now sits at -14.58, which is third worst among backs with 100 or more carries this year. With Ryan Mathews back, he's not going to see volume to be worthwhile in fantasy.
It probably won't matter regardless, and this is an important note for Mathews owners, too: the Chargers still have to face St. Louis (10th against the run according to our metrics), Baltimore (3rd), Denver (5th) and San Francisco (12th). While a player like Mathews could be considered matchup proof given what he's shown in year's past, the offense isn't moving the football well enough to feel good about his potential as you move into the playoffs.
Add Jonas Gray
The most obvious add of the week goes to Jonas Gray, who rushed for more touchdowns on Sunday night than nearly the entire NFL combined in Week 11.
Gray's owned in 8.4% of ESPN.com leagues, so chances are, he's out there for you to snag. And I'd use a top waiver spot on him. But while some owners or potential owners are going to be overly excited about his potential, I think it's important to recognize that the Patriots are a matchup-driven team bound to use more Shane Vereen when the matchup says to.
And, really, their upcoming schedule could dictate less Gray and more Vereen. I wrote about this earlier in the season, and there seemed to be a strong connection between bad rush defenses and a decrease in Vereen's snap count. We saw that on Sunday - Indianapolis, entering the game, ranked 22nd against the run according to our metrics. It was a bruiser's game. It was a Gray game.
The Patriots get the Lions, Dolphins and Jets in three of their next five games, all teams who can stop the run well. Don't be surprised to see a little less Gray during those contests, and even if he sees volume, he may not produce.
Add Kenny Stills
Our own Leo Howell broke down what will happen to the Saints' receivers now that Brandin Cooks is hurt, and I recommend reading that if you're unsure what to do with the situation. I do believe, however, that Kenny Stills warrants a pickup this week, even if only a portion of Cooks' volume goes his way.
Stills has been an interesting player this year, and has been relatively consistent - not just consistently bad - since the team's Week 6 bye. A key reason he could improve aside from the Cooks injury, too, is the Saints' remaining schedule. New Orleans will face Pittsburgh (26th against the pass according to our metrics), Carolina (25th), Chicago (27th) and Atlanta (31st) from Week 13 through Week 16, so plenty of opportunities could be there for Stills to score some fantasy points. Though the Saints' offense isn't playing at a high level, after this week's game against Baltimore, they could start cruising.
Add or Buy CJ Anderson
Like a lot of fantasy analysts, CJ Anderson was the dude in the Broncos' backfield that I had the most confidence in last week. With Montee Ball aggravating his groin, and Ronnie Hillman already sidelined, it looks like Anderson will be the guy for Denver moving forward - perhaps for two to three weeks.
Any Broncos running back - especially one who can catch the ball out of the backfield, which Anderson showed he could do with eight catches last week - will be fantasy relevant. Get him if he's still available.
Buy Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford's not been a great fantasy quarterback this year. Through 10 games, he's hit the 20-point mark just twice in standard leagues, which is the same number of instances he's seen single-digit fantasy point totals.
Even with Calvin Johnson back and healthy this past weekend in Arizona, Stafford couldn't hit 200 yards, and he failed to throw a touchdown pass. This makes him a potential buy-low candidate. Given the team's upcoming schedule, there's no potential - Stafford is a buy-low candidate.
We know Stafford's upside. We know he's capable of being a high-end quarterback in fantasy. After the Lions' Week 12 game against New England, they'll face Chicago (27th against the pass per our metrics), Tampa Bay (32nd), Minnesota (12th) and Chicago (27th) through Week 16. Fantasy points will be scored, and with a healthy Megatron, there could be a lot of them.
Add Cody Latimer
With Emmanuel Sanders in the NFL's concussion protocol, there's a chance he's unable to play this weekend as the Broncos face the Dolphins. Enter - please, please, please - Cody Latimer, who was a healthy scratch in Denver's Week 11 loss to the Rams.
The rookie wideout will compete with Andre Caldwell for potential snaps, but I'll take the ambiguous upside in Latimer. Caldwell's had opportunities like this one in the past, but mostly didn't take advantage of it. Latimer, meanwhile, is a raw rookie wide receiver who has a lot of size and could be a nice red zone threat for Peyton Manning. After all, Manning's go-to option close to the end zone, Julius Thomas, was injured against the Rams as well.
I wouldn't break the bank for Latimer, but think he's the guy to add in Denver given the upside.
Add Dan Herron
With the news that Ahmad Bradshaw broke his ankle, the Colts will obviously look to Trent Richardson to carry the backfield load. But because we all know how ineffective he typically is, and because we've seen the Colts run a two-headed attack this season, adding Dan Herron to your fantasy squad could pay dividends.
The only reason we all view Trent Richardson as decent back this season is because last year was such a disaster. It's like a middle school gym class, where improvement gets you a passing grade. Realistically, Richardson has a -0.09 Rushing NEP per rush average, which is the same as Doug Martin and Jonathan Stewart.
How often Herron will be used is still up in the air, but it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for Indianapolis - the second-best offense in the NFL - to only ride T-Rich.
Sell Andre Ellington
This very transaction made my list last week, and while Drew Stanton looked passable against the Lions in Week 11 - mostly at the beginning of the game - Andre Ellington still remains a sell candidate.
To reiterate, from here on out, the Cardinals have just two games against teams that don't rank in the top 10 against the run (Atlanta and Kansas City). Ellington, meanwhile, is officially the least effective running back in the league, having compiled a -25.89 Rushing NEP on his 189 touches. Remember how I mentioned Trent Richardson's low -0.09 Rushing NEP per rush? Yeah, well, Ellington's is -0.14. He's been that ineffective.
With Stanton playing inconsistent ball, and now Larry Fitzgerald battling a knee injury, Ellington's potential just isn't very high. He should be fine against Atlanta though. Because everyone is fine against Atlanta.
Add Kyle Orton
One of the best streaming options at quarterback this week has to be Kyle Orton, who faces a Jets defense that ranks dead last in terms of fantasy points against to the quarterback position. In terms of Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP, they rank 21st. The last time Orton faced them, he threw four touchdown passes on just 17 completions.
If you're worried about playing Orton because, well, it's Kyle Orton, don't be. Orton's been a rather reliable fantasy quarterback since taking over as the Bills' starter, scoring 14 or more fantasy points in all but one game. That game came last week against Miami, the league's top-ranked pass defense.
Drop Cordarrelle Patterson
In truth, this transaction should've been made a long time ago. Since Week 1, Cordarrelle Patterson has scored double-digit PPR fantasy points exactly one time, and he's had just one five-plus reception performance this season. Despite this, he's still owned in 58.8% of ESPN.com leagues. Perhaps fantasy owners are waiting for that huge play to happen, but even if that's the case, you have to actually plug him into your fantasy lineup to reap the reward. Are you going to trust him each week to do something he hasn't done since Week 1?
Add Jacob Tamme
This is a simple reminder that, as I noted before, Julius Thomas left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. As a result, Jacob Tamme caught 4 balls for 31 yards. If Thomas is unable to go this weekend, Tamme becomes a legitimate option at a position that's been a wasteland over the last four or five weeks.
Buy Tony Romo
Tony Romo's been an above average fantasy option this season, and is actually having one of his best years as a quarterback in the NFL. He ranks fifth among 200-plus attempt passers in Passing NEP per drop back, and comes in at number eight overall in Passing NEP despite missing time this season.
Why buy him? Well, like most players on this list, it's because his upcoming schedule is one of the best in the NFL among fantasy quarterbacks. The Cowboys get the Giants this week, who rank 16th against the pass according to our numbers, but 24th in fantasy points against to quarterbacks. Dallas still faces Philadelphia twice, too, who have had trouble in the fantasy points against department as well. The other two contests are against Chicago and Indianapolis - Chicago's had trouble stopping everything, while Indy presents the only reasonably tough matchup left for Romo.
If you've been streaming your quarterback all season and want a safe, high-floor option, trade for Romo.
Buy Chris Ivory
Another player I've touted as a "buy" over the last few weeks for teams who are locked into fantasy playoff spots is Chris Ivory. The Jets have a couple of tough games ahead against Buffalo and Miami, two teams who can stop the run, ranking in the top half of the league in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP. However, New York faces Minnesota, Tennessee and New England in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 through 16). The Patriots have the 24th-best rush defense according to NEP, Minnesota ranks 26th and Tennessee, after last night's game, now owns the absolute worst run-stuffing unit in the NFL.
Trading for Ivory may not be all that difficult, and if your trade deadline hasn't passed, I'd be looking to make a deal if you've got a playoff spot locked up.
Add the Texans' Defense
The Texans' defense has had standalone fantasy value - even if you were plugging and playing your defense each week (which you shouldn't do), you'd be in decent shape with them in that spot. They're currently available in about half of ESPN.com leagues, and will face the numberFire power-ranked 15th, 27th and 32nd offenses over their next three games. Get them if they're out there.
If they're not, look and see if the Colts' defense is available. Only 24.9% of leagues have a team that owns Indianapolis' D, and the Colts will face Jacksonville, Washington, Cleveland, and Houston over their next four games.
Add Josh McCown
McCown came through in a big way last weekend for quarterback streamers, and has been an underrated fantasy asset when he's been healthy this season. In four completed games, the journeyman quarterback has yet to score fewer than 14 fantasy points, hitting the 17-point mark in three of the four. Not bad. Not bad at all.
The Bucs will take on the Bears this week, who have been torched by passing games of late. Though Teddy Bridgewater couldn't get much going last week against Chicago, McCown has two huge weapons, and one, Mike Evans, who's playing just as well as any other wideout in the league right now.
There's also the whole "he's playing his old team" thing going, too. Added motivation, right?