15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 2
Last week’s 15 Transactions column was a good lesson on process.
The first recommendation was to buy Trey Sermon and Raheem Mostert. Sermon, as the fantasy football world now knows, was a surprise inactive in Week 1. Mostert, who was set for a big day, got hurt early in his battle against the Lions.
But the process! Elijah Mitchell, who's predictably going to be analyzed further down the page, stepped in and ran for over 100 yards and a score.
This same thing happened with the dart throw Boston Scott recommendation. Yours truly thought he was an interesting end-of-bench add for some undervalued production, assuming it would be Kenneth Gainwell's turn as the season went on. Instead, it was Gainwell's turn right away. He was the complementary back in the Eagles offense in Week 1, not Scott.
Sometimes these types of things happen.
Sometimes the process isn't totally wrong, but the result is.
The good news is that, over the long run, a sound process will win out.
Note: The transactions each week are not in order of importance.
Hold or Buy Ezekiel Elliott
On the NFL's opening night, Ezekiel Elliott struggled. He ran for just 33 yards on 11 carries, and he added only 2 catches for 6 yards in the passing game. You're looking for way more out of a first round fantasy football selection.
Fortunately, there were some positives. Elliott handled 78.6% of the team's running back rushes, which was right in line with his 2020 average of 73.5% per game. It wasn't far off from his 2019 share, too, where he saw 80.0% of Dallas' running back rushes per contest.
We've got to keep the opponent in mind, as well. Tampa Bay's got a nasty front, and they were top-five in the league last year in adjusted fantasy points allowed. It's not like Zeke was facing, I don't know, the Texans.
Upcoming for the Cowboys is a much, much friendlier schedule. We want positive game scripts for Elliott to thrive, and from Week 2 through the middle of November, this week's contest against the Chargers may be the only time the Cowboys are underdogs. And Los Angeles is only favored by 2.5 points this weekend.
The reason I'm not all in is because there's some -- not a lot, but some -- concern about Zeke's receiving numbers. Even though he ran a solid 44 routes (per Pro Football Focus) in Week 1, we can't overlook the fact that Elliott saw just 3.5% of Dallas' targets in that game, marking the lowest he's seen since 2019 and the fourth-lowest single-game share of his entire career. The hope is that this was due to the matchup, but the Cowboys were also manufacturing touches for Tony Pollard, and Pollard ended up seeing more targets than Elliott against the Bucs (4 versus 2).
We should treat Elliott as an RB1, but instead of a mid-range one like he was drafted as, we're likely looking at more of a low-end one this season. If you can get him for cheaper than that -- which you may be able to after Week 1's performance -- go for it.
Add Cedrick Wilson
Michael Gallup looked really good in the aforementioned Week 1 contest against the Bucs, but he hurt his calf and is now out for three to five weeks. The player in Dallas' offense that'll benefit most is likely Cedrick Wilson, who played the fourth-most snaps on the team at wide receiver while seeing three targets. In most cases, a team's number-three wide receiver wouldn't be that big of a deal in fantasy football. In Dallas' case, it's a little different. They've been a pass-heavy team with Dak Prescott under center over the last year, and that was evident in Week 1: no team had more team targets than the Cowboys.
Sell Robby Anderson
The Carolina Panthers offense looks different than it did a year ago. You've got Sam Darnold under center now, Christian McCaffrey is back, Curtis Samuel is gone, and rookie Terrace Marshall is in the mix.
Robby Anderson seemed like he'd have a pretty steady role in the Carolina offense even with all these changes. Week 1 wasn't pretty for him, though. He found the end zone on a 57-yard reception, but that was his only catch of the game. He finished with just three targets and a target share south of 10%.
Is it time to panic? I mean, sort of. Anderson's allure a season ago was his reliability -- his lowest target share in a single game last year was 14.7%. Considering he dropped well below that mark in just a single game with all these changes to the Carolina offense isn't exactly encouraging.
I'd expect Anderson to see more looks moving forward, don't get me wrong, especially because he still tied D.J. Moore for the team lead in wide receiver snaps, playing 19 more than Terrace Marshall. The problem is that we could see a lot more variance in Anderson's weekly target share, and we can't bank on a 57-yard touchdown happening each week. Because that play happened, you may still be able to sell at a WR3-type price.
Add Elijah Mitchell
I've been analyzing fantasy football for a decade, and I've been playing the game about a game since the early 2000s. I can't remember a more surprising, out-of-nowhere Week 1 inactive than Trey Sermon this past Sunday.
Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it sure feels like the truth. Sermon played with starters in the preseason, ran well, and there weren't any major reports of him being behind both Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty on the depth chart. Then, out of the blue, he's inactive, sending fantasy managers -- including myself -- into a frenzy.
Every Sunday at noon (this is a shameless plug), I do a start-sit show for anyone who has last-minute lineup decisions to make. On that show, I made reference to Elijah Mitchell being my favorite add off the wire between himself and Hasty, because Mitchell is sort of a Raheem Mostert clone. He's 5'10'', 201 pounds, when Mostert's NFL measurables are 5'10'', 205 pounds. Mitchell ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, when Mostert ran a 4.34 at the combine. Neither player had amazing college production, but because of their speed, they were very efficient per touch.
Kyle Shanahan has a type. And with Mostert going down early in Week 1 against Detroit, Mostert 2.0 stepped in and ran the ball 19 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. He didn't see a single target in a positive game script for the 49ers, but he managed over 86% of the team's running back rushes.
With Mostert banged up and out for an extended period of time, Sermon could be active on game days now. So if you drafted Sermon, don't go dropping him. Just make sure, regardless if Sermon's on your team or not, to try and add Elijah Mitchell this week.
Add Kenneth Gainwell
Your boy took a big ol' L for last week's Boston Scott recommendation, but it was at least a win for the process.
To be fair to myself, I did mention Gainwell in last week's 15 Transactions column. I was just under the impression that we wouldn't see the Eagles unleash the rookie until a handful of weeks into the season. Rational coaching won out, though, because not only was Gainwell a really strong prospect, but he's a better player than Boston Scott, too. And it showed on Sunday.
Gainwell played a pass-catching role for the Eagles against the Falcons, which isn't a surprise since he was a great receiver in college. Among relevant backs in this year's draft class, he had the highest best-season reception share.
It was a positive game flow for Philadelphia against Atlanta, and that's even more reason to be bullish on Gainwell. He finished the game with a 9.4% target share and a 37.5% running back rush share, which turned into 9 carries and 3 targets. If and when the Eagles are in a worse game script, Gainwell could really benefit as a flex option.
Sell Melvin Gordon
Javonte Williams who?
Melvin Gordon gave us a top-10 running back performance this week, even with rookie Javonte Williams in the mix. But make no mistake: Williams was absolutely in the mix.
Gordon and Williams split backfield snaps right down the middle: they both played 33 snaps on Sunday. Williams out-attempted Gordon 14 to 11, but Gordon saw 3 targets to Williams' 1.
The difference in fantasy performance came down to a 70-yard Melvin Gordon touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Now, Gordon was the better runner in their game against the Giants. According to numberFire's expected points model, Gordon's 45.5% Success Rate, or percentage of runs that went for positive expected points, was far better than Williams' 21.4%.
I'm still selling Gordon, though, because there's a higher likelihood that the rookie Denver traded up in the second round for -- one who ranked as a 92nd percentile prospect in my model -- ends up taking over the backfield this season versus the alternative. Since Gordon had a big day in fantasy, you can sell high.
Add Carlos Hyde
Urban Meyer and the Jaguars have done a lot of things this offseason to show us that they may not be very sharp. They took a running back in the first round of the draft -- albeit a good one -- despite being in rebuild mode. They engaged in the Tim Tebow circus. They acted like Gardner Minshew had a shot to beat Trevor Lawrence for the QB1 job, only to trade him for a meaningless draft pick.
Sunday was just another example of the -- sure, I'll say it -- incompetency of this regime.
James Robinson had a phenomenal rookie season. Maybe he's not Christian McCaffrey, but he can be Chris Carson. There's nothing wrong with that.
Urban Meyer and company clearly don't love him the way fans do. In Week 1, Robinson lost work to Carlos Hyde -- the veteran out-attempted the second-year back 9 to 5.
That's the reason you should, I suppose, add Hyde this week. Just don't break the bank. Jacksonville was in a negative game script for the majority of their game on Sunday against arguably the worst team in football on paper. If they couldn't come close to getting it done against the Texans, then those types of scripts are going to happen a lot for the Jags this year. That means we'll see more Robinson than Hyde. Even though Hyde saw more rushes than Robinson, the latter out-targeted him 6 to 2 while playing 17 more snaps in Jacksonville's big loss.
Add Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Week 1 was one to forget for the Green Bay. They failed to find the end zone, and Aaron Rodgers posted the lowest fantasy total of his career.
Naturally, since the Packers didn't do a whole lot offensively, adding a player like Marquez Valdes-Scantling has little to do with production. It has everything to do with usage.
MVS only caught 3 balls for 17 yards on Sunday, but he saw about a 22% target share and ranked in the top-20 in air yards on the week. All of those targets came from Aaron Rodgers' arm, too (Jordan Love entered the game late).
When the Packers' offense inevitably clicks -- likely this weekend against Detroit -- MVS could benefit big time.
Buy Najee Harris
Not everything is butterflies and rainbows for Najee Harris. The Steelers didn't look very good offensively in Week 1, and because of their ineffectiveness, they ran just 55 offensive plays. The projected-to-be-bad offensive line didn't get much push, and Harris' NFL debut ended with just 45 rushing yards on 16 carries.
But let's focus on the positives, because there are enough to make you want to make a move for Harris. The Steelers should see an uptick in plays run as the season goes on considering they averaged over 65 per game last year. More importantly, Harris' secondary numbers were phenomenal. We knew he was going to own the Pittsburgh backfield, and he did just that: Harris played every single offensive snap and saw every single running back rush. His 9.4% target share wasn't too shabby, either.
Yes, the offensive line could be better. And, yes, the offense in general could be better. But we want volume in fantasy football, first and foremost. As I noted in the preseason, among the 39 running backs since 2011 with at least a 70% running back rush share and a 10% target share, 33 finished with 17 or more PPR points per game.
Be patient with Harris.
Add Tim Patrick
As most of you know, Jerry Jeudy suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday, and that'll allow Tim Patrick to get some run in the coming weeks. He played the second-most snaps at wide receiver on the Broncos in Week 1, and he has a history of being a pretty productive receiver. He was sort of a fantasy football unsung waiver wire hero last season, averaging a 17.2% target share per game to go along with 10.7 PPR points per contest. The offense looks like it'll be more efficient this season, so if he can maintain that type of target share, he could have some flex appeal in deeper formats.
Add Jared Cook
Most of you need tight end help, and Jared Cook is available in about three-quarters of Yahoo! leagues.
He can be your help.
Cook was a top-10 tight end in routes run this past week, and he finished Week 1's game with a 17.4% target share. That was also a top-10 number at the position. With a strong quarterback throwing him the ball, Cook has a genuine shot to be a TE1 this season.
Buy Kyle Pitts
If you'd rather trade for a higher-upside tight end, you could look Kyle Pitts' way.
His 4-catch, 31-yard NFL debut wasn't spectacular, but the overall usage was there. Pitts ranked in the top-10 in routes run at the position and, per Pro Football Focus, he lined up in the slot on over half of his snaps, ranking in the top-15 within that category. He also was out wide on 27% of his snaps, a number that ranked in the top-10 at tight end.
He was targeted a good bit, too. Pitts finished the day with 8 targets, which gave him a 24.2% target share. Prior to the Monday night game, only Adam Trautman had a higher Week 1 share at tight end.
So, sure, it wasn't the best outing in the world for the rookie tight end. But there was a lot to like from a fantasy perspective.
Add Mark Ingram
I guess you should add Mark Ingram this week? I guess?
Ingram's usage was somewhat of a surprise for two reasons. First, he was by far the top early-down runner for Houston on Sunday, commanding over 70% of the team's running back rushes. Second, who saw the result of that game coming? Houston played with a positive game flow, so they were able to feed their running backs. Not only was Ingram's backfield share impressive, but because the Texans weren't incompetent offensively, he ended the day with the second-most carries across the league on Sunday.
It does still feel a little fluky. Are the Texans likely going to be leading in games the way they were in Week 1? Probably not. That'll hurt Ingram in fantasy, as David Johnson and his 12.5% Week 1 target share is much more attractive for those game scripts than Ingram and his 3.1% share.
He's worth an add given the position he plays and the work he saw, but temper expectations.
Add Teddy Bridgewater
This week's final transaction was going to go to Jameis Winston after his totally sustainable five-touchdown performance in Week 1, but he's rostered in 44% of Yahoo! leagues. Teddy Bridgewater might be the better Week 2 streaming option anyway.
The Broncos are in Jacksonville this week, and according to FanDuel Sportsbook, they're six-point favorites in a game with a 45.5-point over/under. That gives them a high implied team total of nearly 26.
Jacksonville's defense was beyond suspect in Week 1 as we watched Tyrod Taylor throw for his third-highest passing yardage total of his career against them. Even without Jerry Jeudy in the lineup, Bridgewater has enough passing weapons to take advantage of the cake matchup.
Add or Hold the Green Bay Packers Defense
Using Green Bay last week was obviously a big, big whiff, as they got torched by Jameis Winston and the Saints. This week, expect a different outcome. The Packers will face the Lions in Green Bay, and according to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Packers are 11.5-point favorites. That could cause the Lions to be pass-heavy like they were in Week 1 against San Francisco. And while the 49ers surrendered points, they still were able to sack Jared Goff three times to go along with a pick six.
If you had the Packers for Week 1, hold onto them. If you didn't, you can add them, as they're available in almost 80% of Yahoo! leagues.
Final note: Some players worthy of being added may not have made this week's column. If Sterling Shepard or Nelson Agholor happen to be on your waiver wire, you should add them. The intent with the other options on this week's transactions list was to give people an opportunity to grab lower-rostered players. For more info on this week's waiver wire, click here.