15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 4
He would always ask about my family first.
We could go back and forth about fantasy football for hours if we wanted to. But when I did a show with Tags, the first question he'd ask before we hit record was, "How's your wife and little girl doing?"
Mike Tagliere -- "Tags" -- understood the importance of having that family foundation. He openly talked about how his wife, Tabbie, pushed him to chase after his dream of being a full-time fantasy football analyst. How she was the one he owed his success to.
I met Tags and Tabbie at a conference in Dallas years ago. We had plenty of group conversations that week, but I can remember Tags pulling me aside at one point to talk about his goals.
Two things stood out to me during that chat.
First, it was clear that he was just a good dude who cared about the right things. He was the classic "I feel like I've known this person for years" type of stranger. And it was because he wasn't just interested in learning how I ended up landing a gig in a competitive space at a pretty young age. He wanted to know the why. The who.
He wanted more than just a typical story about my resume.
That's where we connected. Our mutual love for fantasy football was obvious, but our love for family -- our love for our wives and the endless support they'd given us as we chased one of the strangest career goals imaginable... that's where we really connected.
The other thing that showed up during that conversation? Well, let me just put it this way: I've talked to a lot of aspiring fantasy football analysts through the years. I've had loads of calls with people who want to analyze fantasy football for a living.
No one wanted it like Tags.
After our initial meeting in Dallas, I stayed in touch with Tags through social media. We weren't every day chatters or anything, but we'd hit each other up every now and again to talk about -- of course -- family.
And as simple as those check-ins sometimes were, I'd love to have another one with him.
Tags passed away over the weekend after battling COVID-19. And I wish, more than anything, that I could've thanked him before he left.
Even though our chats weren't frequent, we generally knew what the other person was up to. Not just because of Facebook and Instagram where we'd both share more personal, non-fantasy football stuff, but because of our jobs. Because chronic tweeting is very real for professional -- and I use that term loosely -- fantasy football analysts.
After that conference, I witnessed Tags become a force. He was determined to have his spot in the fantasy football industry.
And he got it.
He got it because he had the support of his family. He got it because he was good to others. He got it because he was determined.
He was relentless. He was more relentless than anyone who's ever produced fantasy football content. And, no, that's not hyperbole.
It saddens me that I can't just send you this message. It saddens me that I didn't send you this message. But, Tags, thank you. Thank you for being so caring and for showing me what hard work looks like within this space.
Because of you, when I get an email from someone who's looking to make fantasy football their 9 to 5, I know exactly what to say.
"Have a foundation at home. Work harder than everyone else. Be yourself."
"Be like Tags."
Note: The transactions each week are not in order of importance.
Buy Stefon Diggs
Josh Allen brought it all together in Week 3. Over the first two weeks of the season, Buffalo's franchise passer failed to reach 300 yards in a single game with a yards-per-attempt rate south of 5.5. Against Washington on Sunday, that changed -- Allen threw for 358 passing yards and 4 scores.
Stefon Diggs? Yeah, um, well, about that.
Diggs has yet to finish as anything more than a weekly WR3 this season, but there's plenty of reason to believe things will get better moving forward. His target share, for one, is a solid 26.5%. That's lower than the 29.2% share that he finished with last year, but let's not pretend like a 26.5% target share is easy to acquire.
We haven't seen the Allen-Diggs combination hit on many deep balls yet, as well. For the year, Diggs has seen eight targets that have traveled 15 or more air yards. Only seven players across the league have more of those types of targets. While players like Marquise Brown and Davante Adams have connected on a handful of those looks, Diggs has just one catch on the such eight targets.
Through Week 3 last season, Diggs had seven deep-ball targets. He caught all of them.
For the record, Diggs ended 2020 with a 50% catch rate on 15-plus air yard throws, so he did regress after the first three weeks. But one catch on eight deep-ball targets? That won't last. Considering his high target share, Diggs is going to have a blow-up game soon enough.
Add Chuba Hubbard
The biggest waiver-wire add this week is undoubtedly Chuba Hubbard, who's likely going to be the lead back while Christian McCaffrey is sidelined with a hamstring injury. What we know about the injury is that CMC will be sidelined for a few weeks, but it's encouraging to see that Carolina is evidently not interested in putting him on injured reserve -- which, reading between the lines, tells me that there's a chance we see McCaffrey back before three weeks is up. Research from Fantasy Points' Edwin Porras seems to back this stance. In turn, going hard after Hubbard from a FAB perspective may not be necessary.
You should still try to get him, though. In relief last Thursday, Hubbard ended up playing almost four times the number of snaps as backfield mate Royce Freeman, out-touching Freeman 11 to 5 on the ground while seeing 5 targets to Freeman's 1.
Add Rashod Bateman
The landing spot wasn't ideal, but Rashod Bateman was one of the best prospects in the 2021 wide receiver class. He checked in with a 96th percentile rating in my prospect model, ranking behind only Ja'Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith while being tied with Elijah Moore.
Bateman's been out since having core muscle surgery in August, and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, when talking about Bateman's possible return last week, said, "We'll see." That's not a slam-dunk quote favoring Bateman, but it's a whole lot better than "He's still recovering, he'll need a few more weeks."
Baltimore's still been a run-heavy team this season, running it more than they've thrown it despite game scripts that have been more neutral in nature. But Bateman's got a shot to grow into the top role at wide receiver there, which would be a valuable piece to a fantasy football roster, even if the team isn't throwing it a ton.
Sell Kirk Cousins
When it comes to pocket passers, there are a few ways to see if their performances are sustainable are not. One thing to always check is touchdown rate, or the number of touchdowns a player throws divided by that quarterback's total pass attempts. So far this season, Kirk Cousins -- who's given us three QB1 (top-12) performances to start the year -- has a 6.7% rate. That's higher than normal, and it's higher than his career average of 5.2%, but it's right in line with what he did last season, at least.
Next, take a look at how many yards a passer has thrown for versus the number of touchdowns -- a simple yards-per-touchdown conversion can tell you when a player is over- or under-succeeding in the touchdown column. Over the last decade, quarterbacks have thrown a touchdown for about every 161 passing yards. This season, that number is 160.4, so it's close to what we've seen historically.
Cousins has thrown a touchdown on every 114.8 passing yards.
Lastly, take a look at how teams are scoring their touchdowns. Good quarterbacks don't just score touchdowns themselves. Their offense scores touchdowns. They're able to manage drives and convert those drives into touchdowns.
That's why we should always look beyond the number of passing touchdowns a player has. Because if a quarterback has, say, 10 passing touchdowns, but his offense has scored 11 touchdowns, then chances are, moving forward, a lot of those touchdowns will eventually become rushing scores.
That's how math and regression works.
On the season, Minnesota's offense has been solid. They've found the end zone nine times in three games -- well above the league's average.
Of those nine touchdowns, eight have come from Cousins' arm. That's a pass-to-rush touchdown ratio of 8.0. During the seven completed seasons the Vikings have had with Mike Zimmer, their average pass-to-rush touchdown ratio has been 1.8 with a high of 3.3. Since 2011, we've actually only had two instances where a team had a pass-to-rush touchdown ratio of 8.0 or above.
To put this all another way, the Vikings probably aren't going to continue throwing for touchdowns at the rate they're throwing them at. That makes Cousins someone who's fine -- someone who at least has some shot to crack the low-end QB1 range -- but not someone who's going to maintain this type of production.
Add JJ Taylor
James White was carted off the field on Sunday with a hip injury, and veteran Brandon Bolden was the player who benefitted most from the injury. He ended up playing roughly 46% of New England's snaps in a negative game script, resulting in a 27.3% running back rush share and a 7.8% target share.
So why add J.J. Taylor?
Well, we know what James White's role is -- or was -- in this offense. In Weeks 1 and 2, he had target shares of 18.4% and 21.4%. He's their pass-catching back. And Bolden stepped in and filled that role after White was injured.
My guess -- and this is merely a guess -- is that Bolden played that part in the offense because of his experience. Taylor is a small, shifty running back who entered the league last year with a strong receiving profile. His best-season reception share in college was well above-average in my model, and Player Profiler shows us that he had an 85th percentile target share in school.
He's my pick to fill the James White role. But you never know with the Patriots.
Hold Justin Fields
One of my biggest misses in Week 3 was Justin Fields. Not only did Fields not do a whole lot in the fantasy points scored column, but he didn't do the thing that Justin Fields is supposed to do.
He didn't run.
Tom Brady had as many rush attempts as Justin Fields had on Sunday. Yeah, sure, an ineffective offense led to fewer plays, which naturally limited Fields' rushing ceiling.
But three rushes? Three?!
If you're in any sort of typical 12-team league, now's not the time to give up on Fields. We've seen the rushing upside in the preseason and even when he entered in relief for Andy Dalton in Week 2. To assume this is the norm would be taking a small sample size a little too far -- especially when you consider the Browns were a tough matchup for a Bears team with offensive line woes.
Fields is now banged up with a hand injury, so monitor that as the week progresses. Otherwise, keep in mind that better days should be ahead, and they could start this week in a plus matchup against the Lions.
Add Hunter Renfrow
Two things are happening for Hunter Renfrow right now. The first is that Derek Carr is playing the best football of his career. Through three games, Carr has by far the most passing yards, and he's thrown it 15 or more air yards more than any other quarterback.
Renfrow's benefitting from playing in this effective Raiders offense, and even he's getting in on the deep-ball action. He has four targets of 15-plus air yards to start the year when he had 11 of those in 16 games last season.
Renfrow's also got a 17.1% target share so far this year. In 2020, his share was under 15%.
The Vegas passing attack is cooking right now, so we can't just ignore players who are seeing a decent chunk of the offense's looks. Renfrow makes for a safe add -- particularly in PPR formats -- entering Week 4.
Buy Joe Mixon
I know, I know. Joe Mixon's burned you. He's ruined your fantasy football season in the past.
Everyone has a Joe Mixon story.
That sentiment is why going after Mixon in a trade isn't a bad idea. Through three weeks, Mixon ranks third in running back rush share behind only Derrick Henry and Najee Harris, and he's in the top-30 in target share at the position. The target numbers have declined since his Week 1 outing, when he saw 15.4% of Cincinnati's targets, to be clear. And, in Week 3, we saw backfield teammates Chris Evans and Samaje Perine steal some looks in the passing game.
That was also the first game where the Bengals had a pretty clear positive game script, and it was the only game this year where Mixon didn't dominate routes run at the position for Cincinnati.
Could this be the start of a trend? One where we see Mixon revert back to his old, better-in-non-PPR self? That's definitely a possibility. This could also just be somewhat related to the circumstance in one game.
And at the very least, we know that Mixon is going to see a lot of ground work. That should come in handy as the season progresses, because the Bengals have scored the vast majority of their touchdowns this year through the air. Seven of their eight touchdowns have come from Joe Burrow. That's unlikely to continue at the same rate for the reasons talked through above with Cousins.
There's no need to break the bank. We just know how people view Mixon in fantasy football. After two straight games where he failed to reach RB2 status in PPR formats, he's worth a buy-low offer.
Add Emmanuel Sanders
No player has been talked about more on The Late-Round Podcast this season than Emmanuel Sanders. I was eventually going to be right, right?
The reason he's been talked about as much as he has is because of his peripherals. After his Week 3 showing where he caught 5 of his 6 targets for 94 yards and a pair of scores, Manny now sits with a respectable 16.5% target share in Buffalo's offense. A solid 7 of his 20 targets this year have gone 15 or more air yards, and he's got, per Pro Football Focus, an average depth of target (aDOT) of 18.5. Among the 75-plus wide receivers with 10 or more targets so far this season, that aDOT is fourth-highest.
Josh Allen's intermediate and deep ball connected a little more in Week 3. That was bound to happen, as I talked about last week. Sanders is still rostered in too few leagues, so he needed another shout -- hopefully his last -- this week.
Add Peyton Barber
It's funny how the fantasy football collective works sometimes.
His percent rostered number barely changed on Yahoo! after last week's performance. Today, post-Week 3, it's still just 7%.
Now, we all understand why no one was racing to the waiver wire to get Barber. How for real are the Raiders? Would Barber get any receiving work if Jacobs was out again?
What's even the point in adding a veteran replacement-level back like Peyton Barber?
Well, in Week 3, Barber handled 72% of Vegas' running back rushes, turning that share into 23 carries. He scored on the ground and added five targets for 31 yards through the air. He had nearly identical receiving numbers as Kenyan Drake, but he was used as the primary early-down runner and goal-line back, too. Evidently, Jon Gruden wasn't happy about a missed pass-blocking assignment from Drake, forcing Drake to the bench. That allowed Barber to get more love through the air.
We probably won't know if Jacobs is going to be ready for Week 4 by the time waivers run, but it's a good idea to be ahead of things and just add Barber.
Sell James Robinson
In last week's 15 Transactions column, James Robinson was a hold. We saw his running back rush share jump from Week 1 to 2, and his target share looked like it'd be steady this year. It was just tough to go and buy him because, you know, Urban Meyer.
Well, folks, we've got a sell window. Let's take advantage of it.
Week 3 was a great one for Robinson. He finished as a top-five back, finding the end zone and catching all 6 of his targets for 46 yards. His touch numbers weren't bad at all -- he had a 65.2% running back rush share to go along with an 18.8% target share.
The reason we're selling is that, honestly, who wants to deal with this? Robinson had good usage against the Cardinals in a relatively good game script for the Jaguars, but he actually had his lowest snap share of the season on Sunday. And even though he had six targets to Carlos Hyde's zero, Robinson only ran five more routes than Hyde.
You've got the opportunity to sell Robinson. Instead of dealing with a potential every-week headache on the Urban Meyer train, it's probably easiest to sell Robinson high.
Update: With Carlos Hyde out, now's not the time to sell James Robinson.
Buy Michael Pittman
When we target players to trade for in fantasy football, sometimes we have to realize that what we value isn't what others value.
Take Michael Pittman. He's scored 20.3 and 13.3 PPR points across the last two weeks. During those games, his target shares have been 35.3% and 33.3%.
Those are legitimately elite shares.
If you asked a casual fantasy football manager what they thought of Pittman, you'd probably get a lot of shrugs. The performance doesn't match the overall attitude towards Pittman.
Given he's seeing top-notch target shares and that his output hasn't been totally bonkers thanks to a lack of touchdowns (which should come), he makes for a strong buy this week.
Add Evan Engram
Entering Week 3, Kenny Golladay was iffy for the Giants. He ended up playing, but his snap share was likely higher than expected thanks to hamstring injuries to both Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton.
With the New York pass-catcher group banged up, there's an opportunity for Evan Engram (remember him?) to emerge. He made his 2021 debut in Week 3 and ended up seeing over 17% of the Giants' targets. He didn't do a whole lot with them, but he's someone who should be on your radar this week at a fantasy position that desperately needs playmakers.
Add Curtis Samuel
At one point, there was optimism surrounding Curtis Samuel's ability to play in Week 1. Instead, he was put on IR at the start of the year, and he's eligible to return here in Week 4.
We'll see if that happens. It's sort of a similar situation as the aforementioned Rashod Bateman, where we've got to wait for an update. What we do know is that a number-two pass-catching option hasn't emerged in the Washington offense. Terry McLaurin has a 28.4% target share this year, but Logan Thomas is at 15.9%, and Adam Humphries, who's got the second-highest share at wide receiver, is also at 15.9%.
We've seen Samuel be relevant in fantasy football in the past. Why not throw the dart? He's still out there in about 66% of Yahoo! leagues.
Add the Tennessee Titans Defense
But one unit that should be available in your league that's in a good spot is Tennessee. You'll be shocked to learn this, but the Jets -- the Titans' opponent this week -- are the most attractive team for a defense to face when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed. They're allowing 5 sacks and 2.3 interceptions per contest, and they've scored a grand total of two touchdowns so far this year. Tennessee, a 7.5-point road favorite, should be fine as a streaming option.