NFL

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 12

Terry McLaurin is coming off a strong Week 11 against the Panthers. Is he going to help fantasy football managers win championships this year?

If you were to list the things that make a great fantasy football manager great, you might start by saying that they tend to understand the game of football at a high level. Maybe you'd note that they do a lot of research and are always on top of the news. Or perhaps you believe great fantasy football managers are able to dissect stats better than their leaguemates.

You know what may not find that list even though it definitely should?

Patience.

Great fantasy football managers are patient.

It's easy to move on from players after they get off to slow starts. Sometimes it's warranted, but in a world where players often need a little time to develop, most of the time, managers -- all of us -- are a little too quick to turn on our preseason darlings.

I'm guilty of it. You're guilty of it. We all get a little too excited at times about the shiny new toy on the waiver wire, which forces us to move on from an existing good player on our bench.

The first guy on this week's transactions list is a great example of why patience can help you win fantasy football titles.

Hold Elijah Moore

The term "league-winner" gets loosely thrown around in the fantasy football world. It feels like there's a new league-winner every week.

And I'm not going to call Elijah Moore a league-winning player. But I will say that he should be able to help you win your league. (Maybe that means I'm calling him a league-winning player.)

Up until Week 11, Moore's peripherals weren't totally matching his production. Don't get me wrong, he's an incredibly talented wide receiver who rated as a 96th percentile prospect in my model, so he's going to be able to produce on limited touches. But he's now scored 10 or more PPR points in each of his last five games despite seeing more than 16% of New York's targets in just one of those contests. And that happened in Week 11, where Moore was targeted on 31.4% of Joe Flacco's targeted attempts.

That spike in target share is huge. As is the fact that he played his highest snap share of the season at 66.7%. Pair that with his production, and you have to think things -- his usage -- are only going to get better.

Some may be looking to sell after a big performance in Week 11. After all, he's a Jets receiver, and he did what he did with Joe Flacco under center. Is Flacco going to be the answer for the rest of the season?

No one really knows, but if anything, I'd look to buy Moore. The Jets have one of the best wide receiver schedules in the league from here on out, including matchups against the Dolphins (a team Moore just destroyed), Jaguars, and Buccaneers in the fantasy football playoffs (Weeks 15, 16, and 17).

Corey Davis, someone mentioned in last week's 15 Transactions column, is still in play as a buy, as well, but Moore clearly has the ceiling.

Buy Chase Claypool

It may be a little difficult to trade for Diontae Johnson this week after he caught 7 of his 13 targets on Sunday night for 101 yards and a touchdown, so even though this transaction could apply to him, let's pivot to Chase Claypool, who's likely a lot easier to acquire right now.

Claypool saw a little over 20% of Pittsburgh's targets in Week 11, giving him a target share per game this season of about 20%. He was right in line with what we typically see from him.

There's no doubt that Claypool hasn't lived up to expectation this year, but there's a silver lining: according to my adjusted fantasy points allowed numbers, no group of wide receivers has faced a tougher schedule this year than the Pittsburgh Steelers. What's more, from now through the end of the season, only two teams have better wide receiver schedules -- per those same numbers -- than the Steelers do.

Johnson is the Steeler you'd ideally want on your roster, but this could be a nice buy-low-ish moment for Claypool.

Add Cedrick Wilson

Amari Cooper has COVID. CeeDee Lamb has a concussion. The Cowboys have a short week thanks to their Thanksgiving Day game.

Enter Cedrick Wilson.

Wilson didn't have much usability when Michael Gallup was sidelined this year, but this situation is different. Lamb and Cooper make up about 40% of Dallas' targets, and Wilson was still playing behind both of them. On Thursday against the Raiders, he'll likely be the team's number-two wide receiver after seeing a 17% target share against the Chiefs in Week 11. It wouldn't be all that surprising if he hits closer to a 20% target share in Week 12, which would make him a decent play off the waiver wire.

Sell Terry McLaurin

In Week 11, Terry McLaurin -- who, for the record, might be the most underrated wide receiver in the game of football -- had one of his best outings of the season, catching 5 of his 7 targets for more than 100 yards and a score. His 35% target share against Carolina was his second-highest single-game share of the season.

It would be idiotic for me to sit here and say that McLaurin is bad or that he won't produce anymore. That's not what this transaction is about. Instead, I'm focused on the fantasy playoffs with this one.

The Football Team will take on divisional rivals Philadelphia and Dallas in Weeks 15, 16, and 17. They'll get Philly twice. That's...not great news for McLaurin. Dallas has been the 18th-best opponent for wide receivers when looking at adjusted points allowed, and they've shut down some top receivers this year: Mike Evans was the WR79 in weekly scoring in Week 1. Keenan Allen was just a WR3 against them. Justin Jefferson was the WR75 in Week 8. They haven't been flawless, but they're not really an ideal matchup.

And then there's Philadelphia and Darius Slay. The Eagles have been exceptional against wide receivers this season, having allowed just three top-20 performances all year long. And those performances were from Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill, and Keenan Allen. When looking at adjusted points surrendered, Philly is the third-toughest matchup for wide receivers.

If you're looking forward to the playoffs with McLaurin, this is at least something to consider, especially since he's coming off a big day. Still expect him to produce, but it's fine to temper expectations for the playoffs.

Add Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman

With Joe Flacco under center for New York on Sunday, we saw different utilization with their running backs. Specifically, they weren't targeted at nearly the same rate they'd been targeted with Mike White throwing the rock. In three games this year where White has seen the majority of New York's snaps at quarterback, the team's running backs have seen target shares of 39.0%, 40.8%, and 37.0%. On Sunday with Flacco, that number fell to 11.9%.

That's a big deal for both Michael Carter and Ty Johnson, who've played pass-catching roles out of the backfield this year. But now it's an even bigger deal for Johnson because Carter could miss some time with an ankle injury. According to Pro Football Doc, it sounds like Carter may be dealing with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 11's loss, which could sideline him for a few weeks.

That leaves opportunity in the New York backfield -- across Carter's last seven games, he'd been averaging a running back rush share per game of over 70% and a target share per game of 13.6%.

Johnson would get a big bump if White is the starter, but even if he's not, there's plenty of reason to add him this week with Carter likely out. And don't forget Tevin Coleman, either. Coleman played just as many snaps as Johnson in Week 11, and he actually out-touched him. I'd prefer Johnson, but Coleman may end up being easier to acquire off the wire.

Buy the Buffalo Bills Defense

It's very rare for me to suggest trading for a defense in fantasy football given the replaceability of the position, but the Bills are an exception. They're coming off of a game where they were torched, so despite being such a strong fantasy defense this season, they're at a low point.

I'd still feel very good about them.

In the fantasy playoffs -- again, that's Weeks 15 through 17 -- per my adjusted fantasy points allowed method, no team currently has a better schedule than Buffalo. They'll get the Panthers, Patriots, and Falcons during those weeks. They're not, like, ideal matchups, but it's tough to find three consecutive weeks of decent opponents for any team.

If you'd rather stream, go for it. It's just not a bad idea to see if you can get the Bills for cheap after a poor Week 11.

Hold Emmanuel Sanders

Speaking of the Bills, what's going on with Emmanuel Sanders?

Wait, aren't you supposed to ask me those questions?

Sanders has averaged just 5.8 PPR points per game over his last four. Across the first six games of the year, that number was 15.

Here's some more bad news: on the season, per adjusted points allowed, Buffalo wide receivers have faced one of the easiest schedules in the league. It gets rougher from here on out, with multiple games against the Patriots.

But Sanders isn't a sell because no one is buying right now. And his deeper peripherals haven't really changed. He played 78.6% of Buffalo's snaps on Sunday, when his season-long average is 81.3%. According to Pro Football Focus, during this four-game stretch where Sanders isn't doing much, he's run the most routes on the Bills.

Yes, more than Stefon Diggs.

For now, you've got to hold onto him. His production hasn't been there, but the underlying numbers are still totally fine.

Drop Mecole Hardman

Mecole Hardman is still rostered in half of Yahoo! leagues, and it's officially time for that number to drop. He hasn't scored more than five PPR points in any of his last three contests, his target shares over his last two have been under 10%, and his other peripheral numbers are dropping as well. During the Chiefs' last two games, Hardman has run fewer routes than Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, and Josh Gordon. It doesn't look like it's going to happen for him.

Add Marquez Valdes-Scantling

It's always tough to trust Marquez Valdes-Scantling because he's more of a boom-or-bust deep threat, but in Week 11, MVS saw the second-highest target share of his career at 32.3%. He caught 4 of his 10 targets for 123 yards and a big 75-yard touchdown. It's highly unlikely he'll see that kind of workload each week, but having volatile, high-upside plays on your bench is always a good idea. And maybe this at least is the start of them using him a little more, even when Allen Lazard is healthy.

Buy DK Metcalf

Last week, I wrote this about the Seattle Seahawks passing attack.

They get a tougher matchup in Week 11 against Arizona before this cakewalk stretch, but I wouldn't want to wait. If you can buy at a lower cost this week, do it.

Turns out, you should've waited. At least when it came to D.K. Metcalf.

Metcalf scored just 7.1 PPR points, and he now has back-to-back weeks scoring fewer than 8 fantasy points. Those are two weeks where he's had Russell Wilson throwing him the ball.

It's clearly a low point for Metcalf, which means trading for him will be a little easier on you. And you should be trying to trade for him, in my opinion. He still saw over 33% of Seattle's targets on Sunday, and as I noted last week, the Seahawks have a pretty nice schedule for the passing attack from now through the end of the season. It's at least better than average.

Going after Metcalf is somewhat of a high-variance move just because the offense is operating at such a low level right now. Maybe teams locked into the playoffs can shy away from it. But if you're needing to take a chance, this seems like the right kind of player and situation to take a chance on.

Add Nick Westbrook-Ikhine

It was looking like Marcus Johnson was going to be the clear, obvious WR2 in the Titans offense with Julio Jones banged up, and then Johnson went out on Sunday and suffered a hamstring injury. A.J. Brown hurt his chest against the Texans, so he's injured, as well. By process of elimination, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine is in play.

Westbrook-Ikhine hit 100 yards receiving on Sunday on 10 targets, and while his target share wasn't a very impressive 15.7%, he did tie for the second-most routes on the team, per Pro Football Focus. He's worth an add in moderate to deep leagues, and in super deep formats, you could look at Dez Fitzpatrick, who could see a bigger role as well as a perimeter receiver.

Buy Kyle Pitts

Let's start with the bad for Kyle Pitts: he hasn't scored more than 10 PPR points in a game in over a month. He's failed to reach 30 receiving yards in two of his last four games. The Atlanta Falcons offense is mostly hot trash.

There's some good, though: Pitts has averaged a target share per game of almost 22% since Week 3. Since that time, he's seen at least five targets in every game. And he's only scored once. That may seem like a bad thing, but it's tough for anyone to score a lot of fantasy points without finding the end zone.

And he should have more touchdowns than he does. He's only scored once when his yards to touchdowns conversion -- the number of yards a tight end typically has per touchdown -- tells us that he should have closer to four or five. The same thing can be seen when you look at expected touchdown models, like the one that PFF has.

Will it all come together? It might not. Like I said, it's not like the Falcons' offense is great. But at a position that lacks studs, it's worth going after one with the talent Pitts has.

Add Cam Newton

In Cam Newton's 2021 debut as the starter, he ran the ball 10 times for 46 yards and a touchdown to go along with 189 yards and a pair of scores through the air. To be fair, the Panthers were facing the worst team in adjusted points allowed to the quarterback position, Washington. A big performance was sort of expected.

This week, Carolina gets Miami, a team that ranks as the 10th-best opponent for opposing quarterbacks. Newton's still out there in half of Yahoo! leagues, and if he's available in yours, you should be adding him. He's got season-long upside moving forward, not just single-week potential.

Add Tyrod Taylor

If you need more of a traditional streamer this week, Tyrod Taylor works. He only threw for 107 yards against Tennessee on Sunday in a sloppy game weather-wise, but he did what Tyrod Taylor does best for fantasy purposes: he gave us some of that sweet rushing juice. Taylor found the end zone twice on the ground while running 6 times for 28 yards, giving us a low-end QB1 performance. This week, he'll get a Jets defense that's allowed at least 17.5 points to their opponent's quarterback in every game since Week 3.

Add the Chicago Bears Defense

Chicago's finished as a top-10 defense in back-to-back weeks, and that was after facing much better opponents than what they'll see in Week 12. On Thanksgiving, the Bears get the Lions. And Detroit may be starting Tim Boyle for a second straight week.

If you missed it in Week 11, Boyle threw for just 77 yards and a pair of interceptions against the Browns. According to numberFire's expected points model, Boyle had the worst expected points per drop back rate in the league this past week at -0.37. He was successful on just 30.4% of his throws, which is...alarmingly bad.

The Bears are 3.5-point road favorites with a low 41.5-point over/under according to FanDuel Sportsbook. They're a great streaming play.