NFL

15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 15

Rashaad Penny had a huge Week 14 against the Texans. Is he going to be a league-winning waiver wire add?

At the tail end of the 2018 season, the Los Angeles Rams were dealing with a Todd Gurley injury. To help, they signed free agent C.J. Anderson to carry the load.

In Week 16 -- fantasy football championship week for most -- Anderson rushed for 167 yards.

If you made the fantasy football playoffs, which now take place from Weeks 15 through 17 in most leagues, it's important to not get complacent. It always seems like we've got things figured out in football and fantasy football, but wild things are bound to happen over the next three weeks. They always do.

You don't want to leave a C.J. Anderson performance on the waiver wire.

Note: Trade deadlines have passed, but any buy or sell recommendation below is simply based on how confident you should feel in that player moving forward.

Add Rashaad Penny

For those of you who don't listen to The Late-Round Podcast, each Tuesday during the NFL season, a 15 Transactions episode gets dropped. The information on that show is the same that you get in this column, but there's a 16th transaction that gets added to the end each week.

Last week's 16th transaction?

Add Rashaad Penny.

(This is my way of telling you to subscribe to the show.)

Head coach Pete Carroll talked about the idea of Penny seeing more touches this past week, and that's exactly what happened. In Week 13, Penny saw 41.7% of Seattle's running back rushes, giving him 10 rush attempts on the day. In Week 14, that running back rush share number shot up to 64.0%, equating to 16 rush attempts. Penny ended up running for 137 yards and a pair of scores on the ground against Houston.

Admittedly, Penny's peripherals weren't amazingly good. A 64% running back rush share is fine, but he only saw one look through the air. And, as we know, the Seahawks won't be facing the Texans each week.

But each game is a stepping stone. If Penny keeps performing, Seattle will be forced to feed him more and more. He's a top priority off the waiver wire this week -- especially for running back-needy teams.

Add Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley

Austin Ekeler hurt his ankle against the Giants on Sunday, and he didn't touch the ball for the majority of the second half as a result. And, unfortunately, the Chargers have a short week in Week 15 with a Thursday night game against the Chiefs. That gives Ekeler less time to heal up.

Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said that Ekeler is "fine", but you never know what can happen throughout the week.

My preference off the waiver wire for Ekeler would be Justin Jackson since he's been getting more run than the other backs in the Chargers offense. Joshua Kelley ended up with 10 rush attempts to Jackson's 9 in Week 14, but Jackson was finding the field earlier than Kelley in that game -- he was seeing work on the team's second drive. I'd also expect Jackson, just given his profile, to see more work than Kelley as a pass-catcher if Ekeler misses time.

Both players deserve a look off the waiver wire this week, though, just in case things don't go well with Ekeler.

Add Rashod Bateman

In Week 13, the Ravens thought it would be a good idea to run both Devin Duvernay and Sammy Watkins ahead of Rashod Bateman. In Week 14, things changed. Bateman ran the second-most routes for Baltimore, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), and he ended up catching 7 of 8 targets for 103 yards. It'll hurt a little if Lamar Jackson misses time, but Bateman should once again be on your radar with this uptick in usage.

Drop Courtland Sutton

It's over -- at least this season -- for Courtland Sutton. Even if he turns his season around, how confident are you actually going to be starting him?

Sutton has now scored six or fewer PPR points in each of his last six games, which coincide directly with when Jerry Jeudy returned from injury. His target share per game over this time is just 11.8%.

Not only is the production just not there, but Denver's Week 16 and 17 matchups are against the Raiders and Chargers, two teams that rank as bottom-five matchups for wide receivers in adjusted fantasy points allowed. So if you're not using Sutton this week -- which you shouldn't given his recent production -- there's no need to keep him on your roster.

As it currently stands, almost 80% of Yahoo! leagues have Sutton rostered. That number needs to be smaller.

Add Jamison Crowder

Both Corey Davis and Elijah Moore are out for an extended period of time, leaving the Jets' with a not-so-great wide receiver group. Jamison Crowder didn't lead that group in targets on Sunday with Braxton Berrios leading the way, but he ran twice as many routes as Berrios. He played 82% of his snaps from his typical slot location, per PFF, and that could come in handy in Week 15 against a Dolphins team that has allowed the highest target share to that area of the field this season. The peripherals favor Crowder over any other Jets receiver off the waiver wire this week.

Sell Aaron Jones

It was a really weird Week 14 for Aaron Jones. On one hand, he scored 21.5 PPR points. On the other, he carried the ball just five times and saw three targets through the air.

The Packers offense is better at scoring touchdowns than other offenses, but if you've got Jones, his Week 14 was a little scary. Backfield teammate A.J. Dillon out-touched him 15 to 5 on the ground, and while most would assume that was simply because of a positive game script, keep in mind that both running backs carried the ball three times in the first half. Dillon did close the game, but that's also sort of a problem, no? That tells us that if the Packers are ahead, they won't be leaning on Jones, which means fewer fantasy points.

Not only that, but Green Bay's schedule over the next three weeks isn't necessarily ideal. It's not horrific, but they get Baltimore, Cleveland, and Minnesota. The Ravens are third-best against running backs in adjusted points allowed, while the Browns are top-10.

Jones is one of the most talented backs in the league, so clearly he's capable of turning this around. It just depends on how the coaching staff utilizes him. With Dillon in that backfield, there's an obvious red flag usage-wise.

Add Gabriel Davis

Emmanuel Sanders suffered a knee injury against Tampa Bay on Sunday, allowing Gabriel Davis to get more action in the Buffalo offense. Up until Week 14, Davis' highest snap share in a single game this year was just 50.6%. On Sunday, that shot up to 83.3%.

And he produced. He saw 15.7% of Buffalo's targets and converted his 8 looks into 5 catches for 43 yards and a score. He now has back-to-back weeks ranking as a top-30 PPR wide receiver.

It sounds like Sanders is going to miss Week 15, but it would make sense for Buffalo to keep utilizing Davis regardless. He's been effective when he actually gets playing time.

Add Kadarius Toney

We haven't seen Kadarius Toney on a football field since Week 11, and with each week he doesn't play, his percent rostered number over on Yahoo! drops. As it stands, he's rostered in just 28% of leagues.

That number should be a little higher -- even with a recent positive COVID result.

This is a little less quantitative of a take than what you'd usually get from me, but how many players on the waiver wire have shown the ceiling that Toney's shown this year? In Week 5 against Dallas -- his Week 15 opponent -- Toney caught 10 balls for 189 yards. As a rookie with limited action, he's seen 9 or more targets in three separate games.

You're right -- we don't know exactly how he'll be used when everyone's healthy in that Giants' offense. What we do know is that our benches this time of year -- all year -- should be filled with players who can give us spiked weeks. Or, to put that another way, players with ambiguous and high potential.

That's what Toney brings. If you've got a roster spot you can burn and there aren't good handcuffs on your waiver wire, Toney makes sense.

Add KJ Osborn

Yours truly talked about K.J. Osborn in last week's column -- he was even the cover boy! -- and he came through in Week 14 with Adam Thielen sidelined. Against Pittsburgh, Osborn caught just three passes, but he was able to bring in a deep-ball touchdown to help save his fantasy day. More importantly, he saw an impressive 29% target share in the contest. The Vikings get an attractive matchup against the Bears here in Week 15, so you'll want Osborn rostered.

Sell Chuba Hubbard

Chuba Hubbard did what we sort of expected him to do in Week 14. He saw 10 of a possible 14 running back rushes and found the end zone once on the ground, but he ceded all receiving work out of the backfield to Ameer Abdullah, who had an 11.4% target share. Hubbard didn't see a single target against Atlanta.

A one-dimensional running back (almost strictly an early-down one) in a mediocre offense is not something you want to invest in for fantasy purposes. What's worse is the Panthers' schedule for the fantasy playoffs. In Week 15, they get the Bills in a game that could very quickly go south. That would lead to more Abdullah than Hubbard.

In Week 16, they get a Tampa Bay team that not only could force Carolina into a negative game script (again, that would hurt Hubbard), but they also can stop the run. And in Week 17, it's the Saints, the worst matchup for running backs in all of football according to adjusted fantasy points allowed.

I would not trust Hubbard in the fantasy playoffs unless I absolutely have no choice.

Add Malcolm Brown

Last week, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed tested positive for COVID. It meant that there was a chance we'd see Phillip Lindsay as the Miami lead back in Week 15 against the Jets, a team that's allowed the most adjusted fantasy points to opposing running backs in the league.

On Monday, Lindsay tested positive, too.

It sounds like Malcolm Brown could return from injury this week, so if the other backs aren't able to get back in time, he'd have a shot to be the lead back. In most cases, this wouldn't be something I'd care much about, but because of the opponent, there's a chance for some usability out of this backfield this week. Brown is probably worth a dollar or two in FAAB as a result -- just to see how things shake out.

Add Justin Fields

Over Justin Fields' last three completed games, he's scored 25.3, 18.1, and 18.4 standard fantasy points. And what's boosting his numbers is what we need from Fields: he's doing more work on the ground. Across his first five starts, Fields was averaging 4.6 rush attempts and 21.2 rushing yards per game. Over his last three finished starts, his rush attempts per game rate have increased to 9, and his rushing yards per game have been 74. Now he gets a Vikings' secondary that ranks in the top-five in adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks.

If I need a quarterback streamer this week, Fields is it.

Add Jimmy Garoppolo

I also don't mind Jimmy Garoppolo this week. The 49ers get the Falcons, and according to FanDuel Sportsbook, San Francisco has an implied team total north of 27 points. Garoppolo has scored 15 or more fantasy points in six of his last seven games, and the Falcons are the top team in adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks this season. He makes for a decent streaming choice.

Add the Philadelphia Eagles Defense

The Eagles are available in a lot of leagues after their Week 14 bye, but they have one of the best schedules for the fantasy playoffs across football. In Week 15, they'll face the Football Team -- a team that ranks in the top half of the league as an opponent in adjusted points allowed. Taylor Heinicke is also banged up, which isn't a bad thing for the Eagles. Philly gets Washington again in Week 17, and sandwiched in between those two matchups is a game against the Giants -- another plus matchup.

I'm not one who likes simply plugging and playing defenses, but perhaps you're in a league with limited waiver acquisitions and need a defense for the fantasy playoffs. Even if you don't, the Eagles make sense as a streamer this week.

Hold the Los Angeles Chargers Defense

Plenty of you have the Chargers defense given their Week 14 matchup against the Giants, and you may be looking to swap them for another defense given their matchup against the Chiefs this week.

Don't.

Hold onto them.

Yes, Week 15 is a tough one against Kansas City. I'd advise against starting them. But in Week 16, they get the Texans. As we know, Houston's one of the best matchups for opposing defenses -- they're the sixth-best one in adjusted points allowed.

If a leaguemate of yours drops the Chargers because of this upcoming matchup against the Chiefs, scoop them up.