15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 2
You're going the wrong way.
You're going in the wrong direction.
You're going to kill somebody.
Watching everyone panic about their fantasy football squad last night on social media reminded me a whole lot of the famous scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles. If you've seen the movie, you know which part I'm talking about. If you haven't, YouTube is your best friend right now.
It's easy to panic. And, to be honest, in some instances, you should be panicking. But don't feel overwhelmed. It's only Week 1, and I've got 15 transactions to help make your fantasy squad better.
Add Donte Moncrief
There are a few things going in Donte Moncrief's favor right now, making him a really strong add off the waiver. In fact, wide receiver-needy teams may want to make him a priority this week.
First, T.Y. Hilton could miss a game or two with a knee bruise. Even if you're of the belief that Phillip Dorsett's going to be the main beneficiary of this injury (I personally don't buy this), Hilton's volume isn't going to one guy. Moncrief should benefit regardless.
Second, Moncrief was heavily used and targeted in Week 1 against the Bills. His 11 targets were second on the team behind only Hilton, and according to FantasyData.com, he played one more snap than Andre Johnson.
And speaking of Johnson, that brings me to my last point: he may be done. No, this isn't me overreacting to his 4 catches on 10 targets (though it was ugly). This is based on recent trends. Over the last two years, his Net Expected Points (NEP) efficiency dipped to a league low, while other wide receivers on his team -- guys in identical situations -- were far more effective with their targets.
It doesn't hurt that Moncrief's got the physical tools to be a good wide receiver in the league. Take a look at his workout metrics according to PlayerProfiler.com -- the man is a freak.
Any player getting potential opportunity in an Andrew Luck offense should be on your radar. And there's a legitimate shot that this opportunity is for real.
Buy Lamar Miller
Lamar Miller had one of the more disappointing games yesterday from a fantasy-relevant player, but it's not time to sell. In fact, it's probably a good time to buy.
Washington is tough against opposing rushing attacks. In fact, entering the season, our numbers pegged them as the sixth best run-stuffing unit in the entire league.
So there's at least some reason for Miller's 13-carry, 53-yard performance yesterday. Not only that, but according to our Net Expected Points metric, Miller actually contributed positively toward's his team's point total. And that's not really easy for running backs to do, considering running the ball is so inefficient when compared to passing -- the majority of high-volume backs last season had negative per-rush NEP averages.
Miller led the team in carries by far (Damien Williams saw just one touch out of the backfield versus Miller's 13), and he outsnapped Williams 46 to 28. There's no reason to believe his job is in jeopardy -- instead, he hit a tough matchup and played in an offense that just wasn't clicking away from home. Trade for him if his owner is worried.
Hold the Broncos' Offense
Hey, Peyton Manning owners: I host a podcast each week called Living the Stream, where you can get waiver wire quarterback recommendations based on opposition matchups. If you, uh, need a quarterback, I've got your back.
Really, though -- what was that? Is this what we're to expect from the Broncos' offense this season? Perhaps. There's a chance Manning just isn't the same quarterback anymore -- he failed the eye test, and he failed the numbers test, too. Manning finished with a -8.14 Passing NEP total, which was 17 points worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick's. A Broncos' team with Ryan Fitzpatrick would have seen a 17-point shift in points in yesterday's contest, you guys.
The problem is that this happened in Week 1, so no one is going to be high on the Broncos' offense. At the same time, there's still hope in that the Broncos just faced a good Ravens' defense. After all, when the Ravens had a healthy Jimmy Smith at corner last season, they ranked as one of the better secondaries in the league. And that front seven is probably better than most realize.
If I own Broncos' skill players -- and I do -- I'd hold onto them and hope for a turnaround, unless there are owners in your league who didn't watch a lick of the Broncos game on Sunday.
Add Carson Palmer
With his Week 1 performance, Palmer now has four top-10 performances over his last seven contests dating back to last year, with six of those finishing as top-16 ones. This is no fluke, either -- the Cardinals have weapons throughout their offense, and Palmer was actually the sixth most efficient quarterback in the NFL last year among 200-plus attempt passers according to NEP.
Arizona gets Chicago in Week 2, where they're 2.5-point road favorites with a 45-point over/under. It's not a bad Vegas line for a quarterback, and given Chicago's low-ranked pass defense, we should expect another strong performance.
Sell Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen's 17 targets were tops in the league in Week 1, and it marked a career high for the third-year wideout. But you could argue, because he put together such a great game (especially in PPR leagues), he's a great "sell high" candidate.
Allen had 80 yards after the catch yesterday, meaning most of his targets were close to the line of scrimmage (86 air yards on 17 targets). From a fantasy receiver, you'd like to see more splash plays.
But that's not really the biggest issue here. What we need to remember is that Antonio Gates is sidelined for the first four weeks of the season, and Gates demanded over six targets per game last year. Moreover, Philip Rivers threw 42 passes yesterday -- in 2014, only two of his 16 games saw that many pass attempts.
Let's not pretend Allen hasn't had high-volume games in the past, either. A season ago, he had three games (discounts Week 17) with 13 or more targets, and five double-digit target games. He was fine in them for PPR purposes, sure, but he also disappeared in seven contests where he didn't see a ton of volume, scoring fewer than 10 PPR fantasy points. The difference yesterday was that he was able to haul in a ridiculous 15 of his 17 targets, when he had that high of a catch rate (88.2%) just once last year when targeted more than twice.
All of this is to say that a game like Week 1 probably won't happen again for Allen. There are plenty of mouths to feed in San Diego -- especially when Gates returns -- and prior to his coming back, the Chargers will face Cincinnati, Minnesota and Cleveland. Those aren't exactly bad secondaries.
Buy LeGarrette Blount
In Week 1, Dion Lewis -- a featured player in last week's column -- tore apart the Steelers defense, finishing as one of the best running backs of the week from a Net Expected Points standpoint.
So why in the world am I talking about LeGarrette Blount?
This is where the psychology aspect of fantasy football comes into play. Recency bias is very real, and folks are going to remember Lewis' Thursday night performance far more than they'll remember Blount doing absolutely nothing as a suspended running back. Owners are going to assume Lewis will have a consistent role moving forward, too. But these same owners have probably never owned a Bill Belichick running back, and they're probably a little too high on Lewis' ability as a runner.
Blount and Lewis are actually a really interesting tandem if you look at their physical profiles. Blount is pushing 250 pounds, while Lewis is a sub-200 pound shifty runner. Blount, logically, makes sense in a first- and second-down role, while Lewis naturally fits a pass-catching role.
Really, the reason Lewis saw the volume he did in Week 1 could have just as much to do with Blount being suspended as anything else. In fact, that's what I'd put my money on. And not every fantasy owner sees it that way.
Lewis still has value playing the Shane Vereen role in the Patriots' offense, but the inconsistent usage could be difficult to predict week to week. Blount, meanwhile, should see the most carries in the New England backfield, including goal line work. He's the guy to own in New England, and because of the way things went down in Week 1, he could be a "buy low" player in your league. Just don't expect the world from him this week against Buffalo.
Add David Johnson and Chris Johnson
But you have to at least listen to what coaches are saying, which is that Chris Johnson is going to be the "lead dog" while Ellington is sidelined with his PCL injury. Yes, the same Chris Johnson who hasn't even been an average running back since his 2,000-yard season.
Because Ellington's injury doesn't seem as serious as it did when it first occurred, my personal preference here is to add David Johnson. It'd probably be that way regardless, but with a smaller timetable, you're still looking strictly for upside. It shouldn't shock anyone to see Chris Johnson take the most carries in the Cardinals' backfield without Ellington, but David Johnson could still have a more significant role as a receiver. We saw what he can do as a pass-catcher in Week 1, as he caught a 55-yard touchdown.
Buy Sam Bradford
A look at Sam Bradford's stat line against a not-so-great Falcons' secondary from Week 1 shouldn't get you overly excited. But he certainly got better as the game progressed, and if you watched the game, you'd know that he clearly threw a touchdown to Jordan Matthews that was called down on the one. In other words, he was a bad call away from being a QB1 this week.
Not only does that favor your attempt to buy him, but so does his schedule. The Eagles get the Cowboys, Jets, Redskins, Saints and Giants over the next five weeks. If we don't judge only off of Week 1, each of those secondaries are bottom half ones when you consider what they did in 2014. And despite adding Darrelle Revis, an injury to Antonio Cromartie makes the Jets more of a target than they initially looked.
Bradford still has the upside of being a legitimate QB1 in fantasy this year. We saw that was the case with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez last year. Don't go trading anything remotely significant for him if you don't own him -- the quarterback position is so replaceable that it's not necessary -- but if you do own Bradford, don't panic.
Add Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley
With Dez Bryant missing an extended period of time, Dallas wide receivers are going to see a bump in volume. Many will point to Terrance Williams getting the most significant increase, and while that may end up happening, I'm sending more of a "spread it around" approach.
What has Terrance Williams done to make him a reliable receiver? From an efficiency standpoint, he's been great -- his 0.95 Reception NEP per target last season was second to only Kenny Stills among wide receivers with 50 or more targets. Stills, though, had a catch rate above 75.00%, while Williams' was at 56.92%. In other words, a huge reason for Williams' perceived efficiency had a lot to do with big plays -- he was one of 26 wide receivers last year with four or more 40-plus yard plays.
Beasley is a sneakier add, and could provide more consistency, especially in PPR leagues. Let's not forget that the final five games of last year's fantasy season (Week 17 excluded) saw Beasley score double-digit PPR points three times.
Both should be on your radar as you hit the waiver wire this week, but I'd prefer someone like Moncrief over them.
Sell Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Everything was perfect for second-year tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on Sunday. Mike Evans was out with a hamstring injury, the matchup was a nice one, and game script favored a heavy passing attack from Jameis Winston and company.
I'm not totally buying this performance. The Bucs, despite their struggles on both sides of the ball, won't be trailing by what seemed like 45 touchdowns after the first 13 minutes of every football game. And Mike Evans is one of the best wide receivers in the game -- he'll demand targets, so ASJ's seven that he saw in Week 1 probably won't be matched very often moving forward.
There are better tight ends off the waiver wire, like Jordan Reed or Tyler Eifert, two guys mentioned in last week's column. Seferian-Jenkins will be usable this year, there's no doubt in my mind, but he's more of a high-end streamer than weekly plug-and-play starter.
Add Joe Flacco or Andy Dalton
This is sort of like 18 Fantasy Football Transactions this week, because I'm cheating by grouping players together with recommendations. But it's Week 2, man -- this is where you make your money off the waiver wire.
Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton are both very interesting streaming quarterback plays this week. Flacco faces an Oakland secondary that was completely torched by Dalton last week, something that wasn't all that surprising considering a seventh-round draft pick from a season ago is Oakland's top cornerback. The lack of weapons in Baltimore is scary, but a Flacco to Steve Smith combination should have much more success in Week 2 than it did against Chris Harris and Aqib Talib in Week 1.
Dalton, on the other hand, will be a favorite at home with the seventh highest team total, according to Vegas, on the week. Over the last two seasons, Dalton's averaged roughly seven more fantasy points per game as a home favorite than when out of the split. The matchup isn't spectacular -- San Diego ranks 12th in our pass defense rankings -- but if you trust Vegas, you should trust Dalton as a streamer.
Sell Alfred Morris
Alfred Morris' 25 rushing attempts on Sunday marked the most he's had since early November of 2013. Like some of the other players on this list, things were pretty awesome for him from a game script perspective -- Washington had the lead or kept it close for the entirety of their game against Miami, which allowed Morris to stay on the field.
Morris played 49 snaps Sunday. He topped that snap number just twice in all of 2014. That's because Roy Helu was in town, sure, but it's also because Morris is generally not a pass-down situation running back, so when games get out of hand, he's not on the field.
Though Washington looked good on Sunday, are we supposed to trust a defense that ranked as one of the worst in the NFL last season? Moreover, should be trust Kirk Cousins is putting this team in favorable situations? I'm not, which is why -- along with rookie Matt Jones potentially stealing looks in the future -- I think Morris is an ideal sell right now.
Add Lance Dunbar
It was obvious that Lance Dunbar is the Cowboys' passing down back, as he saw eight targets against the Giants on Sunday night, as many or more than every running back in Week 1 not named Darren Sproles or Mark Ingram. Part of the reason for this usage was game script, with the Cowboys consistently shooting themselves in the foot early and often, allowing for the Giants to take the lead. The fact is, Dunbar didn't see a single rush, and that's really what you'd be wanting for consistent, predictable performances.
With that being said, he's still worth an add in deeper leagues or leagues with large benches. There's a chance his passing game usage increases a tad now that Dez Bryant is sidelined, and having running back depth is always a good thing.
Add the Saints' Defense
When you're streaming defenses this year, you're going to want to target the Buccaneers. The Saints will be at home this weekend against them, and Vegas has them as 10.5-point favorites. That not only screams negative game script for Tampa Bay -- which could mean more turnovers -- but the Bucs have been pegged with an 18.5-point team total, which is second-lowest on the week behind only Jacksonville.