15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 5
You can't be good at fantasy football if your opinions remain static.
Those players you liked entering the season? Not all of them are going to pan out. And that's fine. Part of winning fantasy football is understanding that things change, especially in the NFL.
Part of being successful, too, is realizing mistakes and not being stubborn.
I'm the fool who said to sell Devonta Freeman last week. That was me. I was the guy who told you not to overreact to one game where Freeman was the sole runner in the Falcons' backfield, and to remember how inefficient he was as a runner last season.
Freeman made me look like a Week 4 idiot, and he's now the best running back in fantasy football.
Oh, and you know that Jeremy Hill guy? He made this column a week ago as a "sell or hold" option. Hopefully you simply held, because, well, he found the end zone three times yesterday as well.
I fully expect Freeman to regress a bit, especially once Tevin Coleman returns, and I'd still look to sell him if I could get a stud. And Hill did his damage on just 9 carries for 40 yards, so it really wasn't an out-of-this-world performance. But the point still remains: mistakes were made, and I'm certainly higher on both players here in Week 5 versus how I felt in Week 4.
That's just how fantasy football works.
Buy Lamar Miller
I really don't know if this is a "cheap" suggestion or not -- some people may see this as an obvious move right now, making fun of the fact that it's even in this column. But I think there are a lot of fantasy owners who wouldn't touch Lamar Miller with a 10-foot pole, and plenty of Miller owners are ready to move on, too.
To be candid, I wouldn't give a lot away for Miller right now, because buying him here in Week 5 means you're partially paying his preseason cost, which was a third-round pick in most leagues. He's also performed below his 2014 levels. Entering Week 4, of the 47 backs with 20 or more carries, Miller had a Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) total that ranked 29th in the NFL. Last season, only six backs with 100 or more carries were better.
There are two reasons to be optimistic, though. The first is that Joe Philbin is gone, so perhaps Miller's usage will increase -- Miller was on the field for 79.7% of the team's snaps on Sunday in London, which was a top-10 snap percentage for a running back this past week, but his touch percentage (how often he handled the rock on those snaps) was a putrid 15.7%. That's not great, Bob!
The other reason may be even more important: Miller and the Dolphins' schedule so far just hasn't been run-friendly. In Week 1, they faced a Redskins' defense that ranks third against the run according to our metrics. Week 2 was the Jags, who rank sixth. Week 3 saw the Bills, who have underperformed a bit compared to last season (and Miller was a little banged up), and Week 4 was the Jets, who have the second best rush defense.
My advice would be to talk to the Miller owner, and see where their head's at. Keep in mind the Dolphins are on a bye, but after this week, things really open up schedule-wise. That's good news for the so-far bust.
Add Kamar Aiken
It sounds like Steve Smith will miss at least one week with a back injury, making room for other Raven wide receivers to seize opportunity. Against the Steelers, Kamar Aiken was the player who did most with his opportunity, catching 5 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown on 7 targets.
It should be noted, however, that Marlon Brown actually out-snapped Aiken on Thursday against Pittsburgh, so he should be on your radar as well. And Baltimore went out and traded for Chris Givens over the weekend, too. So this isn't Aiken or bust, but rather Aiken being the best of the options out there as fill-ins. He does, after all, have the highest Reception NEP of all healthy Baltimore wideouts so far this year.
Add Chris Thompson
Week 3 saw a heavy dose of Chris Thompson, as the Redskins trailed and were forced to use their pass-catching back. His 52 snaps played -- the highest among all Washington backs -- seemed flukey, until Week 4 happened.
Thompson not only saw only two fewer snaps than Alfred Morris in Week 4, but he did well with them, totaling 77 yards. It wasn't as though he was only on the field when Washington was trailing or when they were in garbage time -- Thompson was mixed in on the first drive of the game, and he actually got the majority of his work in the first half.
The Washington backfield is going to be a headache to deal with, so I wouldn't spend much to get a guy like Thompson off the waiver wire. But in PPR leagues, he's worth an add as bye weeks approach.
Buy Jordan Matthews
Sam Bradford looked sort of competent on Sunday. Only because, you know, he threw the ball vertically.
Unfortunately, J-Matt was only able to muster a 3-catch, 50-yard performance against the banged up Redskins' secondary.
But the good news is that Matthews is continuing to see volume. He's had eight or more targets in each game so far this year, and in PPR formats, he's a top-25 wide receiver. That's nothing to write home about, sure, but considering the way Philly's offense has started the season, it's got to count for something.
The real reason I'm into buying Matthews this week is because he's coming off a poor performance and the team's schedule continues to get soft. Over the Eagles' next eight contests, only one is against a secondary ranked 15th or better against the pass according to our metrics. Given his volume isn't slipping, I like the potential.
Add Ronnie Hillman
It's become the norm. A cycle of Broncos' running backs has become the norm.
Just a year after seeing Montee Ball fail to live up to Peyton Manning running back expectations, we're here with C.J. Anderson, who's doing the same. So far on the year, Anderson has 43 carries for just 117 yards, and a Rushing NEP total of -12.59, ranking dead last in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Gary Kubiak said yesterday that Ronnie Hillman deserves to get more touches. Our numbers agree. Among the 54 running backs with 20 or more carries so far this year, Hillman is 12th in Rushing NEP. Again, Anderson ranks dead last.
And it's not just due to a couple of big runs. Hillman's Success Rate, which measures the percentage of positive runs made by a running back in terms of NEP, is twice as good as Anderson's. In fact, Anderson's Success Rate is only better than Joique Bell and DeMarco Murray's.
Anderson owners should be worried, because not only has he played like an amateur, but his backup is far out-performing him.
Add or Buy Duke Johnson
After starting the season with zero catches on zero targets, rookie Duke Johnson has 15 catches on 17 targets over his last two contests.
His nine catches on Sunday aren't all that sustainable, but it's the idea and thought that matters here. Johnson ended up playing 60.6% of Cleveland's snaps against San Diego, out-snapping backfield teammate Isaiah Crowell by 17. This came directly after head coach Mike Pettine said the team needed to get Johnson more involved in the offense by using him in space.
To expect this kind of usage in the passing game week in and week out would be a little foolish, especially considering the fact that Cleveland's schedule starts to get tough, and sustaining long drives may not be as easy as it was against an injured Chargers defense. But I'm still buying this performance from Johnson, especially in PPR leagues, for the very fact that this is how he was intended to be used. Just don't expect 6 or 7 catches per game.
Drop Derek Carr
Say it with me, everyone, "The quarterback position is replaceable in fantasy football."
Derek Carr was fine against Chicago this week, and he's had a good run so far this year. But Week 5 brings the Denver Broncos and their top-ranked pass defense, and then Oakland's on a bye. After a game against San Diego, they'll face the Jets and their fourth-ranked secondary. In other words, Carr is going to be unusable in three of his next four weeks, and having that dead weight on your bench just isn't worthwhile given most leagues have plenty of usable quarterbacks on the waiver wire.
Add Willie Snead
Over the last two weeks, he's played 61.1% and 65.8% of the Saints' snaps, respectively. That's more than every New Orleans wide receiver not named Brandin Cooks.
He's turned the opportunity into 13 targets and 133 yards. And keep in mind, one of the two games saw him catching passes Luke McCown.
From a Net Expected Points standpoint, Snead now leads the team with a 17.58 Reception NEP total, and he's by far the most efficient on a per target basis, averaging 0.79 Reception NEP per target. For reference, Brandon Coleman is second on the team with a 0.54 average. Snead's 0.79 mark ranks 21st of the 61 wideouts with 10 or more catches this year. He's definitely worth an add.
Add Chris Conley
The Chiefs entered 2015 with the number-two wide receiver position kind of up for grabs. Albert Wilson showed very little through the first three weeks of the season, and it looks as though there may be a change, as Chris Conley, a rookie, saw 90 percent of the team's snaps against Cincinnati, which is close to a top-20 league-wide percentage for a wide receiver.
There's not much to judge Conley on, but he saw as many targets as Travis Kelce in Week 4 (7). He's got decent size, and on a team that's looking poor against the pass (24th according to our numbers), we could see more passes from Alex Smith this season than initially anticipated thanks to some shootouts. As a result, Conley should see volume as long as he's on the field.
Sell Doug Martin
Entering last week, no running back in the NFL had compiled a worse Rushing NEP total than Doug Martin. Against a banged up Carolina Panthers' defensive line, he went out and did some work, rushing for over 100 yards on 20 carries.
The fact still remains, though, that Martin hasn't been good this season. Whether that's due to the offensive line or not, Martin still has a Success Rate that's below the 40 percent mark, which ranks in the bottom 10th percentile in the NFL. That leads us to believe that he's just not been consistent -- which he hasn't -- and that lack of consistency isn't something you should want on your fantasy squad.
If there's a way to sell his Week 4 performance to a leaguemate -- along with his rising average draft position before the season started -- do it.
Add Christine Michael
Everyone's favorite perennial late-round running back saw a carry against the Saints on Sunday. And he lost a yard.
Why add Christine Michael? Because he's the exact player you should be looking for on your bench. He has the upside -- partially due to ambiguity -- of becoming a big piece in the Cowboys' offense behind a great offensive line, while, at worst, you drop him.
The truth is, Cowboys rushers haven't been good this year. Despite Joseph Randle's scoring over the past two weeks, his -3.02 Rushing NEP ranks 35th of the 54 20-plus attempt rushers in the NFL. And his Success Rate is just 32 percent, which is a bottom 10 rate.
Surprisingly, per our numbers, Darren McFadden has been the best runner in the backfield, but his efficiency is nothing to write home about.
With Lance Dunbar now out for the year, it'll be interesting to see how they handle passing down duties. If and when Randle and McFadden see more opportunity there, the Cowboys may be more inclined to use Michael in earlier down situations, creating opportunity.
Don't get me wrong -- the Christine Michael hype has always be unwarranted. But right now, he's worth an add in deeper leagues based on the fact that the current backs have underperformed, and Dunbar's injury will create a shift in opportunity.
Add Alex Smith
I mentioned the Chiefs throwing more, and we've seen that impacting Alex Smith's stat lines -- he's now thrown for 300 or more yards in back to back games for the first time in his career.
Unfortunately, Alex Smith still hates touchdowns.
He's still not a plug-and-play starter (there are only a few of them in fantasy football), but you have to like his matchup at home this week against the Bears. Chicago ranks 25th against the pass according to our numbers, and they've allowed at least one touchdown pass to every starter they've faced dating back to the beginning of last year. Vegas pegs the Chiefs with a high team total this week, too, which helps Smith's case.
Add him if you're looking for a quarterback streamer.
Add Owen Daniels
The Oakland Raiders have now allowed Tyler Eifert, Crockett Gillmore, Gary Barnidge and Martellus Bennett to finish as top-two tight ends in PPR leagues this season. Meaning, every starting tight end the Raiders have faced, that tight end has been an elite weekly option.
I wouldn't expect Owen Daniels to go HAM against them in Week 5, especially considering each of those tight ends has proven to be decent options in fantasy football, regardless of matchup. But Daniels has played over 88 percent of Denver's snaps this season, while tight end teammate Virgil Green is sitting at 37.1 percent. That makes Daniels the streamer to exploit in this matchup.
Add Dontrelle Inman
Dontrelle Inman caught 3 of 5 targets for 88 yards against Cleveland in Week 4 with Steve Johnson and Malcom Floyd sidelined with injuries. If those two are out again this week, Inman becomes a really intriguing one-week option against a Steelers secondary that hasn't been able to stop much dating back to last season. And so far this year, Pittsburgh's allowed three top-10 and four top-20 wide receiver performances in PPR leagues. In other words, at least one wide receiver per contest against the Steelers has been super fantasy relevant.
I wouldn't go spending a lot of my free agent auction budget on Inman, but if you need a rental for the week, he's not a bad look.
Add the Giants' Defense
Defenses that have faced San Francisco this season have been awesome in fantasy football. Even the Vikings were a top-15 unit in Week 1 according to standard scoring, despite getting destroyed by Carlos Hyde. And over the last two weeks, the defenses facing this 30th-ranked (per our schedule-adjusted numbers) 49ers' attack have been top-five options.
Now the 49ers will travel to New York for a Sunday night game against the Giants where they're seven-point underdogs. The Giants are available in over 95 percent of ESPN.com leagues, and according to our metrics, the team's defense actually ranks 12th in the league.
They're the perfect streamer in Week 5.