15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 6
I don't know if I'm ready for a Peyton Manning-less fantasy football world.
But I'm going to have to be.
Through five weeks of the regular season, Manning is the 23rd ranked fantasy quarterback. Andy Dalton has double the amount of fantasy points as he does. Ryan Tannehill, who's struggled mightily and just completed his bye week, has totaled more fantasy tallies than Manning.
Guys, Josh McCown's Week 5 performance against the Ravens saw him score 23 fewer points than what Manning's scored all season long in fantasy football.
It's time. It's time to end a fantasy football era.
It's time to drop Peyton Manning.
Drop Peyton Manning
We've seen 147 instances this season where a quarterback has attempted at least 20 passes. Among these 147, 33 have failed to score double-digit fantasy points.
Peyton Manning owns 3 of the 33 performances, or just over 9 percent of them.
It's time to disassociate the name from the production. If this were any other quarterback in the NFL, he would've been on the waiver wire. Those are just facts.
Let's not pretend this is schedule-related, either. In Week 1, Manning scored 4.9 standard fantasy points, when the Ravens have allowed 21.96 to the position this year per contest. Week 2 saw Manning post 20.24 points, but the Chiefs are surrendering a league high 22.83 to quarterbacks per game. Against Detroit in Week 3, Manning scored just 0.43 points above average, while Weeks 4 and 5 watched him put together fantasy performances that were 5.38 and 10.15 points below average, respectively.
That's one good performances from Manning, fantasy-wise, in five weeks of play. And that one "good" game saw him score less than half of a fantasy point more than opponents were averaging against the defense.
It's time to let go. Send him to your waiver wire, and let the quarterback streaming adventure begin.
Add Charcandrick West
Both are worthwhile adds this week given Jamaal Charles' season-ending ACL injury, but I'd prioritize West over Davis. For a couple of reasons, actually.
First, we can't ignore how the Chiefs used their backs after Charles went down. According to FantasyData.com, West played 29 snaps to Davis' 13 on Sunday, out-touching him 7 to 2 on the ground. West also saw two targets and a reception through the air, while Davis did nothing in the passing game.
Also, can we please realize that Knile Davis hasn't done much to give fantasy owners confidence in his abilities? Everyone knows he's been fantasy relevant when Charles has missed time in the past but, really, that's all been volume-related. According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Davis has actually been incredibly inefficient, averaging a -0.12 and -0.16 Rushing NEP per rush over the last two seasons. To put that into context, the average running back will see a -0.02 or -0.03 Rushing NEP per rush average.
Davis' Success Rate, or the percentage of positive runs made in terms of NEP, has also been horrible, sitting at just over 30 percent. For reference, anything under 40 percent is below average.
All of this is to say that there's not a whole lot of reason for the Chiefs to throw Davis behind Alex Smith, aside from the fact that he has more experience than West. Meanwhile, West's physical profile of a leaner, more agile back fits the Jamaal Charles mold a lot better, which is one that will attract Smith dump-offs in the passing game.
Though Davis will be used -- perhaps close to the goal line -- and is worth an add, West is the smarter look off the waiver wire this week.
Sell the Browns' Passing Attack
Cleveland's passing attack has been balling out. Josh McCown is a near top-10 quarterback despite not even playing the entire season, and according to NEP, he's been the fifth most efficient passer this year.
But a glance at the team's schedule shows that things are about to get really rough. The Browns face the Broncos and their top-ranked pass defense (per our numbers) next week, then get the Rams (5th) and Cardinals (3rd) before a divisional game against the Bengals (19th). Though someone like Gary Barnidge is worth a look to add to your roster, I wouldn't expect any sort of consistency from this passing attack over the next few weeks.
Buy Duke Johnson
Except from Duke Johnson.
I mentioned this in last week's 15 Transactions column, but the Browns are utilizing Johnson exactly how many thought they would entering the season: through the air. Johnson now has 25 targets over the last three weeks, totaling 6, 9 and 6 catches in those three games. This has resulted in three straight top-30 running back performances in PPR leagues, including a ranking of third in Week 4 against the Chargers.
I mentioned the tough schedule Cleveland faces ahead, but it shouldn't shock anyone if Johnson keeps up his work given the team will more than likely be underdogs in each of those games, leading to more volume through the air. He could be the one consistent piece within this passing attack.
Buy Calvin Johnson
Matthew Stafford has the fourth worst Passing NEP in the league through five weeks, and he was benched in Week 5 due to poor play.
So why buy Calvin Johnson?
Well, first off, he's still a top-24 wide receiver in PPR leagues, so let's not pretend he's fallen off the face of the earth and hasn't been usable this year. And that's while facing tough opponents -- each of the five teams that Detroit has faced this year rank in the top half of the league in fantasy points against to the wide receiver position per game, including the top three teams (Denver, San Diego, Seattle).
Moving forward, that won't be the case. The Lions will face the Bears, Vikings, Chiefs, Packers, Raiders, Eagles and Packers over their next seven contests. Each of those games are plus matchups for Megatron.
Johnson still has seven or more targets in four of his five games played, including three games with double-digit looks. With the upcoming schedule, he's the perfect buy low candidate.
Add Willie Snead
In Week 1, Snead saw just 24.3% of the Saints' snaps. In Week 2, that rose to 50.0%. Week 3 jumped to 61.1%, and Week 4 went even higher to 65.8%. Then, this past week, Snead saw 71.0% of the team's snaps, catching 6 of 11 targets for 141 yards, finishing as a low-end WR1 in PPR leagues.
The Saints are using him more and more, and he's slowly produced WR3 numbers in PPR formats. Given this and a recent shoulder separation from Marques Colston, Snead should be rostered if he isn't in your fantasy league.
Add Brandon LaFell
Brandon LaFell's foot injury recovery is on schedule, meaning he could and should be back from the PUP in Week 7.
If you forgot, LaFell put together 953-yard, 7-touchdown campaign last year, finishing with six top-24 and four top-12 performances in PPR leagues. Those are easily WR2 weekly numbers. With Tom Brady ranking second in NEP so far this year, LaFell, as long as he's healthy, should be able to produce. As it stands, he's available in over 85 percent of ESPN leagues.
Add Darren McFadden
Please, take this transaction with a grain of salt. Because before the season started, I noted that Darren McFadden had been the worst running back in the NFL over the last three years.
He's been better this season behind the best offensive line he's ever seen, but he's certainly not a player winning you fantasy games because of his talent. Volume, though, is another story.
Entering Week 5, McFadden had been outplaying Joseph Randle. According to our numbers, Randle had a Rushing NEP per rush of -0.05, which was lower than McFadden's -0.02. And Randle's Success Rate was roughly 11 percentage points lower than DMC's.
Week 5 saw similar production between the backs, and Randle was the one continuing to see the bulk of the carries, rushing 15 times.
However, with Lance Dunbar's season-ending injury last week, the Cowboys' had to fill a pass-catching back void. If Week 5 was any indication, McFadden will be filling that void.
DMC saw 10 targets to Randle's 4 on Sunday, catching 9 of them for 62 yards. That's Dunbar-esque. And that's huge for a team with an ineffective quarterback who's not afraid to simply check down. Let's not forget that the Cowboys are also projected to continue to play from behind given their inefficiencies on both sides of the ball, meaning a pass-happy approach towards the end of games could be common.
McFadden is owned in just over 50 percent of ESPN leagues, so if he's out there, try and snag him. And if you're in a PPR league, send a trade offer with some bench players you're not utilizing -- it's worth a shot to get something out of nothing.
Add Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick hasn't been stellar this year by any means -- in fantasy, all four of his performances have ranked between 20th to 22nd at the quarterback position, and according to NEP, Fitzmagic's 4.62 Passing NEP ranks 23rd in the NFL among 100-plus drop back passers.
The reason quarterback-needy teams should look at adding him, though, is schedule-related. He gets a nice one in Week 6 against Washington, a team that's been fine in terms of fantasy points against, but one that ranks 15th -- average -- according to our schedule-adjusted metrics. And from here on out, the only defense that ranks in the top 10 per our numbers against the pass that's on the Jets' schedule is Buffalo, who are highly ranked due to turnovers, not because of how they've performed in fantasy.
Fitzpatrick hasn't won you fantasy games this season, but he also hasn't lost them for you. If you need that floor, he's your guy.
Sell Carlos Hyde
In Week 1, Carlos Hyde played over 75 percent of the 49ers' snaps in a victory over the Vikings. And this past Sunday night against the Giants, he saw a season-high 89.7 percent of the team's offensive snaps. These are the highest totals of his year.
Hyde's best two performances this season came in those games -- he totaled over 48 PPR points in those two contests alone, while scoring just a little over 20 in his other three games combined this season.
What do those games have in common? The 49ers were in it -- they were either victorious or nearly victorious. And it's because Hyde can be game scripted out -- big deficits mean less Carlos Hyde.
That's why you should sell after a good top-20 performance in Week 5. According to our metrics, the 49ers have the 29th best schedule-adjusted defense and the 26th-ranked passing game. That's a recipe for a lot of losing, meaning Hyde won't be a consistent producer for you in fantasy football.
Buy Antonio Brown
I use this column to brain vomit each week, so while this Antonio Brown choice may seem obvious or cheap, I need to say this: see where your league's Brown owner is at with the Steelers' wideout.
It's obvious that his production is suffering drastically with Michael Vick under center -- he had just a pair of catches for 41 yards on Monday night, something he generally gets on the first drive of games with Ben Roethlisberger. But Big Ben is already "wanting to play in Week 6", and even if he doesn't, there's a chance he's back in Week 7.
Don't go paying top price for Brown, but certainly see if he can be a value in a trade, especially if his owner's team is struggling.
Add Kamar Aiken
Aiken saw over 91 percent of the Ravens' snaps this past week without Smith, and Joe Flacco targeted him nine times. He ended the day with 4 catches for 78 yards, giving him four or more catches in three of five contests this season.
Aiken won't be a player who wins you your league, but he's worth a look given how poorly the Baltimore defense is playing. There's a good chance Flacco's offense will be in a pass-happy mode for much of the season.
Buy Todd Gurley
In fantasy football, sometimes you have to buy high. Because what's viewed as a high point can sometimes get even higher.
Over the last two weeks, Todd Gurley has ranked as the 11th and 19th best PPR back, respectively. His Rushing NEP per rush average sits at 0.04, a well above average ranking considering rushing is less effective than passing, and the average last year hovered -0.03.
He's been good. Maybe not consistently good with each touch -- his Success Rate is still well below 40 percent, which isn't inspiring -- but he's done all you can ask from a rookie running back coming off a major injury.
The Rams have a bye this week, and afterwards, the team's schedule is brilliantly easy, as they'll face the Browns (32nd against the run according to our numbers), 49ers (30th), Vikings (29th), Bears (23rd) and Ravens (20th) over their next five games.
Drop Torrey Smith
When the player on your bench is the same as a player off your waiver wire, there's no reason to roster him. It's that simple. While Torrey Smith will be fine at times this year, his usage is unpredictable and sometimes nonexistent -- in three of five games this year, he's seen three or fewer targets. The fact that he's owned in over 60 percent of ESPN leagues is baffling, to be honest. He needs to be dropped.
Add the Vikings' Defense
The Vikings host the Jamaal Charles-less Chiefs at home on Sunday, in a game where they're 3.5-point favorites. Though Alex Smith will more than likely play conservative ball, defenses facing the Chiefs have been usable, close-to-top-12 ones in three of five games. And, again, that was with a healthy Charles. The Vikings make a perfect streaming defense in Week 6.