15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 7
Though fantasy football analysts would never admit to it, the last two years in the fantasy community have been a lot like the movie Mean Girls. At least when it comes to conversation surrounding Christine Michael.
Michael has the measurables -- a quick look at his spider graph on MockDraftable.com makes him look like Superman. And according to Player Profiler, his top comparable is DeAngelo Williams, a back who's found a ton of success in the NFL. Because of this, Michael truthers are convinced that, if he ever got a starting gig, he'd be a supremely talented asset.
"Stop trying to make fetch happen. It's not going to happen."
That, at least, is how the opposite side of the spectrum looks at this Michael situation. If he's so good, then why couldn't he sniff the field in Seattle? Why did the Seahawks give him up earlier this year for next to nothing? Couldn't it be that he's just not very good?
Fortunately -- at least for someone like me, who hasn't been as involved in these ridiculous, extreme conversations about Michael -- we're going to get a lot of answers over the next few weeks. Because it sounds like Michael is about to have a larger role in the Cowboys' offense coming out of their bye week.
Will fetch be a thing?
Add Christine Michael
Despite these positive Michael reports coming out in the middle of last week, he's still on nearly 70 percent of ESPN.com waiver wires. If he's available on yours, snag him.
The fact is, both Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden, behind a top-notch offensive line, have struggled. Both players have -0.05 Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush averages, which is below the league norm of -0.02. Randle's Success Rate -- the percentage of positive runs made in terms of NEP -- is a dreadful 33.7%, while McFadden's is roughly average at 40.5%. Again, this is behind what many considered to be the best offensive line in the NFL entering the season.
The opportunity is certainly there for Michael, who has a career 4.8 yards per carry average while running to a 0.08 Rushing NEP per rush on just 54 career carries. If he's available, he's worth your top waiver claim.
Buy A.J. Green
When you look at A.J. Green's season-to-date numbers in total, you may not be turned off. He's still a low-end WR1 in PPR formats, and has well over 500 yards in just six games.
The journey to these numbers, as Green owners probably know, hasn't been so smooth, though. Green has just one truly elite performance this year -- a Week 3 contest that saw him catch 10 passes for 227 yards and a pair of scores against Baltimore -- while four of his six games have seen him score fewer than 14 PPR points. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, but for folks who selected him in the second round, they're more than likely wanting more.
Some of this is game script related (Cincinnati gained leads and didn't necessarily need to rely on Green), while a part of his inconsistency has to do with matchups -- the Bengals faced San Diego, Seattle and Buffalo this season, three teams who are worse at defending the tight end than wide receivers on the outside. That's why we saw Tyler Eifert finding success in those contests.
More good should be coming. After this week's bye (remember that he has a bye this week if you're planning on trading for him), Cincinnati will face Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Houston in Weeks 8, 9 and 10. Each of those contests presents a plus matchup for him. Now would be a good time to talk to a potentially frustrated owner.
Add Robert Woods
The Bills are playing in London in Week 7, and they're more than likely going to be without both Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin. That means their top wide receiver will be Robert Woods, who saw six targets in the team's Week 6 loss to the Bengals. While we should expect Charles Clay to continue to gobble up work for Buffalo, on volume alone, Woods makes for a good bye week fill-in for teams needing a wide receiver.
Sell Jonathan Stewart
Naturally, in the toughest matchup of the season for Stewart, he scores his first touchdown since early December of last year. And he actually found the end zone twice.
Stewart, through six weeks, actually ranks in the top half among 50-plus carry running backs in Rushing NEP, sitting ahead of Lamar Miller and Mark Ingram. But what's scary about his performance thus far is his 32.7% Success Rate, or the percentage of runs that contribute positively towards NEP. For reference, average running backs hover around the 40.0% mark. In other words, his numbers seem a bit skewed by impactful plays when, in reality, he's not consistently making positive runs for the Panthers.
Selling his Week 5 performance is fairly obvious, and I wouldn't expect your leaguemates to be jumping for joy when they see a trade offer from you that includes Jonathan Stewart. But given the way he's performed, I'd do my best to get something in return now.
Add Dorial Green-Beckham
Green-Beckham keeps getting dropped in leagues because he's not consistently producing. I don't blame fantasy owners one bit, because the Titans' coaching staff seems to be incompetent, playing guys like Harry Douglas ahead of him.
And while DGB's production hasn't been tremendous, a positive sign is that he continues to see the field more each game. In Week 1, Green-Beckham played just 15.3% of the team's snaps, per FantasyData.com. Week 2 saw this jump to just 16.2%, with Week 3 being 17.1%. But over the last two weeks, DGB has played 26.1% and 42.0% of the Titans' snaps, respectively, meaning he's now increased his snap count in every game this season.
This is good for a rookie receiver. We were spoiled last season with so many breakout wideouts, when this is the general trajectory we've seen from young guys at the position in past seasons. Before his big breakout game, it's not a bad idea to hit the waiver wire and roster him while he's still cheap.
Buy Eric Decker
Eric Decker continues to be one of the most underrated assets in fantasy football, and more people need to recognize his value. He's scored at least 11.90 PPR points in the four games he's played, scoring a touchdown in every single contest. Every single one.
It seems like buying now wouldn't make a whole lot of sense considering this, but things could actually get better. Upcoming for the Jets are the Patriots, Raiders, Jaguars, Bills, and Texans. Not only are each of those defenses beatable in terms of fantasy points against, but every single one, per Football Outsiders, has had more success stopping number-one wide receivers than number-two guys this year.
Even after this stretch, the Jets have one of the best schedules for passing offenses, meaning Decker should continue to thrive.
Add Blake Bortles
Last season, Blake Bortles finished with zero top-10 weekly quarterback performances, with his top-five games ranking 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th and 19th at the position.
Over the last five weeks, Bortles has four top-10 performances, including one in each of his last three games.
Well, Bortles is playing much better. In 2014, his rookie year, he tallied a league worst -97.97 Passing NEP total with a -0.18 per drop back average. This year his Passing NEP is at 15.93 with a per drop back average of 0.06. That's still below average, but it's an improvement.
The Jaguars are also averaging five more plays per game this season compared to last, while having a higher pass-to-run ratio (1.85 this season versus 1.74 last year). And with the defense playing as poorly as it has (the Jags rank dead last against the pass according to our numbers), Bortles has simply had more opportunity to score fantasy points. Combine that with his rise in efficiency -- something that's more important than volume -- and you've got yourself an average to below average passer putting up high-end fantasy football numbers. Add him if he's still available in your league.
Sell the Bears' Passing Attack
Congratulations, Alshon Jeffery owners. Your prize for waiting patiently for his return is a brutally difficult upcoming schedule.
The Bears' passing attack, from a fantasy perspective, was great against the Lions. But Detroit also has one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, ranking 29th according to our numbers.
Upcoming for Chicago is Minnesota, San Diego, St. Louis and Denver. Those teams rank 11th, 12th, 5th and 1st against the pass per schedule-adjusted NEP. In other words, things could be a little difficult for Jay Cutler in the short term.
Don't go overboard with this recommendation and start selling Martellus Bennett and Alshon Jeffery for pennies on the dollar. Both of them are valuable on volume alone -- especially Alshon -- which really shouldn't go away, and are top players at their position. I'd still value Jeffery, for instance, as a WR1. But reach high with offers, especially after this week, knowing the next four weeks could be really tough for the offense. And definitely don't be afraid to trade away a bench guy like Eddie Royal if he's going to be a trade throw-in.
Add Stefon Diggs
With Charles Johnson sidelined, Stefon Diggs has really stepped up as a reliable option for Teddy Bridgewater. In his two games playing significant snaps, Diggs has 13 catches on 19 targets for over 200 yards -- he's been a PPR machine.
Johnson said that he was close to playing this past week, but with Diggs' output, it's hard to imagine a situation where the Vikings stop involving him in the offense. This is especially true considering Diggs ended up playing more snaps than any other wide receiver on the Vikings on Sunday. As a result, he's worth an add off your waiver wire if he's still available.
Add James Starks
I'm of the belief that Eddie Lacy isn't getting the volume we're expecting him to get because of an ankle injury and the fact that the Packers don't need to feed him in order to win. That's not to say I'd buy low on Lacy -- there are so many possible scenarios for his lack of playing time that it seems like an unneeded risk for your roster. And I can almost guarantee Lacy owners aren't going to give him up easily given the cost they spent to acquire him in August drafts.
Regardless of where you stand, James Starks is worth an add. The Packers have a bye coming up, but it's worth having him on your bench -- if you can afford it -- given how he was used (52.8% of snaps versus Lacy's 37.7%) on Sunday. If that continues at all moving forward, you're getting decent value.
Drop Alfred Morris
Would you be rostering a running back who ranks 39th in the league in percentage of snaps played at the position, has had a double-digit PPR point performance just once in six games and is in a full-blown running back-by-committee? Then why do you have Alfred Morris?
In shallower leagues, Morris shouldn't be on rosters, but he's owned -- for whatever reason -- in over 83 percent of them on ESPN.com.
Sell Melvin Gordon
I'm kind of handcuffed for words to use to describe a transaction, so while this says "sell," I totally understand that selling a player who's severely underperformed may not be able to happen. But let's talk about Melvin Gordon.
On the year, Gordon has a -18.08 Rushing NEP total. That number is as bad as it looks -- teammates Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead have totals just under zero, and their per rush NEP, -0.07 and -0.01, are far better than Gordon's -0.23 average.
Gordon's not just performing worse than his teammates, either. Among all backs with at least 50 carries this year -- 37 of them -- only C.J. Anderson has been less effective.
To make things even worse, the Chargers' upcoming schedule is going to be much friendlier to Philip Rivers than the team's run game. They get Oakland next (7th against the run, per our numbers), then Baltimore (9th), Chicago (30th), Kansas City (4th) and Jacksonville (15th). Each of those teams is worse against the pass aside from the Bears, who still rank 26th against passing attacks this season.
Again, it's not like I'm pretending you can get any sort of return for Gordon right now. But benching him is your first step.
Add Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick was in the column last week in a favorable matchup against the Redskins, and things are pretty good this week for him against the Patriots. Though the spread is big and the Pats are favorites, New England's been friendly to opposing quarterbacks this season -- four of the five passers they've faced scored 16 or more fantasy points, with the only one failing to do so being Brandon Weeden, who's no longer the starter in Dallas.
So not only is this week's game decent for Fitzmagic, but as I mentioned with Decker, the upcoming schedule for the Jets really favors their passing attack. He could stick around your roster for some time.
Add Brandon LaFell
I didn't plan on mentioning Brandon LaFell in the column again this week, but his ownership numbers across the major fantasy sites are still far too low. Apologies for the reiteration, but here's the quick note I wrote about him last week, which is just as relevant today:
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 the Washington Redskins' Defense
The Redskins' defense has been unpredictable all season long, so using them will feel uncomfortable. But they're 3.5-point home favorites according to Vegas, and they're facing a team, Tampa Bay, that's surrendered two top-five performances and four top-15 ones to opposing defenses this year. And, remember, the Bucs have played just five games. It all makes Washington a strong streaming option.