15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 11
Your mindset has to be different this time of year. In the early weeks of the fantasy football season, it's all about depth -- it's about drafting to ensure you're covering the inevitable bust, all while securing players who look to become high-end assets.
This time of year, your depth isn't nearly as important. This time of year, fantasy football is strictly about your starting lineup and getting that lineup set and ready for the playoffs.
With that in mind -- man, this is way too serious of an introduction -- let's take a look at 15 transactions that should help not only your playoff push, but the work you do in the playoffs. Because, let's be honest, if you're using numberFire and reading content on numberFire, you're making the playoffs.
Add Danny Amendola
Julian Edelman underwent foot surgery on Monday and is expected to miss significant time. That doesn't bode well at all for Edelman owners who were hoping to make a run at the playoffs, but it's not a bad situation for the rest of owners, as they can now capture a potentially big piece of the Patriots offense off the waiver wire.
Danny Amendola is owned in roughly one-fifth of ESPN.com leagues, and I'd expect that to be closer to four-fifths once waivers process this week. And it's because Edelman is leaving behind over 10 targets per game -- 10 targets to be distributed among wideouts in the Patriots offense.
Amendola himself hasn't seen very consistent usage, but he did end up with a team-high 11 targets for the Patriots in Week 10, all while playing 70% of the team's snaps.
It would be wise to spend your remaining free agent auction budget on Amendola, but don't sleep on Keshawn Martin. In a radio interview on Monday morning, Tom Brady said good things about the ex-Texan, who's been battling a hamstring injury of his own. Aaron Dobson has had his fair share of opportunities in the past and has done little with them, so if there's a deeper play here, it would be to add Martin based on who's on deck and Brady's remarks.
Sell Matt Jones
The Saints are a bad defensive football team, and we can't lose sight of that. Entering Week 10, no unit was worse within our schedule-adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. Exiting, that's still the case.
Matt Jones took advantage, rushing 11 times for 56 yards, and catching 3 passes for 131 and a touchdown. It was his best fantasy output -- by far -- since Week 2, and the first time he's hit double-digit fantasy points in PPR formats since Week 5.
Yeah, that's not exactly something to write home about.
Though it's great to see him getting touches in the Washington backfield, he actually played fewer snaps than Alfred Morris against New Orleans. Morris also outperformed him on the ground, rushing for more yards and accumulating a higher Rushing NEP total.
Essentially, the reason we even care about Matt Jones' game on Sunday was because of what he did as a receiver -- one of his three catches went for a 76-yard touchdown, really skewing his overall results. If you think his work as a receiver is sustainable, then he'll have to pick up the volume, because he's seen no more than four targets in a single game this year. It's Chris Thompson who takes on those pass-catching duties.
So while, yes, Jones was great in Week 10, it's not something I'm getting excited about.
Add Thomas Rawls
It wasn't looking good for Marshawn Lynch entering Week 10, but he still escaped with reasonable output thanks to a short touchdown plunge. And don't be afraid of his low volume total against Arizona -- the Cardinals got up big early, which forced the Seahawks to mostly abandon the run.
With that being said, it's a time of year for handcuffing (as opposed to the draft, which is when fantasy owners think they should handcuff). Given Lynch nearly didn't play Sunday night thanks to an abdomen injury, it'd be smart to add Thomas Rawls off the wire as insurance. Even if you're not the Lynch owner.
Add Jay Cutler
In this column last week, my attempt at logic told you that Cutler was either a simple "hold" or flat-out droppable. The reason for that advice was pretty straightforward: the quarterback position is replaceable, and in Weeks 10 and 11, Cutler and his Bears would be facing the top two pass defenses in the NFL, per NEP.
That didn't matter this past week, as Cutler DGAF'd his way to 24 fantasy points against the Rams secondary. In St. Louis.
Since returning from injury in Week 4, Cutler has yet to score fewer than 17 fantasy points. And according to our Passing Net Expected Points metric, he's pacing to having the best season of his career. That's pretty impressive considering the carousel he's had at wide receiver all year long.
I still wouldn't feel comfortable playing him in Week 11 against Denver, but the Bears' passing game is set up well entering Weeks 14, 15 and 16 -- the fantasy playoffs. In those contests, they'll face Washington, Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Though you may not be able to (or want to) use him against Minnesota, Washington and Tampa Bay have been bottom-ranked teams against the pass all season long.
Could Smokin' Jay be your ticket to a fantasy football championship?
Buy Stevie Johnson
The Chargers just finished their bye, which means Steve Johnson, from here on out, is a fantasy football starter. Without Malcom Floyd in the picture, Johnson's volume should be pretty consistent -- during the first and only game without Keenan Allen in Week 9, Johnson ended up seeing 10 targets, which led the team.
Aside from volume, though, Johnson's playoff schedule sets up very well for fantasy owners. In Week 14, the Chargers face the Chiefs, a squad that, despite Sunday's performance, has been one of the worst in the league at defending wide receivers. They'll then face Miami -- a middle-of-the-road team in terms of fantasy points against to the position -- before taking on Oakland. The Raiders, according to our metrics, have the 31st worst pass defense in the NFL.
Johnson not only looks to be a steady WR2 from here on out -- especially in PPR formats -- but his playoff schedule makes him an even greater asset to have.
Add Jamison Crowder
Since Week 3 -- the week he started playing a larger role in the Washington offense -- Jamison Crowder has totaled 53 targets. That's good for a little less than eight per game, which is crazy for a player who's owned in fewer than 10% of ESPN leagues.
Meanwhile, his teammate, Pierre Garcon, has seen one fewer target. Garcon, for the record, is owned in 66.1% of ESPN leagues.
The Redskins aren't the best team for wide receiver for a lot of reasons -- there's somewhat of a rotation at the position and the quarterback play is inconsistent, for instance -- but Crowder deserves your attention off the waiver wire, as he's seeing pretty strong volume for someone owned in so few leagues.
Sell Justin Forsett
Justin Forsett doesn't have the worst floor in the world, and his usage is strong -- playing over 73% of Baltimore's snaps -- considering the running backs left with us for the rest of the 2015 season. But if you peek at the Ravens' schedule, you see exactly why he's a sell candidate.
From next week through the end of the fantasy season, the Ravens have just two plus matchups for the running back position -- one game against Cleveland, and another against Miami. Those games are coming in the next three weeks, meaning the fantasy playoffs -- you know, the most important time of year -- will be tough on Forsett. During that Week 14 through Week 16 stretch, Baltimore gets Seattle, Kansas City and Pittsburgh -- Seattle and Pittsburgh are the top two teams in preventing points from running backs in fantasy, while Kansas City is a top-10 one.
If you're a Forsett owner locked into the playoffs, try and sell the Ravens' back to an owner trying to make a playoff push. Use his short-term schedule to your advantage. But know, in the back of your mind, that things get rough down the stretch.
Add Jay Ajayi
Plenty of numberFire writers were into Ajayi during May's NFL Draft, but due to injury, he hasn't been able to see the field much this season. Over the last two weeks, though, the Dolphins have eased him in, and he's carried the ball 11 times for 89 yards.
Our own Aaron Watson wrote a nice piece on Ajayi, where he talked about how Ajayi serves more as an in-between-the-tackles runner versus Lamar Miller's outside running ability and work in the passing game. Though Ajayi isn't necessarily ready to take Miller's starting gig, the comparison Watson made was to Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, where Ajayi is Hill and Miller is Bernard.
In that case, Ajayi could end up seeing even more work, which could give him standalone value in deeper fantasy formats. But a key reason to add him is because -- as I said above with Rawls -- it's handcuff season. If Miller were to go down, Ajayi could end up seeing a lot of work in the Dolphins' offense.
Add Chris Givens
The season-ending injury to Steve Smith opened up a lot of opportunity in the Baltimore Ravens' offense, and according to Week 10, Kamar Aiken should feast on volume from here on out. But don't sleep on Chris Givens, a midseason acquisition, who saw seven targets in the Ravens' loss to the Jaguars. In Sunday's contest, only Aiken himself played more snaps at wide receiver, meaning Givens is looking like Joe Flacco's number-two option. You could do a lot worse than that, especially when you consider the Ravens have the eighth highest pass-to-run ratio in football.
Hold James White
You may be a James White owner wanting to drop him after a somewhat miserable performance against the Giants, but I wouldn't pull the trigger just yet. Though White didn't handle the ball much, he did play 18 more snaps than Brandon Bolden on offense, which tells us he's the guy who would be filling the Dion Lewis void. The problem is that, in a game the Patriots were trailing, LeGarrette Blount still saw the most snaps from any running back, which doesn't bode well for White's rest-of-season outlook.
With that being said, I'd do my best to hold him on my bench until we see a larger sample size. We know passing-down backs can be fantasy relevant in New England's offense, and that's what James White is right now for the Patriots. And with Edelman sidelined, there could be more looks coming for the backfield.
Buy the Rams' Defense
It's very rare for me to suggest buying a defense -- and to be honest, it's awkward trading for one -- but I'm pretty into the Rams given how poorly they played against Chicago and what that means from a perception and cost standpoint.
The fact is, prior to Week 10, the Rams had the best schedule-adjusted defense in football according to our numbers. They've been incredibly solid in fantasy, too, ranking second behind only the Broncos.
In Weeks 14, 15 and 16, the Rams will face the Lions, Buccaneers and Seahawks. The first two contests are at home and, as you all know, both Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford are prone to turning the ball over -- Detroit ranks as the 8th best offense for fantasy defenses to feast on, while Tampa Bay comes in 14th. You may not feel comfortable using the Rams against Seattle (though the Seahawks are pretty friendly for fantasy defenses as well), but the Week 14 and 15 matchups give you a plug-and-play option for the potential first two rounds of the playoffs. I can dig that.
Add Mark Sanchez
It was only a matter of time before Sam Bradford's injury narrative struck, right?
Few quarterbacks are true every-week options, and don't think Mark Sanchez -- in relief of Bradford this week -- is one of them. But he's a great streaming option against the Buccaneers.
Prior to Week 10, Tampa Bay had surrendered the fifth most fantasy points to the quarterback position, and they ranked 26th against the pass, per our numbers. The reason I'm stressing that this was prior to Week 10 is because they faced Dallas and Matt Cassel on Sunday, hardly a strong passing attack. With a high team total for the Eagles -- that's something that correlates strongly to quarterback success in fantasy -- Sanchez should be a streaming priority.
Sell Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson is a 30-year-old running back who's seen double-digit carries in every contest this year. He's actually averaging 18.44 carries per game, which is something I never thought I'd type out when the season started.
But he hasn't been fantastic. Among the 28 running backs with 100 or more carries this season, Johnson's -0.04 Rushing NEP per rush ranks 19th. His Success Rate -- or the percentage of positive runs made in terms of NEP -- is just as mediocre at 38.6%, hovering his usual career mark.
Johnson's rarely used in the passing game thanks to Andre Ellington and David Johnson's presence in the backfield, which completely handcuffs Johnson's true ceiling. And the remaining schedule for the Cardinals, to top it all off, doesn't bode well for a back who doesn't catch many passes out of the backfield, as they still have to face Cincinnati, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Minnesota.
See if there's a market for the veteran, because his ceiling just isn't there.
Drop or Hold Andrew Luck
This transaction depends entirely on the number of bench spots your league gives you. If you're loaded with them, feel free to hold onto Luck and see how his recovery process goes. Because in Weeks 14, 15 and 16, the Colts get the Jaguars, Texans and Dolphins, teams that rank 29th, 9th, and 25th against the pass according to our numbers, respectively.
I can't fault anyone for dropping Luck, though, mostly because bench space matters, even if it's for a handcuff. The quarterback position, as I've said plenty of times in this column each week, is also completely replaceable. I mean, if you've listened to the Living the Stream podcast this season (hosted by yours truly) and used the quarterback streaming recommendations on the show, you've more than likely averaged more fantasy points scored from your signal-calling spot than what Luck has scored himself.
You may not match his production through streaming if and when he's back for the fantasy playoffs, but your cost is much greater than that because you have to hold him on your bench for crucial weeks down the stretch. I'm completely fine, especially in shallower leagues, if you send him to the waiver wire.
Add the Baltimore Ravens' Defense
The Ravens haven't been good defensively by any stretch of the imagination, but in Week 11, they'll be at home to face off against Case Keenum. In each of his last eight starts, Keenum has thrown at least one pick. Vegas has the game at a low 42.5-point over/under with the Ravens as one-point favorites, making them a strong streaming option for the week.