15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 12
I once went through a week of middle school baseball tryouts with a broken growth plate in my right foot, and that experience was more enjoyable than fantasy football in Week 11.
Raise your hand if your fantasy squads haven't been impacted by at least one injury. If your hand is raised, you're probably managing the team most of your leaguemates are wanting to eliminate.
Fantasy football has been brutal this season with injuries. And it's gotten to the point, guys, where we're handcuffing our handcuffs. Seriously, it's not just the starters who are going down, but it's their backups. And their backup's backup. And their backup's backup's backup.
(And somehow, Darren McFadden is still healthy.)
Not only are we hitting the biggest part of the fantasy football schedule, but teams are shattered with torn ACLs and forearm breaks. Every move is hugely important.
Here are 15 of them that should help.
Add Thomas Rawls
Now there's fear that Marshawn Lynch has a sports hernia, which could sideline him for the rest of the season given potential surgery. In other words, Rawls could become the lead running back on a team that runs the ball more than almost every other squad in the NFL -- entering Week 11, only four teams had a lower pass-to-run ratio than Seattle.
Rawls is still available in over 63% of ESPN.com leagues. Get him with your top waiver spot, or use the rest of your free agent auction budget on him.
Add Spencer Ware
As a general strategy, handcuffing is smart. But it's not wise to implement it during your fantasy drafts -- you're wasting valuable bench space during the most important waiver wire time of the year, and the backup you drafted is usually not a lock to actually be the backup.
Perhaps no example of this is better than what we're seeing in Kansas City this year. Everyone was on the inefficient -- per our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric -- Knile Davis entering the season, but Davis wasn't even active in yesterday's contest against San Diego. Meaning there are at least three running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, if you count the injured Jamaal Charles.
One of those backs is Spencer Ware, who entered the juicy matchup on Sunday for Charcandrick West after West suffered a hamstring injury. West, if you recall, had seen 22, 20 and 24 carries for the Chiefs over the last three weeks, respectively, which was actually more work than what Charles saw when healthy this season. West was playing just as many snaps as any running back in the league, too.
Why bring this up? Well, if West's role is any indication, then Ware could be in store for a nice workload given the hammy injury. He's actually a good add off the wire regardless, as hamstring injuries can linger and Ware played well enough against San Diego to potentially receive more work in the Chiefs' offense, even with a healthy West.
Add Javorius Allen
With Justin Forsett out for the year with a broken arm, Javorius Allen will have an opportunity to be the Ravens' lead back for the rest of the year. Given Joe Flacco's season-ending ACL tear and the upcoming Ravens' schedule, though, don't get too excited.
Allen definitely deserves to be a top waiver wire add this week -- behind Rawls, of course -- but it's tough to feel overly optimistic about his rest-of-season value. Matt Schaub being under center hinders the Baltimore offense, and it's not as though there are pass-catching threats for defenses to have to game plan around. And as I've said many times in this column and elsewhere -- having an efficient passing attack is important for running back scoring success.
The Ravens also will face Seattle, Kansas City and Pittsburgh in Weeks 14 through 16. According to fantasy points against, those are the first, sixth and second best teams in the league at limiting running back scoring in fantasy. That's not a good sign.
I'd look to add Allen, and potentially trade him for value before the trade deadline to a running back-needy team. If you can't get a deal done, that's no problem, just don't expect the world from Allen in that offense, especially given the schedule.
Sell Mike Evans
If we include the game where Vincent Jackson left with an injury, Mike Evans has played without his teammate for four games this year. In those four contests, Evans saw 12, 9, 19 and 13, ranking as the 3rd, 47th, 11th and 7th wide receiver in weekly PPR scoring.
With V-Jax healthy, Evans has seen 17 (whew), 8, 5 and 7 targets. That's resulted in weekly wide receiver rankings (again, PPR leagues) of 20th, 72nd, 54th and 11th.
This much can't be debated: Evans' best fantasy outputs have come with Jackson sidelined this season. Now that Jackson is back and healthy, Evans' value from here on out seems to take a natural hit.
More than this, though, is the fact that the Buccaneers will face the Rams in Week 15. St. Louis has been the second best team in football at stopping the pass this season, limiting opposing wide receiving groups to just under 14 standard fantasy points per game.
So not only is Evans potentially going to see more reasonable volume with Jackson (and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who's set to return soon) in the offense, but a fantasy semi-final matchup against one of the best secondaries in football is on the horizon as well. That's enough for me to try and get a decent return now, even with some nice matchups ahead.
Add Devin Funchess
We have to remember that Devin Funchess is only 21 years old, so stepping in for Kelvin Benjamin -- a wideout who was two years older during his rookie season last year -- is no simple task. But Funchess finally got the starting nod this past week and played 79.2% of Carolina's offensive snaps. He ended up putting together his best stat line of his rookie campaign, hauling in 4 of 8 targets for 64 yards and a score. With no truly talented wide receiver on that roster, there's plenty of opportunity for Funchess to continue to grow, and the Panthers still have New Orleans and Atlanta (twice) on their roster from here on out.
Add Bilal Powell
On Sunday, we found out just how game flow dependent Chris Ivory is with a healthy Bilal Powell. Powell played his first game since Week 5, and ended up seeing 42 snaps to Ivory's 17. Much of that has to do with Houston leading for much of the game, but there are more sides to this transaction as well.
First, Ivory's been really ineffective of late. He's rushed for a 2.4 yards per carry average or worse in two of his last four games, and he's topped 41 yards rushing just once. If not for finding the end zone twice against Jacksonville -- in a game where he ran the ball 23 times for 26 yards -- Ivory would be in bench-worthy territory.
That means potential opportunity for Powell.
But Powell also serves as a handcuff to the oft-injured Ivory, and you could argue, thanks to his pass-catching skills, that he'd be in an even better all-around spot if Ivory were to go down. We saw those on display against Houston, as he caught 5 passes for 67 yards.
Despite playing such a thin position, Powell will still more than likely fly a little under the radar this week off the waiver wire. But he's a savvy add.
Add Jay Cutler
If you're a 15 Transactions frequenter, then you're probably sick of seeing Jay Cutler in this column each week. But, guys -- Cutler may be having the best season of his career this season.
We can probably give him a pass for his 9.5-point outing against Denver this past week. Not only does Denver have the best pass defense in football according to our numbers (and the eye test), but Chicago was missing Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Eddie Royal. Good luck with that, Jay.
Since his Week 3 injury and prior to Sunday, Cutler had scored no fewer than 17.2 fantasy points in a given contest. And that was against decent competition like Kansas City, Minnesota and St. Louis.
Moving forward, few quarterbacks have a better schedule than Cutler. They'll face Green Bay (22nd in fantasy points against) in Week 12, then get San Francisco (25th), Washington (24th), Minnesota (8th) and Tampa Bay (19th). According to our numbers, each of those teams rank 13th or worse against the pass. There's a chance -- as long as Alshon gets healthy -- Cutler could have four usable weeks over his final five games of the fantasy season.
Hold Julio Jones
Everyone's scared of Julio Jones' Week 14 and 16 matchup against Josh Norman and the Panthers -- and understandably so. On the year, Carolina's allowed just one top-12 wide receiver performance in PPR leagues, with that lone performance coming from Vincent Jackson. And the majority of Jackson's fantasy points were scored when Norman was either on the sideline or not covering him.
Josh Norman is very good, and the Panthers' secondary is no joke as a result. But it's not enough to trade Jones.
Julio looked healthy as can be this past Sunday, and he beat up on one of the better corners in the league in Vontae Davis. Jones has now seen 10 or more targets in all but one game this season and has finished outside the top 10 in PPR scoring just three times. That's absurd at the volatile wide receiver position.
Even though Norman could and probably will shadow him, it's hard to sell the best player in fantasy football for anything. And that's also assuming the Panthers are playing for something significant, at least in Week 16. Would it surprise anyone if they have things locked up?
Fantasy football has a huge psychological component to it, too. If you trade Jones and he goes off against the Panthers, you're going to be more upset than if you hold him and he doesn't. In one case, you willingly gave up the best wide receiver in football because you were fearful of a matchup. In the other, you held onto the best wide receiver in football because he's the best wide receiver in football. Think about which scenario makes more sense.
And that doesn't even factor in that there's no guarantee the players you'd receive for Julio are going to produce in Weeks 14 and 16.
I understand the temptation to send him off, but you can't. You just can't.
Sell Andy Dalton
If you can get value for a quarterback in single-quarterback leagues, you do it. Because the position is replaceable, and there's this awesome podcast that can help you stream effectively, matching most quarterback's production.
Dalton's been great in fantasy this season, but he also has a not-so-great stretch, schedule-wise, upcoming. The Bengals get the Rams next week, who've given up the second fewest fantasy points to the quarterback position this season. Then he gets Pittsburgh, a team he struggled against earlier this year, in Week 14, and Denver, the best secondary in football, in Week 16.
Despite his performance this season, are you going to trust him in those matchups during the fantasy playoffs?
Add Marcus Mariota
Over the next two weeks, Marcus Mariota and the Titans will face the Raiders and the Jaguars, both at home. Oakland's now surrendered a top-12, QB1 performance to all but two quarterbacks faced this season. Those two were Teddy Bridgewater, who's averaging fewer fantasy points per game than 31 quarterbacks, and Peyton Manning, who no longer has the starting gig in Denver.
Though Jacksonville played reasonably well against Mariota on Thursday night, he still posted over 18 fantasy points thanks to some work with his legs. And Jacksonville has had one of the worst secondaries in football all season long, per our metrics.
What I'm getting at is Marcus Mariota is a perfect two-week streamer, setting you up perfectly for the playoffs. This is especially true given Kendall Wright should be returning. Mariota's still out there in well over 50% of ESPN.com leagues, so if you're a team in need of a quarterback, you know what to do.
Add James White
In last week's 15 Transactions column, I noted James White as a hold, mostly because the Patriots offense is going through a severe makeover. Exiting last night's game -- one where White scored 18.6 PPR points, finishing as the seventh best running back of the week in fantasy -- and things are as unclear as ever.
White played just under 27% of New England's snaps, which was a lower number than both Brandon Bolden and LeGarrette Blount. He was just utilized well when on the field. That's sort of the complete opposite of what we saw from Week 11, where he played a decent amount of snaps but rarely touched the ball.
Adding him makes sense, though, as the Patriots continue to suffer from pass-catching injuries (more on this in a second), and he's the best pass-catching back they have. Isn't any running back seeing snaps these days worthwhile in fantasy football given all the injuries?
Add Tevin Coleman
This has officially become a handcuff column.
But that's really where we're at with fantasy football this season, isn't it? Not only are running backs dropping like flies, but it's handcuff season -- your bench is better served with guys who can step up and become full-time starters if an injury occurs.
And an injury did occur in the Falcons' backfield on Sunday, as fantasy darling Devonta Freeman left the contest with a concussion. Tevin Coleman stepped in for the Falcons, playing over 65% of the team's snaps while running the ball 17 times. It wasn't the most effective outing in the world -- he totaled just 48 yards and lost a fumble -- but if Freeman misses time, Coleman will be the guy to take the largest share of the Falcons' backfield. In an offense thank ranks 10th according to our schedule-adjusted metrics, that could be a nice opportunity, even if it's just for a week against a tough Vikings' defense.
Add Brian Hoyer
I do like the aforementioned Mariota more this week, but Brian Hoyer is walking into the dream quarterback matchup. On the year, New Orleans has allowed at least 14 fantasy points to every quarterback faced. And it's not as though each of those passers have been elite-level -- they've faced Brandon Weeden, Jameis Winston, Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford and Marcus Mariota.
The ceiling is certainly there against the Saints, too. Five quarterbacks have finished in the top three in weekly scoring against them, while six have finished in the top five.
Hoyer may be a scary play, especially since he's coming off a concussion, but he's actually had a really nice floor this season in fantasy, scoring fewer than 17.28 fantasy points in just one of his five completed games as starter.
Add Keshawn Martin
Danny Amendola, the guy many thought would see an uptick in targets with Julian Edelman sidelined, left Monday night's game with a knee injury. Prior to exiting, Amendola had racked up 12 targets for 75 yards, and even though he left the game early, he finished as the sixth best wideout in PPR formats this week.
Keshawn Martin was someone I mentioned in last week's column as a backup plan if you failed to get Amendola off waivers, and while he didn't play in Monday's game thanks to a lingering hamstring injury of his own, he deserves attention off the waiver wire this week. Without Amendola, the Patriots are down to Brandon LaFell on the outside, and that's about it. Martin was projected by many Patriot outlets to fill Edelman's shoes thanks to his crisp route running and quick burst, and now that Amendola's out, there's an even better chance that he takes on a big role in the Pats' offense.
Add the Chiefs Defense
The Chiefs have been playing great defense and now rank seventh in our defensive power rankings, which are adjusted for strength of opponent. They've been a top-12 fantasy defense in each of their last six games, while finishing in the top 5 in each of their last four.
And for some reason, they're out on the majority of waiver wires.
What's even better is that Kansas City has close to a perfect playoff schedule. They'll face San Diego at home in Week 14, a team they just beat down, and then Baltimore and Cleveland in Weeks 15 and 16. As you know, the Ravens are playing with a bunch of second-stringers, and the Browns have been one of the most generous offenses for fantasy defenses this year.
If you're set all around and are looking at the playoffs, I'd definitely look to adding the Chiefs.