15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 6
If you weren't a believer in touchdown regression, maybe Week 5 made you one.
Entering the week, Allen Robinson had a scoreless 280 yards receiving. Over the last five years in the NFL, wide receivers with that yardage total typically found the end zone 1.71 times.
He scored twice on Sunday.
How about Leonard Fournette? After tallying 518 yards from scrimmage across the first four weeks of the season, Fournette's "should have" touchdown total sat at 3.35. Instead, he hadn't scored yet. Until Week 5, of course.
Is it obvious that players who are seeing volume and production will eventually find the end zone? To a degree, yes. Do fantasy managers always recognize this? Definitely not.
With this 15 Transactions column, though, I got you.
Sell Austin Ekeler
Heading into Week 5, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said, "We have a plan for Melvin [Gordon]. ... I don't want to put him in there and play him too much. And I really don't have to. I like what Austin Ekeler has been doing in the backfield. ... Whenever [Gordon is] ready to go, he will be the number-one guy and get the bulk of the snaps. But obviously he's not there right now."
Against the Broncos, Melvin Gordon played about 46% of LA's snaps, while Ekeler was at roughly 66%. Gordon out-rushed Ekeler 12 to 3, but the latter saw 16 targets in a negative game script, catching 15 of them for a top-10 finish at the running back position in PPR formats.
Aside from the outlier game Ekeler had as a pass-catcher, this seems right in line with what Lynn told reporters. Given Ekeler's performance, though, this could be an opportunity to sell.
When Gordon was active last year, Ekeler averaged around nine touches per game. He performed well to start this season, so perhaps that number increases a bit, but we shouldn't expect Ekeler to continue to out-snap Gordon, and we certainly shouldn't assume Ekeler's capable of maintaining a 34.8% target share -- the mark he hit in Week 5 -- week in and week out.
Ekeler can be a lower-end RB2 in PPR formats, but we've got more than five games worth of data showing us that Melvin Gordon is the unquestioned workhorse in the Chargers' backfield. And their coach seems to agree.
Buy Kyler Murray
It typically doesn't make a ton of sense to buy quarterbacks in fantasy football, but perception doesn't always equate to reality, and that's what we may be looking at right now with Kyler Murray.
Murray's actually a top-10 fantasy football quarterback right now. He's one of three quarterbacks -- along with Patrick Mahomes and Gardner Minshew -- to have scored 16 or more standard fantasy points in each of the first five games.
A huge statistical difference between Murray and those quarterbacks, though, is touchdown rate, or the number of touchdowns thrown divided by the number of attempts. Mahomes and Minshew are 12th and 13th, respectively, within the statistic, but Murray ranks better than only the Miami quarterbacks and Luke Falk among qualified passers.
Touchdown rate generally regresses to the mean. Elite players will have higher-than-average ones, but Murray's 2.0% rate is egregiously low. To give you some context, no 200-plus attempt quarterback had a touchdown rate below 2.8% last season.
Murray's legs have allowed him to perform like he's performed in fantasy football this year. Only Lamar Jackson has more rushing yards at the position, and Murray's scored twice on the ground.
Imagine what his numbers would look like with a normal touchdown rate.
Buy Larry Fitzgerald
It only makes sense to buy Murray's top target, Larry Fitzgerald, too.
Fitz now has a 22.9% target share, giving him a top-20 share in the league. And that's in an offense that's now thrown the ball over 200 times -- the Cardinals are just one of four teams with 200 or more pass attempts this year.
So Fitzgerald's an incredibly safe option from a volume standpoint, and, as you just read, his quarterback is set to positively regress in the touchdown column. With the plus matchups upcoming, he's an easy buy candidate, as well.
Drop O.J. Howard
As someone who was into O.J. Howard before the season started, this one is painful to write. But it's the right thing to do. Howard ranks 12th in routes run at the tight end position, according to Pro Football Focus, but he's seen just 8.8% of Tampa Bay's targets this season. He's ranked no higher than 15th in weekly tight end scoring after five games. It'll be tough to trust him until he sees more consistent volume, so if you need a roster spot, you can drop him.
Add Ito Smith
Devonta Freeman may have (finally) found the end zone in Week 5, but Ito Smith played 47.3% of Atlanta's snaps, the highest snap rate he's seen since Week 1. Freeman still saw pretty good usage -- he had about 69% (nice) of the team's running back rushes and over 11% of Atlanta's targets -- but Smith saw a season-high 13.6% target share to go along with his 5 carries.
Will this usage be predictable? Smith could see an uptick in work when the Falcons are in a negative game script, and with bye weeks upcoming, he could be a hypothetical fill-in for your team. And there's some upside for Smith if Freeman were to miss time, though the Atlanta backfield would likely still be split.
Sell Mark Ingram
Like most transactions in this column, recommending you sell Mark Ingram isn't because he's about to crash and burn. We're just playing the market here.
And the market is probably pretty high on Ingram. Through five weeks, Ingram's essentially been a higher-end RB1 in fantasy.
But things have gone his way a little bit.
He's found the end zone six times this year when, based on his rushing and receiving yardage total, he should have about half of that. Even if you give him a bump for handling goal-line work -- he has seven carries within the five this year, tied for second-most in football -- he's still overperforming.
And it's not as though Ingram has flawless peripheral numbers. More than 20 running backs have a higher running back rush share this year, while his 5.5% target share ranks outside the top-45 at the position.
He'll be a usable piece in fantasy football moving forward, but it's unlikely he'll continue being this usable. So if you can get something significant in return right now, go for it. Though, you may want to wait until Week 6 is over, since Baltimore faces Cincinnati.
Buy Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce is one of the biggest touchdown underachievers to begin the 2019 season. With 439 receiving yards at tight end, he should have 2.3 more scores than he currently has. If he'd matched that number, there wouldn't be a question about who the top tight end in fantasy football is.
Kelce's lack of scoring is tied to Patrick Mahomes underperforming -- at least, to his standards -- touchdown-wise, as well. Mahomes was set to regress in touchdown rate this year, but he's almost gone too far in the opposite direction, currently ranking 12th within the metric. Once that rebounds, Kelce's numbers will, too.
And we should feel confident about Kelce's production moving forward. He's got a 22.6% target share in the Kansas City offense this year, and he's yet to finish a week with a share south of 20%. He's the only tight end in the league to hit the 20% mark each week.
Add Chase Edmonds
David Johnson was apparently dealing with back problems on Sunday, and that allowed backup Chase Edmonds to see the field for 35% of Arizona's snaps. Not only did Edmonds see a season-high eight rushes and four targets, but he also found the end zone on the ground. If Johnson misses time, Edmonds could be a huge help off the waiver wire. He's one of the top handcuffs in fantasy football, so the speculation add is more than worthwhile this week.
Buy Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon's yet to rank as a WR2 in weekly PPR scoring this season. He's been a disappointment fantasy-wise.
But there's plenty to love about his non-stat line numbers. Over the last three weeks, he's seen at least 20% of New England's targets in every game. According to AirYards.com, Gordon is tops on the New England Patriots in air yards. And with just one touchdown, Gordon's been a tad underwhelming when it comes to scoring. There's enough there to shoot an offer to see if you can get Gordon at a low price.
Hold or Sell Will Fuller
The immediate reaction to Will Fuller's performance may be Sell! Sell! Sell!, but the reason that performance happened -- and the reason it wasn't totally unpredictable -- was because Fuller's peripheral numbers were there. Entering Week 5, Fuller had three consecutive games of strong target share numbers, and he ranked 12th in air yards. A blowup game was bound to happen.
Now, with that being said, Kenny Stills was inactive on Sunday, and Stills had seen the second-highest average depth of target on the Texans before Sunday's game happened. From Weeks 1 through 4, Fuller had 9 targets that travelled 15 or more air yards, while Stills had 5. On Sunday, without Stills taking some of the deep shots, Fuller had four more of those targets.
And in that game on Sunday, Fuller also saw over 48% of Houston's targets. That's unheard of.
So from the perspective of Will Fuller maintaining the pace, the option to you is to sell him. There's zero chance he's going to see that high of a target share week in and week out. There's only a fraction of a percentage chance that he'll hit that target share again this season, or even across the rest of his career.
But don't mistake this big Will Fuller game as a complete and total fluke. It was to a degree -- he won't repeat it -- but plenty of numbers pointed to Fuller breaking out. He'll still be usable from here on out.
Buy Royce Freeman
Phillip Lindsay has outscored Royce Freeman by about 30 fantasy points so far this season. And, really, it's mostly because of touchdowns -- Lindsay's got six goal-line rushes to Freeman's one, and the former has seen all of his touchdowns come from that area of the field.
Don't let Lindsay's success overshadow the fact that the usage between the two players isn't as drastic as the fantasy totals seem to show, though.
Freeman's now seen 44.4% of Denver's running back carries and almost 13% of the team's targets. Lindsay's at a 55.7% running back rush share and a 14.1% target share. Again, the biggest differentiator between the two players has been finding the end zone. And while Lindsay has the edge because of his usage by the goal line, he's only got three more rushes than Freeman from within the 10. Things could swing the other direction, or at least more so than it has to start the year.
Thanks to the lack of touchdowns, Freeman's one of the biggest positive touchdown regression candidates in fantasy football. You should only have to trade away bench players to get him, but he's not a bad bye week fill-in, and he's got upside if Lindsay gets banged up.
Add Gerald Everett
You might've forgotten about it, but Gerald Everett had a huge game this past Thursday night, catching 7 of 11 targets for 136 yards. He has back-to-back top-six tight end performances, he's tallied 19 targets in those two games, and he's now seen a double-digit target share in three of five games played this year. Tight end is a disaster, so Everett should be able to help a lot of fantasy teams.
Buy John Brown
It's often easier to buy players who are on their bye, and that's what you've got with John Brown this week.
Brown's been low-key great this year. He's seen at least 15% of Buffalo's targets in each game, and he ranks ninth in the NFL at wide receiver in receiving yard share -- meaning only eight wideouts have accounted for a higher percentage of their team's receiving yards than Brown has.
And after this week's bye, Buffalo's got quite the favorable schedule. They'll get Miami in Week 7 followed by Philadelphia, Washington, Cleveland, and Miami again. That means four matchups against teams who rank in the top-eight in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers over his next five games.
Add Kyle Allen
If you're a quarterback streamer, the selections in Week 6 aren't the best. Kyle Allen isn't in a bad spot against Tampa Bay, though, as the Bucs have now given up a top-eight fantasy performance to a signal-caller in three straight games. And two of those quarterbacks played well above their norm, with Daniel Jones and Teddy Bridgewater finishing as top-five options. Maybe Tampa Bay's secondary really is as bad as we thought entering the season?
Add the Washington and Miami Defenses
Like quarterback, defensive streamers aren't very easy to spot this week, either. The best path to success may be to target the downright putrid Washington-Miami game, where the Redskins are 3.5-point favorites over the Dolphins, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The over/under in that game is set at just 41.0 points, giving both defenses a fairly high floor. Washington's the better option since their defense is better -- and has actually scored fantasy points this year -- but Miami's a reasonable deep option given the matchup.