15 Fantasy Football Transactions for Week 8
We all clearly love fantasy football. You wouldn't be reading this column if you didn't.
On Sunday, for at least a brief moment, fantasy football took a back seat. Instead, it was just football. Real football.
Within a five-minute span, we saw the Titans miss an end-of-game field goal, Baker Mayfield throw a game-winning touchdown, and Matthew Stafford turn an accidental Todd Gurley touchdown into a Detroit Lions win. During those drama-filled minutes, fantasy football didn't really matter. It was just football.
It's fun to flip the switch sometimes and just enjoy the game instead of the game about a game.
But let's go back and enjoy the game about a game. Let's make some transactions to improve our football rosters.
Our fake football rosters.
Buy Travis Fulgham and Add Jalen Reagor
We know Travis Fulgham's been great since his breakout against Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. Over his last three games, he's seen target shares of 36.1%, 26.3%, and 26.8%, finishing with 31.2, 19.5, and 12.3 PPR points. Unsurprisingly, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), no player on the Eagles has run more routes than Fulgham from Weeks 5 through 7.
Because he's an out-of-nowhere breakout player, plenty of fantasy managers will likely think this is somewhat flukey. I'm not so sure. He's done this against fairly solid opponents, and according to PFF, he's top-10 in yards per route run during this timeframe. He's got an underrated prospect profile, too.
Perhaps the top reason to mention him this week -- and his teammate Jalen Reagor, who's rostered in just 14% of Yahoo! leagues and coming off IR soon -- is Philadelphia's rest-of-season schedule. Through the end of the fantasy football season, the Eagles will face the Cowboys, Giants, Browns, Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, and the Cowboys again. None of those matchups should really scare anyone, with six of those eight coming against teams that rank in the top half of the league in adjusted fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.
Now's the time to invest in the Eagles' passing attack for fantasy purposes. And it shouldn't take a lot to do so.
Add Rashard Higgins
With Odell Beckham out with a season-ending ACL tear, we should expect Rashard Higgins to step up. In Sunday's win over the Bengals, Higgins caught all 6 of his targets for 110 yards. He ended up with a 21.4% target share. If that type of share continues, he should be in WR3 discussion -- or potentially better -- moving forward. Because upcoming for Cleveland are games against the Raiders, Texans, Eagles, Jaguars, and Titans. Each one of those opponents rank 14th or better as matchups according to my schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed method.
And in deeper leagues, you can add Donovan Peoples-Jones, who should now get more run as the team's number-three receiver.
Buy Keenan Allen
You can't always just buy low on players in fantasy football. Sometimes you've got to buy high.
The thing is, with Keenan Allen, we may not even be buying high.
Allen is one of two wide receivers (DeAndre Hopkins being the other one) with a target share above 30% this season, and that includes a game where he left early. He's outside the top-10 in PPR points per game at wide receiver, but from here on out, we should probably look at him as someone who'll finish inside of it.
The biggest knock on Allen so far this year is valid: he's not scoring touchdowns. He's got just a pair of them despite having 481 yards (240.5 yards per touchdown), when the league average at wide receiver this year is a touchdown on every 163 yards. Allen hasn't had elite usage close to the end zone -- he's tied for 30th in red-zone targets -- but he's still underperforming in the scoring column even with that context.
Similar to the wide receivers above, the Chargers' schedule is a big reason to buy -- it's why things could get even better for Allen. Through the rest of the season, the only tough matchup that LA has on paper is against New England. More importantly, as of today, no team has a better fantasy football playoff schedule for passing attacks than the Chargers do when looking at adjusted fantasy points allowed. In Weeks 14 through 16, the Chargers face the Falcons, Raiders, and Broncos.
Keenan Allen's second half of the season could be bigger than his first.
Sell Mike Evans
Mike Evans has been featured in this column a lot this year. It may seem like overkill to call him out as a sell again, but after a couple of down performances, fantasy managers are scrambling.
Is there any hope?
Not...really. Evans has now played three games without Chris Godwin and four games with him. Without Godwin, he's averaged 21.2 PPR points per game to go along with a target share per game average of 22.8%. With Godwin, those numbers fall to 7.3 PPR points per game and an 8.8% target share per game.
He's been legitimately putrid with Godwin active this year.
I'd say there could be light at the end of the tunnel, except the Buccaneers recently signed Antonio Brown to a one-year deal. That's just going to make things messier.
What exactly can you get for Evans at this point? Well, first and foremost, you're clearly selling a name. Evans is one of the most productive young wide receivers of all time. You can fetch something of relevance for him. Typically, in scenarios like this, I'm either looking to package up Evans in a 2-for-1 deal, or I'm trading him away for a productive, lesser-known player, like a Travis Fulgham type. (Yes, this is real life.)
Whatever's going on with Evans, it's hard to justify keeping him around right now.
Add JaMycal Hasty
The San Francisco backfield is really banged up. Raheem Mostert is on IR, Tevin Coleman hasn't touched the ball since Week 2 because of an injury of his own, and then, in Week 7, the randomly featured Jeff Wilson hurt his ankle. That allowed rookie JaMycal Hasty to build off of his nine-carry game in Week 6 -- he carried the ball nine more times against the Patriots in Week 7 for 57 yards. Hasty's been solid on his touches so far this year, putting together a Success Rate -- the percentage of positive expected points runs made by a running back -- that's in line with what we've seen from Mostert and Wilson. If each of the backs ahead of him on the depth chart miss Week 8, he should get plenty of run.
Hold Chase Claypool
The Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver group is ultra-talented, but they've also been ultra tilting for fantasy football purposes this year.
Claypool hurts James Washington more than anyone else on the Steelers, as long as everyone's healthy. In Weeks 1 and 2 -- the two games where Johnson's been healthy -- the snap split between Johnson and Washington was 109 to 68 in Johnson's favor. The reason we've seen a spike in Washington's production -- especially this past week -- was because Johnson's been sidelined.
Fast forward one week, and the snap counts among Steelers wideouts was 65 for JuJu Smith-Schuster, 59 for Diontae Johnson, 51 for Claypool, and 18 for James Washington. Meanwhile, according to PFF, Smith-Schuster ran 47 routes, Johnson 43, Claypool 33, and James Washington 12.
Claypool operated as the number-three receiver for Pittsburgh. That was to be expected. If anything, it was good that he clearly ran ahead of James Washington in Pittsburgh's game against Tennessee, because that wasn't happening earlier in the season when Johnson was active. And that tells us that better days are ahead.
So don't freak out. Maybe your expectations were sky high after his huge performances without Johnson in the lineup, but given these peripheral numbers, we can expect stronger outings for Claypool moving forward.
Add Carlos Hyde
Chris Carson left the Seahawks' Sunday night game early with a foot injury, but it's reported to be not significant. Regardless, you should be adding his backup, Carlos Hyde, this week. After Carson's final snap of the game in the second quarter, Hyde out-attempted every Seattle running back 12 to 3 on the ground, playing the most snaps by far among the remaining rostered running backs. He'd be the player to see goal-line work and benefit most if Carson misses time.
Drop Cam Newton
Any transaction needs context, but you could argue that additional perspective is especially needed with the quarterback position in fantasy football.
If you're in a league where every manager holds multiple quarterbacks -- maybe even three of them -- then dropping a starter like Cam Newton doesn't make much sense. If your league just saw someone like Joe Burrow get picked up only recently, or if Burrow's still on the waiver wire, then getting rid of Newton isn't that big of a deal.
Cam does have touchdown regression heading his way on the positive end. He's only thrown two touchdown passes this year, when his yardage total (yardage correlates to touchdowns) tells us that he should be closer to six. That difference of four scores is the largest in the NFL on the negative end.
The issue is...well, is there any hope? Newton's thrown for more than 200 yards in just one of his five outings, and it came against one of the most beatable secondaries in the league, Seattle. Meanwhile, after running the ball 13 times per game over the first two contests of the season, Newton's averaged just 8 across his last three. Not only that, but his four rushing touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2 weren't going to keep up. We really needed to see his passing numbers come around to combat that regression, and they haven't.
So his passing numbers are lacking, and he's running the ball less. Even though we know his ceiling is super high, it's tough to be optimistic about the Patriots' quarterback right now.
Add Logan Thomas
There's no doubt that Kyle Allen is helping Logan Thomas' production. His target share hasn't really changed with Allen under center the last couple of weeks (we'll ignore Week 5 where Allen was injured), but his efficiency has. Per PFF, Thomas has a yards per route run rate of 1.85 across the last two weeks, when that number was 0.70 with Dwayne Haskins under center. With a 17.2% target share on the year -- a number hit by just seven other tight ends -- he should absolutely be rostered.
Sell or Hold Clyde Edwards-Helaire
We got our first glimpse on Sunday of what this new-look Chiefs backfield will look like with Le'Veon Bell added to it, and at the surface, it didn't look all that bad for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Kansas City blew Denver out, so we watched the team's backup hit the field towards the end of the game, but CEH finished with 8 carries for 46 yards and a touchdown to go along with a catch for 17 yards. It was a top-20 performance at the position for Week 7.
After the game, yours truly sent a tweet, noting that Edwards-Helaire's running back rush share -- the percentage of team running back rushes -- dropped pretty significantly in the game. From Weeks 1 through 6, he was averaging about 81% of the team's running back rushes per game. Against the Broncos, that dropped to 47%.
The pushback, naturally, was that the Chiefs didn't utilize their starters at the tail-end of the game, so his numbers were a little off. That's sort of true. Before the backups came in, CEH's running back rush share was closer to 57%, a number still a good bit lower than his season-long average.
The good news is that Edwards-Helaire did see a 16.7% target share, which was right in line with the type of receiving workload he'd seen from Weeks 1 through 6. The problem, as ESPN's Mike Clay tweeted on Monday, is that Bell ran just four fewer routes than CEH overall. Pre-Bell, the gap between CEH and his backup running backs in routes run was usually larger.
This is one of those cases where it's pretty difficult to judge whether you should be selling or just holding onto a player. The valuation for Edwards-Helaire is likely to be all over the place. If someone's viewing him as a lower-end RB1 or a higher-end RB2 in your league, feel free to trade him away to that manager. If the cost is closer to a mid-range or lower-end RB2 -- which is probably where we should place him moving forward -- then you can simply hold.
Keep in mind, this was just Game 1 for Bell. There's a chance things get even cloudier.
Add Denzel Mims
We finally got to see rookie Denzel Mims on an NFL field, and he walked away from Week 7's game with a 4-catch, 42-yard performance. What matters most, though, is the fact that he saw a staggering 31.8% of New York's targets.
Some may be nervous about his usage moving forward since Jamison Crowder was inactive, but Crowder's played over 77% of his snaps from the slot this year, whereas Mims was at a 26% slot snap rate in Week 7. The guy who gets dinged most from a Crowder return is Braxton Berrios, who played 73.1% of his snaps from the slot against Buffalo on Sunday.
This rookie wide receiver class hasn't disappointed. Perhaps Mims is another first-year pass-catcher who'll break free and become relevant in fantasy football.
Sell Christian Kirk
The season started slow for Christian Kirk, but things have picked up over the last couple of weeks, where Kirk's been able to find the end zone four times. But he's done that on just seven receptions, making him a pretty obvious regression candidate. He's now scored on 27.8% of his receptions this year, when his career average entering the season was a touchdown on 5.4% of his catches. He hasn't had a single-game target share north of 20%, but the rest of his peripherals aren't terrible. And the Cardinals' upcoming schedule isn't bad, either. This is just a callout to the fact that Kirk is playing a little over his head right now.
Add Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo gets the Seahawks in Week 8. That's all you need to know, right?
OK, OK -- for more detail, how's this: Seattle ranks as the second-best matchup in the league for opposing quarterbacks according to adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position. They've given up 4.6 more points per game than their opponents have scored this year. In other words, with Jimmy G's 12.5 points per game rate, we should expect him to be closer to 17 in Week 8. That'll do for a quarterback streamer.
Add Derek Carr
He's been low-key pretty good, averaging over 20 points per game since his Week 1 outing against Carolina, where Josh Jacobs was stealing all the touchdowns. This week, Carr and the Raiders get the Browns, a team that's allowed three top-five performances already this season. In terms of adjusted fantasy points allowed, Cleveland's the third-best matchup for an opposing quarterback. That makes Carr a reliable streaming option.
Add the Tennessee Titans Defense
The Titans-Bengals game this weekend has a pretty high 54.5-point over/under, but Tennessee's a reasonable 5.5-point favorite. That should give the defense a positive game script, which is helpful for fantasy purposes. So far this year, the only team to rank worse than 15th in weekly defensive scoring against Cincinnati has been Jacksonville, and the Bengals are now allowing the fourth-highest sack rate in the league. Tennessee's still out there in 73% of Yahoo! leagues, making them a good waiver wire defense for Week 8.