As it is each year, the 2017 NFL trade deadline was an interesting time for fans of the league. Especially this year, as several big-name players are on the move. While these moves are interesting on their own, the resulting fantasy implications add another layer of intrigue. As we approach the home stretch of the regular season, how is the fantasy landscape altered by the week’s events?
Jay Ajayi: A major up for Ajayi. Going from the worst offense in the league to one of the best will allow him to become the RB1 many expected him to be going into the season.
LeGarrette Blount: While Blount’s fantasy value already revolved around him finding the end zone, this trade greatly hurts him. Ajayi is a workhorse type back and should get goal line touches. Blount still could be utilized in a small short yardage role, but not enough to maintain fantasy relevance.
Wendell Smallwood: Smallwood was able to etch himself a nice role for the Eagles in both the running and passing game. With the arrival of Ajayi, Smallwood will see a large decrease in carries. He still should see the field on passing downs, but his value will be much lower.
Kenyan Drake / Damian Williams: The former backup running backs for the Dolphins just received a major boost in fantasy value. It is yet to be seen which back will take the brunt of the carries, but Drake is the safe bet in that regard. On the other hand, whoever does get the majority of carries still will not vault into the weekly starter category. The Dolphins offense and offensive line have not been good, and it will be tough for either Drake or Williams to produce consistent fantasy performances. However, both are worth owning to see how things shake out.
Jimmy Garoppolo: The most obvious bump in fantasy value of the whole day, as Garoppolo is going from backup to starter. But Garoppolo is going from the Patriots to the 49ers, so just how good will he be? For now, Garoppolo is not worth owning, but could be a good bye week fill in. He is not without weapons and will be playing from behind frequently, so the potential is there. It’s just a matter of how good he can be outside of New England.
Pierre Garcon: While Garoppolo is still an unproven commodity, he is an upgrade from CJ Beathard, thus increasing Garcon’s fantasy value. With Garoppolo under center in San Francisco, expect Garcon to put up a more consistent stat line going forward.
The whole 49ers offense: Garoppolo makes the offense as a whole better, so by default that helps the rest of the offense’s fantasy value. More yards, more touchdowns, more fantasy points. Simple formula.
Kelvin Benjamin: This trade does not fluctuate Benjamin’s value all that much. Cam Newton, outside of a few games, has struggled this year, and Benjamin has been inconsistent as a product. But Benjamin has still had a bounce back year of sorts — he has scored double-digit fantasy points in five of eight games. Benjamin will be the number one receiver for the Bills and remains a big red zone threat.
Tyrod Taylor: Adding a weapon like Benjamin boosts Taylor’s fantasy outlook. Having Benjamin as a target in the red zone dramatically increases the chance the Bills decide to the throw the ball near the goal line, compared to steady doses of LeSean McCoy. More passing touchdowns equals more points. Taylor is a great streaming option or low-end starter in deep leagues.
LeSean McCoy: While McCoy and Benjamin may seem unrelated, the addition of Benjamin actually slightly increases McCoy’s value. This is because opposing defenses will have another credible red zone threat to pay attention to, and won’t be able to key in on the run at the same level as before. While a few of “Shady’s touchdowns” could be vultured by a fade thrown inside the five, it will help McCoy in the long run.
Devin Funchess: By default, Funchess is now the Panthers top wide out and in turn, his value increases. Some have quickly assumed he is in the WR2 tier immediately, but it would be wise to pump the brakes and see just how many of Benjamin’s targets end up moving to Funchess. The targets may be spread evenly throughout the rest of the Panthers receivers, giving Funchess only a slight bump. Regardless, there is no denying Funchess has increased value and has potential to be a solid starting receiver the rest of the fantasy season.