Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

Dustin Ludke takes a look at the fantasy football fallout across the NFL leading up to the November 1st trade deadline.

Winners

 

Wan’Dale Robinson- WR, New York Giants

 

The Giants made waves when they drafted Wan’Dale Robinson in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. The rookie wide receiver struggled with injuries early in the season but made his return to the Giants lineup in Week 6. Since then Robinson has posted double-digit fantasy days in PPR leagues. He has seen his snap share jump up to just under 70%. In Week 7 he ran 29 routes which was second on the team. He saw eight targets and hauled in six of them for 50 yards. In Week 8 he ran 33 routes and saw three targets for two catches and 15 yards.

The Giants sent second-year wideout Kadarius Toney to the Chiefs in a trade for draft picks, and while Toney hadn’t played since Week 2 with a hamstring injury, it’s one less player coming back to push for targets and opportunities in the offense. The Giants are only passing the ball 48.6% of the time which is the fourth fewest, so in a low-volume passing game, the fewer mouths to feed the better. Wan’Dale looks poised to be on the field for almost all the snaps across from Darius Slayton.

As the Giants look to continue their magical run some tougher matchups are coming up. After the Week 9 bye the Giants face defenses giving up  22nd (Houston), 12th (Detroit), and 18th (Dallas) fewest points to the wide receiver position. Robinson and his wide receiver mates then get Washington in Weeks 13 and 15 who are giving up the 8th most points to the position. Those matchups sandwich the Eagles, who are giving up the 21st fewest. While it’s not the best schedule for Robinson for a fantasy manager it is still a win for him in terms of snaps and share of the passing offense. If you either drafted him or scooped him up off waivers a week or two ago you are very happy with this outcome.

 

Travis Etienne- RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Travis Etienne had started to take over the Jacksonville backfield after missing all of the 2021 season and being held in check by James Robinson for the first few weeks. Now Robinson finds himself on the Jets roster after they lost stand-out rookie Breece Hall to a season-ending knee injury.  Getting Robinson out of the backfield means Etienne has only to compete with JaMycal Hasty and Snoop Conner for carries. Hasty has only played 42 total snaps so far in the season and Conner has been inactive all season so far. Coach Doug Pederson has said that Hasty will get more carries so they don’t overwork Etienne. Etienne had been playing an average of 46.8% of the snaps before Week 7 when he jumped up to 80% and stayed there at 79% in Week 8. This could be a sign of what the Jaguars’ offense will look like in a post-James Robinson era.

The Jaguars are rushing the ball 43% of their plays but have run the ball 278 times which is the 12th-most in the league so far through eight games. Etienne is currently 6th in the league in rushing yards. His untalked-about upside is his passing game work. He has seen 26 targets so far and is 13th in receiving yards for running backs with 151. Etienne is 1st overall in yards per touch at 6.9 yards according to PlayerProfiler.com. He also ranks 4th in the breakaway rate at 10.3% and has 7 breakaway runs which are the 6th most for running backs. It’s everything people were expecting from him coming out of college after he ran a 4.45 40 time and had a very good college career. Etienne won more carries, more snaps, and for fantasy managers hopefully more points.

 

Miles Sanders- RB, Philadelphia Eagles

 

This may seem like an odd one here considering that the Eagles have been linked to pretty much every running back on the market. Why I believe that Miles Sanders is a winner because the Eagles went out and traded for dynamic pass rusher Robert Quinn from the Chicago Bears. It’s a huge upgrade to the defensive edge position for the Eagles, which already have one of the best defenses in the NFL. While being a great defense they are only 6th in sacks with 23, so adding Quinn allows them to get more pressure on quarterbacks.  It benefits Sanders because it just makes the defense that much better, which should allow the Eagles’ offense to control the game and play with the lead. Sanders should see more work coming out of the backfield when they have the lead.

Sanders has 114 carries through seven games. His career high is 179 which he had back in his rookie campaign in 2019. He only had 137 carries in 2021. Sanders could post career numbers in carries, yards, and touchdowns this year. The Eagles are already 5th in rushing attempts at 245 despite playing only seven games so far. There is still QB Jalen Hurts who has 79 carries on the year but the other running backs, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott, only have a combined 47 rushing attempts. The Eagles are leaning on Sanders and now should be leading most games or at worst have a shot to get back into it with their defense. It’s a nice win for Sanders.

 

Amon-Ra St. Brown- WR, Detroit Lions

 

With the shocking massive trade of T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings, Amon-Ra St. Brown becomes a huge winner. Hockenson accounted for 25.6% of the Lions’ targets this season, 41 total. It’s the second most on the team behind ARSB. One of the big knocks for St. Brown coming into the season was that his great production last season was while Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift were out. Now Hockenson is gone and Swift is dealing with ankle and shoulder issues.  St. Brown is currently the WR27 in PPR leagues. He has only 50 targets on the season. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 2. The volume will and playmaking ability that has been left with Hockenson has to be picked up by someone and currently, Amon-Ra is the most talented receiver for the Lions. At some point rookie, Jameson Williams should make his debut and provide another dynamic playmaker in the passing game. There is still no time frame for when that may happen and rookie wide receivers often need time to adjust to NFL coverage. With other guys like Josh Reynold and Kalif Raymond filling out the wide receiver group there isn’t a player who can be clutch in game-winning situations. This season it’s a huge win for Amon-Ra St. Brown and probably a win for his dynasty value as well.

 

Trevor Lawrence- QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars made a shocking trade with the Falcons for suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley. It’s a move that sets the second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence up for success next year. Ridley is coming off a career in Atlanta where he scored 28 touchdowns in only 49 games. It’s a move that won’t produce dividends till the 2023 season. The Jaguars didn’t trade much only giving up at maximum a 2023 5th rounder and a 2024 2nd rounder depending on certain conditions. Ridley will instantly slot in as the WR1 on the jaguars’ offense. It moves free agent signee, Christian Kirk, to his more natural position as the WR2.  If Lawrence is to continue to progress into the generational talent that he was hyped up to be he will need to be surrounded by talent at the skilled positions. This is the right step in that direction.

 

George Pickens- WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to overhaul their offense after 18 years of Ben Roethlisberger. In Week 4 they switched from Mitch Trubisky to rookie Kenny Pickett. Now at the trade deadline, they moved third-year wide receiver Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears. This will open the door for rookie George Pickens. Pickens has already seen his average targets increase with Pickett under center. He went from 4 targets on average with Trubisky in the first four weeks to 7.6 since Pickett has taken over. Pickens Now becomes the true number two on the offense behind Dionte Johnson. Trading Mapletron means the Steelers are satisfied with the progress that Pickens has made adjusting to the NFL. He is a big receiver coming in at 6’3 which compares to Claypool at 6’4. Both Claypool and Pickens have had 5 red zone targets so far this season so there is more opportunity for Pickens to score with Chase no longer in black and yellow. Claypool had 48 targets so far this season which accounts for 17% of the Steelers’ total targets. Logic would seem that Picken stands to inherit a good portion of that passing percent.

 

Jeff Wilson Jr.- RB, Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins seem to be recreation the 49ers’ backfield. They signed Raheem Mostert in the offseason and he has done very well for them so far this season. They then traded away Chase Edmonds to the Broncos. Less than an hour later the Dolphins made another splash on trade deadline day and acquired Jeff Wilson Jr from the 49ers. Wilson gets to join Mostert and Head coach Mike Mcdaniel in south beach. Wilson had played well in San Fran while starter Elijah Mitchell was injured only to see his opportunities dwindle as the team traded for star Christian McCaffery. Wilson now gets a chance to play on a team that runs a very similar offense and a coach who knows how to utilize his skills. Wilson looks to slide into the Chase Edmonds role. Edmonds was only playing minimal snaps as of late and hasn’t received double-digit carries since Week 1. It’s not a high-volume role but it’s better than being third string on the 49ers once Mitchell returned. There is hope that since the Dolphins went out and got him he will be involved in both the rushing and passing attack.

 

  Losers

 

Skyy Moore- WR, Kansas City Chiefs

 

The addition of Kadrius Toney coming over from the Giants is not great news for Skyy Moore and his fantasy owners. In comes a second-year player who is a few inches taller and has a season of production under his belt. The only redeeming aspect of Moore was that he was young and fast on a talented roster with aging wideouts on expiring contracts. That now is no longer the case. Toney is slightly faster than Moore. Moore ran a 4.41 40 time at the combine while Toney ran a 4.39. This season, Moore has only played on 21.9% of the team’s snaps. He has seen an increase over the past few weeks before the trade but now there are questions about what his usage will be.

Moore couldn’t break into the lineup over guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman. He only has 12 targets through seven games. Toney gets the bye week to learn the Chiefs’ offense and should come out in Week 9 and have a role. The only bright light for Moore is that Toney has missed most of the season with a hamstring injury. If Toney can not come back in Week 9 then Moore will have another chance to show he can be a part of the offense. The Chiefs are throwing the ball 62.4% of the time which is tenth-most in the NFL. The fact that the Chiefs went out and added a receiver at the trade deadline is a clear sign they want to keep passing the ball.

Juju Smith-Schuster has come on over the past two weeks having over 100 yards receiving and scoring in both of the past two games. Hardman also heads into the bye week having two weeks of impressive scoring. Adding Moore is just one more hurdle in front of the rookie Moore. He would have to start showing more on his limited snaps and opportunities to become more important on this offense.

 

Aaron Rodgers- QB, Green Bay Packers

 

The fact that the Green Bay Packers did not go out and get a wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers is one of the clear misses this NFL trade season. The Packers desperately needed a wide receiver after losing Randall Cobb to an injury and seeing underwhelming performances for Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers, Sammy Watkins, and Samori Toure. After Allen Lazard and Romeo Doubs, the receiver with the most targets is the injured Cobb with 24, then injured rookie Christian Watson with 11. The Packers are second in the league with 15 dropped passes and a drop rate of 6.7%. They only had 15 all of last season with a drop rate of 2.5%. It seems to be wide receiver is one of the key issues as to why the offense is not on track.

Rodgers is still completing 66.4% of his passes which is in line with his career average. What is down is his touchdown rate. His career average touchdown percentage is 6.2 and this year is at 4.7.  He is also struggling for yards. Not having Davante Adams on the team to help stretch the field has left Rodgers with only 1,800 yards for the season with a season pace of under 4,000 yards, which would be the first time that has happened in his career when he has played a full season. His yards per completion is down from over 11 yards career average to 9.9 this season.  Rodgers has still been protective of the ball, with only four interceptions on the year. But sitting at 3-5, the Packers are three spots out of the last wild-card place. They need to start stacking wins to get back into the hunt. Not going out and getting a healthy weapon for Rodgers seems like a miss. Rodgers is still a back-to-back league MVP so he has the talent to lead a team and turn things around but he can’t do it without weapons around him.

 

Elijah Mitchell- RB, San Francisco 49ers

 

It’s been a rough year for 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell. He started the year as a starter after earning the job in 2021. He started Week 1 and then suffered a season-ending knee injury. While on the IR he saw backup Jeff Wilson Jr rush for 5.16 yards per carry and pile up 454 yards on 88 carries. Mitchell was slated to possibly return after the 49ers’ Week 9 bye and while that may still be the case he now has Christian McCaffery in front of him on the depth chart, as the Niners traded for McCaffery before their Week 7 game.

Despite only being with the team for two days McCaffery registered a team-high 8 rushing attempts along with two targets. While CMC only played on 28% of the team’s total snaps it was most likely a product of him being so new to the team. Week 8 saw CMC play on 81% of the team’s snaps and rush the ball 18 times for 94 yards. Not to mention his nine targets. Now Mitchell has to work extra hard to get a share of the backfield in San Fran. Since Mitchell’s injury, no second running back has played on more than 40% of the team snaps. It’s a huge hit to Mitchell’s outlook both this year and in the future. The backfield now holds McCaffery, Mitchell, Wilson, Tyrion Davis-Price, and Jordan Mason. Mitchell gets a slight win with the news that Jeff Wilson has been traded to the Dolphins.

 

Irv Smith- TE, Minnesota Vikings

 

It’s been a tough few years for Irv Smith. He missed all of 2021 with an injury after his 2020 campaign that saw him reach TE23 in fantasy in only his second year. He suffered an ankle sprain in the Viking’s Week 8 matchup and is projected to miss eight weeks. The Vikings being 6-1 went out at the trade deadline and acquired star tight end T.J. Hockenson from the Lions. It’s a big blow to Smith who is in the last year of his deal and was playing for a new contract either in Minnesota or elsewhere. It appears that his time in Purple and Gold is done for and could now be fighting for playing time. Smith was third on the team in targets with 31. Being injured and seeing your team trade for a guy to take your spot has to be a huge mental blow. Maybe Smith and Elijah Mitchell can start a support group. He was only seeing 13% of the team’s targets and was behind Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn for targets. His value is the lowest it’s been since missing last season and there isn’t much hope of it getting better.

 

James Cook-RB, Buffalo Bills

 

The Buffalo Bills made a last-minute deadline deal to trade for Nyhiem Hines from the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills have been linked in rumors to multiple pass-catching backs including Christian McCaffery and Kareem Hunt. The move shipped Zack Moss to Indy and now slides rookie James Cook to the third-string role in Buffalo. Moss hasn’t seen a snap share above 30% except in Week 1. He was inactive for Week 6 and didn’t see the field at all in Week 8 after the team’s bye week. If this is the role going forward for Cook it’s a far cry from what fantasy managers were expecting after the draft. There were hopes that he could take over the pass-catching work for the Bills but that would seem to be the role that is now carved out for Hines. Devin Singletary should remain as the lead back for the Buffalo offense and Hines will come in for passing downs. Cook will be relegated to breathers for Singletary. Dynasty value is still there for Cook as Singletary is a free agent after this season.

 

Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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