By Tony Reimas (@mrmeseeksff)
What a week! The first half of the season is over and suddenly the NFL is doing its best MLB impression. As the trade deadline approached there were whispers of a couple deals but nowhere near the amount of action we saw. Maybe it was the fact that the deadline fell on Halloween, that day does tend to bring the weird out of people. Let's get into some of these deals, and what it means for your fantasy team for this season and beyond.
San Francisco 49ers Trade 2018 2nd
New England Patriots Trade Jimmy Garappolo
This was probably the most surprising trade of this week and quite possibly will have the most ripple effects throughout the league. This deal not only affects the two teams involved, but also Kirk Cousins who most people thought was a foregone conclusion to land in San Francisco this offseason. That means it also impacts whichever team signs Cousins, I'm looking at you Jacksonville. The Niners getting Jimmy G also will have a huge impact on the draft as it removes a need at QB from a team that will most likely have a top three draft pick. The indirect consequences of this deal will be sorted out later. Right now, all we know is Garappolo is a 49er and that has huge fantasy implications.
For this season, if you're running to pick Garappolo off waivers to solve your QB needs, I would slow down a bit. In standard one QB leagues I don't know if Garappolo will be start worthy at all, much less this season. After all, it's week eight and he has to learn an entire new system on the fly. There's also the question of how many practice reps Garappolo will be able to get to develop chemistry with his receivers and further understanding of Shanahan’s system. In Shanahan’s last stop, it took veteran Matt Ryan a full season to understand the different concepts before he was able to light up the league in route to an MVP campaign. I honestly don't expect to see Garappolo start until at least December. Are you going to put an inexperienced QB in a new system in your playoff lineup? The only type of redraft leagues I'm looking at him would be superflex and two QB leagues, as any QB that has a chance of starting is worth owning.
The biggest impact this has in the fantasy world is for dynasty. Garappolo is likely owned in most dynasty leagues but it's worth looking to see if he is on your waiver wire. If he is I'd scoop him up immediately and use a decent amount of FAAB or a high waiver priority to do so. While Garappolo has only had a handful of starts he showed that he is more than capable of executing in an effective offense. While I think New England was probably the best system in which Jimmy G could play, Shanahan's offense is a close second. Shanahan has been able to make Robert Griffin III, Matt Schaub and Brian Hoyer all look like above average NFL starters. He took a good NFL QB in Matt Ryan and turned him into the NFL MVP. Shanahan obviously believes Garappolo can be a franchise QB and that's good enough for me.
As for the Patriots side of the deal, this makes sense. While a first round pick was thrown around earlier this year, we don't know if that was a realistic return. The Patriots tried to sign Garappolo this past offseason and he declined mainly because he wants to be a starter. The main message this sends from the Patriots is they believe Brady will be able to start for at least 3-4 more seasons. When the Pats drafted Garappolo, they most likely thought this season would be Tom Brady’s last. Coming off an all time performance in the Super Bowl and showing no signs of slowing down it has become clear that isn't the case. For dynasty purposes, if you have Tom Brady and think you need to find a young QB soon, the Patriots obviously don't so I wouldn't be concerned. At this point, Brady might play until he's 50.
Philadelphia Eagles trade 2018 4th round pick
Miami Dolphins trade Jay Ajayi
This move makes total sense for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have been the best team in the NFC throughout the first half of the season and look like a legit Super Bowl contender. Despite having the fifth best rushing offense in the NFL, the Eagles lack a running back that truly scares you. While Ajayi has been pretty awful this season, a lot of that can be attributed to the Dolphins poor offensive line. If Ajayi can return to his 2016 form, an already great offense just got that much better.
If you're a Jay Ajayi owner, you have to be thrilled. While Ajayi won't be handed the entire workload immediately, it's not like he has a lot of competition for touches. LeGarrette Blount has been better than I expected for Philly. Blount is best utilized in goal line situations though as he has little explosiveness or big play ability. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement are most negatively affected by this trade and will most likely return to being buried on the depth chart. While Ajayi has definitely gained value my personal advice is to use that rise to trade him. His exact role is in question and he has to learn a new offense. Blount will most likely remain the goal line back, and unless Ajayi starts getting targets in the passing game, he will most likely be Ameer Abdullah in a better offense. Trades are exciting and this definitely helps Ajayi as his situation in Miami was brutal. However, you'd be best served to maintain a level head and reach out to the owner who thinks this move returns Ajayi to RB1 status.
The situation in Miami is now a mess. Most reports have Kenyon Drake as the most likely starter. Apparently Gase was able to get extended looks at Drake when Ajayi missed practice and liked what he saw. Unfortunately, I'm not that excited for Drake. Or Damien Williams for that matter. The Miami running game has been atrocious. Miami ranks 31st in the league in Football Outsiders Adjusted Line Yards. If Ajayi wasn't able to have success in this offense, I don't expect Drake to be able to succeed either. He's worth a flier in most formats but I wouldn't use a lot of FAAB or a high waiver priority to do so.
Buffalo Bills trade 2018 3rd and 7th round pick
Carolina Panthers trade Kelvin Benjamin
The last trade of the day caught most people off guard. I hadn't even heard that Carolina was shopping Benjamin. I don't really understand this move from Carolina’s perspective. Obviously this shows that they want their passing game to throw the ball short and revolve mostly around rookie Christian McCaffrey. While Benjamin wasn't going to burn anyone deep he is a big body red-zone threat that had good chemistry with Cam Newton. More than McCaffrey, I think this move most positively impacts Devin Funchess. Cam still likes to throw to big outside WRs and Funchess fits that bill. Before this deal Funchess was averaging around eight targets per game, and it seems reasonable that number will increase. Tight end Ed Dickson could be a sneaky beneficiary as well. Dickson has averaged four to five receptions per game and showed in week five that he's capable of big plays. He could be a nice streaming option after this trade until Greg Olsen comes back.
For the Buffalo Bills, this move makes total sense. After trading Sammy Watkins, the Bills have had arguably the worst receivers in the league. After Kelvin starts to learn the playbook and gets acclimated to the offense, he will be a huge upgrade over every WR the Bills had. This should do nothing but help Tyrod Taylor’s fantasy value. Obviously it hurts all the Buffalo pass catchers, if you were starting any. The main question which needs to be answered is what will it do to LeSean McCoy’s value? The answer is tricky. While this may take away receptions and red zone opportunities from McCoy, I think it will make the offense as a whole more effective. This should lead to less three and outs and more opportunities for touches for McCoy. If nothing else, it will give the defense another skill player to worry about. This means defenses can’t just focus on McCoy. As for Kelvin, I think this negatively affects his fantasy value. While Kelvin fills an obvious need for Buffalo, he still has to learn a new system and develop chemistry with a new QB mid-season. Kelvin was a nice WR2 before the trade. This moves him more into mid-tier WR3/flex value. If you can find someone who will give you pre-trade value for KB, I'd trade him. If not you just have to hold on and hope for the best.