The NFL trade deadline was Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, and much like last year, there was a flurry of action with teams sending several marquee players all over the league in exchange for draft picks. This gives me a unique opportunity in Trade Calls this week, as there are a few trades with fantasy implications. As a result, the beginning of this column will touch on the fantasy repercussions of the various moves. After that, I’ll highlight a couple of players to trade for/away before diving into your questions.
Denver Broncos trade Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans
Will Fuller suffering a torn ACL and landing on injured reserve created a big hole in the Texans offense. I’m not sure Thomas is the exact player to fill that, but he’s still a talented wideout who could create a ripple effect in the offense. Fuller accounted for 20 percent of Deshaun Watson’s targets, 29 percent of his air yards, and had an average depth of target (aDOT) of 13.8 yards (percentages based on Weeks 2-8; Fuller missed Week 1). Thomas owned 19 percent of Case Keenum’s targets, 26 percent of his air yards, but had an aDOT of 10.9. From a volume standpoint, they’re similar — but the key difference (and this should surprise no one) is Fuller being a much more adept deep threat.
Fuller wasn’t just a deep threat, though, and it’s not as if Thomas is washed up and incapable of stretching the field. It’s dubious that the Texans trade for Thomas expecting him to fill exactly Fuller’s role. Instead, they’ll likely adjust to their new personnel and reality, as all good teams do. The Texans offensive line is still a mess, and a receiver like Thomas, who excels after the catch and in space, could be a good way to alleviate pressure via bubble screens and slants. In the end, there are plenty of targets and air yards up for grabs in Houston, and Thomas should claim a fair amount of them.
As for Denver, Courtland Sutton should be added in all formats. He played nearly 70 percent of the offensive snaps already and should slide right into the No. 2 role for Denver. He’ll likely be a volatile weekly fantasy play, but could be a great upside-flex option when the Broncos figure to be in higher scoring contests.
Detroit Lions trade Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz funneled 52 percent of his targets and 59 percent of his air yards through Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery since Week 4 (when Jeffery returned from injury). Football-wise, the Eagles needed a third option and Tate fits that bill. He’ll likely eat into both Jeffery and Ertz’s target shares, bringing them from the mid-to-high 20s to a 20-23 percent range. That’s still very usable in fantasy, especially on a high-scoring offense like the Eagles. Tate’s overall value takes a bit of a hit, but there should be plenty of work for him as well. The Eagles have struggled to run the ball since losing Jay Ajayi for the season, and Detroit has long utilized Tate as an extension of the running game. There’s a strong possibility that Tate steals work from the running backs, and especially Nelson Agholor. If Agholor is still hanging around on your roster, it’s time to cut him loose. The Eagles are on their bye this week, but when they return I’d view Tate as a WR3 in PPR out of the gate until we get a clearer picture of his usage.
Back in Detroit, put on your party hats if you have Marvin Jones or Kenny Golladay. Tate owned a 27 percent target share, which will likely be distributed most heavily to Jones, Golladay and running back Kerryon Johnson. Matthew Stafford will probably find a new safety blanket near the line of scrimmage, but it doesn’t stand to reason that he’d feed that new binky with 27 percent of his targets. Regardless, the departure of Tate is excellent news for the rest of the pieces of Detroit’s passing attack.
Green Bay Packers trade Ty Montgomery to the Baltimore Ravens
Montgomery offers the Ravens some depth and talent at the running back position, which is needed. Alex Collins has been fine, and will likely hold onto a similar role to what he’s had all season. Montgomery could push Javorius Allen out of the way on passing downs, though, and he fits more into the Danny Woodhead played-mold Joe Flacco loved to target a few years back. I wouldn’t swing any big trades for Montgomery just yet, but if he’s on waivers he’s certainly worth an add.
And in Green Bay … it is officially AARON JONES SEASON! Even before the trade, the writing was on the wall. Jones played a season-high 61.5 percent of the snaps and saw a season-high 14 touches in Week 8. Jamaal Williams will still factor in, but this is addition by subtraction for both of these backs, especially Jones. Hopefully, you traded for him weeks ago when I was pounding the table for you to do so in this column.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots: This one is a bit risky. But, at this point of the fantasy season sometimes it pays to swing for the fences. Gronk just missed a game suffering from back spasms, but returned in Week 8 and tied his season-high in targets with eight. He also received a red-zone target, though that was just his second of the year. Gronk hasn’t caught a touchdown or crossed 100 yards since Week 1, but his the volume we saw last week keeps up he’ll have chances for big weeks down the stretch. If the Gronk owner in your league is frustrated with the big tight end, maybe float them an offer and see what it’d take to pry the big guy from their roster.
Latavius Murray, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Murray has jump-started the Vikings rushing attack while filling in for Dalvin Cook. Over the last three weeks, he’s averaging over five yards per carry and has scored four times in the last month. However, you might want to consider shopping Murray this week. The Vikings have their bye in Week 10, and there are reports Cook could return after that. When Cook was healthy to start the year, Murray was more of an afterthought in the offense. There’s a chance he’s earned himself more work once Cook returns, but this also could be your last chance to sell high on a player who could disappear right when you need him most — the fantasy playoffs.
Trade Calls Hotline
David Johnson and Taylor Gabriel for Tarik Cohen and AJ Green.
While I’m optimistic about David Johnson’s outlook under new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, I think I want the Tarik Cohen/A.J. Green half of this trade. Over the last four games, Cohen leads the Bears in targets, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Green is always going to get his fair share, but Cohen’s upside in the passing game seems like the winning factor here.
Standard league, Dalvin cook and D Thomas for Keenan Allen?
Give me Dalvin Cook and Demaryius Thomas side. It’s good to be wary of two-for-one deals, and I often am not a fan of trading for injured players, but Cook sounds like he’s going to return in a couple of weeks (just in time for the playoffs), and Thomas’ stock could be rising now that he’s paired with a better quarterback in Houston. Keenan Allen, as good as he is, isn’t getting the volume we dreamed of when we drafted him in Rounds 2-3 this summer.
Trade Chubb for Bell if you already own Conner? (full PPR)
I’m not doing anything with Le’Veon Bell at this point, much less giving up a talented back receiving volume. There’s no guarantee Bell comes back in time for meaningful fantasy usage, and there’s also no guarantee he gets volume if/when he returns either. James Conner has been phenomenal this year.
Giving Melvin and Tyler Boyd for Mark Ingram, Landry, and Ertz. Full ppr. Currently have Burton at TE and Caff as my RB 2. My WR would be Landry and Diggs.
Tough call here. I think I stick with Melvin Gordon and Mark Ingram. I get wanting to upgrade at tight end, but don’t forget the Eagles just acquired Golden Tate, so that will definitely cut into Zach Ertz’s workload a bit. The nice thing about Gordon is you basically have a monopoly on the running back touchdowns in his offense; with Ingram, it’s going to go up and down week-to-week.
— Alex Gelhar is a freelance fantasy writer for the NFL and a full-time law student. You can find him on Twitter @AlexGelhar.
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