Well - WOW! This past week in the NFL has been amazing with players moving all over the place, and the action is seemingly made for Twitter. In a time where there are no NFL games and we are still a month away from the draft, the NFL has grabbed sports headlines over spring training baseball, the NHL, the NBA, and has even stolen headlines from the NCAA Tournament that will start next week. For anyone that questions the power of the NFL, they can look at this past week and realize that the NFL is still king of the sporting world.
With all the recent changes, the world of fantasy football is impacted as well. Last week we looked at the LeSean McCoy trade and how it would affect his fantasy value. This week I want to take a look at some of the trades that have occurred, and next week we’ll sort out some of the more notable free agency moves.
Jimmy Graham traded to Seattle
This move has a TON of fantasy implications. Start with Graham himself: I still think that he is one of the top two tight ends in fantasy football, but do not expect the numbers to be as high as they have been. Seattle is a run-first team, and I would not expect them to change their scheme just because Graham is there. I still think that he will give you TE1 numbers, but the days of 1200-1400 yards are gone. I definitely think he will get double-digit touchdowns, but I expect a drop in yardage as Graham leaves the Saints high-powered passing attack. In a weak TE class he will be good, but not what he was when he put up WR1 numbers with the Saints.
Graham affects both QBs in this situation as well. I expect Brees to feel this loss - he lost his best red zone weapon. I expect the just re-signed Mark Ingram to pick up some of the touchdowns in the red zone that Graham was famous for getting. Overall, I expect Brees to take a step back, while Ingram should take a step forward, especially in the touchdown department. Should Ingram stay healthy he may be a steal as a RB2.
As for Russell Wilson, I expect an even bigger year than last year. It’s still early, but right now I think Wilson will be a top-four QB in fantasy in 2015. He will turn a couple of those rushing touchdowns into passing touchdowns to Graham, but having a true receiving threat should increase his overall passing numbers. Wilson is primed for a big year, and will reward those owners that take a chance on him in their drafts.
Brandon Marshall traded to Jets
This is another move where the player traded will have a large effect on multiple players. First, look at Marshall. At this time it looks like the Jets QB situation will be Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzatrick. For fantasy purposes, Fitzpatrick is an upgrade over Geno (who seems more willing to throw to the other team than his own). Marshall is a player who is still a good red zone target, and he will still get looks there, but will not be someone who should be counted on for good numbers every week. He will have some good weeks, and should put up decent numbers over the course of the year, but he is not and should not be drafted as a WR1 anymore. Marshall will be a decent WR2 in New York, draft him accordingly.
If the Jets can get consistent QB play (LOL, I know, sounds funny, huh?), I can see this move helping tight end Jace Amaro. Amaro showed signs here and there last year, and if Eric Decker and Marshall can pull some coverage to the outside, Amaro could have a sneaky good year in what is still a thin TE position in fantasy football.
The guy this trade really helps is Alshon Jeffery. No longer does he have to worry about losing looks to Marshall. Expect Jeffery to see a spike in yardage and touchdowns from last year. The Bears will most likely sign another WR to help take some pressure off of him (Eddie Royal perhaps), but expect Jeffery to get a ton of red zone looks this year. I expect him to continue to improve and be a reliable WR1 option this season, even with Jay Cutler throwing to him.
Nick Foles traded for Sam Bradford
I am not sure this has a lot of fantasy value, at least until after the draft and the Eagles roster situation plays out. Foles obviously takes a hit going from the Eagles offense to the Rams offense, but the way Chip Kelly is purging players, I am not sure what to say about the Eagles situation. Foles is an upgrade over the QBs that the Rams have used in the games that Bradford has missed due to injury, so there is a chance that he will have an impact as a bye week replacement, but at this time there is nothing to suggest that he will be an every-week starter in fantasy. Foles will improve the play of the WRs with the Rams, so maybe one will become relevant, but we will have to wait and see. As for Bradford, I don’t expect he will ever take a snap in Philly. I expect him to be traded in a deal for Marcus Mariota, but no matter where he ends up, he will have to prove that he can stay healthy before he has any fantasy relevance.
Next week, I will look at the free agency moves that will affect your 2015 fantasy rosters!
This column was written by Ryan Thyer. Follow him on Twitter @bignoahd05