FANTASY PLAYS: New key roles for those left after NFL trades
This has been one of the more active NFL trade deadlines for fantasy purposes.
Fans of Houston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore are assuredly excited by their new players, picking up Demaryius Thomas, Golden Tate and Ty Montgomery. However, it’s the teams that traded those players that will likely provide the most opportunity for fantasy value.
The Broncos shipped Thomas to the Texans, which will condense the target share within this offense. The primary beneficiaries are Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton, as the Thomas departing removes 20 percent of the team’s targets this season and one of its top red zone threats.
Sanders’ role won’t change much. According to Pro Football Focus, Sanders has taken 64.5 percent of his snaps in the slot. He’s been very successful there, averaging 10 yards per target and catching 76 percent of his targets. Look for similar production for Sanders moving forward but with a better floor/ceiling combination on volume.
On the other hand, Sutton gets a huge boost. Despite being Denver’s third receiver, Sutton already accounted for 22 percent of the team’s air yards, just behind 25 percent for Thomas. With his target share likely moving from the low teens to around 20 percent and much of that volume coming down the field, the ceiling here has expanded significantly for the rookie out of SMU.
The Lions sent their most targeted wideout in Tate to the Eagles, removing a whopping 27 percent of the team’s targets from their offense. The clear beneficiaries here are Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay. Neither will take Tate’s role out of the slot, but they should each receive a boost in volume. Given the efficiency and profile of each wide receiver, that boost is going to have a meaningful impact.
Jones is averaging 8.2 yards per target and historically has a TD rate well above the league average for wide receivers. He’s the big play receiver with a 15.5 average depth of target (aDOT), which measures how far downfield players are when they are thrown the ball.
While the second year receiver Golladay also has big play ability down the field, his 12.3 aDOT indicates he runs more shorter routes than Jones, which accounts for the much higher catch rate. At 6-4 with speed, Golladay sees the larger jump in ceiling in this offense.
Tate’s direct role in the offense may be filled by T.J. Jones or undrafted free agent Brandon Powell. That will be an interesting situation to monitor moving forward, and both players are worth stashing in dynasty leagues.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
It’s finally going to be the Aaron Jones show in Green Bay. The second year back has the most athletic upside of the team’s options. He has burst and agility and produce well in college, both in terms of yards per carry and percentage of team yards and touchdowns.
Out of the bye week, Jones already looked like the primary back for Green Bay, playing 32 snaps to 13 for Jamaal Williams and six for Montgomery. With Montgomery sent to the Ravens, there’s one less competitor for touches in the Green Bay offense.
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