There was a lot of activity this trade deadline, perhaps more than normal. Big names have moved teams which will affect your fantasy teams in the short and long term. But first, let’s check in on our last dynasty stock watch recommendations.
First up is quarterback Derek Carr, who statistically appears to have had a couple good games since we last recommending selling. I would still sell Carr at his current fourth-place ranking as he still only has two games over 300 passing yards this season and is currently on pace for his lowest touchdown total since his rookie season. I’d still buy Devonta Freeman at this point, especially in light of the recent Ezekiel Elliott news. Isaiah Crowell is still a sell, especially as it looks like the Browns may just move on from him, and others, after this season. Brandin Cooks is still a buy for me, especially after the trade news, as its clear the Patriots are, and may always be, under Bill Belichick in win-now mode. Meanwhile, Jordan Matthews continues to underperform with just five catches for 31 yards over his last two weeks.
Really, the only significant change in our recs was Martellus Bennett, who shared some significant, non-trade news as he plans to retire after the season. This would change him from the buy category to sell now to a contender.
Now it’s on to Week 9 recommendations, taking into account a crazy trade deadline.
(Current dynasty positional ADP: 22)
At long last, the Patriots have cashed out on Garoppolo, shipping him to San Francisco for a second-round pick. In a move that seemed inevitable, it still came as a surprise based on the timing and the destination. For New England, they obviously feel comfortable enough with Tom Brady and his, ahem, regimen.
For San Francisco, they get half a season to determine if Garoppolo is their quarterback of the future. It’s clear they weren’t completely sold on the 2018 rookie class, so they gave up one of their two second-round picks to see what Garoppolo has. He admittedly has a small sample size to glean from, starting only two games in his career, both last year. In those two games, he threw for 496 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. If anything, he showed to be competent in those two games and next year will only be his age-26 season.
Short-term, Garoppolo needs to be avoided. He’s currently being protected by the 26th-ranked pass-blocking unit and his only competent receiver, Pierre Garcon, just hurt his neck. He does have Carlos Hyde who, despite the low rushing total, still ranks in the top-10 in PFF’s elusive rating and number of breakaway runs.
So while Garoppolo doesn’t look too appealing now, his 2018 prospects look bright. He’ll have an offseason to learn Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Shanahan-led offenses finished in the top-10 in yards in six of the nine seasons he was offensive coordinator, including 2016, when his quarterback, Matt Ryan, won the MVP award. The 49ers will also have a very high draft pick to use on a stud rookie on either offense or defense, both of which would help the currently rebuilding 49ers.
Verdict: Buy. While his cost may see a temporary jump based on the trade, there’s little chance he outplays that cost the rest of season. This would be a move for 2018 and beyond which, currently, looks like a great value.
While the Garoppolo deal was a slight surprise given the timing, that couldn’t compare to the Ajayi deal. He’s gotten off to a slower start in 2017 than he did in 2016 but still had two 100-yard games, after four all of last year, and was still the bell cow in Miami, with four games with 23 carries or more.
But reportedly behind the scenes, this move made much more sense. Despite seeing the sixth-most carries so far this season, Ajayi was apparently wanting the ball even more and storming out when he didn’t get it. And after weeks of disappointing games, especially for the offense, the Dolphins decided they needed to go in a different direction and traded Ajayi to the Eagles for a fourth-round pick, washing themselves clean of a player that was becoming a distraction, while also hitting the reset button on their running game.
So what does that do to Ajayi’s fantasy value? On the plus side, Ajayi goes from a team with PFF’s 30th-ranked run-blocking unit to the No. 7. He was already in the top-10 in PFF’s elusive rating, so adding better protection should only boost his stats. On the flip side, the Eagles have a crowded backfield, even after the season-ending injury to Darren Sproles. Thanks to that logjam, the most carries any Eagles running back has seen in a game is 16, twice by LeGarrette Blount. And this for a team that’s 7-1 and leads the entire NFL in average time-of-possession at 33:37. So Ajayi isn’t walking into a bell-cow situation by any means.
Verdict: Sell. Between the reasons for Ajayi’s departure, the lingering knee issues that already cause Ajayi to take a day off a practice and the offense he’s entering, I’m skeptical he’ll get the same opportunities he did in Miami. Blount won’t be there next year but the Eagles have constructed the offense around Carson Wentz and its working. I don’t see them turning it over to Ajayi this year or next.
The trade of Ajayi leaves the Dolphins backfield a little thin. There’s undrafted fourth-year back Damien Williams and his 3.3 yards-per-carry average. Then there’s Drake, a third-round second-year back who showed some promise in his rookie year. He saw limited time behind Ajayi, running the ball just 33 times but turned that into 179 yards for a 5.4 yards-per-carry average along with two touchdowns. He’s only seen 10 carries this year but should see more now that Ajayi is in Philadelphia. Drake has shown flashes, forcing seven missed tackles last year on his 42 touches while also not allowing a sack on his six (yes, it’s a small sample size) pass-block opportunities. It’s what the Dolphins were expecting when they drafted him in the third round a year after drafting Ajayi in the fifth.
Verdict: Buy. The cost is low and it doesn’t hurt to have a lottery ticket, especially one who will be seeing significant action this season. If he misses, you didn’t spend a lot to see what you had. He’s your Jimmy Garoppolo!
Getting traded just before the deadline, Benjamin heads to Buffalo for third- and seventh-round picks and is reunited with former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. For the Bills, it’s a move they had to make to improve their surprising playoff chances. They have yet to have a week where any receiver has a top-36 fantasy week.
The Bills traded top CB Ronald Darby for Jordan Matthews, and spent a 2nd-round pick on Zay Jones. They have ZERO top-36 PPR weeks combined.
— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) October 31, 2017
For the Panthers, though, the move is curious. They’re sitting at 5-3 and well within the playoff picture. Now, Benjamin was set to count more than $8 million toward the cap next year and it’s possible the Panthers wanted to get something for Benjamin now if they knew they weren’t going to re-sign him.
And as for Benjamin, he goes from an offense that didn’t pass a lot (33.8 attempts per game, 18th in the league this year) to a team that really doesn’t pass a lot (28 attempts per game, 31st in the league this year). He also goes from one team whose running back leads the team in targets (Christian McCaffrey with 66) to another (LeSean McCoy with 46). In fact, if you combined the top three Buffalo wide receivers’ targets, you’d get only 72, which would rank only sixth among individual players.
In a vacuum, Benjamin has been just fine this season. He is currently eighth in yards per route run among receivers that have seen more than 45 targets this season, has just two drops on 34 catchable passes this season, and his catch percentage is at a career-high 62.7 percent this season.
Verdict: Sell. If Benjamin were traded to a team that passed more, this would be a different story. But he goes from a team that was in the middle of the pack when it comes to how often they throw to one that is at the very bottom. His fringe WR2/3 valuation is probably the peak of his value while he’s in Buffalo, which he will until he becomes a free agent in a year-and-a-half.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
Count Landry as a player who many thought could be moved in the same house-cleaning as Ajayi but ultimately stayed in Miami. Whatever happens next year when Landry is a free agent, he will be hard-pressed to retain his current fantasy valuation.
As most know, Landry’s specialty is as a PPR-stud, catching a ton of short targets. Between the 2014 and 2016 seasons, Landry has the fifth-most receptions at 288. But his yards-per-reception during that time is a tepid 10.6 while the next-lowest among the four ahead of him is 13. He also is more than 1,000 receiving yards behind the next-lowest and has caught just 13 touchdowns.
And while the receptions are still there for Landry this year, he’s currently second in the league at 50, he’s averaging a career-low eight yards per reception, which is 105th out of 112 qualifying receivers. That would be a direct correlation of his average depth of target, which, at 6.9 yards, is ranked 104th out of the same 112 qualifying receivers. I guess the one redeeming stat this year is Landry already has three touchdowns and is on pace for a career-high six.
Verdict: Sell. Landry’s situation is giving me flashbacks to when Wes Welker left New England. Welker was also a PPR stud who didn’t catch a lot of deep balls. Of his six seasons in New England, he had one season where his yards-per-reception was over 11.5. He signed with Denver, hoping to replicate his same crazy-high targets but, as most players that leave New England find out, it was more difficult than anticipated and Welker’s fantasy value fell off a cliff. After five seasons of more than 100 receptions, Welker managed 73 in his first, and best, season in Denver. I fear the same will happen to Landry as he moves out of the environment that made him so successful.