News & Analysis

Stefon Diggs' move to the Buffalo Bills should be fruitful for fantasy football purposes

We’re less than 24 hours in to the NFL’s legal tampering period and the league already delivered its second blockbuster trade, as the Minnesota Vikings will send Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a haul of picks that includes the No. 22 overall pick in next month's draft. Like the DeAndre Hopkins/David Johnson trade, this move has a major ripple effect on the fantasy landscape.

Diggs is coming off his second-straight 1,000-yard season, though his overall production was down last year due to decreased passing volume in the Vikings offense. The wideout saw his target numbers decrease by 37% from 149 in 2018 to just 94 last year. But Diggs was able to maintain WR2 fantasy numbers thanks to a change in usage. He saw an average depth of target of just 9.82 yards in 2018, and that number skyrocketed to 15.56 last season. More looks downfield helped Diggs tie for the league lead in touchdowns of 40-plus yards with four.

In Buffalo, Diggs will slide right in as a near-perfect fit in a wide receiver corps that already includes John Brown and Cole Beasley. Brown led the Bills with 114 targets, with Beasley right behind him at 99. One would have to figure Diggs slides in as the top target, but it’s tough to project him any higher than Brown’s workload from last season. Still, that’s a volume increase for Diggs.

That’s not to mention the fact that he gets paired up with an exciting young quarterback in Josh Allen. To be clear, Allen is far from a polished product on the field, but for fantasy purposes this marriage could be fruitful. Diggs was able to produce on limited volume last season thanks to his target location being much further downfield on average. However, Kirk Cousins ranked just 22nd in the league in aDOT at 8.3 yards. Allen, on the other hand, tied for fourth at a healthy 9.8 yards. That means big play upside is coming in Buffalo. Diggs remains very much in the WR2 conversation.

While the picture in Buffalo is certainly rosy, there’s a much more pessimistic outlook for the passing game in Minnesota. With Diggs out of the mix, the Vikings are now left with Adam Thielen, who is entering his age-30 season, to go along with Bisi Johnson and Chad Beebe as their top three wideouts. To be fair, they do also have capable pass-catching tight ends in Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith, but that’s a very shallow wide receiver corps. Expect Minnesota to address the position either in free agency or the draft.

For now, losing Diggs takes the wind out of Kirk Cousins’ sails for fantasy purposes. The Vikings' signal-caller had an up-and-down 2019 season for fantasy, but he proved to be a solid enough late-round option. From Weeks 5-14, he ranked fourth among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring. Of course, he did bookend that with ugly fantasy performances over the first month and final three weeks of the season.

If there is any winner in Minnesota, it’s Thielen, who is now the unquestioned No. 1 wideout. Of course, his health is going to be a concern, as Thielen missed six games last year and was slowed by injury over the second half of 2018 as well.

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