Trades, Suspensions, and Their Impact on QB Values
An abnormal flurry of activity took place in the NFL today, and it put the fantasy world into a tailspin. TwoQBs doesn’t have Baloo von Bruinwald XIII or Kit Cloudkicker to take the controls and level out our 2QB and Superflex quarterback rankings, but to be fair, I’m probably more qualified to talk about fantasy football than cartoon bears (who, if you want to get dark, may or may not have died years ago in animated captivity, somewhere on a Disney backlot). Lacking their input, here are my answers to a handful of trade- and suspension-related questions posed by our own Salvatore Stefanile.
1. Does the loss of Jordan Matthews have any impact on how you view Carson Wentz’s 2017 fantasy season? While Matthews easily led the Eagles in targets the last two seasons, Wentz still has Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor to rely on in the passing game at the receiver position.
The follow-up text to this question says it all. Wentz still has plenty of weapons to throw to, and that’s without even considering the Eagles’ wealth of receiving talent out of the backfield and at tight end. The targets vacated by Jordan Matthews should easily filter to Jeffery, Smith, Agholor, Zach Ertz, and Darren Sproles (with Trey Burton, Donnel Pumphrey, and Wendell Smallwood waiting in the wings). In the end, this trade shouldn’t affect Wentz’s fantasy value in a significant way. He’s staying put for me in the QB20-24 range.
2. How will you handle drafting Tyrod Taylor going forward in 2QB leagues with Jordan Matthews replacing the Bills’ former top receiver, Sammy Watkins? Taylor is currently the QB17 in our 2QB ADP.
The downgrade from Watkins to Matthews certainly hurts Taylor, but he’s produced good fantasy numbers in plenty of games over the past two years without Watkins on the field. I already had Tyrod ranked well above his ADP, and will continue to draft him for the rushing production he regularly provides. With all of that said, Buffalo’s offseason moves hint at a tanking campaign, and this most recent pair of trades cements the notion the Bills don’t necessarily care if they’re competitive this season. If they’re tearing things down for a rebuild, that means we could see Nathan Peterman under center earlier than expected. Tyrod Taylor doesn’t deserve that (and neither do our fantasy rosters), but Buffalo’s front office doesn’t care what we think. Taylor should hold the starting gig as long as the Bills are competitive, but buyer beware later in the year.
3. Now that Sammy Watkins is a Ram, does that make you feel more comfortable drafting Jared Goff? He’s currently the QB28 in our 2QB ADP, going behind the likes of Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, and Brian Hoyer. Which of those four would you rather have as a QB2?
The addition of Watkins didn’t affect Goff’s relative ranking for me. He played terribly last season, and I still have him ranked at QB28. With that said, this trade does help move Goff closer to the guys ahead in the rankings, tightening the tier with him, DeShaun Watson, Brian Hoyer, and Jay Cutler. And while I have Goff ranked behind those other passers, the Rams’ signal-caller might be the safest bet of the bunch to start all 16 games this season. Owners in leagues with limited transactions might want to weigh more heavily in Goff’s favor with his season-long floor in mind, but I still lean toward the upsides of his tier-mates in normal formats.
4. What impact, if any, does the possibility of Ezekiel Elliott missing six games have on Dak Prescott?
The impact should either be negligible or slightly negative for Prescott, but I believed we were due for some negative Dak regression even before the news of Elliott’s suspension. The loss of Zeke should generate more pass plays, and opportunity tends to rule all in fantasy football, but losing a top-flight running back isn’t the only reason why Dak should throw more in 2017. Another is the shift in Dallas’ strength of schedule, from one of the NFL’s easiest last season to one of the more difficult ones moving forward. I worry extra pass attempts could potentially hurt Dak and the Dallas offense, mostly because his increased opportunities will come against stiffer and more prepared competition than he faced last season. In 2016, he was largely protected from failure by his team’s dominant running game. Now facing a tougher schedule, we have no way of truly knowing how Prescott will respond to Elliott’s absence and the slight attrition along Dallas’ offensive line. Also, let’s not forget just how involved Zeke was in the passing game last season. Prescott could be losing a valuable receiver for six games.
I am a skeptical fantasy owner by design, and with Dak, I see potential for increased passing volume to be negatively trumped by a more severe drop-off in efficiency. The Elliott suspension didn’t completely blindside us, though, so I was already factoring those negative biases into my ranking of Prescott. The net result of Zeke’s suspension on Dak will likely even out (more volume, less efficiency), but I had fear of a sophomore slump in the first place, and chances are that other owners will continue to value Prescott more than I do. More optimism is within reason for those folks, but the depth of quarterback in fantasy gives me plenty of other options to target where I project less risk.
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