After a few weeks of speculation, both Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate were traded right before the trade deadline. Thomas, 30, was sent to the Houston Texans for a 2019 fourth-round pick – the Broncos and Texans are also swapping seventh-round picks — while Tate, 30, was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a 2019 third-round pick. Both trades have massive fantasy football implications, so let’s go team by team to figure out who the winners and losers are.
With Will Fuller out for the season with a torn ACL, the Texans were looking to upgrade their depth behind All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins. Before making the trade, fourth-rounder Keke Coutee was expected to take over a larger market share of the Texans’ 32.75 targets per game, but Coutee is battling a hamstring injury that may prevent him from playing this Sunday against the Broncos, so the Texans made a move.
Demaryius Thomas is certainly not the same player he once was, but he is a durable, veteran presence that can still provide reasonable production, especially with Hopkins drawing attention from defenses. Through eight games, Thomas is averaging 4.5 receptions and 50.25 receiving yards per game with three touchdowns, and that is a reasonable projection for his second-half run with the Texans. Thomas remains in the WR3 mix, but he may be able to hit his weekly ceiling more often with Deshaun Watson being an obvious upgrade over Case Keenum.
Keke Coutee, who is Raymond Summerlin’s fifth-ranked wide receiver waiver target this week, is the biggest loser of the Thomas trade. Coutee’s target projection obviously takes a big hit with Thomas involved, even if it takes a week or two for Thomas to settle into the offense. Since Thomas isn’t the vertical threat that Will Fuller is, it’s possible the Texans change Coutee’s role. Through four games, Coutee has the fourth lowest aDOT (4.8 yards) of all wide receivers and tight ends according to Next Gen Stats, but Coutee was a capable vertical threat at Texas Tech. The Texans may start sending Coutee deeper and keep Thomas underneath. Coutee is a wait-and-see WR5.
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Emmanuel Sanders, who is PPR’s WR10 overall on a per game basis, might see a couple more targets headed his way with Thomas out, but the real winner is Courtland Sutton, who was selected with the 40th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Broncos wouldn’t have traded Thomas if they weren’t comfortable with Sutton filling in, and there’s no reason to believe Sutton isn’t ready with the way he has played this year. As Evan Silva points out, Sutton has outperformed Thomas on a per target basis. On 37 targets, Sutton is averaging 8.8 yards per target, while Thomas was averaging only 7.2 yards per target. The second-round rookie should absorb a lot of Thomas’ seven targets per game, which puts Sutton firmly on the WR3 map. Sutton will be chalk in DFS this week with the Texans banged up in the secondary, and he is Raymond Summerlin’s No. 1 wide receiver waiver wire addition.
The Broncos also want to get fourth-round rookie DaeSean Hamilton (three targets) and 24-year-old Tim Patrick (six targets) more involved down the stretch. Hamilton, who holds the Penn State career receptions record, was credited with the nation’s best catch rate (73.3) on 20+ yard passes in his senior season according to Pro Football Focus and checked in as a 78th-percentile athlete at the NFL combine. Hamilton doesn’t have a direct path to volume, which keeps him off the fantasy radar for now, but he’s a player to watch.
After trading for Golden Tate, the Eagles now have three receivers – Tate, Nelson Agholor, and Jordan Matthews — who are best suited for the slot. Of the three, Tate is clearly the best receiver while Matthews, who has seen 30 snaps per game this season, should be pushed to the sidelines. The Eagles will need to decide if they keep Tate inside, where he has dominated after-the-catch, or put him outside to keep Agholor inside. If Tate stays inside, then there won’t be a huge difference in projected volume, so Tate will remain on the WR2/3 borderline once he gets acclimated with the new offense. If Tate moves to the perimeter on more snaps, then Tate will likely be more inconsistent, but he should maintain his WR2/3 status. The Eagles get the bye week to figure it out.
Tate’s presence shouldn’t affect Alshon Jeffery too much, especially if Tate plays the majority of his snaps inside, but he might see a slight dip to his 8.8 target average. Even if that does happen, Jeffery remains in the mix as a WR2/3.
Zach Ertz, who is leading tight ends with 17.9 PPR points per game, might be slightly more affected. As James Koh notes on Twitter, Tate and Ertz both do a lot of their damage in the middle of the field. In fact, 70 percent of Tate’s targets and 75 percent of Ertz’s targets are between the numbers according to Next Gen Stats. That’s bad news for both players if they maintain their current roles, but I have faith in the Eagles’ analytical approach. Even if there is a slight downgrade to Ertz, he and Travis Kelce will still be in a class of their own at tight end.
Nelson Agholor is only averaging 9.0 PPR points per game in the five games he’s played with Alshon Jeffery this season. With Golden Tate now in the fold, Agholor will really struggle to see enough volume to warrant fantasy consideration even in good matchups. Agholor can be dropped in most redraft leagues, while Jordan Matthews can be dropped in all leagues.
As the Golden Tate trade blurb suggests, it is indeed #GolladaySZN. Tate leaves behind 9.7 targets per game, and Golladay and Jones are expected to absorb a majority of them. Golladay, who has a 92nd-percentile Speed Score according to Player Profiler, has shown glimpses of dominance at the NFL level – he is the proud owner of an elite 10.36 YPT on 92 career targets — and this is his best opportunity to show that off with legit volume. If Golladay can increase his targets from 6.3 to 9.0 per game, Golladay will be an every week WR2 with upside.
Largely underrated for most of his career, Marvin Jones is quietly 18th in Air Yards (729) and has a 32 percent target share of inside-the-ten targets according to Graham Barfield. Jones has run laps around Golladay in recent weeks – Jones has seven more receptions than Golladay since the Week 6 bye – and Jones can become a near double digit target receiver down the stretch. Jones is an upside WR2 in good matchups.
To fill the short yardage void, the Lions will bring T.J. Jones, and possibly Theo Riddick, into the slot. Jones has out-snapped Riddick 38-to-10 from the slot this season, but we have seen Stafford pepper Riddick at times. Both Jones and Riddick are waiver wire options in deeper PPR leagues.
Quick Hits: The Packers traded RB/WR Ty Montgomery to the Ravens for a 2020 seventh-round pick. Buck Allen has operated as the Ravens primary pass catching back, so Montgomery is a threat to his fantasy outlook. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams won’t have to worry about Montgomery stealing reps from them as well. … The Jaguars traded EDGE rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to the Rams for a 2019 third-round pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick. The Rams are completely in win now mode. … The Packers also sent Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to Washington for a 2019 fourth-round pick. … It’s important to remind everyone that the Cowboys sent a first-round pick to the Raiders for Amari Cooper just last week. It’s tough to justify that compensation with Golden Tate going for a third-round pick.
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