The trade deadline seems to come and go in the NFL every year without much impact on the dynasty community. Well as this season in the NFL has gone nothing is going as planned. There was a massive shakeup in the dynasty community for the first time in as long as I can remember playing this game. It’s almost become normal that skill position players are not moved before the deadline mid-season and almost never do we see a quarterback moved. The 2017 season has been as unpredictable as any and we had a top 30 RB and top 24 WR in PPR leagues moved. Jay Ajayi, Kelvin Benjamin, and Jimmy Garoppolo were all sent to new teams on Tuesday. Quick dynasty reaction is one of my favorite things to write about just to give the community something to think about whether they have interest in buying or selling these players. I put together a quick breakdown of each move for both teams going forward and how I see it working out. Hope you enjoy.
The “J-Train” has officially left the station in south beach and is headed to the city of brotherly love. Ajayi fell in the NFL draft for concerns about his knees and landed with the Dolphins when he was finally given a chance to be the workhorse last year he responded in a huge way with over 1,400 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns. Ajayi made a huge splash in 2016 mainly against the Ryan brothers and the Bills defense rushing for 420 yards and two touchdowns in two games against them last season. We surely can’t take anything away from Ajayi though he is in rare company in only 31 career games he has three 200+ yard performances. Reports that Ajayi was growing frustrated with his usage in Miami and seemed to be butting heads with head coach Adam Gase. News broke that the trade happened on the heels of the 40 point shutout on Thursday Night Football with Gase apparently frustrated with his offense. We can’t always believe everything we hear but I think there is some truth to this but I also am a firm believer in RB being a replaceable position especially in the NFL. Miami and Ajayi were not going to get it right this year the frustration was growing and this is a heads-up move by Miami to get something more than they paid for Ajayi which relates heavily to dynasty because that is always what we are trying to do as owners. The Dolphins offense has just been horrendous this season they rank 31st in rushing with one of the worst run blocking offensive lines in the NFL. Miami is the only team in the NFL without a rushing touchdown and has one rush inside the five-yard line through seven games. These numbers are a nightmare for Ajayi and his dynasty owners yet with all this, he still managed to be the RB30 in PPR leagues. Ajayi is holding the longest streak of touches for an RB without a touchdown. For a guy that wants to be a workhorse, this was never going to work out well so off to Philly he goes.
The Philly Effect
Ajayi goes from a bad football team to the team with the best record in the NFL the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Doug Pederson has the Eagles flying high and scoring 30 points with regularity and has made Carson Wentz one of the most sought-after dynasty assets in 2017. The Eagles looked to employ an RBBC approach this season signing free agent LeGarrette Blount to pair with Darren Sproles and upside RB Wendell Smallwood. Sproles was lost for the season and the Eagles used the next man up approach and it didn’t seem to matter as they currently rank 5th in the NFL in rushing. Blount has led the Eagles backfield this season and even with his three touchdowns still only ranks four spots above Ajayi as the RB26 in PPR leagues. Blount has ten percent of his carries inside the five-yard line which is the highest rate in the league for an RB with 60+ carries. If we look at the numbers this marriage of Ajayi to the Eagles doesn’t seem great based on what we know. Since 2016 only three times an Eagles RB played 60% of the snaps in a game and all of them were Sproles. The maximum amount of touches a Doug Pederson RB has seen within Philly is 22 and just four times an RB has seen 20+ touches. Ajayi seemed to be displeased with his lack of touches in Miami I don’t see how this fit in Philly makes him as happy if he’s focused on being a workhorse. Ajayi hasn’t been great himself as of late in his last 16 games played he has a total of two RB1 finishes. Is it possible for Ajayi to take over the bulk of the carries? Absolutely but his lack of red zone carries likely doesn’t change because of Blount’ effectiveness coming off 18 touchdowns in 2016. Smallwood and Clement also offer pass game value and with the low price they paid to acquire Ajayi it’s just as likely he never returns to his RB1 upside in dynasty. As an Ajayi owner in dynasty you have to temper expectations I think I would be fairly confident he can be a high end RB2 even in a committee with the Eagles but from where Ajayi was drafted in startups in the offseason this trade doesn’t make you feel great.
Where Miami Goes From Here
Left in the dust of this Ajayi trade is one of the worst RB stables in the league in south beach. Kenyan Drake seems to be the most likely candidate to get the bulk of the carries and for those that own Drake there is nothing to get excited about unfortunately. I listed all the terrible stats on Miami’ offense and rushing offense in particular that paired with Drake’ ability doesn’t scream value to me. Drake has always been complimentary back even in his time at Alabama where he scored 22 touchdowns in four seasons never eclipsing 92 carries or 700 rushing yards. For all the concerns about Ajayi’ knees, it should be noted that Drake himself suffered a horrific lower leg and ankle injury himself. Miami will employ a committee of Drake and Damien Williams this seems destined to be a very likely landing spot for one of the top tier college RBs in the 2018 NFL draft.
The Bills and Panthers are at it again this time in the most surprising deal we’ve seen at the deadline. The Bills have taken a liking to the Panthers blueprint taking their Defensive Coordinator, Assistant GM and two veteran players to help the rebuild in Buffalo. Bills off to a surprising start in 2017 at 5-2 after trading star WR Sammy Watkins and their best cover corner Ronald Darby. The Bills passing game took a major hit when Charles Clay who led the team in receptions and yards went out with a knee injury. Kelvin Benjamin was a very consistent performer for the Panthers with 18 touchdowns in 40 career games played. Benjamin was another WR from the stud class of 2014 which the Bills now own two of those players pairing him with Jordan Matthews who they acquired in the Darby deal. Benjamin missed all of the 2015 season with a torn ACL in his other two seasons in Carolina he has played all 16 games with at least 900 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Bills attempted a youth movement at WR by trading high profile WR Sammy Watkins after drafting upside rookie Zay Jones in the second round of the NFL draft. Even at 5-2 for the Bills this trade has been rough for dynasty owners, going into last weekend Zay Jones was the worst graded WR in the league according to PFF. The Bills own one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL and this has been the case for the majority of the past three seasons with Tyrod Taylor under center. In the last two seasons, the Bills have had the best rushing offense in the NFL and are starting to ramp up their running game this season before this trade for Benjamin.
Where The Buffalo Roam
The Bills are second worst in the league at targeting WRs to only the Bears and when you watch a Buffalo game it’s LeSean McCoy or bust for the offense. According to the Next Gen Stats, only 13.3% of Tyrod Taylor’ throws were into tight coverage which was the 4th lowest in the NFL this doesn’t bode well for Benjamin who struggles to separate from DBs. Benjamin’ ceiling seems to be capped in Buffalo and I don’t believe it’s Tyrod as much as it is the Bills offense and coaching philosophy. There’s no secret here that the Bills want to run the ball and play defense but it’s the NFL and you have to be able to be dynamic and move the chains passing the football enter the sure-handed Benjamin who has had 21 of his 32 catches this season go for a first down. Without Clay, the Bills have no red zone threat and that’s where K.B’s dynasty value is for the remainder of 2017. WR changing teams mid-season seems to never work out but the way Benjamin plays football he could easily be the most valuable pass catcher for the Bills. Benjamin saw 19% of targets and 27% of the red zone targets in Carolina this season. Benjamin can easily see these same numbers with the Bills and even though he won’t wow you with huge games he is a TD dependent WR that can easily turn in WR1 weeks consistently. K.B currently sits as the WR24 in PPR leagues the highest Bills WR is Jordan Matthews at WR80. There has to be hope the Bills change some of their passing concepts to accommodate Benjamin’ game. While K.B has never averaged more than 63 yards per game for a season in two and a half seasons but his touchdown upside alone makes him a very viable dynasty asset.
This move was more surprising on the Panthers side than for the Bills. The Panthers are 5-3 and are struggling drastically at running the football. The additions of rookies Christian McCaffrey who has 49 receptions through eight weeks and Curtis Samuel who has been more involved in the offense as of late it seems Carolina is going in a different direction. Trading Benjamin who is due to get paid this offseason may have been a business decision for Carolina who are in cap trouble going forward. The emergence and confidence in Devin Funchess for the Panthers on the outside most likely made this trade a real possibility. Over the past month Funchess has out targeted Benjamin and even in the red zone, he has seen five red zone targets to Benjamin’ two. The Panthers quick strike attack in the short passing game seems to be the direction they are heading in and although it has helped Cam Newton’ completion percentage it has sure limited the scoring upside for the Panthers offense. Funchess dynasty value has to be the highest it has ever been and this trade continues to boost both CMC and Samuel long term. This trade certainly in the short term hurts Newton’ value and limits his touchdown upside at least until Greg Olsen returns from injury.
There isn’t a stat here to post about Jimmy G that will do this trade any justice. Garoppolo is all upside at this point sitting behind a legend like Tom Brady but he is 25 years old with two games started in the NFL. The 49ers likely make this trade as through 8 games the Brian Hoyer experiment has failed and C.J Beathard is just simply not ready for the pro game yet. John Lynch has made some big moves in his short time with the 49ers and likely makes this aggressive move by trading away an early first because he values Jimmy G higher than the QBs in the 2018 NFL Draft. Garoppolo started two games when Brady was suspended last season and in those game, he threw for 496 yards and four touchdowns in those two wins. Now granite he’s playing with a hall of fame coach and a brilliant offensive mind in Josh McDaniels. Now Jimmy G gets to play under Kyle Shanahan who has always gotten the most out of his quarterbacks in his time as an offensive coordinator in Cleveland, Washington, and Atlanta. Most recently we have seen the regression of MVP Matt Ryan who looks lost without Shanahan calling plays. The 49ers are still in a rebuilding process with a young inexperienced offense but with a decent end to the season and the ability to resign Garoppolo, it gives the 49ers flexibility in the draft to go after skill position players to help mold Shanahan’ offense. Garoppolo has major upside in superflex leagues and can be a sell high in one QB dynasty leagues given the inconsistency of the position this year. Dynasty owners are always looking for upside and Jimmy G definitely offers that big time. When Jimmy G eventually takes over as the starter there should be a boost for all the skill position players for the 49ers in dynasty.
Well, there is a lot of information to take in here. I wanted to give you guys some instant reaction to help decide what to do or not do with your dynasty rosters if you have or want these players. It’s rare that we get to discuss drastic dynasty value changes halfway through the season. This years trade deadline has thrown a wrench into the midseason dynasty values if nothing else it should promote more activity in your leagues. Keep building those dynasty teams and get your teams ready for the final stretch of the season to take home that title