Just as preseason football is beginning to blossom, Buffalo went and flipped everything we thought we knew upside down with two stunning trades. The first of those sent Buffalo’s best receiver, Sammy Watkins, to the Los Angeles Rams. In the next move, Buffalo acquired 4th-year receiver Jordan Matthews from Philadelphia. These blockbuster moves were Earth shaking to the dynasty community. Let’s take a look at what it might do to the rest of the Bills’ squad.
I’ll begin with the impact this trade will have on Jordan Matthews himself. During his time in Philadelphia, he ran 84.5% of his routes out of the slot. While Anquan Boldin plays a similar position, the 25-year-old Matthews will still get considerable playing time from this spot and is a big part of the future in Buffalo.
Through three seasons in Philadelphia, Matthews saw at least 103 targets and 804 yards each year. Despite this consistency, he had somewhat of a bad rap in the Dynasty community with an ADP of WR42 in startup drafts. Matthews has already eclipsed 225 catches, 2,500 yards, and 19 TDs. The only other receivers to have done this through their first three seasons are Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, AJ Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham and Mike Evans. Despite any bias you might have, Matthews is in very impressive company.
As strange as it sounds, Tyrod Taylor might actually benefit from losing Sammy Watkins. Taylor has been the starting QB in Buffalo for two years now. In that time, Watkins has missed 11 games due to injury. During those games, Taylor used his running ability to his advantage, keeping his fantasy point floor high even when missing his most potent receiver. At the very least, Matthews provides a more reliable threat from merely a health standpoint. Expect these two to connect on plenty of short and intermediate routes throughout the year.
Whenever a team loses a star, another one usually steps up to take on the responsibility of leading the team. After rushing for more than 1,200 yards and catching 50 passes in 2016, McCoy is primed to be the one who steps up for the Bills this year. The loss of Mike Gillislee in the offseason had already bumped up McCoy’s expected usage. This move only seems to drive McCoy’s value higher than ever. Assuming good health, McCoy could end the year among the top 5 running backs in fantasy point scoring.
Regardless of the recent trading activity, I don’t expect much of a change in Boldin’s fantasy stock. Boldin, soon to be 37 years old, is probably not going to be putting up huge numbers like he did during the glory days in Arizona. He can, however, provide the offense with an instant boost in the red zone. Boldin scored 8 TDs last season with the Lions, so I’m expecting something similar here.
Perhaps the one to benefit the most from the recent trading activity is Zay Jones. Jones, a rookie out of ECU, is about to become THE MAN on the outside in Buffalo. With Watkins out of the picture, Jones will be able to earn the reps he needs to become a true WR1, both in real life and in fantasy. Will that happen in 2017? Probably not. That timeline certainly seems to be accelerated now, however. I’m buying Jones everywhere I can.
Clay’s stock was already trending down to start the year. With this trade, his fantasy points are going to take an even bigger hit. As I mentioned earlier, Matthews works primarily out of the slot, which will clog up the middle of the field. Clay isn’t really a red zone threat either, so he needs the short passes to be relevant. If Matthews is the one getting those targets, Clay is about worthless in fantasy leagues.
Andre Holmes/Corey Brown/Brandon Tate
If you are rostering any of these guys, your team might already have bigger problems.