Instant Analysis: Stevie Johnson traded to San Francisco


Earlier today, we posted an article about winners and losers from day one in the NFL Draft. Included in that article as a “draft loser” was Stevie Johnson, who we expected to be on his way out of Buffalo after the Bills mortgaged the farm to move up and grab Sammy Watkins. Just like that, the Bills have traded Johnson to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a conditional 2015 fourth-round pick that could turn into a third round selection. The trading of Johnson was expected, but San Francisco wasn’t one of the teams rumored to have their eyes on him. Let’s examine the dynasty landscape after this move and discuss some players who have had their values impacted by the trade.

Stevie Johnson, WR SF

After a slow start to his career, Johnson has been a productive member of the Bills for the past four seasons, which included three straight 1,000 yard campaigns from 2010-2012. Unfortunately, Johnson had a lackluster 2013 that featured just 52 catches for 597 yards and three touchdowns in his 12 games played. The Bills were simply ready to move on and they obviously see Watkins and Mike Williams as the future for them at the receiver position.

The move to San Francisco isn’t great for Johnson’s value, but it isn’t horrible, either. He’ll get playing time rotating in with the likes of Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin, among others. You could look at it and say he’s the long-term replacement for Boldin, but Johnson will be 28 in July, so that seems a little unrealistic.  Johnson really is what he is. He’ll be a nice complementary player, but the chances of him being a fantasy factor again are pretty remote.

In the end, I see Johnson as a bit of a roster clogger now. With Crabtree, Boldin, Vernon Davis and others to get the ball to, he’ll be a distant fourth at best on the list of mouths to feed for the 49ers. Johnson is going to have some good games here and there, but he’s likely going to post those while sitting securely on your bench.

Sammy Watkins, WR BUF

Any questions?

Mike Williams, WR BUF

You have to like the deal for Williams as he now has a nice path to a starting gig again. Williams isn’t void of talent, but his off the field concerns have to be considered when putting him on your roster. Regardless, he at least gets a bona fide second chance and needs to make the most of it. He seems like a nice boom or bust pick in dynasty drafts this Summer.

Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods, WRs BUF

Both of these players really needed Johnson to be jettisoned to re-coup their values. The Bills have really amassed a nice, young receiving corps and done it somewhat under the radar. EJ Manuel should really be happy with the group of receivers he has to throw and the explosiveness the offense could have. Of course, CJ Spiller needs to be healthy and fulfill his potential to really see that happen, but that’s for another article. One of these two will likely emerge and Woods seems to be the popular choice as a nice sleeper on a dynasty roster.

Colin Kaepernick, QB SF

It’s hard to say this move really improves Kaepernick’s value, but it certainly can’t hurt to add talented players at skill positions.

Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin

Again, it’s hard to look at this deal and justify moving any of these players around in the rankings. Johnson will provide depth on the roster, but he’s not going to be taking many snaps or targets away from this group.

Quinton Patton, WR SF

If there’s a loser in this deal, it’s likely Patton, though he’ll still be given some time to develop. He’s going to tough to keep on your roster in lieu of some other shiny rookies since his path to relevance seems to be a little tougher now. You could also say the losers in the deal are Jon Baldwin and Brandon Lloyd, but did you really expect much from that dynamic duo?

Ken Kelly

Ken Kelly

Senior Partner - Executive Editor at DynastyLeagueFootball
Ken is a corporate trainer by day an a tireless editor of dynasty content by night. His passion for the World Champion Seattle Seahawks is second only to his love of fantasy football and the dynasty format.

Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK
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  1. SJ

    May 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Any mention of Crabtree’s status with the Niners beyond this year?

    I believe he’s in his contract season, while Stevie is signed for two additional years. Obv that means nothing in terms of longevity as rosters seem to turnover on a annual basis, but one must admit this gives SF protection and the choice to move Johnson into the starting lineup if Crab and the Niners can come to terms.

    If FA has taught us anything, its that a contract year player will likely chase the money over actual positive surroundings. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in Crabs odds of re-signing with SF until it happens. Nothing is a given, and this move certainly gives SF some leverage as Stevie does have productive starting experience, and relatively in his prime.

  2. Jacob Feldman

    May 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    I think this kills any value Johnson had left. Only three teams in the NFL have thrown for under 3000 passing yards as a team more than once in the last three years. The Jets (2013, 2012), Minnesota (2012, 2011), and you guessed it – San Fran (2011 and 2013).

    If your team is only passing for 3000 yards and you are at best the 3rd target, more likely the fourth, that isn’t much. Even if they throw for an extra 500 yards next season, Crabtree will get at least a third of the passing yards if you trust historical data. That leaves 2300 yards for the rest of the team, which includes Davis, Boldin, RBs, and everyone else with Stevie. Yuck…

  3. Colt Smokey

    May 9, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Not saying Johnson will be a world beater, but Boldin is getting WAY too much credit. He had a nice year when there were no other options. Bold in will suffer the most.

  4. Slick

    May 10, 2014 at 5:00 am

    not necessarily. do not underrate the QB/WR connection boldin has with kaepernick. i could see a mess with targets and colin zero’ing in on 2-3 guys…and that would likely be crab, boldin and davis. i dont see that changing much. this trade is for depth and possibly next year, when they can cut one of the WRs. remember Crab is in a contract year this year and boldin and stevie are insurance

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