After finishing up the article on Jimmy Garoppolo being traded to the 49ers, I went to bed with a sense of relief, knowing that was going to be the only big trade that would affect dynasty rosters before the trade deadline came and went quietly.
Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles this morning in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Ajayi had fallen out of favor with Coach Adam Gase in recent weeks, though a trade was certainly not expected this morning. As a result, this deal has drastically affected a number of players and their subsequent dynasty values. Let’s re-assess player-by-player.
Jay Ajayi, RB PHI
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The Dolphins were clearly upset by the lack of production in their running game and Ajayi has taken the fall here. The ironic thing to me is the real problem is likely their porous offensive line and the fact few teams were having nightmares about facing Jay Cutler or Matt Moore, thus stacking the box in an attempt to stop Miami from running the ball. That being said, Ajayi hasn’t had a great year so far as he’s rushed for just 465 yards on 138 carries, good for a pedestrian 3.4 yards per carry. In addition, he was able to gain just 74 yards on 36 carries over the past two weeks and has unbelievably yet to score a touchdown this season.
In Philadelphia, Ajayi will have a real chance to rejuvenate his season and long-term value. Remember, this is a player who has averaged nearly 4.5 yards per carry in his career and had back-to-back 200-yard rushing performances just last season (and three such games in total last year). He’s going to a team with a legitimate MVP candidate at quarterback and a solid receiving corps that should allow him to find some more daylight this season.
This move is clearly positive for Ajayi’s value and puts him back on the map as a RB2 with real upside in a new offense that should give him many more scoring opportunities (as long as the Eagles don’t exclusively use LeGarrette Blount at the goal line). He’s likely not going to be a true featured back and that’s going to cap his value a bit. However, remember he’s under contract this year and next and could be a key player to someone making a run this year. He should be able to log 20 carries a game moving forward and break off a few big ones in the process. His knees are always going to be a concern as his long-term outlook is still unknown. However, this is a great day to have some Ajayi shares. Expect his ADP to stabilize at right around 25 now.
LeGarrette Blount, RB PHI
Blount will undoubtedly take the biggest hit in value with this trade. He’s been getting around 15 carries a game and fared well, posting 4.7 yards per carry. However, he’s slowed down as of late and has been able to post just 77 yards the past two games. After leading the league in touchdowns with 18 last year, he’s also been able to find the end zone just twice this year. The 30-year old Blount looked like a player who could be serviceable after posting such a great season last year (it was also his first ever 1,000 yard effort), but things just haven’t worked out quite like the Eagles thought and it’s clear they believed they needed an upgrade. Blount will be on fantasy benches moving forward.
Other Eagles Running Backs
This isn’t great news for the other running backs on the Eagles, including Corey Clement, Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood. Each of them had a chance to really take charge in this backfield and none has shown the ability to really be counted on. This is most disappointing for owners of Smallwood, who likely believed they had a real chance for a diamond in the rough here. The writing was on the wall after he only had two touches this week and the trade for Ajayi reinforces the idea the coaching staff had seen enough of Smallwood to know he wasn’t ready for prime time. His ADP will likely fall off a cliff at this point.
Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, RBs MIA
If there are winners in this deal other than Ajayi, it’s obviously these two. Drake should have the first crack at lead duties, but savvy dynasty owners aren’t likely selling the farm to get him this morning. After all, he has just 43 touches in his career and just ten attempts this season. We really haven’t seen quite enough to know just how good he may be. He’s also going to be running behind the same offensive line that failed to do much for Ajayi. It’s a wait and see approach with him, but at least we finally get to really see what he may be able to do. Early results in his career have been positive but limited action is always scary to invest in.
As for Williams, he’s going to be an afterthought in most leagues. However, I really don’t think he should be. While Drake was named “the #2” by Adam Gase recently, Williams has done more than enough to merit some run here (literally). Drake is going to get the headlines here but Williams is a sneaky pickup in dynasty leagues. If you want to get really crazy, go take a look at Senorise Perry, too. The Dolphins have nothing to lose here and he could even get a few chances to compete for time. Regardless, the ADP values of the two main backs for Miami are going to be on the upswing – just don’t overpay as Miami could obviously look in the draft or free agency this off-season if this platoon (or Drake on his own) just doesn’t work out.
The trade of Ajayi was a stunner today and it could be the first of a very busy day. Keep it here as we track the news all day long.
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