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NFL Trade Deadline: Dynasty Special

Which players could be on the move at the NFL’s trade deadline? And how does that affect dynasty leagues?

Deshaun Watson

The fantasy football community lost a great person recently when Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros passed away from COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated against the disease. His shocking and sudden passing has left a huge void behind the scenes in the industry and he leaves behind a beautiful family, including Tabbie (Mike’s wife) and their children, Alyssa (18) and Jonathan (4). Many have rallied to support the Tagliere family and there’s a GoFundMe account set up to do just that. If any of you feel the calling to give, there are few people better to support than “Tags.” He will be missed!

In this article, I wanted to look at some players who may be on the move before the NFL trade deadline. The deadline is just under a week away on November 2nd at 4 PM Eastern time, so NFL teams have only a bit of time to decide if they want to make any acquisitions. Of course, any trade affects the traded player, the existing players on his new team, and the players left behind on his old squad.

I won’t delve into wild speculation, though, as the NFL trade deadline is often a massive letdown. Most years, there are only a couple of trades, and last year had zero notable deadline-day moves. With that said, there are five fantasy-relevant players I think have a realistic shot at a trade before Tuesday’s deadline. So let’s jump into it!

Deshaun Watson, QB HOU

Let’s get Watson out of the way up top. It’s abundantly clear that Watson will never play another down for the Texans, as they’ve made him a weekly healthy scratch throughout this season. This trade will happen eventually, but it’s unclear whether it will occur over the next week. Unlike the other potential moves, this trade wouldn’t affect the Texans, as Watson isn’t playing for them anyway.

Therefore, a Watson trade would only matter for the players on his new team and Watson himself. Right now, he is QB20 and 54.75 overall in DLF’s most recent superflex ADP, although that data is from September. If he moved to a new team and could play immediately, I expect he would immediately return to dynasty QB1 status, no matter his destination. However, he carries a cloud of uncertainty, and I doubt he ever becomes the rock-solid top-five superflex asset he was pre-legal issues.

I believe the Panthers and the Dolphins are the two most likely destinations for Watson, as they’ve had the most consistent links to him. It doesn’t seem like the Texans are interested in acquiring Sam Darnold or Tua Tagovailoa, so either of those players could lose their starting job if Watson went there. But for now, I lean that this trade occurs in the off-season, not in the next week. I already have zero interest in Darnold or Tagovailoa as long-term superflex assets, so I’m not making any moves on the Watson news specifically. I’d likely wait until after the trade deadline passes and then try and unload those two young quarterbacks.

Allen Robinson, WR CHI

It couldn’t be any more clear that Robinson and the Bears are heading for a divorce after this season at the latest. The Bears applied the franchise tag to Robinson after his contract expired last off-season, and he was obviously unhappy with that decision. Additionally, it honestly seems like he has zero chemistry with either Andy Dalton or Justin Fields, so I believe a trade would benefit both parties.

Robinson hasn’t produced much of anything in 2021 so far.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

He currently has 23 receptions for 250 yards and a touchdown in seven games, averaging fewer than 40 yards per game. Darnell Mooney has more targets, receptions, and yards than Robinson, which I think is relatively shocking.

The Bears are currently 3-4, and both head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace are likely on hot seats. Therefore, I would bet against Robinson getting traded, even though the Bears will lose him for nothing in free agency this off-season. I’m not even sure that a Robinson trade would help Mooney or tight end Cole Kmet in fantasy, as the Bears’ offense would become a total dumpster fire. Fields would also struggle even more than he already has, potentially dropping his dynasty value even more.

However, Robinson’s new team would receive an alpha weapon, helping their quarterback and taking targets away from their existing weapons. Either way, my advice remains the same. Hold him and wait until he leaves the Bears, as his dynasty value will likely recover with a change of scenery. He’s impossible to move right now in dynasty leagues.

Brandin Cooks, WR HOU

Unlike Watson and Robinson, I think there’s a pretty reasonable chance the Texans decide to trade Cooks before the trade deadline. They will eventually receive a draft capital windfall from a Watson trade, and they have no current plan at quarterback. In addition, they’re a rebuilding franchise multiple years away from contention, similar to the Jaguars or Jets’ situations during the 2020 season. Cooks is still only 28 years old, but he doesn’t fit with the Texans’ long-term timeline.

It makes perfect sense for the Texans to capitalize on his strong play this year and send him to a contender in exchange for future draft capital.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

So far, Cooks has 45 receptions for 502 yards and a touchdown, despite dealing with Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills at quarterback. Oddly, Cooks’s value would likely remain similar after a trade. He would undoubtedly receive a quarterback upgrade, but he would also likely become the second or third option on his new team.

Some logical potential landing spots include the Chiefs, Packers, and Saints. I would prefer the Chiefs or Packers of those options, and Cooks would likely be a fantasy WR2 rest of the season in either spot. Wherever Cooks goes, he won’t take away from the top receiving weapons, but he would likely kill the value for ancillary pieces like Mecole Hardman, Robert Tonyan, or Marquez Callaway. Cooks is always a decent dynasty buy for contenders, so perhaps acquire him now before there’s buzz from a trade.

As for the Texans’ other receiving options after a potential Cooks’ trade, the only one who matters is third-round rookie Nico Collins. Collins returned from injured reserve in week six, and he immediately played well. He’s a screaming value at WR81 in October’s DLF ADP, and I want to acquire him now, regardless of Cooks’ status. I believe Collins has a path to relevance in the Texans’ future, and now is the time to pounce on him.

Evan Engram, TE NYG

Engram combines elements of both Robinson’s and Cooks’ situations, which will facilitate a trade. Like Robinson, Engram is an impending free agent who will almost certainly not return to his current team. Additionally, the Giants are a rebuilding franchise like the Texans, currently sitting at 2-5. I, therefore, expect them to be sellers at the trade deadline.

If the Giants trade Engram, it would slightly open the door for some of their intriguing receiving options behind him, especially rookie Kadarius Toney.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

Even though Engram hasn’t made any true impact this season for the Giants or fantasy managers, he’s still third on the team in targets. After Toney’s recent emergence, I believe the Giants have an interesting top wide receiver trio with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Toney. If Engram were to leave, all three of those players could provide at least some value for the rest of the season, as there would then be enough targets to go around. In addition, Kyle Rudolph would also have a tiny bit of streaming value as a desperation tight end option in super deep leagues.

As for Engram himself, he’s not going to go somewhere that already has an established tight end, and he’s not important enough to affect the other options in his new destination. However, we just saw Zach Ertz find fantasy value after a trade to the Cardinals, and there are a few contending teams that could use a receiving tight end. The Titans would be an ideal landing spot for Engram, as they have essentially no receiving options behind AJ Brown and Julio Jones. The Anthony Firkser experiment failed, and Jones is currently battling a hamstring injury, limiting his effectiveness.

However, I have zero faith that Engram will ever become a competent NFL tight end, especially as a Giants fan living in New York. I’d love to get out from under him in dynasty formats if a trade provides any selling window for Engram. If I could even return a future second-rounder in tight-end premium leagues, I’d be ecstatic.

Marlon Mack, RB IND

Mack represents an entirely different scenario from the other four players. The Colts and Mack agreed to find a trade almost a month ago, but they haven’t yet completed the deal. I fully expect the transaction to happen before Tuesday’s deadline, as the Colts have no use for Mack. They have star second-year running back Jonathan Taylor as their starter, and they recently signed pass-catcher Nyheim Hines to a three-year, $18.6 million contract extension with $12 million guaranteed.

Taylor is a dominant fantasy force, but Mack’s presence certainly has hurt Hines.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

Mack only has 28 carries and two catches through seven games, although he’s done just enough to make Hines a highly volatile fantasy asset. If Mack left, the Colts would likely move to a two-man rotation between Taylor and Hines, restoring Hines’ value as a consistent RB3/Flex play.

As for Mack’s new destination, it’s hard to imagine most teams would entrust him with a starting role. He ruptured his Achilles in 2020, and he hasn’t looked the same as his pre-injury form thus far in 2021. I believe Mack is a capable backup or complementary piece, though, and he should at least find an RB2 job somewhere in the NFL.

Right now, the only place Mack could go and be a starter is Baltimore. Their committee of Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Le’Veon Bell, and Ty’Son Williams is an abomination. The Ravens’ running back situation is so bad that it forced them to go to a more pass-happy attack as they just can’t run the ball with their running backs.

Outside of the Ravens, the Chiefs and the Falcons make the most sense for a Mack trade. The Chiefs currently have starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire on injured reserve, and he may not return for multiple weeks. Darrel Williams would likely remain the starter, but Mack would significantly upgrade over current backup Jerick McKinnon. In addition, the Chiefs are 3-4 and can’t afford to lose any more games.

As for the Falcons, Cordarrelle Patterson is a smashing success as a hybrid player out of the backfield, but they could use an actual running back to complement him. Mike Davis has been terrible in 2021, and the Falcons are suddenly a 3-3 team. Mack would gain a role in that offense at the very least.

No matter what, Mack will have more value in a new destination than where he is now. I recommend acquiring him as a stash candidate, as he only turns 26 in the off-season. Therefore, he could find another contract as a starter or a committee back for 2022 if he succeeds down the stretch this year. Grab Mack as a throw-in on a larger deal and enjoy his value increase in a week.

N’Keal Harry, WR NE

The Patriots have no interest in Harry long-term, as they signed Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne as receiving weapons in free agency. They also have Jakobi Meyers as their top wide receiver, leaving little to no playing time for Harry. However, Harry was a stellar prospect entering the 2019 NFL Draft, and he has first-round draft capital.

Therefore, some teams around the NFL may want Harry as their WR3. He’s just a desperation depth option, though, and I have little to no interest in him in dynasty leagues. If he gains any value bump from a potential trade, I will sell him. I’m actually fine taking a third-round rookie pick and moving on.

NFL Trade Deadline: Dynasty Special
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Flasha323
11 months ago

10 team .5 PPR 2 QB league. Sitting in first at 6-1 and most points scored. Can start 2-4 RBs and 2-4 WRs. So every week I’m having to sit one of J Rob, Deebo, DJ. So I’m wanting to get my starting six locked in for the playoffs. So looking to trade off one of my WR to help sure up my QB2 spot.
QBs: Murray, Tua, Darnold, Lance
RBs:Kamara, Swift, J Rob, Akers, Etienne, Moss
WRs:J Jefferson, Kupp, Deebo, DJ Moore, OBJ, Juju, Rondale Moore
2 possible trade scenarios. Which one do you think is better for this year and the future?
Option 1: I trade Tua or Darnold (most likely Tua) along with Deebo for Stafford to get the Rams stack
Option 2: I trade Tua or Darnold (most likely Tua) along with Kupp for Joe Burrow
Both trades are with the same person, so I’d get the Rams stack in 1 and he’d get the stack in the Burrow scenario

Michael Cleator
Reply to  Flasha323
11 months ago

I wouldn’t do either trade just to get a good backup QB, especially with the WRs you need to give up. Tua has a decent schedule, as does Lance, who may take over in SF so you have viable QB options. Keep the WR depth as you never know when an injury can pop up. Maybe try to deal a pick for a Wentz or Tannehill to improve your QB depth.

Flasha323
Reply to  Michael Cleator
11 months ago

My league is 2QB/Superflex, we start 2 QBs. Sorry if I wasn’t clear on that before. So I would be trading to sure up my 2nd starting QB spot. Does that change your answer any? Just thought I may have not been clear since you referred to them as a backup QBs.

Thanks for your help and thoughts on this!

Last edited 11 months ago by Flasha323
Michael Cleator
Reply to  Flasha323
11 months ago

That changes things a lot! Now the choice is which QB and which WR have the most long term value for you. It’s a good position to be in though. Good luck!

Michael Cleator
Reply to  Flasha323
11 months ago

I didn’t pay attention to the mention of a two QB league, my bad.

Flasha323
Reply to  Michael Cleator
11 months ago

No worries, appreciate your thoughts. I think Stafford/Kupp give me the best chance to win this year, but Burrow has obviously more long term value at QB than Stafford and Deebo is a few years younger than Kupp as well. The Rams schedule during the playoffs this year is very nice too. Trying to balance long term value and winning this year

Ed Geis
Reply to  Flasha323
11 months ago

You’d get more opinions if you shifted this question over to DLFs Forums. The Dynasty Team Advice forum is where this goes.

Last edited 11 months ago by Ed Geis
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