It’s about time! The Philadelphia Eagles traded three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick. So what are the fantasy ramifications?
There are a lot of things that make me say “hmm” about this trade. Most notably, we finally will get a chance to see Dallas Goedert on his own and given a larger workload. The former South Dakota State star isn’t having a bad 2021 season, but he hasn’t matched the high expectations from the fantasy draft season. Mostly because Ertz was still around to soak up targets.
Through five games, Goedert has 15 receptions on 19 targets for 216 yards and two scores. That’s about 9.7 PPR points per game, which is just the 15th-highest PPG average at the position. Ertz’s departure should increase Goedert’s opportunity and firmly push him into bonafide TE1 production. One recent note: Goedert was placed on the COVID list a few days ago, which forced him to miss Thursday night’s game vs. the Bucs. He should be on track for Week 7.
Ertz’s arrival in Arizona fills a wide-open spot on the depth chart. The Cards sent the incumbent Dan Arnold to the Jaguars after Jacksonville lost their starting tight end, James O’Shaughnessy, to injury. But then the Cardinals lost Maxx Williams to a season-ending knee injury. Through six games, Ertz delivered 18 receptions on 31 targets for 189 yards and two scores -- including one Thursday night. Consistency has been an issue as Ertz, who turns 31 next month, had only two or fewer receptions in three contests this year. I’d be most comfortable using Ertz as a bye-week fill-in; however, we can’t underestimate this already stellar offense. It could be even better. Their diverse attack is now much more difficult to defend and Kyler Murray could lean heavily on the tight end as a safety blanket.
Some thoughts from SI Fantasy analyst Jennifer Piacenti:
“Fantasy Managers for both Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz get good news this morning. Goedert will finally be the clear No. 1 in Philadelphia, and Ertz will become the No. 1 for an undefeated Arizona team,” said Piacenti. “Through the first four games of the season, before his season-ending knee injury vs. San Francisco, Maxx Williams was playing 71% of the team’s snaps with an 11% target share. Ertz was playing a 57% snap share in a struggling offense, and now instead will be another weapon for early MVP candidate, Kyler Murray. Temper expectations, though. Murray has a lot of weapons, and Williams didn’t see a lot of red-zone opportunities. With a lesser snap share, Ertz saw five red-zone touches with Philadelphia to Williams’ one with the Cardinals. Fantasy managers can expect a higher week to week floor, but the big games may be few and far between.”
Eagles WR Quez Watkins is one of my favorite emerging rookies. His speed is lights out and hopefully Philadelphia can get him more involved in the short passing attack. WR DeVonta Smith could really blossom with the added targets.
Eagles RB Miles Sanders desperately needs more touches and this opens up the offense for him as well.
Cardinals QB Kyler Murray can’t get that much better, or could he? Ertz’s demise has been greatly exaggerated and this could push the former Sooners signal-caller that much closer to this year’s MVP.
Cardinals RB James Conner is tied for 10th among running backs by averaging three red-zone rushes per game. With five touchdowns in his last three games, Conner’s opportunities could diminish thanks to Ertz’s goal-line prowess.
Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins could see a little less frequent double-teams with defenses forced to better cover the middle of the field. I’m a little disappointed that this could slow down the number of short pass attempts to WR Rondale Moore. The rookie has been mostly used as a gadget player thus far. WRs A.J. Green and Christian Kirk both lose what little ceiling potential they had.