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2018 NFL Trade Deadline: Fantasy Football Impact

Some big deals on trade deadline day will have impact on the fantasy value of players across the league.

Real life trades have fantasy consequences. As NFL teams wheel and deal on deadline day, players gain and lose value in the shuffle. We'll break down what the deadline means for key players on the teams making deals. 

This post will be update throughout the day as more trades are made.


The first trade made on deadline day was a doozy, with the Broncos sending Demaryius Thomas to the Texans. Thomas’s fantasy value gets a slight bump, due largely to the quarterback improvement. Case Keenum was an obvious upgrade from the likes of Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler, but he wasn’t able to carry over his Minnesota magic to Denver this season. Thomas had 36 catches on 56 targets for 402 yards and three touchdowns in eight games with Keenum, good for 7.28 points per game in standard leagues, and 11.78 points per game in PPR formats. The move to Deshaun Watson should more than offset any target share concerns attendant to playing alongside DeAndre Hopkins. Remember, too, that Emmanuel Sanders is Denver’s leader in targets, getting 65 through the team’s first eight games. His share of the looks isn’t as great in Denver as Hopkins’s is in Houston, but it’s not like Thomas was playing with a WR1 target share with the Broncos. His workload may not increase, but the targets will be coming from a better quarterback in a more dangerous, faster-paced offense. That’s good news for the former fantasy star.



Watson, too, gets a marginal upgrade in light of the trade. With Fuller out for the season, Keke Coutee was slated to take over as the No. 2 receiver in Houston. Coutee is a fine receiver who has made the most of limited opportunities this season, but adding Thomas was a no-brainer for the first-place team in the AFC South. Not only is Thomas more capable of being a true No. 2 to Hopkins, but he gives Watson another legitimate threat, rather than the team turning to Sammie Coates as its No. 3 receiver. Thomas may not be the weapon that Fuller was, but Hopkins-Thomas-Coutee is clearly a better trio than Hopkins-Coutee-Coates.


The Texans acted quickly to replace the injured Will Fuller, and if anyone is a big loser as a result of this deal, it’s Coutee. Instead of being the No. 2 alongside Hopkins, his role won’t change much when he returns from his hamstring injury. Still, he’s not valueless, as he’s likely to bump inside and take the slot targets that were previously going to Fuller. What’s more, he’s best suited to fill Fuller’s role as the team’s primary downfield threat. Coutee won’t have enough of a target share to be a regular fantasy starter, but he’s going to make some big plays the rest of the season. That gives him value as a depth receiver, with 18 teams still set to go on bye, including six this week.

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While Sanders’s and Keenum’s values don’t change at all, we do find our biggest winner from this deal in the Mile High City. Sutton will now start alongside Sanders the rest of the season, and brings to the table WR2 potential, with a WR3/4 floor. The rookie out of SMU has made the most of his limited opportunities this season, catching 17 of 37 targets for 324 yards and two touchdowns. Sutton has scored 1.2 points per target in standard leagues, nestled between Stefon Diggs and Antonio Brown. In PPR leagues, his 1.66 points per target is just shy of marks posted by Odell Beckham and Julio Jones. With Thomas gone, Sutton should get eight-plus targets per game, and while his efficiency is bound to regress, the increased volume will more than counterbalance the decrease. If Sutton is available in your league, he should be your top target on the waiver wire.

Golden Tate, WR, LIONS

It might not seem like it at first, but the trade to Philadelphia hurts Tate’s fantasy value. He may have been dividing the target pie with Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay in Detroit, but he was eating the biggest piece, racking up a 27.4% target share. Through Week 8, Jones was at 18.7%, while Golladay secured 17.5% of the team’s targets. That’s not going to be the case for Tate with the Eagles. In fact, he could be running third on the team in targets behind Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery. Tate does his best work in the slot, but it’s entirely possible the team will ask him to run some routes outside the numbers, with Nelson Agholor on the inside. Plus, Ertz runs his fair share of routes from the slot, which could also occasionally force Tate outside. He has the look of a WR3 for the rest of the season, a clear step down from where he was with the Lions.

Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, WRs, Lions

The two receivers left behind in Detroit both skyrocket in fantasy value with Tate headed to Philadelphia. There’s now 27.4% of the team’s targets up for grabs, and it isn’t suddenly going to Luke Willson or Michael Roberts. If we divide Tate’s looks evenly between Jones and Golladay, both see their target share climb north of 30%. That may be unrealistic, but it’s likely that Jones and Golladay will both see more than one-quarter of the team’s targets for the rest of the season. Combine that sort of target share with the skill sets the two receivers bring to the table and a competent quarterback like Matthew Stafford, and you get major fantasy production nine times out of 10. Consider Jones and Golladay locked in as WR2s for the rest of the season. Both have top-15 potential at the position.

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Matthew Stafford and Kerryon Johnson, QB and RB, Lions

The remaining fantasy-relevant players in Detroit aren’t affected by this trade in a meaningful way. Stafford does lose his favorite target, but he can make up for that by targeting Jones and Golladay more frequently. Your valuation on these two players for the rest of the season shouldn’t change.

Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, TE and WR, Eagles

Ertz and Jeffery woke up on Tuesday as the top-two targets in the Eagles’ offense. They will go to sleep on Tuesday as the top-two targets in the Eagles’ offense. Tate brings to the passing game an element the team was lacking—namely an ability to run incisive short and intermediate routes—but that shouldn’t alter bottom-line production for Ertz or Jeffery, at least in a way that’s statistically significant. The one concern for both is they could lose some target share in the red zone with Tate’s knack for getting open in tight spaces, but they remain at the top of Carson Wentz’s food chain. Give Jeffery a slight knock, while keeping Ertz locked in as one of the two best tight ends in the league, along with Travis Kelce.

Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

This is certainly an upgrade for Wentz, though it may not change his fantasy value very much. He has already been playing efficient football this season, completing more than 70% of his passes for 1,788 yards, 7.95 yards per attempt and 13 touchdowns against two interceptions in six games. Tate’s greatest value comes in making his quarterback more efficient, and Wentz is already playing at a high level in that regard. Still, he’s more dangerous in the slot than Agholor, and gives the Eagles one of the most dangerous trios of pass-catchers in the league.

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles

Agholor was already among our Week 9 Droppables to start the week. This trade only confirms that status.

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Ty Montgomery, RB, Ravens

Montgomery was on his way out of Green Bay after throwing a sideline tantrum, [reportedly] ignoring his coach’s orders, and then having that misguided exercise of free will lead to a game-ending fumble. The Packers managed to get something for him, albeit miniscule, before showing him the door, sending him to Baltimore for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft. Montgomery is a running back in name only, and that’s not likely to change in Baltimore. What else is unlikely to change is his fantasy value. He was unowned in most leagues before the trade, and that’s exactly how he should remain. That does not mean, however, that this trade had the resonance of a whisper in a hurricane on the fantasy landscape.

Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens

The Ravens gave up next to nothing to acquire Montgomery, but it’s hard to imagine they would’ve paid even that pittance for him if they were completely happy with their backfield. Given Montgomery’s skill set, he’s more likely to take touches away from Allen than Alex Collins. Allen has played his way into fantasy-relevance this year mostly because of what he has done as a receiver, catching 30 of 38 targets for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He has generated value as a goal-line back as well, hitting paydirt three times on the ground, but you can’t trust a player based on goal-line work alone. If Allen does indeed lose work in the passing game to Montgomery, he’ll be droppable in all formats.

Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

What, you thought I wasn’t going to take any excuse I could find to build up Aaron Jones? Clearly, you haven’t been paying close attention to the fantasy pages at this season. Jones has been the best back in Green Bay since the moment he set foot there last season, and any move the team makes that could get him more work is a good one. Jamaal Williams is a non-factor as a receiver, while Jones has done well with his opportunities in the passing game this season, catching six of eight targets for 41 yards. Mike McCarthy loves Williams as a pass protector, which suggests he’d be first in line for Montgomery’s passing-down work, but if Jones can secure just half of those snaps he can turn them into meaningful fantasy production.