Trade Reaction: Jordan Matthews to the Bills

by Anthony Reimer (@reimeras)

Man, what a day Friday (August 11th for those reading this later) was! After reading that Ezekiel Elliot was suspended for 6 games, I fully expected at least a weekends worth dedicated to why I should SELL! SELL! SELL! or BUY! BUY! BUY! Then the Bills, Rams and Eagles pulled off blockbuster deals that sent another wave of uncertainty throughout the fantasy world. It's almost like the NFL planned the announcement or something…..

The Bills trading Watkins has immediate impact throughout their entire offense. More personally, as a big advocate for Watkins this year, it made me very sad. You can read more about the Watkins impact from fellow FLAFFLer Rob Schwarz. The loss of Watkins downgrades Taylor considerably for me, regardless of the other moves they made. You don't just replace a talent like Watkins. I know that he's been hurt a lot, but the thought of a healthy Sammy Watkins gave Tyrod a ceiling that simply isn't there anymore. Add that to the underrated losses of Marquese Goodwin and Robert Woods and the Bills have virtually no downfield threat. My first reaction was to lower McCoy, as I think the offense as a whole will suffer. However, that offensive line is good enough, and he should definitely get enough volume to justify my RB3 ranking. Nothing says “We want to run the football” like a wide receiver trio of Jordan Matthews, Anquan Boldin and Zay Jones.

The addition of Matthews is perplexing to me. With the aforementioned Matthews, Boldin and Jones as their projected top three receivers, the Bills have three players that play the same position. According to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, Matthews ran 54% of his routes out of the slant, and both Jones and Boldin both profile as being best utilized the “big” slot receiver role.

Regardless of where they align, I question Tyrod’s ability to properly utilize these receivers skill set. All three are best at running short, high percentage underneath routes. None of them are necessarily considered to be playmakers after the catch. Tyrod has excelled mostly as a play-action reliant quarterbacks who can use his legs for positive gain, or throw it deep to a streaking wide receiver on the sideline. I think Tyrod is a better quarterback than he's given credit for, so while there's a chance he improves his short range accuracy, it's not something I'd want to count on. This receiving core reminds me a lot of the Titans a few years back. You knew either Nate Washington, Kenny Britt or Kendall Wright would end up as a low end WR2/3, but they were a week to week headache that mostly cannibalized each other's production. While I like Boldin as a late flier in best ball because of the touchdown upside, mostly I'm staying away.

As for the Eagles, the loss of Matthews isn't as significant as it seems. There had already been rumblings that he was losing first team snaps to Nelson Agholor before this trade was made. This move pushes Agholor into fantasy relevance, as he's now worth a flier in deep formats and worth keeping an eye on as a mid season waiver claim in more shallow leagues. This does however give Alshon Jeffery a slight boost since he should see an uptick in targets. As for Wentz, the loss of a good wide receiver doesn't necessarily help his chances at making a leap this season, but it doesn't necessarily hurt them either. With a stout offensive line and remaining weapons of Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Torrey Smith, Agholor and Darren Sproles, Wentz still has more than enough weapons to make a jump into QB1 conversations if he's going to do so. The less heralded addition of Ronald Darby helps the Eagles defense since their secondary was easily the weakest part of that team. For those of you still playing in leagues with defenses, I like them to be a unit that could make a Vikings-like jump in 2017.