The NFL trade deadline has come and gone, with a shocking amount of movement for teams seeking that last piece of the puzzle. While the anticipation of the trade deadline is often more exciting than the actual moment, this year exceeded the hype. Twelve players were traded, thus readjusting our perception of their opportunities and value moving forward in dynasty fantasy football.
As bye week hell approaches, lineups have only gotten more tricky as chess pieces moved about the board. We’re going to look at who lost at the trade deadline, and who gets coffee for closing a good trade deal because coffee is for closers.
Winner: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Perhaps the biggest winner of the day didn’t change teams, but instead got a weapon. And, boy, did Fields desperately need a weapon. This win comes in the form of Chase Claypool moving from the Steelers to the Bears. Are the Bears going to contend this year? Likely not, but this is a step in the right direction.
While Claypool has had a slow start to the season, he’s picked it up in recent weeks benefiting from one QB change in the Steel City. We’ll now see if a third QB change can also be a boost. Fields loves to throw a deep ball and he’s good at it, too. Not being able to open up the field has been an issue for Chicago, and Claypool provides that ability.
Despite this move coming in the middle of the 2022 season, this is truly a move for 2023. Fields, now that they’re finally running the ball with him, has really improved from the start of the season. Chicago knew that it needed better weapons to get a better evaluation ahead of what looks to be a good 2023 QB class.
Fields has three consecutive games of 20+ fantasy points, but it’s his lack of passing yards that is preventing him from cracking the top ten of dynasty fantasy QBs. The team should figure out how to maneuver Claypool and Darnell Mooney in-and-out of the slot. Mooney has been handling less of that work in Weeks 5-7 (ranked 18th in slot targets with 10, turning 5 of those into receptions for 83 yards). In that same timeframe, Claypool is second only to Parris Campbell in targets (20), securing those for 13 catches, 157 yards, and a touchdown.
“As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see second prize? Second prize’s a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired. Do you get the picture?” -Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Claypool is the Cadillac, an effective run game is the set of steak of knives, and if neither of these things work, key people are getting replaced.
Loser: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Heading up I-43 to Green Bay where the Packers attempted to make a move for Claypool (and potentially Brandin Cooks), but none of those moves came to fruition. Rodgers will be stuck playing with who he has for the rest of the season (unless Odell Beckham Jr. wants a long shot at a Super Bowl), but improved weapons aren’t the cure-all here.
The Packers have issues in other areas of this offense beyond personnel. Rodgers isn’t playing good football and didn’t appear flexible enough to play to the level of who he has now—not who he used to have or wished he had—until Week 8 against Buffalo. In that game, Rodgers looks like he trusted the young guys a little bit more and the run game was much more effective—despite a musical chairs game week-to-week on the offensive line.
Despite now being ranked 8th in total offensive DVOA, infrequent scoring has kept Rodgers as the QB18 in fantasy. Begging the Packers to run more play action under center! He’s not worth a play unless you’re desperate during the bye week slough.
“Put that coffee down! Coffee is for closers.” -Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
The Packers failed to close any deals to help the team win now. I’m taking their coffee away.
Winner: T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
This is a win for the Vikings as a whole as much as it is for Hockenson individually. Being able to pry a talented skill-position player from a division rival (one that hopes to be in contention soon) is quite the close. Spyhouse coffees all around at U.S. Bank Stadium! The Vikings needed a little kick in the shorts offensively with Adam Thielen showing his age and Dalvin Cook overcoming a slow start to the season.
Hock is the TE4 in PPR leagues this season, but the chasm between Travis Kelce at 20.4 PPR PPG and Mark Andrews at 15 PPR PPG dwarfs Hock’s 12.1 PPR PPG. I’m not sure Kirk Cousins will be the guy to move the TE into the top three this season. He’ll take over for Irv Smith Jr., but the Cousins era hasn’t seen a lot of top TE production, and usually just sets a decent scoring floor. However, resetting their core skill players with Justin Jefferson (age 23), Hock (25), and Cook (27), is a nice trio to have this season and the next.
The sure-handed Hockenson is a great target for a young QB, if Minnesota moves on from Cousins next season. He’ll just have to ensure that he stays healthy. In his three seasons prior to this one, Hock played 12 games his rookie season, a full season his sophomore year, but only 12 last season as injuries lingered.
“You know what it takes to sell real estate? It takes brass balls to sell real estate. Go and do likewise, gents. The money’s out there, you pick it up, it’s yours. You don’t, I got no sympathy for you.” -Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
The Vikings had brass balls to approach a deal like this and it cost a lot of good draft capital to get Hockenson in the building. They saw an opportunity and went after it, just got to wait on the returns.
Losers: Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams & Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans
Cooks will have to get on the phone to chat with Akers about the ups-and-downs of being a Ram around the trade deadline. Cooks wasn’t moved, but was in conversations to find another new team, while Akers has been pushing for a trade for a couple weeks now.
Not all is lost with the Rams and their frustrated player, as Tom Pelissero reported that the team is currently working with Akers’ agent to play for the them again. The Rams running game, and by extension offense, hasn’t been up to par this season as it was last. The offensive line has holes that started to show as players retired/left the team and now depth is a big issue for the unit.
Akers is still only 23-years old, but the Florida State alum has only played 17 games across three seasons. If he was a QB, the team would’ve moved on by now. The dynasty trade market isn’t going to be very active for a player that hasn’t played. He can be a game changer and has the ability to be a 20 point per game scorer, but pure ability doesn’t always translate to being a good NFL player.
I’m imagining Akers in a room with the Rams and having this conversation from what else? Glengarry Glen Ross (1992).
Les Snead: The leads are weak.
Akers: “The leads are weak.” Fuckin’ leads are weak? You’re weak. I’ve been in this business 15 years!
Stan Kroenke: What’s your name?
Akers: FUCK YOU, that’s my name! You know why, mister? ‘Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name! -Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Cooks on the other hand is still a reliable play from week-to-week in dynasty formats. You could do worse than trotting out a receiver who, in the past, has consistently been a top-20 PPR WR. Six of his eight pro seasons have resulted in 1,000 yard seasons. At 29, it’s tempting to move on from him in dynasty formats, but there’s still some tread left on those tires as evidenced by the amount of calls Houston got on his availability.
Despite nursing a wrist injury, Cooks’ season can turn around. If he finds the end zone a few more times—he has one this season—and his targets need to start ticking back up, Cooks can be as good as he was last year for fantasy. But, through Week 7, the Texans are only 25th in total NEFF rating.
“Hey, let me buy you a pack of gum. I’ll show you how to chew it.” -Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Cooks didn’t play in this week’s Thursday night game for the Texans because he wanted a move. The wideout clearly wants to go to an organization he has a little bit more respect for. We’ll see if he plays next week, or if he brings Nick Casserio some gum.