Fantasy Football Impact: What the Jordan Matthews trade means for the Bills and Eagles - Roto Street Journal
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Fantasy Football Impact: What the Jordan Matthews trade means for the Bills and Eagles

Amidst what turned out to be a crazy Friday in the NFL, a pretty big trade went down and still ended up being the third biggest news story of the day. Former Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews was traded to the Bills (who had traded away Sammy Watkins) just earlier. Several teams and players were effected fantasy wise as the receiver landscape shifted briefly.

Impact in Buffalo:

The move to Buffalo definitely boosts Matthews’ stock for the 2017 season. The departure of Watkins from Bills opens up the #1 receiver spot in Buffalo for the taking. Last year, Watkins only played in eight games while averaging seven targets per game, but had struggled with injuries prior to the one that would keep him out for the year. Robert Woods also departed in the off-season to the Los Angeles Rams, so there are plenty of targets to be distributed to new faces.

Matthews should be the defacto No. 1 receiver over rookie Zay Jones and 36-year old Anquan Boldin. Matthews was never much of a big play threat, as he was adept at short routes, while being great out of the slot. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor isn’t exactly a gunslinger, so Matthews seems to fit the mold of a receiver that Taylor can really work with. Taylor will have to form new chemistry and connections with his top three options, so the reality is that any of these guys can break out to be the guy. In the first preseason game, Taylor went Watkins’ way on the first three plays which had The Wolf feeling all sorts of tingling sensations. Now, Watkins is gone so it’s time for a receiver to step their game up. New offensive coordinator Rich Dennison could also help out Matthews in his WR1 role (if he grabs it). Dennison comes from the famed Shanahan coaching tree, which is big on targeting the “X” or #1 receiver which is only better news for Matthews if he assumes that WR1 role.

What’s interesting with the three receivers in Buffalo, is that the two veterans are primarily slot receivers. Matthews and Boldin are more natural slot guys, while Zay Jones has more ability to play on the outside. This could help Jones’ stock as more of a big play guy similar to Watkins. Granted he’s not the same talent as Watkins, but he’s a natural outside receiver.

The biggest impact of this trade for Buffalo actually lands with LeSean McCoy. As we know, the Bills lost backup Mike Gillislee to the Patriots this off-season. McCoy had a career year in 2016 and was a fantasy stud as a true work horse. Now with Watkins being shipped out of town, McCoy could take on an even bigger workload than he did in 2016, with even more catches that Watkins leaves behind. New head coach Sean McDermott comes into Buffalo and has been a big run first play caller. That only plays into McCoy’s hands more as he rises up the RB ranks in the wake of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension.

Unfortunately, Matthews already injured himself in his first practice with his new team. It’s a small fracture in his sternum which just sounds real painful, especially for slot receivers who get blasted over the middle. He’s reported as week to week which is terrible for his development with Taylor that will be critical for success in 2017. While he’s sitting on the sideline recovering, other receivers are working on their chemistry with Taylor and closing the gap in receiver ranks.

Impact in Philadelphia:

When one door closes, another one opens. The departure of Jordan Matthews opens a lot of doors for pass catchers in Philadelphia as he garnered 117 targets. The immediate beneficiary from this opening is tight end Zach Ertz. Ertz began to develop serious chemistry with QB Carson Wentz as the season developed, to the point where he had double digit targets in four of his last seven games, including a final line of 13-139-2 in Week 17 against divisional rival Dallas Cowboys. Ertz is going for very cheap right now compared to other tight ends so he’s quickly becoming one of the better valued tight ends in 2017.

As for the receivers that are impacted, newcomer Alshon Jeffery has a more locked-in WR1 role in Philly and will get majority of the attention. It also gives some value to Nelson Agholor as a penny-stock despite throwing up at the sight/sound of his name. Not too much of a boost for either as it compares to Ertz, but they have slightly better values after this trade.

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  • THE Inaugural 2016 RSJ Fantasy Football League Champion. Owner of a #bigbrain, and lover of football, baseball and college hoops. When not grinding for the RSJ, can be found captaining his beer league softball team.

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