Fantasy football

Fantasy football impact of Jay Ajayi trade

Fantasy football impact of Jay Ajayi trade

The Eagles' acquisition of Jay Ajayi has pretty big fantasy implications in Philly, Miami and for anyone who has a running back from one of the two teams.

Let's dive in:

Jay Ajayi
For me, this move does not alter Ajayi's rest-of-season stock much. Yes, he's moving to a much better offense, but he'll also be giving up the volume he had in Miami.

In seven games this season, Ajayi has averaged 22 touches (20 carries, two catches). Aside from quarterback runs, 86 percent of Miami's carries this season came from Ajayi.

The Eagles have been much more balanced on the ground. They've had 202 carries from non-quarterbacks and LeGarrette Blount has led the way with 100.

Now, part of the reason the Eagles have handed the ball off to so many different backs is that they've lacked a true No. 1. Ajayi is closer to a No. 1 than anyone on the roster. He figures to get more than the 50 percent of carries that Blount has accrued. But Ajayi's number won't be anywhere close to the 86 percent of carries he was getting in Miami.

The assumption here is that Ajayi receives about 60 percent of the Eagles' running back touches from here on out. He'll need to pick up the offense and he'll need to impress in pass blocking. At the goal line or in short yardage, Blount will still get his carries; that's what he is here for.

So really, Ajayi's fantasy outlook is close to unchanged. He's in a better situation to put up points but won't have the bell cow status he had in Miami. Fewer touches but better touches.

The thing is, Ajayi's fantasy owners are so frustrated with him at this point (no touchdowns, 3.4 yards per carry) that they'll welcome any change.

LeGarrette Blount
This obviously downgrades Blount the rest of the season. He's still a touchdown-dependent RB2 or flex option, but now you won't be able to count on him reaching 15 carries or 50 yards on a weekly basis. 

For Blount, though, the downgrade is slight. His only path to fantasy points is with 1-yard TDs, which are unpredictable — you can't exactly forecast when a pass interference call is going to occur in the end zone.

Blount averaged 8.65 fantasy points per week the first eight games. I'd peg his weekly average moving forward at 5.5 to 6.5.

Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams
Folks will rush out this week to grab both of the Dolphins' remaining running backs. At this point in the season, free-agent auction bucks aren't as valuable, so if you're really hurting at RB, you might as well spend some dough on one of them.

Drake is listed as the No. 2 running back, but Williams has been Miami's preferred option in passing situations. Given how awful the Dolphins' offense is, neither figures to make much of a fantasy impact moving forward.

One final note
Jarvis Landry appears to be very available in a trade before today's 4 p.m. deadline. He's in the final year of his rookie deal and will command mega-bucks in free agency so the Dolphins would be wise to get something in return for him.

A trade to literally anywhere in the NFL except Cleveland (or maybe Baltimore) would put Landry in a better fantasy situation.

And even if Landry stays in Miami, his situation is a little better for the rest of the season. With a weaker running game, Miami will be forced to involve him even more with short passes.

Here's a fun tweet from injured Odell Beckham Jr., a former LSU teammate of Landry's.

Best and worst fantasy plays of Eagles-49ers

Best and worst fantasy plays of Eagles-49ers

Carson Wentz is the No. 2 fantasy quarterback through seven weeks, trailing only Alex Smith.

So if you've got Wentz, you're 100 percent starting him this week against the hapless 49ers. The only fantasy quarterback I'd even consider starting over Wentz this week is Drew Brees, who faces the Bears at home. The Saints' home field is the offensive equivalent of Coors Field in baseball.

And yes, that means that I'd start Wentz over Tom Brady (vs. Chargers) this week. 

On to some of the tougher fantasy plays of Eagles-49ers:

WR Alshon Jeffery
We're at the point now where benching Jeffery is a legitimate option. If you're in a league that starts three wide receivers, you're probably starting Jeffery. But if you start two wide receivers and a flex, there are just so many players performing at a more consistent level than Jeffery.

Jeffery has shown rust all season. He isn't gaining separation deep down the field and he's not coming up with tough catches on jump-balls, aside from the sideline fade he caught late in Monday night's win.

Would you believe that Jeffery has now gone 18 straight games without reaching 100 receiving yards? Would you believe that he's scored just four times in his last 19 games?

With the way Wentz is spreading the ball around and heavily involving Zach Ertz on intermediate routes and in the red zone, Nelson Agholor inside the 20 and Mack Hollins on deep passes, Jeffery has become an increasingly risky start.

The 49ers are a dream matchup for any skill player. They've allowed the most fantasy points in the NFL to running backs, the second-most to quarterbacks and the 10th-most to wide receivers.

Still, temper the expectations for Alshon this week. I thought he was poised to break out against a depleted Redskins secondary and it never materialized.

I'd start Jeffery this week over Demaryius Thomas, T.Y. Hilton and DeSean Jackson.

I would not start Jeffery this week over Chris Hogan, Amari Cooper, Doug Baldwin, Kelvin Benjamin or Adam Thielen.

Projected stat line: 4 catches, 55 yards

• • •

RB LeGarrette Blount
This right here? This is a Blount game.

The forecast calls for torrential rain on Sunday, and given that Wentz is relatively inexperienced playing in those kinds of conditions, the Eagles could rely heavily on the running game against San Francisco.

The 49ers are dreadful against running backs — they've allowed 1,325 total yards and nine TDs. Granted, a lot of that was caused by Ezekiel Elliott last week and Blount isn't nearly that type of dual threat.

Still, expect a high-volume game from Blount, who gained just 29 yards on 14 carries in Week 7.

I'd start Blount this week over Carlos Hyde, Doug Martin, C.J. Anderson and all of the Patriots' running backs.

I would not start Blount ahead of Lamar Miller or Joe Mixon.

Projected stat line: 22 carries, 110 yards, TD

• • •

TE Zach Ertz
The 49ers have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're a good defense vs. TEs. It's more so the byproduct of so many other skill players doing damage against them.

Ertz is matchup-proof, which he proved against the Panthers with two touchdowns against a defense that typically stifles tight ends. 

If you have Ertz, you're starting him. Let's not even waste time explaining why.

Projected stat line: 6 catches, 66 yards, TD

• • •

RB Carlos Hyde
The Eagles' run defense is on a historic stretch of limiting running backs. It could suffer a bit with Jordan Hicks out for the season, but the Eagles still have so many players who can collapse the pocket, run blitz effectively and tackle in the open field.

Hyde should accumulate some numbers this Sunday out of sheer necessity from the 49ers. I mean, C.J. Beathard is this team's starting QB. Just don't expect huge production. 

With Matt Breida getting more and more involved, the possibility exists that Hyde has a goal-line carry or two vultured away.

Projected stat line: 80 total yards

• • •

WR Pierre Garcon
Garcon is the only 49ers skill player I like this week because San Fran is expected to be behind by a lot early in the game and forced to pass. 

Garcon always plays well against the Eagles. The last eight times he's faced them, he's averaged five catches for 60 yards. He's scored four TDs in the last six meetings.

Because the Eagles limit opposing running games, it means they face more pass attempts. It seems probable that Garcon will see double-digit targets in this one.

Projected stat line: 7 catches, 86 yards, TD

• • •

WR Nelson Agholor
I've said in this space several times this season that Agholor is a risky start because he's so touchdown-dependent. The guy's averaging 3.4 catches per game, but he has five TDs. 

But at this point, with how well Agholor has caught slants and converted red-zone opportunities, he's a legit WR3. 

I'd start Agholor ahead of Mohamed Sanu, all Redskins receivers, Danny Amendola, Jordan Matthews, Paul Richardson and Ted Ginn Jr. 

Projected stat line: 4 catches, 60 yards

• • •

Other thoughts:
• The idea that the Eagles will run the ball a lot Sunday would benefit more than just Blount. It could also lead to a TD for Wendell Smallwood, but I'd advise starting Smallwood only in deep, 12-team leagues.

• The Eagles' defense is a top-3 play this week. The only two defenses I'd start ahead of them would be the Vikings (vs. Browns in London) and Chiefs (home vs. Broncos on Monday Night Football).

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 5 matchup with Cardinals

Fantasy implications in Eagles' Week 5 matchup with Cardinals

There are plenty of startable fantasy players in the Eagles' Week 5 home game against the Cardinals, especially because of bye weeks for the Saints, Falcons, Broncos and Redskins.

Let's take a look at Sunday's matchup from a fantasy perspective:

WR Alshon Jeffery
If you have Jeffery, you're most likely starting him unless it's a 2-WR league and you're just super deep at wide receiver.

But temper your expectations for Jeffery this week. He'll be shadowed by Cardinals star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who followed Dez Bryant all over the field in Week 3.

There are 79 cornerbacks so far this season who've played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps, and Peterson has allowed the second-fewest catches (5) and third-fewest yards (56). If you're basing your wide receiver decisions on what has happened the first four weeks, then Peterson is the top shadow corner to avoid.

No. 1 outside receivers just haven't fared well against the Cardinals. Marvin Jones had two catches for 37 yards in Week 1. T.Y. Hilton had four catches for 49 yards in Week 2. Bryant had two catches for 12 yards and a TD in Week 3, but the touchdown was a 5-yard pass over the middle that Bryant caught before morphing into beast mode and carrying tacklers into the end zone. 

The Eagles don't move Jeffery around a whole lot. He has lined up on the outside in nearly nine of every 10 snaps.

Projected Jeffery stat line: 4 catches, 45 yards

• • •

WR Larry Fitzgerald
You're obviously starting Fitzgerald this Sunday, so we're mentioning him here only to note that he could be the top wide receiver play in the NFL this week.

The ageless Fitzgerald has had just one quiet game out of four this season. He went 6-for-74 against the Lions, 3-for-21 against the Colts, 13-for-149 with a TD against the Cowboys and 4-for-32 with a game-winning TD against the 49ers.

This week, he'll face Eagles cornerbacks who will simply be overmatched. The Eagles have been burnt by enormous gains from slot receivers in back-to-back weeks. Sterling Shepard had the 77-yard TD two weeks ago. Tyrell Williams — who wasn't technically the slot receiver on the play but did line up inside the numbers — caught a 75-yard pass over the middle for a TD last week. Keenan Allen later added a 50-yard catch-and-run out of the slot.

Fitzgerald lines up all over the place and Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer get him involved early and often. Fitzgerald already has 41 targets through four games.

The Eagles are pleased with how Patrick Robinson has adjusted to the slot, but this is a journeyman going up against a Hall of Famer.

The last time the Eagles faced Fitzgerald (Dec. 20, 2015) was the first time he faced them and didn't score. In the previous seven meetings, he had 47 catches for 802 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Projected Fitzgerald stat line: 7 catches, 110 yards, 2 TD

• • •

RB Wendell Smallwood, RB LeGarrette Blount
Smallwood had an impressive day in Los Angeles with 79 total yards, four catches and a rushing touchdown. He will still cede most of the goal-line work to LeGarrette Blount, but Smallwood last Sunday got his short rushing TD after a long run by Blount and a few failed attempts by the bigger back.

Smallwood owners will like the fact that he led the Eagles' backfield in snaps in Week 4, got 10 rushing attempts and six targets in the passing game. With Darren Sproles out for the season, it looks like Smallwood will benefit the most with checkdowns, which gives him additional value in PPR leagues.

Statistically, this doesn't look like a great matchup for Smallwood or Blount. The Cardinals have allowed the eighth-fewest rushing yards and receiving yards to running backs this season. Ezekiel Elliott had 22 carries for 80 yards and a TD against them in Week 3, and Carlos Hyde had 22 touches for 95 total yards in Week 4. It seems unlikely that Smallwood or Blount will accrue 22 touches in this game.

I'd start Smallwood and Blount this week over guys like Doug Martin, Joe Mixon, Latavius Murray, Isaiah Crowell and any Seahawks running back.

Projected Smallwood stat line: 60 total yards, 4 catches

Projected Blount stat line: 55 total yards, rushing TD

• • •

TE Zach Ertz
Starting tight ends have not fared well against Arizona. Aside from Colts TE Jack Doyle's 8-catch, 79-yard performance in Week 2, tight ends have combined for five catches and 47 yards with no TDs against the Cards. That's 2-for-15 per game. Yuck.

Granted, Eric Ebron, Jason Witten and George Kittle aren't nearly as threatening as Ertz.

Ertz has been targeted between 8 and 10 times each game by Carson Wentz. He's gone 8-for-93, 5-for-97, 8-for-55 with a TD and 5-for-81. Ertz has been the most consistent option in the league at a volatile fantasy position.

With Wentz unlikely to test Peterson by targeting Jeffery often, he'll need to find his yards somewhere. That will mean more targets than usual for Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor, but it should also mean another heavy dose of Ertz.

Projected Ertz stat line: 6 catches, 66 yards

• • •

WR Jaron Brown
Jaron Brown, not John Brown, was a popular waiver-wire pickup this week because of how heavily involved he's been in Arizona's aerial attack the last three weeks. In those three games, he's drawn 29 targets and caught 14 passes for 205 yards and a TD.

With John Brown (quad) and J.J. Nelson (hamstring) banged up, Arizona's passing game isn't nearly as crowded as usual. This figures to be another high-volume game for Jaron against a shaky Eagles secondary.

Projected Brown stat line: 5 catches, 85 yards

• • •

Eagles D/ST
This is a great spot for the Eagles' fantasy defense against a bad Cardinals offensive line that has allowed 16 sacks in its last three games and a turnover-prone Palmer who already has five interceptions and a fumble.

The best way for Palmer to combat the Eagles' pass rush will be to replicate Eli Manning's method of getting the ball out ASAP. That will mean checkdowns to Andre Ellington and quick slants to Fitzgerald. But you can't do that for four full quarters, and it's pretty tough to imagine a washed-up Chris Johnson gouging the Birds on the ground to help Palmer.

I predicted a big game from the Eagles' D/ST against the Giants and it didn't happen, but the stars are all aligned in this one. Palmer is also significantly worse on the road.

Projected Eagles D/ST stat line: 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, fumble recovery, defensive TD, 17 points allowed