Each year we see players either traded or become free agents and join a new team. Just when you think you have a player’s value figured out, this shakes up everything. In this piece, we are going to go over some general thoughts to consider when trying to properly evaluate the fantasy impact of a player joining a new team. We’ll look at how opportunity, new teammates, and a new coaching staff can have a tremendous impact on helping you make a decision on potential value.
Know Your Role
One of the biggest factors to consider when it comes to a player being shipped off to a new team is knowing the role expected of the player in his new home, or at the very least speculating what the most likely role for him is. It’s not uncommon for players to find themselves shipped off to a team to fulfill a role that just doesn’t jive with the player’s strengths and past successes. Adrian Peterson going to the Saints was a good example of a poor fit. This marriage seemed doomed from the get-go and sure enough, it was.
Peterson hated being the odd man out in a three-back rotation after being utilized as a workhorse his entire career. This showed up both on the field and on the sidelines. Peterson’s wish was granted as he was sent to Arizona mid-season to fill their need at RB, and he wound up finding some brief success there. He ran for 134 yards and two TDs in his very first game with the Cards after maxing out at 33 rushing yards in a game with the Saints.
Another recent example of a mismatched pairing was Golden Tate getting traded mid-season to the Eagles. Tate was dominating as the top target in Detroit with four straight seasons of 90 receptions or more. Once he landed with the Eagles, his value was shot. This was to be expected with the learning curve of absorbing a completely new playbook on a team with a QB that you have zero chemistry with.
The takeaway from this aspect is do we see a full-time or part-time role in the future and what does the opportunity look like? It’s also important to consider the overall quality of the team. Is the team’s scoring potential an upgrade or downgrade in general? Regardless, as evidenced in AP’s case and most cases, opportunity over everything.
Quality of Players Around
Something else to consider when a player is switching teams is what does the talent pool around them look like. This can have a drastic impact in either a positive or negative direction considering the circumstances on a player’s overall fantasy value. For QBs, you want to look at the quality of the receiving options around. Are they lesser than, equal to, or greater than the talent we have seen with this player in the past? Another thing to consider for this instance is the quality of that QB. Are they a strong enough player to lift the values of the receiving options around them?
For running back, you want to look at a couple of things. One is the other RBs who they are sharing the backfield with and what their specific roles and values are. Is there a quality running back who handles roles like passing downs that can limit the ceiling of the player joining a new team? And does the new player have the ability to potentially eat into that receiving work, suddenly hindering the value of the incumbent? Another important factor for RBs is the quality of the offensive line. This is crucial to help open those lanes for an RB and keep them from getting hit in the backfield too often without even gaining positive yardage.
If the player entering a new team is a wideout, there are also a few factors to consider. First off is the quality of QB play. Amari Cooper going to the Cowboys is a recent example of a wideout getting sent to a new team and enjoying more consistent success thanks to both an improved role and higher level of play from the entire offense around him. Another thing to consider with WRs is the quality of the players around them. If the supporting cast is a sudden downgrade from what the new WR has played with in the past, it could lead to excess attention from the defense knowing that now they just have to shut down the star wideout and make the QB force throws to lesser quality players.
The last piece to the puzzle here is looking at the new coaching regime. Knowing the head coach or offensive coordinator’s strengths, weaknesses, and play calling tendencies is an underrated part in determining future success. Considering the differences or similarities between past and present coaches will help paint the picture. Whether it be the preference of utilizing a running back by committee approach, targeting tight ends heavily or using them as blockers more often, or success with playcalling for QBs, it all plays a part in determining the new value, and finding those trends is a big help.
To wrap it all up, the biggest thing to consider in fantasy football is opportunity. Is the new team a player is joining likely to provide more or less opportunity? After that, you want to consider where the player is in the arc of their career, what the supporting cast looks like, and if the new team has a coach that the new player can benefit from. But like everything else in fantasy, anything can happen!