A month into the season, injuries have hit, bye weeks are coming, and unexpected contributors are around the corner. This week:
Jimmy garappolo deal
Matt Waldman: What are the short-term and long-term implications of this trade?
- How long will it take for Garoppolo to earn the starting job?
- What will be the immediate fantasy impact?
- How valuable is Garoppolo in dynasty formats given his age, time behind Brady, and success in limited relief of Brady?
Darin, you're up.
Darin Tietgen: C.J. Beathard has had his moments but I can't see the Niners making this move to have Garappolo just sit and watch a rookie. He'll start by Week 10 the latest. It's hard to say if he'll have an immediate impact. Other than Pierre Garcon, whose value may see a little bump, he'll be throwing to inferior wide receivers. Garappolo could be a low-end starter.
His time behind Brady is a factor, but I think his upcoming work with Kyle Shanahan will be the big push to make him an instant dynasty darling at QB. I would put him as a top-12 dynasty QB right now with potential to reach the top-5 in the next few years.
Andy Hicks: It would be easy to say Garoppolo starts as soon as possible, but the coaching staff needs to put him in a position to succeed long-term. They also need to find out what he can do before they pay him the big dollars. The 49ers are likely to build their team the right way and are prepared for their young QB to grow with them. Garoppolo does not need mentoring any longer, whereas C.J. Beathard does.
Even so, I would be very wary of looking for immediate fantasy impact as the 49ers are not playing for 2017.
In Dynasty leagues, he is someone to make a solid offer for, but not break the bank. The Patriots either think Brady can play for a few more years or can't get Garoppolo to commit beyond this year while he will be cheap. If the 49ers don't like what they see from Garoppolo, then they lose a 2nd round pick but can use their first pick on a franchise QB. No matter what, Garoppolo has to impress them quickly before he hits free agency. His value could easily take a slide if he plays poorly.
John Mamula: Currently, Garoppolo is not expected to start until after the 49ers Week 11 bye and he'll be a week-to-week match-up play the rest of the season. The schedule does not set up favorably for the 49ers passing game. He has difficult matchups against the Seahawks (the league's ninth-rated pass defense), the Jaguars (the top-rated pass defense) and then mediocre matchups against the Bears, Texans, and Titans while trying to learn a new offense.
Long-term, I am mildly interested in Garoppolo in dynasty. While Kyle Shanahan's offensive system puts him in a position to succeed, the 49ers do not have the pieces yet. If Garoppolo does not impress the coaching staff the remainder of this season, the team may go another direction in the NFL draft.
Mark Wimer: Garappolo will be starting within two weeks, if not this week. He might come in at halftime this week—but he may get one week to learn the new nomenclature in San Francisco. I expect there will be a modest improvement for the wide receivers, and I like the chances of a big bump in value for George Kittle as Garoppolo gets acclimated—a good tight end is a new starting quarterback's best friend.
Long-term, Garappolo is more valuable than any given rookie quarterback you might draft next season, so he's worth a valuable draft pick if you can swing a trade for him. He is worth less than an established starter or a high-profile 2017 rookie like Deshaun Watson—we have to see how well he responds to leading a less-talented offense in San Francisco.
Danny Tuccitto: I don't think San Francisco holds introductory press conferences for players that will be on the bench for a significant amount of time. And as bad as C.J. Beathard has played—not just in rain-soaked Philadelphia—the timeline shrinks even further. In short, I think there's a 95% chance he starts by Week 12.
Insofar as a) Garoppolo starts sooner rather than later and b) his promotion returns San Francisco's passing attack to some level of reasonable functionality, then it will no doubt have a positive fantasy impact for all of their fantasy-viable offensive players. If "immediate" means Week 9, the only impact it will have is to force a rookie quarterback to be looking over his shoulder for the hook, which isn't positive at all.
In New England, Garoppolo's limited live-game action showed well according to my "true" stats, which by definition adjusts for small sample sizes: 7.25 True Yards per Attempt, 4.62% True Touchdowns per Attempt, and 2.44% True Interceptions per Attempt. Whether or not those stats translate to San Francisco depends on a whole host of factors impacting the 49ers' ability to cultivate his talent and skill set in the future, not the Patriots' ability to do so in the past.
So how valuable is he in dynasty? It's too early to tell. But if he starts and puts up a big game early in his tenure, he won't just be rising up my rankings; he'll be skyrocketing.
Waldman: The greatest short-term concern about Garoppolo as a fantasy quarterback is the transition from the Patriots' Erhardt-Perkins system to the 49ers' version of the West Coast Offense. The differences between the two are significant.
While both offenses can be complex, its challenges occur in different ways. For New England's style of offense, the initial learning curve is not as difficult for quarterbacks because the verbiage is reasonably simple, the alignments and routes are mostly the same on each side of the line, and we've seen Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson produce at a high level in these offenses as rookies transitioning from college spread systems.
The difficulty with learning the Patriots' style of offense happens once a quarterback has spent enough time there to develop layers and layers of subtle route adjustments. Just ask many of the veteran receivers New England brought to the team only to ship them off soon after because they had difficulties learning the system. Their difficulties were about getting on the same page with Tom Brady.
Remember, what makes Tom Brady great is his work from the pocket, which means reading the line of scrimmage before the snap and turning potentially difficult-looking defensive looks into simple solutions. Brady makes the easy plays better than any quarterback in the league and part of that is finding the easy solution. For this to happen, his receivers have to be skilled and understanding Brady's adjustments in a short period of time.
In contrast, the West Coast Offense's learning curve is the most difficult of all offensive systems. The verbiage is long, there's a lot of pre-snap movement and shifts, and the routes aren't often mirrored on each side like the Erhardt-Perkins scheme. It means the quarterback has a lot more to learn early on and trying to remember all of these details can slow down a passer's thought process and reaction time.
Jared Goff and DeShone Kizer are among several rookie quarterbacks who struggled mightily learning and playing in the West Coast Offense. Matt Ryan said his first year in Kyle Shanahan's offense was slow and difficult, and the Falcons earned a lot of criticism from its fans during that first year because Ryan's difficulties were evident.
Knowing this is the challenge for Garappolo, I have a difficult time believing that he'll thrive immediately. When I studied Garappolo for the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, he had some clear issues maintaining poise in the pocket. He often overreacted to pressure.
Although he hasn't shown those issues in New England, his playing time has been limited and often in advantageous situations. I'm anxious to see if he's past those behaviors, or if the Patriots' offense wasn't the environment that would elicit the troubling behavior of his college career.
I think Mark's thoughts on Garappolo-to-Kittle are logical. Kittle has dropped too many footballs for my taste, but this coaching staff appears to be a player's team in terms of giving rookies a chance to play through their mistakes. Garcon and Carlos Hyde will be my other suggestions. I expect a lot of dump off's to running backs early on.
It appears the Patriots believe in Brady's ability to play at a high level beyond the term of Garappolo's current deal, so it made no sense to let Garappolo test the free agent market. And knowing that he's been the subject of past negotiations, there's no way Garappolo would re-sign with New England to be a backup until Brady calls it quits.
Long-term, it means that we should regard Garappolo as a promising option for dynasty teams. However, I also agree that I'm not breaking the bank on Garappolo. I'd much prefer to draft Lamar Jackson than forfeit a first- or second-round rookie pick for Garappolo.
Depending on where he lands, I'd also consider Josh Rosen. There are also quarterbacks from the 2017 class who aren't playing right that I'd rather acquire ahead of Garappolo. Even so, if I had depth at wide receiver or running back and could part with a veteran who I could reasonably expect had no more than 2-3 years left in his career, I'd consider a deal for Garappolo.
duane Brown to Seattle
Waldman: What are the short- and long-term implications of this trade for fantasy owners?
- Which phase of the offense does this deal help the most, the run or the pass?
- Which players do you want in this offense and are any of them because of this trade?
- Does this deal have long-term implications? Who benefits?
Danny, share your thoughts about this deal.
Tuccitto: I believe it helps the Seahawks' run offense more than their pass offense. According to Football Outsiders, their offensive linemen through Week 8 is ranked 17th in pass protection, but 28th in run-blocking. Furthermore, they specifically rank 30th in run-blocking behind left tackle. One final point worth making in favor of this move benefiting run more than pass is that pass protection isn't as important when you have Houdini at quarterback.
Waldman: I've always been a fan of Houdini...
Tuccitto: Given that I think the trade will help the running game more than the passing game, my perennial positivity about Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin don't change much, if at all. I might slightly upgrade them, along with Jimmy Graham, because of potential improvement in Seattle's play-action passing game, but that's about it.
As for the running game, although I think it will improve as a whole, I don't want anyone individual running back until they settle on an undisputed starter. My hope is that C.J. Prosise will eventually fill that role, as he's the only one with a three-down skill set.
At age 32, and with only one year left on his deal, I don't think Brown has a long-term shelf-life in Seattle. And since DeShaun Watson has done almost all of his damage without Brown, I don't think the trade has any lasting impact on Houston either.
Wimer: The trade was made to keep Russell Wilson from being blown up regularly during the second half of the season. Though Seattle is in the middle of the NFL pack with 16 sacks allowed, they fifth in the NFL in the number of quarterback hits allowed, with 56. Wilson has been running for his life much of the season and narrowly avoiding sacks. He is the franchise quarterback, and the team needs to protect him better.
Brown's presence should give the receivers more time to run their routes, so this is a plus for them. Jimmy Graham should be more available in the passing game if Brown acclimates quickly to his role on this offensive line.
Potentially, the entire offense improves if Brown serves as a building block for a better OL going forward into 2018-2019.
Waldman: I think Brown has enough potential to play another 2-3 years, which is about the amount of time the Seahawks secondary may remain intact. Since the run game usually begins with the center and guards, I'm less inclined to think the ground game is much better unless Brown's acquisition helps Seattle to shuffle its line and improve the guard and center spots as a direct benefit.
Otherwise, I'm expecting Wilson to have more time in the pocket once Brown gets acclimated and I think we'll see the greatest impact during the playoffs, presuming Seattle qualifies. It means I'm not expecting a direct statistical impact until December and even so, I've been anticipating the passing game to grow in stature now that Paul Richardson Jr and Tyler Lockett are healthy.
I'm a big-time proponent of Richardson's game. His fantasy points-per-target metric is the highest on the team by a large margin and it's higher than the top fantasy receivers in standard and PPR formats. Brown's presence may give Wilson more opportunities to deliver within the rhythm of his drops and hitches rather than playground scrambles. It means the receivers may not have to work so hard to get open. This helps every receiver, but I think it helps Jimmy Graham the most because of the four main options, he's the least likely to work free after his first break doesn't get him open.
Mamula: I agree that Brown helps the Seahawks passing game more than the running game. The Seahawks are built to win behind Russell Wilson's arm and not the running game. Brown will help keep Wilson upright moving forward.
I want Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin not necessarily because of this trade but more due to their schedule. The Seahawks have favorable matchups against the 49ers and Eagles and exploitable games versus the Redskins, Cardinals, and Falcons.
Hicks: To be fair, we have to see how players adapt to a new environment. No matter how good a player plays under one scheme, there is no guarantee that it works out in a new system. You would hope the Seahawks have scouted Brown appropriately and he is a potential lynchpin for this unit. That said they don't have to sign him to the long-term deal he wants and they may see him as a short-term solution.
Like most everyone has mentioned, the passing game stands to benefit the most as Brown instantly is better than what the Seahawks have now. None of the runners are doing anything. Between the three of them, they combined for 15 rushing attempts for 5 yards against the Texans. Brown can't fix that. Wilson is the only upgrade that I see.
Tietgen: Poor Russell Wilson has been running for his life for the past two years, and Brown will anchor that line—maybe for years to come. He'll help in both phases of the offense but Wilson could spend some more time in the pocket now. I still don't trust the Seahawks pass-catchers but Wilson's value gets a nice little bump after this trade.
Martavis Bryant fallout
Waldman: After Bryant's comments earned him a seat for the Lions game and JuJu Smith-Schuster went off, what do you make of this pair of Steelers receivers?
- Did Byrant talk himself out of a starting job this year and out of the team's long-term plans?
- How do you value Bryant in dynasty formats?
- How do you value Smith-Schuster for the rest of the year? Last week's panel was not optimistic about his outlook.
Andy, what are your thoughts?
Hicks: This is the perfect question to answer and gives me an opportunity to be a bit of "told you so" person (Let's neglect, for now, all the ones I was wrong on). I was the lowest on Bryant, by a considerable margin in redrafts. The lowest any other staff member had him was as the 36th overall receiver. A few had him in the high WR2 region. I had him well outside the top 60 and I wrote the downside segment of our face-off article about Bryant.
I wonder who wrote the upside? http://subscribers.footballguys.com/apps/article.php?article=17faceoff_martavisbryant
Waldman: Ha! Guilty as charged. I'm a sucker for character issues spanning as far back as Michael Westbrook. I still have Josh Gordon in multiple dynasty leagues....
Hicks: Until another player can overcome what the guys suspended for a year have as demons, then Ricky Williams remains the last successful rehabilitation story.
Waldman: If you're talking about suspended players, yes. But Dez Bryant is a good example of a high-risk player who avoided this cycle. Spencer Ware had two drunk-driving related offenses that earned him a ticket out of Seattle. He turned his life around. Marshawn Lynch has two driving-related offenses during his career that were much publicized and one cost him the trust of the Bills.
So, while I appreciate what you're trying to say, I think Williams is the only one you remember or paid close enough attention to. There are also a lot of stories below the radar that involve immature players very close to a lot of trouble who needed a lot of babysitting.
I cannot mention the current players without breaking the trust of those who've shared these situations with me. However, I can say that as recently as that Williams era, there as a running back in the same conference who was such a partier that the team hired a detective to accompany him to clubs and make sure that the player made the team flights!
This is a big deal. Multiple players have told me that missing a practice is enough to put you on your last league with a team. Regardless of what was said in the media, I was told that Adalius Thomas and Randy Moss were sent packing from New England because they were significantly late for a regularly scheduled team meeting due to weather. They were told that it always snows in New England and it wasn't a valid excuse.
Missing a team flight is major. This star runner had that kind of history early in his career due to partying. Eventually, he matured into a clubhouse leader and had a long career.
So while I get you that the odds are always against a player with this track record, that's true of any individual with past troubles due to a variety of factors. Plus, he's young and you can't always look at each player and paint a broad brush with the individual issues.
Hicks: It's very true that Bryant still has talent and hasn't re-offended, which is a success in and of itself, but his maturity issues have been clear as day. He is a bottom 25 percent roster player for dynasty owners and expendable in the right circumstances. A new team, if the Steelers have had enough, will have to have to right culture and support network.
Waldman: Player's I've met who have played with the Steelers will tell you that it's one of the best organizations because of its professionalism and the players willing to work with young players and mentor them. It's been a few years since I've last heard that characterization, but I doubt it has changed. If that's the case, I agree that if Bryant couldn't make it there, it could be tough for him to make it anywhere.
Hicks: As for JuJu Smith-Schuster, I was the only one who had him in the top 60 for redrafts (51 actually), primarily due to the Bryant situation. In dynasty leagues, I had to give up an arm and a leg to get him in the staff league, but his performances have me more than excited about his development.
However, I was not smart enough though to play him any league due to the concussion concern. In the regular staff league, I played Albert Wilson and Deonte Thompson over him. As for his value for the rest of the year, I would put it at borderline WR2/WR3. Not every game is going to be a shootout and this offense still flows through Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell.
Tietgen: I agree that Bryant is out sooner than later. Even without Smith-Schuster's performance, he was probably looking at a demotion. Now it appears he'll be on his way out. Jerry Jones, where you at?
And I'm not touching him in fantasy leagues unless someone wants to sell for pennies on the dollar. Obviously, he's talented but there is too much "noise" for me.
I have little to no interest in Bryant in dynasty formats. He is one failed drug test for a lengthy suspension and his conduct on social media has shown that he still has some "growing-up" to do.
Waldman: Based on his recent behavior, it's clear he's frustrated and hasn't handled it professionally. I would also be wary of Bryant until he's had time to prove otherwise.
Mamula: Smith-Schuster is a WR3 or flex option for PPR leagues the remainder of this season. He should see 4-6 targets per game but the Steelers offense still revolves around Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. If Bell or Brown suffer an injury, Smith-Schuster will see a significant bump in value.
Wimer: I wouldn't say he "talked" himself off the team. His repeated drug suspensions, poor attitude and lack of reforming his lifestyle all contributed to the demotion. It's been a slow-burning fuse this year in particular, but the sparks hit the barrel of powder this past week. I have no interest in his dynasty prospects until I see where he lands, if anywhere. We may have a Josh Gordon situation on our hands.
Smith-Schuster grabbed the starting opportunity that presented itself with both hands and proved he belongs in the NFL as a starting wide receiver. His arrow is pointing way up for the remainder of this season (and in future seasons).
Tuccitto: I think NFL teams have an increased tolerance for these kinds of issues when the player is as talented as Bryant. I don't think that increase is as large for an organization like Pittsburgh. That, combined with the Steelers' increasing depth at wide receiver means I lean towards "not long for this team."
Even so, his "true" stats in Pittsburgh have been commensurate with some of the best wideouts in the league, but how much waiting is enough? In dynasty, there comes a point to fish or cut bait with a young, talented player. I think that point has come with Bryant.
Smith-Schuster is currently WR21 in standard points per game (8.3), but his "true" stats suggest he should be WR34 (6.3). Among wideouts with value higher than replacement in our Top 200 Forward, Smith-Schuster's the fifth-highest in terms of overperforming his True Fantasy Points per game ranking.
Waldman: Give us your best bets to perform as fantasy starters during the next 8 weeks in your typical 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE formats (use these conditions below)?
- 1 QB outside the top 12 who will perform like a top 8 fantasy option for the next 8 weeks.
- 2 RBs outside the top 24 who will perform like top-15 fantasy options for the next 8 weeks.
- 3 WRs outside the top 36 who will perform like top-24 fantasy options for the next 8 weeks.
- 1 TE outside the top 12 who will perform like a top 8 fantasy option for the next 8 weeks.
Mark, share your list.
Wimer: Ben Roethlisberger still has the Colts and the Patriots upcoming (the two worst pass defenses in the NFL), and the Packers, Titans, Browns, and Texans are all in the bottom half of the league as of Week 9. Six of his next eight opponents look like inviting matchups, plus the team cemented Juju Smith-Schuster as a viable #2 wide receiver last weekend. I vote Roethlisberger.
I would go with Aaron Jones, who looks like he is in position to claim the lead/featured back for the Packers in the second half of the season, and also Doug Martin, who is artificially low in the season rankings due to his suspension to start the season.
Jones will help Brett Hundley by providing a dual-threat back that defenses have to respect. The Packers will feed him the ball to establish the run and provide play-action pass opportunities for Hundley. Also, the Packers' offensive line should hopefully be healthier after their bye week and play at a higher level in the second half of the season.
Martin is being set up by the Buccaneer's passing attack - second in the NFL averaging 295.4 yards per game! - and should be able to find room to roam in the second half of the season.
Both of these guys should be solid starters for fantasy owners in the second half of the season.
Demaryius Thomas will start adding some touchdowns to his totals (zero, currently) and rise up to that level. I also like Tyrell Williams to add more TDs to his lack-luster total (one, currently) in the second half of the season - he should have a solid shot at rising to the top-24 in the second half if he starts doing more with his chances (six targets in week 8, but only one catch, for example).
Pierre Garcon will have to acclimate to a new starting quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, but he is seeing enough targets each week (67 targets for 40/500/0 receiving so far) that he should snag some TDs in the second half, now that the disastrous Beathard era is nearing an end.
I like George Kittle to get more and more comfortable at the NFL level and to benefit from the arrival of Garoppolo in the near future. He and Beathard didn't click, but I put that on Beathard.
Tuccitto: Marcus Mariota is currently QB17 in points per game, but should be QB8 according to my True Fantasy Scoring system. The only clear choice at running back for me is Jay Ajayi, who's currently RB31 in points per game, but should be RB10 given his "true" stats and volume.
I calculate these stats specific to a player's current team, so Ajayi's performance in Miami should theoretically have no bearing on his performance in Philadelphia, but running back is probably the easiest skill position to transition to. And like I said, I have no other clear-cut statistical options here as there aren't any other woefully underperforming backs outside the Top 24.
I agree with some of Mark's picks. Pierre Garcon is currently WR48 in points per game but should be WR21. Devin Funchess is WR41 in points per game but should be WR19. Finally, Demaryius Thomas and Randall Cobb have quarterback issues but should be ranked much higher than they are according to their "true" stats and volume so far this season.
Delanie Walker currently TE14 in points per game but should be TE7. Honorable mentions go to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who's QB 10 but should be QB6, as well as Jared Cook, who's QB15 but should be QB12.
Waldman: Since you're just laying them out there, I'll comment on some of these cats.
I was offered (and accepted) a deal for Murray yesterday in a dynasty league for a second-round pick (that, in this league's Devy format, is the equivalent of a third) and my only missing piece for serious contention is a running back. Henry will be good one day, but Murray is an underrated football player who has the trust this run-first team.
I'm concerned about Carr because this offense doesn't give him a lot of easy throws due to a lack of pre-snap shifts and alignment variety. I'm still optimistic about Peterson as a match-up starter. Jackson and Woods are options I like, especially Woods who is steady. Doctson's talent is great, but this organization is a mess and I'm skeptical he'll earn more than a contributing role this year. Jay Gruden is very slow to trust guys who don't start strong immediately. Henry is caught in an offense with a lot of healthy weapons and a quarterback who spreads it around. I'm less optimistic.
Hicks: I know a lot of people poo-poo it, but fantasy strength of schedule is your friend here, and the standouts to fit the criteria are Ben Roethlisberger and Jared Goff. The Rams, in particular, have had a brutal schedule against the pass, but that eases up very soon. If I had to choose one though, I go with the experienced Roethlisberger who is finding some rhythm.
Running Back is a bit harder as the guys outside the top 24 need to be doing well NOW or have to wait for an injury or have just come back from one. Defying what I just said though, I also like Adrian Peterson. Or, I'll go with a couple of rookies who have scope for improvement: Joe Mixon and Aaron Jones.
If any players come out of nowhere it will be at this position. Rookies ascending, players just getting into a groove on a new team/system or taking advantage of an injury. I'm going to land on some guys just outside the top 36 in Allen Hurns, Travis Benjamin, and Robert Woods. Don't be surprised in there is someone from outside the top 60 like DeVante Parker, Jordan Matthews or Josh Doctson who make a move.