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2023 NFL Trade Deadline: Fantasy Football Takeaways

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs

The 2023 NFL trade deadline has come and gone. So, we're breaking down everything you need to know to make your fantasy football team better coming out of the deadline. Not many skill position players or quarterbacks changed hands, but there are still plenty of takeaways. 

>>READ: Grading Every Trade

Trade Deadline Fantasy Reaction

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs

How Joshua Dobbs Changes Vikings

The Arizona Cardinals get a sixth-round pick in return, while the Minnesota Vikings get their Kirk Cousins replacement, along with a seventh-round pick. Below, we’ll dive into how this affects the primary fantasy options in Minnesota.

Justin Jefferson

Justin Jefferson can return from injured reserve in Week 10 (next week). Joshua Dobbs has fed Marquise Brown a 27 percent target share at a healthy 11.6 yards downfield on average. Brown’s efficiency has been the same this year as in 2022, as he’s averaged 1.5 fantasy points per target. 

Jefferson has seen an identical 27 percent target share this year at a slightly lower target depth. Jefferson is the far better receiver, so we’ll anchor Jefferson's expectations somewhere between Brown’s 2023 season and Jefferson’s 2023 with Cousins. We should treat Jefferson like a low-end fantasy WR1 type. Davante Adams comes to mind as a supremely talented receiver with a less-than-ideal quarterback situation.

T.J. Hockenson

T.J. Hockenson is the current TE3 in fantasy, averaging 14.6 PPR points per game. Hockenson has thrived on heavy volume (8.5 targets per game). Dobbs’ stint with Arizona provides optimism for the tight end for the rest of the season.

Through eight weeks, only the Kansas City Chiefs (94) and Atlanta Falcons (91) have targeted tight ends more than the Cardinals (83). Week 8 was the first time we saw Trey McBride operating without Zach Ertz, and he commanded 14 targets (39 percent share), catching 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown against a strong Baltimore Ravens defense.

Hockenson should remain a top-three fantasy option at the position with Dobbs. The concern is mainly passing volume since Hockenson is less efficient than other star tight ends like George Kittle.

Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn

Third-round rookie Michael Wilson had been the deep threat for the Cardinals, much like Jordan Addison for the Vikings this year. Wilson and Rondale Moore sport 12 percent target shares on the season. The concern is Addison, and K.J. Osborn will become afterthoughts in this passing attack. 

With lesser quarterbacks, we often see the auxiliary options struggle to command solid target volume. Backup-caliber quarterbacks are often slower processors and cannot get through their reads as quickly. Expect a dip in production from Addison, who has caught a touchdown once every five receptions this season. For context, Jefferson has caught a touchdown once every 12 receptions this season.

Addison likely falls into low-end fantasy WR3 or flex territory since he’s a talented third option in an offense run by a below-average quarterback. Fantasy managers can drop Osborn in most fantasy formats.

Alexander Mattison, Cam Akers

No team has targeted the running back position fewer times each week than the Cardinals, averaging four running back targets per game. Neither Alexander Mattison nor Cam Akers is a premier pass-catcher, and Mattison has taken on the 1A role in this committee. It’s tough to see either becoming more than a fantasy RB3 unless most of the workload goes to one of these backs. 

James Conner was the bell cow for the Cardinals before getting injured in Week 5. During those first four games, he handled 62 of 78 running back carries (79 percent) and 10 of 17 targets (59 percent). Despite the massive workload, Conner only averaged 13.7 fantasy points per game over that stretch, which is a mid-range fantasy RB2. With Mattison and Akers splitting more work, neither has top-24 weekly viability outside of a couple of premier rushing matchups.

Montez Sweat Upgrades Bears Front

The Washington Commanders got a 2024 second-round pick in return from the Chicago Bears. This doesn’t change much for Chicago's defense. With Montez Sweat, the Commanders have allowed 4.4 yards per carry and 7.7 yards per pass attempt. When he’s been off the field, those numbers decreased to 3.8 yards per carry and 7.0 yards per pass attempt. 

The Bears have been a pass-funnel defense for fantasy purposes this year, and that should continue with this trade. Season-to-date, the Bears have allowed only 3.3 yards per carry (second-lowest) to running backs but 7.3 yards per attempt to passers (11th-highest).

Ezra Cleveland Bolsters Jaguars Offensive Line

The Vikings traded guard Ezra Cleveland to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a sixth-round pick. He’s been a slightly above-average offensive lineman this year and should improve a Jaguars unit that has struggled at times.

This move should help all Jaguars skill players slightly.

Chase Young Joins Forces with Nick Bosa

The Commanders traded Chase Young to the San Francisco 49ers for a third-round pick. Young has been a difference-maker for Washington this year. When on the field, the Commanders have allowed 7.1 yards per pass attempt and 4.1 yards per carry. When Young is not on the field, those numbers balloon to 8.7 yards per pass attempt and 4.4 yards per carry. 

After several elite seasons, the 49ers run defense has been middle of the pack this year. Young should help this unit return to top-five status. The 49ers are already allowing the fifth-lowest yards per attempt to opposing passers, and they have a chance to unseat the Ravens as the stingiest pass defense in the NFL with this move.

Give a slight fantasy downgrade to all quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends that face the 49ers moving forward.

Donovan Peoples-Jones Provides WR Depth

The Cleveland Browns get a 2025 sixth-round pick in exchange for Donovan Peoples-Jones. This is likely a depth move for a contending Detroit Lions team, as Marvin Jones left the team to attend to personal matters.

Peoples-Jones is likely behind Josh Reynolds and Jameson Williams in the pecking order for outside field stretchers. There should not be any fantasy ramifications from this move. Peoples-Jones averaged fewer than 14 receiving yards per game in Cleveland this year.

CB Rasul Douglas Goes to Contender

The Buffalo Bills get a strong starting option in CB Rasul Douglas, along with a fifth-round pick. The Green Bay Packers received a third-rounder in return. The Bills have sorely missed the presence of star CB Tre’Davious White, who suffered a season-ending injury in Week 4.

Before his injury, the Bills allowed only 5.9 net yards per pass attempt (sixth-lowest). Since he’s been out, the Bills have given up 6.7 net yards per attempt (11th-highest). With this move, the Bills' defense should inch closer to their early season form. What has started to become a defense to target for wide receivers should once again tilt toward a difficult fantasy matchup.

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