Buffalo is clearly in rebuilding mode. They can’t say it and won’t say it, but it’s obvious. Professional sports teams are a business, and it would be very bad for business to announce “we can’t win this year, so we’re building for the future.” It is always important to keep up appearances and make the fan base believe that winning in the short term is the top priority. However, the Bills have made it clear by their recent actions that the focus is clearly on winning in the future.
I expect #Bills to listen to trade offers for Shady McCoy & Tyrod Taylor if not make some themselves. Getting 2017 wins not their priority.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) August 18, 2017
Breakdown Of Potential LeSean McCoy Trade Destinations And Their Fantasy Impact
Where does this leave their best all around player, running back LeSean McCoy? There is no reason for Buffalo to keep a 29 year-old running back who is closing in on 2,000 career carries while they rebuild. This is especially true after just trading away both their star wide receiver in Sammy Watkins, and Ronald Darby, who was ranked as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL by ProFootballFocus for the 2015 season. Throw in Anquan Boldin‘s sudden retirement, and it’s clear the Bills cannot compete in the AFC East this season.
McCoy is in the third year of a five year, $40 million contract. While that is a high overall number, the annual base salaries are actually very reasonable. The key number that inflates this contract is the $13.125 million signing bonus McCoy has already received. For 2017 and the next two seasons, McCoy’s base salary is about $6.3 million per season. This is a reasonable number for one of the best running backs in the league who is still less than 30 years old.
When the Bills finally wind up trading LeSean McCoy, the most pressing question will be, “How does this affect his fantasy value?” The answer is completely dependent on the destination.
Below is a look at the best fantasy landing spots for the inevitable LeSean McCoy trade.
New York Giants
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese hasn’t been afraid to make trades, but only when there was a pressing team need. In 2010, Reese traded for quarterback Sage Rosenfels when backup Jim Sorgi was injured. The other trades orchestrated by Reese were based on acquiring draft picks. The Giants certainly could use a bell cow running back, as current starter Paul Perkins, backup Orleans Darkwa, and satellite back Shane Vereen all lack the skill set of a true lead running back like McCoy.
While Giants fans can dream of McCoy joining an offense that already features Eli Manning, Odell Beckham, and Brandon Marshall, it is very unlikely to happen. The Giants have the eighth least available cap space in 2017 according to OverTheCap. Plus, the Giants are simply not ready to give up on Perkins as the starter before he enters his second season.
The Giants were 11-5 last year and are clearly in win-now mode as Manning starts his 14th NFL season. McCoy would be a superb fantasy asset for the Giants, and would see a ton of scoring opportunities. However, it just isn’t the right fit for the Giants to acquire McCoy, especially when their offensive line still has many questions marks.
Fantasy Impact Grade: B+
The Detroit Lions would be a good fit for McCoy, but team finances get in the way of a deal getting done. The Lions are desperate for a quality running back, having ranked 30th among all NFL teams with only 1,310 total rushing yards. This season Detroit will use a full-blown “Running Back By Committee” approach with Ameer Abdullah, Zach Zenner, and Theo Riddick all playing a part in the Lions backfield. Clearly, McCoy would provide a significant upgrade to the Lions offense and have huge fantasy potential in both standard and PPR formats.
However, the salary cap blocks this potential trade. Detroit only has $6.7 million in available cap space this season. Even with a trade, the Lions would be dangerously close to the limit. On a better note, the Lions currently project to be a whopping $69 million under the cap next season, which would rank first among all NFL teams in terms of available cap space. That makes Detroit a more likely landing spot than the New York Giants.
For fantasy purposes, this would be a good, but not great destination. While the Lions have an explosive offense, their offensive line ranked 30th in run-blocking efficiency last season (PlayerProfiler). The Lions starting left tackle Taylor Decker is now out four to six months after suffering a torn labrum. Despite his talent, it’s hard to envision Detroit being a better fantasy situation than McCoy’s current one in Buffalo.
A trade to Detroit would provide a unique result for McCoy. He would move to a better offensive situation, but probably have less of an actual fantasy impact. This would be a great trade for McCoy’s career, but an equal or worse situation for fantasy owners.
Fantasy Impact Grade: C
Kansas City Chiefs
The sentimental choice is the Kansas City Chiefs, as McCoy would reunite with head coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs are constructed as a ball control run-first offense, and McCoy would immediately become Reid’s bell cow running back again. The Chiefs current backfield consists of veterans Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, and rookie running back Kareem Hunt. Ware and West don’t possess the athletic profile of McCoy, and Hunt could serve as the passing down back while being mentored by McCoy over the next few seasons.
The issue here again is cap space, as the Chiefs only have $8.9 million available. Even more of an issue is in 2018, when Kansas City is currently projected to be $4.3 million over the salary cap. Management is clearly trying to clear money off the books as was illustrated by the surprise cut of veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin earlier this year.
Without a doubt, this would be a great fantasy landing spot for LeSean McCoy. He would serve as the focal point of the offense, just as he currently is in Buffalo. Unfortunately, the financial constraints of the team make this destination an impossibility.
Fantasy Impact Grade: A-
McCoy loved playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a local high school star who continued his career in college at the University of Pittsburgh. McCoy played for six years in Philadelphia and would love to return home for the end of his career. There is a coaching connection as well, with current Eagles head coach Doug Pederson having served under Andy Reid as quarterbacks coach from 2011-2013.
Reports have surfaced that current Philadelphia starting back LeGarrette Blount is struggling in Pederson’s offense. There is even a rumor that Blount will be cut. This would open the door for McCoy, who would thrive under Pederson’s offense, which is a derivative of Andy Reid’s. With quarterback Carson Wentz and a bevy of wide receivers including Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, and tight end Zach Ertz, the Eagles have the type of offense that would give McCoy opportunities for big yardage and touchdowns numbers.
But the salary cap is also a problem here as well. The Eagles are middle of the league this year, with $11.3 million available under the cap. The major problem is next season, when the Eagles only project to be $195,000 under the cap. Without some major roster changes, there simply can’t be a McCoy-Eagles reunion any time soon.
Fantasy Impact Grade: A-
The Indianapolis Colts have the seventh most cap space (over $21 million) available of any NFL team in 2017. Indianapolis would be a great fit for McCoy. He would be paired with a franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, be a part of a high powered offense, play in a winnable division, and would have home games on a turf field that would amplify his ability to elude defenders. The Colts current backfield consists of 34 year-old Frank Gore, backup Robert Turbin, and a promising rookie in Marlon Mack who is not yet ready to ascend to the role of primary ball carrier.
This would be a great fantasy landing spot for McCoy. The Colts offensive line ranked eighth last year in run-blocking efficiency per PlayerProfiler. With Luck as quarterback, McCoy would always have running lanes and big play opportunities. McCoy would serve as the perfect mentor to Mack as he prepares for the lead running back role in the future.
The negatives are the current injuries to Luck and center Ryan Kelly. The Bills would also prefer to trade McCoy out of the AFC conference as well. However, this remains a viable trade option. There is no denying the Colts would be a great fantasy destination for LeSean McCoy.
Fantasy Impact Grade: A
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers would be the fantasy bonanza for LeSean McCoy. The Packers rank just behind the Colts with over $21 million of available salary cap space in 2017. They have several assets to trade, and have a converted wide receiver in Ty Montgomery as their starting running back. Most importantly, the Packers have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl and McCoy could serve as the missing link.
McCoy would get to play with a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, and enhance a rushing attack that ranked 20th with 1,701 yards last season. By comparison, McCoy himself had 1,267 rushing yards in 2016.
While paying McCoy over six million dollars per year until the 2019 season is a significant investment, it would all be justified if the Packers won another Super Bowl. Green Bay made the NFC Championship game last year, and have a “New England clear” path to the Super Bowl. If McCoy gets traded to Green Bay, he would be a legitimate option as the number one overall draft pick in all fantasy football formats.
Fantasy Impact Grade: A+
Embed from Getty Images