In one of the least-surprising moves to close out the trade deadline in the NFL, Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was shipped out to the Houston Texans. Rumors had been swirling about a potential deal for the past week, so many fantasy team owners were already keeping an eye on rookie Courtland Sutton, who was in line to take his place. Sutton is the obvious winner in the deal, but other players are involved as well.
Trade Deadline Fantasy Football Fallout: Courtland Sutton the Winner in Demaryius Thomas Trade
Sutton already had a nice role in the offense even before the Thomas trade. Operating as the number-three option behind Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, Sutton has still been making contributions in limited opportunities. He has only seen less than three targets a game this season. He did put up arguably his best game of the season this past week, though, hauling in three catches for 78 yards. Sutton hasn’t had a huge impact yet, but he’s shown enough promise for the Broncos to feel comfortable enough moving on from Thomas.
Aside from Sanders, there is really no one to compete with Sutton for targets. Sutton sits third on the team with only 37 targets, almost 20 behind Thomas’s. Tight end Jeff Heuerman is fourth, followed by running backs Devontae Booker and Phillip Lindsay. None of those three are going to see an increase in targets. That basically leaves Sanders and Sutton to pick up the slack, but Sanders doesn’t have as much room to grow. It won’t be a surprise to see Sutton suddenly getting double-digit targets in many games this year.
If he somehow makes it past waivers, he should be picked up immediately.
As far as Thomas goes, his fantasy owners have to be a bit disappointed. Although he was already playing second-fiddle to Sanders this year, his new teammate is target monster DeAndre Hopkins. Sanders has seen double-digit targets in three games this season but also has a few games where he had less than five targets. Hopkins, on the other hand, only has three games this season with under ten passes thrown his way. He also hasn’t had one game with under five targets.
People expecting Thomas to come in and take on Will Fuller’s role should temper expectations. Fuller was a deep threat who excelled at taking the top off of defenses with his raw speed. After tearing his ACL last week, it wasn’t a surprise that the Texans looked to the trade market for a wide receiver. Still, going after Thomas is a bit of a head-scratcher. He simply does not have the speed to burn defensive backs anymore. This is evidenced by his career low 11.2 yards-per-catch this year.
The best-case scenario for Thomas would be to take on a similar role to the one he had in Denver. However, it is more likely that his production continues to drop off.
The Wild Card: DeAndre Hopkins
The toughest change in production to predict is regarding Hopkins. As noted, Hopkins has absorbed a ridiculous amount of catches throughout most of his career. But, he really hasn’t had much competition since Andre Johnson left the team after the 2014 season. Thomas may not be able to take Fuller’s role, but he does have a chance to carve out a solid place as a possession receiver and red-zone threat. Thomas’s arrival could give a slight decrease to Hopkins production, but it can take at least a little attention away from Hopkins. The impact here is still to be determined.
Embed from Getty Images