The NFL’s trade deadline has moved a few faces into new places.
Fourth-year Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was acquired by San Francisco to help the 49ers solve their issues under center, facilitating the release of veteran passer Brian Hoyer in the process. The Miami Dolphins traded running back Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles, perhaps causing a logjam at running back with LeGarrette Blount, and the Houston Texans traded left tackle Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks, giving quarterback Russell Wilson better protection on his blind side. And then the Carolina Panthers, despite being in the playoff hunt, shipped star wideout Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills.
That’s a lot of movement for an NFL trade deadline — an event that has been called boring in the past. Garoppolo, who has to grasp a new playbook, won’t be ready to start for another week or two but Tuesday’s flurry of activity does affect Ajayi, and not in a good way. Read on to find out why.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Hunt got off to a hot start but has struggled in his last three games, with Monday’s performance — 22 carries for 46 yards plus three catches for 22 yards — setting season-lows in yards per carry (2.1) and total yards (68). It was also the first time this season the rookie didn’t top 100 yards of offense.
That should change this week. Hunt will be going up against a Dallas Cowboys’ defensive front that has stopped only 20 percent of rushing attempts at or behind the line of scrimmage this season (17th overall) and has yet to stop a running back from achieving a first down or touchdown on runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go.
Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Carr has been hot and cold through seven games — he ranks 17th among 31 qualified passers per the game charters at Pro Football Focus after placing seventh in 2016 — but should be able to rebound against a Miami Dolphins team that has surrendered the 17th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Expect Carr and the Raiders to also have success with the deep ball. Miami’s secondary has allowed opposing receivers to catch a league-high five of 17 targets traveling 20 or more yards in the air, four for touchdowns.
Arizona Cardinals D/ST
This is great spot for Arizona coming off the bye and could make a great waiver-wire pickup being owned in just 30 percent of ESPN leagues heading into Week 9.
Their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, has allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked 27 times this season, including nine sacks and five takeaways in the past two games. San Francisco’s offense has also managed just 4.5 points per game on passing plays this year, less than half the league average (9.9), and just 4.7 yards per play overall, the fifth-lowest this season.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
It’s always tough benching a first-round pick, but you may have better options on your roster this week because few wideouts have had success against the Jacksonville Jaguars secondary in 2017. The Jags have the No. 1-rated pass defense per Football Outsiders, the No. 1 pass-coverage unit per Pro Football Focus, and are allowing just 40.3 yards to a team’s No. 1 option at receiver.
Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been the only wideout to surpass the 100-yard mark against Jacksonville this season, but he did so without a touchdown. DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans scored, but was held to just 55 yards receiving. Overall, the Jaguars are allowing wide receivers to score a league-low 6.4 fantasy points per game in point-per-reception, or PPR, leagues.
Jay Ajayi, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
It’s tempting to start Ajayi after a trade brought him over from the Miami Dolphins, but Coach Doug Pederson isn’t known for leaning on one rusher for an entire game. Since 2016, Ryan Mathews is the only running back to surpass 20 or more carries in a game, and they were both during the 2016 season. This year the high is 16, achieved twice by Blount — a significant departure for Ajayi, who carried the ball 23 or more times on four different occasions in 2017.
Plus, Howie Roseman, the Eagles executive vice president, told reporters Blount remained No. 1 on the depth chart.
“We like our running back group,” Roseman told Turron Davenport of USA Today. “This is an opportunity that came to us where we thought we could add a good, young player that is under contract for a couple years to our team,” Roseman said when he addressed the media on Tuesday. “Everyone has seen the way LeGarrette has run. This just adds to the group. LeGarrette continues to be the starter and we are just excited to have that group and add a good player.”
Jamison Crowder, WR, Washington Redskins
Crowder has his biggest game of the season in Sunday’s 33-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, catching nine of 13 pass attempts for 123 yards, nearly doubling his total for the season. But that was against a Dallas defense that ranked 20th against the pass per Football Outsiders. This week he will have to face the league’s No. 5 pass defense, the Seattle Seahawks.
Crowder runs two-thirds of his routes from the slot, where he will likely square off against Seattle’s slot corner Justin Coleman, who is allowing a 56.4 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks who target him in coverage. If Washington decides to line Crowder out wide, he might have to face shutdown corner Richard Sherman, who is allowing just one reception for every 18 snaps in coverage, the sixth-best mark at the position this season. Neither option is a good one. And that’s if Kirk Cousins is even able to get the pass off, as he’ll be playing behind a severely banged-up offensive line against the Seattle pass-rush.
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