Every year, an NFL player gets traded into a situation that makes fantasy football players smile from the exciting possibility of “what could be.” In today’s exercise of wishful thinking, we’ll take a stroll through the proverbial streets of some hypothetical scenarios that would offer an avenue for worthwhile fantasy returns.
You’ll notice the most discussed trade commodity of the offseason is not included, and the reason why is easy: The best possible place for Aaron Rodgers’ fantasy value is right where he currently plays.
Los Angeles Rams backfield targets
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Benny Snell
The third-year back has seen mild success through limited action in the Steel City, mostly due to injuries suffered by the recently departed James Conner. A fourth-rounder in the 2019 draft, this Kentucky product has the chops to be a fantasy force, in the right situation. The Steelers’ line problems last year didn’t help, and the offense was largely without Ben Roethlisberger the prior year. Given the loss of Cam Akers (Achilles) and obvious need for a powerback to pair with Darrell Henderson’s versatility, Snell should come on the cheap following the first-round selection of Najee Harris in 2021’s draft.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert
Speed kills, and LA could use more of it out of the backfield. Henderson ran a 4.49-second 40, so he’s not exactly a turtle, but Mostert (4.32) would bring world-class wheels to the backfield. A deal works for both parties, since the 49ers are rather stocked in the backfield, with Mostert entering the final year of his contract, and LA has no one with a single NFL touch behind Henderson. Mostert could come in as a “1b” to the third-year Henderson, which also would be a plus — it appears less is more when it comes to Mostert’s durability.
QB Deshaun Watson to Denver Broncos
This one presumes Watson will avoid any serious discipline in 2021, so bear that in mind. Off-the-field issues aside, Watson wants out of Houston. He is quite capable of getting the most from a receiving corps and offering bonus value with his legs, but a move to Denver would present a much brighter outlook. Not only will he be happy, the Broncos are drastically more talented than the Texans, and the offensive system is proven to produce — the jury is still in deliberation about new Houston coach David Culley as he has no experience as an offensive coordinator in the NFL. The Broncos provide considerable talent among the wide receivers on all three levels of the passing tree, along with a blossoming tight end and pair of quality backs for balance behind a reasonably good offensive line.
TE Zach Ertz to Indianapolis Colts
Several teams have been floated about as possible destinations for Ertz, including Chicago, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Buffalo, whereas the Colts would be the best landing spot for fantasy purposes. Indy head coach Frank Reich has a relationship with Ertz. The trade for QB Carson Wentz earlier in the offseason would reunite a pitch-and-catch duo with established chemistry. Indianapolis needs at least one more target in the passing game, with all due respect to Jack Doyle. The receiving corps has arguably more questions than obvious answers at the moment, and the system caters to targeting the tight end position.
TE O.J. Howard to Tennessee Titans
This one gets prefaced with my love for Anthony Firkser as a sleeper remains strong if Howard isn’t added via trade. Let’s go with the presumption of Firkser being a better backup than starter in the eyes of the brass, leading them to inquiring about Howard. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end is buried in the target pecking order as he returns from a torn Achilles tendon, an injury that isn’t particularly daunting for a player at his position. Howard, an Alabama product, played with Titans back Derrick Henry and works out with him, giving Howard an ally with the ear of the front office. Furthermore, newly added receiver Julio Jones also played for the school. Tennessee is in win-now mode in many ways, and one more talented pass-catching outlet could put this offense over the top.
WR N’Keal Harry to Atlanta Falcons
No one is clamoring for Harry to make his way onto their fantasy roster, but everyone with an open mind should want to see him get out of New England. It’s painfully obvious he doesn’t fit the system, even when healthy, and we saw few signs of chemistry with Cam Newton last year. A 2019 first-round pick, Harry needs a change of scenery to restart his career as a possession receiver at just 23 years old. The Falcons make some sense for Harry as a new employer. The trade of Julio Jones opens a wealth of targets. Calvin Ridley is more than ready to be a true WR1. This year’s fourth overall pick, Kyle Pitts, is a generational talent at tight end, but rookies at his position have rarely produced significant fantasy returns. Even though Russell Gage was a bright spot last year when Jones was injured, there’s room for a chain-moving type, like what Harry should be in a perfect world. Update: The New Orleans Saints make even more sense following the news of Michael Thomas (ankle) missing time.