The Vikings’ trade with the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford was the kind of deal that happens in fantasy football dynasty leagues at the trade deadline. A team believes it’s one player away from winning it all, and another team with little chance to win bolsters its prospects for the future.
Only in this case, that one player isn’t very good, at least from a fantasy perspective.
The Vikings were desperate to replace Teddy Bridgewater, who’s out for the year with a serious knee injury. They gave up a first-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-rounder in 2018. Fantasy owners have never been desperate to acquire Bradford. He has been largely ineffective and injury-prone in his six years in the NFL.
From a fantasy perspective, this trade isn’t about Bradford. He has value only in two-quarterback leagues, and even then he’s backup material (No. 29 on my board). The same was true with Bridgewater. Last season, Bridgewater ranked 23rd among quarterbacks in basic scoring, one spot and three points ahead of Bradford.
This is about how Bradford will affect the players around him compared to Bridgewater. The answer is, there won’t be much difference. Bradford likely is an upgrade over backup Shaun Hill, who might start the opener while Bradford learns the ropes. But the Vikings won’t veer from the style of offense that helped them win the NFC North last season.
They threw the fewest passes in the league and had the fourth-most rushes. Even an improved Bridgewater wasn’t going to change their philosophy much. Adrian Peterson is going to do what he’s going to do. He was my top-ranked running back before Bridgewater’s injury, and he still was after.
If you’re concerned the Vikings will be worse off with Bradford, just look back at Peterson’s 2012 season. He rushed for a career-high 2,097 yards with Christian Ponder and his 2,935 passing yards at quarterback.
Even the Vikings’ top wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, won’t be overly affected. He’s being drafted 41st among wideouts in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues (No. 38 on my board). Diggs had a three-week burst from Week 6 to 8 last season in which he totaled 43 points. He combined for 47 points in the other nine games in which he scored.
With Bradford averaging fewer yards per attempt than Bridgewater last season (7.2-7.0), Diggs still won’t put up big yardage numbers, but he figures to lead the team in catches by a large margin. The Vikings’ other wideouts aren’t worth a roster spot. Tight end Kyle Rudolph (No. 25 on my board) becomes intriguing given that the Eagles’ Zach Ertz had the sixth-most catches among tight ends last season.
So despite a whopper of a trade, the fantasy impact is negligible. The Vikings believe they’ve helped themselves by going with Bradford over Hill. But the only way they’ve helped fantasy owners is by maintaining the status quo.
WEEK 1 OUTLOOK
Giants RB Rashad Jennings: Andre Williams’ release figures to give him more chances near the goal line.
Chiefs RB Spencer Ware: Coach Andy Reid said “it would be a stretch” for Jamaal Charles to play in the opener, and his return date is uncertain.
Dolphins WR DeVante Parker: His latest hamstring injury reportedly has the team wondering when he’ll be able to return.
Eagles WR Jordan Matthews: His value takes a hit with rookie QB Carson Wentz getting thrown into the starter’s job.
Raiders QB Derek Carr: The Saints gave up the most basic-scoring points to QBs last season, and their defense is still a big problem.
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin: The Falcons allowed the second-most TD runs to RBs last season, and their defense is still a big problem, too.
Bengals RB Jeremy Hill: The Jets are still mighty after holding RBs to two TD runs last season and allowing the fewest rushing yards to RBs.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman: New QB Jimmy Garoppolo and a tough Cardinals defense make for a bad combination.