In a surprising and what is sure to be polarizing move, the Eagles traded star running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso. This marks probably the biggest trade in the league in recent memory in a player for player swap. Ironically, it has been almost 11 years to the day since Clinton Portis was traded for Champ Bailey. If you’re like me, the first thing you wondered when reading the news is what does it mean for fantasy? (also, if you’re me, that question probably has a few more question marks at the end of it)
What This Means for Buffalo
It doesn’t take a wannabe fantasy expert to tell you that McCoy steps right in as Buffalo’s lead back going forward. This is a little disheartening since I loved the prospect of Bryce Brown being a feature player for 2015, though I suppose if head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman intend to run the ball as much as they did with their previous teams (Jets and 49ers respectively), there could be room for a secondary rusher. It is unclear what this means for Fred Jackson, who has a team option for the 2015 season. It would not surprise me in the slightest if they did not bring him back. Shady can be reasonably considered a lock for one of the higher workloads in all of football next season, and reclaiming a spot amongst the top 5 fantasy backs is well within reach.
The move should also help to take some pressure off of quarterback E.J. Manuel, and I would expect his passing attempts to mirror those of recent 49er teams (read: extremely low). This can’t possibly be good for sophomore receiver Sammy Watkins as the Bills were surprisingly 13th last season in pass attempts. I’ll be interested to see what this does to his stock.
What This Means for Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, there is now what many would think to be a gaping hole where McCoy once sat on the depth chart. I disagree with that notion however, as the Eagle offense seems to be one that can function with an assortment of backs. Darren Sproles and Chris Polk were both very effective in the passing game and on the goal line respectively last season, and I see no reason that they could not step in and replace what McCoy could do in the aggregate. The Eagles will probably add some competition via the draft, but I would expect that to come in the mid rounds, not the early ones. This will be a position battle to monitor carefully as we approach the season, but I think there is a good chance that more than one back maintains fantasy value in this offense.
Perhaps the larger point for the Eagles is that this move clearly sends the message that Chip Kelly is running the show. This could maybe mean a splash move for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is coming, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself (author’s note: I am routinely ahead of myself). I would also imagine that the money saved from trading Shady will be used to give Jeremy Maclin a new contract before free agency starts. If that happens, it would make for an interesting ADP battle between he and second year pro Jordan Matthews. Overall, I don’t expect the Eagle offense to change much as a result of this move, just the pieces that make the offense go.