Randy Moss Trade: Fantasy Spin
Brandon Tate is the big winner in fantasy leagues, as he moves into Moss' starting role. He's done well in his limited work in the passing game this season, but his big contribution to the team has come on kickoff returns, where he's returned two kicks for touchdowns. Take that as an indication of his open-field ability. Unbelievably, Tate actually has more receptions with the Patriots this year than Moss.
Tate will likely be the third option for Tom Brady on offense, but that will translate to a few big games in the future when New England plays teams with good pass defenses, like that of the New York Jets. He's a must-own in all fantasy leagues after this news.
Moss also sees a bump in value, as he was being used as nothing more than a decoy in New England for the most part. Brady has been favoring tight end Aaron Hernandez almost as much as he does Wes Welker, leaving Moss with just half as many catches as the rookie tight end this season. If Randy Moss has nine catches through four games, something is broken. In Minnesota, Moss is expected to be Brett Favre's Sidney Rice-type player over the next few weeks and beyond. Unlike Brady, Favre should be willing to force the ball to Moss in the red zone, and we expect Moss to elevate his game as he once again becomes the focal point of an offense. The time to trade for Moss in your fantasy league is now.
Welker's value in fantasy leagues shouldn't change too much, but the trade really speaks to New England's confidence in Hernandez as a viable part of the New England passing game. Hernandez is now cemented as the team's No. 2 passing option, and fantasy owners have a great chance to add him during New England's bye week. If you don't have room on your bench for a bye-week tight end, make sure to submit that waiver claim heading into Week 6, as Hernandez is a starting TE in fantasy leagues for the rest of the season.
Brady is going to find it much tougher to throw the ball without the presence of Moss to attract defensive attention, and his fantasy value is likely tied to Tate's ability to perform in Moss' wake. I'd expect less from Brady, and it may be time to trade him to a team willing to pay a premium in your league, especially if you have great secondary options available.
Percy Harvin should benefit from Moss' arrival. He had 790 yards and six TDs last year as the second banana to Rice, and both totals are better than his pace this year without Rice. With teams likely to focus more on defending Moss, things should open up for Harvin, and we know how dangerous he can be when given the ball in the open field. I traded Ryan Torain for Harvin with FanHouse's Trade Addict on Tuesday, and I'm liking the move even more than I previously did. Consider Harvin a WR3 with the chance to be a WR2 moving forward.
Visanthe Shiancoe is the big loser in the deal. Favre had been looking Shiancoe's way time and again to move the sticks, making Shiancoe the team leader in receiving yards after three weeks (Minnesota had a bye in Week 4). With Moss on board, Shiancoe moves from being an every-week starter in fantasy leagues to a borderline TE1. I wouldn't cut him, but I'd definitely shop him around to owners hurting at the position, especially if you're in a position to pick up Hernandez. I see the New England rookie ending the year with better numbers than those of Shiancoe.
Adrian Peterson is actually currently leading the Viking in receptions, but that's going to change quickly. His value goes down slightly with the move as he'll likely receive less dump-off passes, but you're not trading him either way.
Bernard Berrian and Greg Camarillo are rendered insignificant in fantasy leagues after the trade, but you weren't using them in the first place.
Favre sees a nice rise in value with the acquisition of Moss. Now his offense looks more like the one that led to his rejuvenated fantasy season, and it should look even better in the fantasy playoffs when Rice will presumably return. If the Vikings can get Moss signed to an extension, this Minnesota offense will be very tough to stop in the future, with Moss, Rice, Harvin and Peterson all at full health.