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The Fantasy Football Implications of LeSean McCoy’s Trade

With LeSean McCoy’s trade to the Buffalo Bills, several players from the Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are set to receive an adjustment in their 2015 Fantasy Football value.

Although, he finished 2014 with 1,319 rushing yards, McCoy disappointed many of his owners who selected him as a first-round pick.

It was unreasonable to expect a repeat of his 2013 campaign, but the reasons behind his lower-than-expect results were heavily dissected.

Just as Fantasy Football players were debating owning McCoy, chaos formed as the 26-year old running back found himself as a member of the Bills.

This obviously has a huge impact for players on both the Bills and Eagles, but I wanted to first speculate on McCoy’s chances for success with his new team.

LeSean McCoy: Buffalo Bills Starting RB

The perception of Rex Ryan is that he loves to run the ball, but how accurate is that assumption? As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “I never assume. It leads to assumptions.” Below, I showcase the data of the top-two running backs on the Jets from 2009-2014 in terms of rushing yards.

2009 Season Running Back Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns
Thomas Jones 331 1402 14
Shonn Greene 108 540 2

 

2010 Season Running Back Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns
LaDainian Tomlinson 219 914 6
Shonn Greene 185 766 2

 

2011 Season Running Back Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns
Shonn Greene 253 1054 6
LaDainian Tomlinson 75 280 1

 

2012 Season Running Back Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns
Shonn Greene 276 1063 8
Bilal Powell 110 437 4

 

2013 Season Running Back Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns
Chris Ivory 182 833 3
Bilal Powell 176 697 1

 

2014 Season Running Back Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Rushing Touchdowns
Chris Ivory 198 821 6
Chris Johnson 155 663 1

While the rushing attempts were split more evenly in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Rex obviously loves to run the ball down his opponent’s throat. McCoy won’t be held back in Buffalo, and his abilities as a dual-threat back will make him more of a weapon than Rex had access to with Ivory and Powell.

AFC East Competition

McCoy will face the New England Patriots, the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets in a total of six games, so let’s look at the stats of the rush defenses in the AFC East.

  • New England Patriots Rush Defense: Ranked 9th, 104.3 average rushing yards allowed per game
  • Miami Dolphins Rush Defense: Ranked 24th, 121.1 average rushing yards allowed per game
  • New York Jets Rush Defense: Ranked 5th, 93.1 average rushing yards allowed per game

Outside of the Dolphins, the AFC East is pretty stout against the run. That doesn’t mean McCoy won’t be successful, however. The Dallas Cowboys’ defense ranked 8th against the rush in 2014, and the Washington Redskins’ defense ranked 12th. McCoy is similar to Matt Forte in the fact that if he isn’t getting it done on the ground, he can always get his owners Fantasy points by catching the ball.

Shady McCoy won’t have Darren Sproles cut into his receiving totals for the 2015 Fantasy Football season, which will improve his Fantasy Football production in PPR formats. More touches means the chance for more scoring opportunities, which also gives McCoy a boost in Non-PPR leagues.

We’ve established that Rex loves to run the ball, and McCoy’s opponents in terms of rushing yards allowed shouldn’t be a major deterrent in his production.  Before this news broke, however, many Fantasy Football players were ready to write off McCoy in 2015. You can read my three biggest reasons why McCoy was viewed as a disappointment to many Fantasy owners, but I think most players are still digesting the news. Our own Michael Tomlin thinks this will be a step up for McCoy, and as the main man in Buffalo, there is reason for optimism.

Even though the start of the 2015 Fantasy Football season is a little ways down the road, I am going to start scanning the message boards and participate in early mock drafts to find out how Fantasy Football players feel about this move. I wouldn’t want to spend a first-round pick on McCoy right at this moment, but if players think this move will hurt him or are disowning McCoy because he disappointed them last season, I like the potential value he may present if he is pushed back to Round 2.

McCoy seems to have an opportunity for success with his new team, but this trade has huge Fantasy Football implications for the Bills and Eagles.

Fantasy Outlook for Buffalo Bills Players

The quarterback position for Buffalo scares me, and that’s one of the reasons I am a little hesitant on McCoy’s value with the Bills. Even though he is only 26 years old, he does have some mileage. If McCoy has too much pressure placed upon him and is overused, he could quickly become sidelined and ruin many Fantasy Football seasons. I don’t think E.J. Manuel is the long-term answer, and the Bills just traded for Matt Cassel, which isn’t an upgrade.

It’s interesting to note that the Eagles were pursuing C.J. Spiller last season, but in 2014, that move didn’t make sense with McCoy on the roster. Spiller will have a handful of pursuers in free agency, and with the right team, he may be able to return to Fantasy Football relevance. Injuries have hindered his production, but when he can stay on the field, he is a playmaker. I’m not sure how much value he will have with the Arizona Cardinals with a healthy Andre Ellington in the mix, but I think he would provide top-20 value with the Jets.

Similiar to Frank Gore, Fred Jackson is one of those guys that you count out every season. But every season, he still seems to make a Fantasy impact for a cheap price.  I don’t expect too much production from the 34-year old back in 2015, and if he makes the Bills’ roster, he’s obviously second fiddle to McCoy. When you add to the fact that 23-year old Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixion still have roster spots, Jacksons days are numbered in Buffalo. He can probably find a home somewhere, but he won’t be a starter in the 2015 NFL season.

If the signal caller for the Bills can stay consistent, and if McCoy provides the play-making ability that he is known for, that could open things up for Sammy Watkins. At the very least, McCoy will bring about a more balanced attack, which will help Watkins’ value. At the most, McCoy and the Bills’ offense become so difficult to defend, that Watkins becomes more productive than Odell Beckham Jr. or Mike Evans in the 2015 Fantasy Football season.

So for the Bills, it appears that this move will actually kick a few players out of Buffalo. How will it affect the Eagles?

Fantasy Outlook for Philadelphia Eagles’ Players

One of the biggest reasons for this move is to save money, but the reason behind saving money is still a little murky. Could Chip Kelly be targeting a high-profile back like DeMarco Murray? I don’t think that makes a ton of sense, but it does open things up for potential free agent Jeremy Maclin. McCoy and DeSean Jackson were obviously not Kelly’s guys, but if he feels Maclin fits into what he is trying to do, than he will do everything in his power to keep him as an Eagle. Whether the Eagles go after Marcus Mariota or keep Nick Foles as the starter, having Maclin still on the roster will help whoever is throwing the ball.

This move also seems to solidify a spot for Sproles, and potentially Chris Polk. Even though he will be 32, Sproles’ ability to return punts, rush and catch the ball,make him a viable commodity in Kelly’s offense. Sproles finished 2014 with six rushing touchdowns, 329 rushing yards and 387 receiving yards. Polk cut into McCoy’s production as well, with four rushing touchdowns and 172 rushing yards.

Sproles can’t handle the duties of a starting back, and Polk has mainly been implemented as a short-yardage bruiser. With such a deep running back class, Kelly may have his eye on the 2015 NFL Draft for his main back. I think Kelly is looking for more of a committee approach in 2015, however, with a bunch of interchangeable parts. That isn’t good in terms of Fantasy Football value, but any player who is involved with an offense that ranks in the top 10 in both passing and rushing yards, will always have a chance for Fantasy Football success.

Overview of LeSean McCoy Trade

For the Bills, McCoy has pretty much pushed Spiller and Jackson out of the picture. While Spiller can still have value on another team, Jackson should not be on your Fantasy Football roster in 2015. For the Eagles, the running back position is most likely to become a big committee approach, and if the organization doesn’t land a free agent, then it will most definitely draft a running back it feels can compete on day 1.

Watkins can see a boost on the Bills next year, and having Maclin return will help his quarterback.

As for McCoy himself, it appears he is in a good situation. He plays for a coach who likes to run, and McCoy will have the most opportunities to touch the ball. We won’t really know how well he gels with the team until Week 1, but at least we have plenty to talk about until the start of the 2015 Fantasy Football season!

Photo Credit: HunterHeitz

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Jack Delaney

Jack's love of craft beer and gangster rap is only surpassed by his love of pass-catching running backs. He was a top-40 finisher and $1,500 prize winner for the 2014 RotoBowl, a top-50 finisher in the 2015 Mock Draft Online Championships, finished first in draft accuracy for quarterback rankings in 2015 on Fantasy Pros, and was a contributor to the 2015 and 2016 The Fantasy Football Guide.
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