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Fantasy Football Impact Of The Stefon Diggs Trade: Who Is The Odd Man Out In Houston?

Ted breaks down the fantasy football impact of yesterday’s blockbuster NFL trade, as Stefon Diggs moved from the Bills to the Texans.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 07: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Buffalo Bills reacts after a first down catch during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

The NFL never stays quiet for long. Just when it seemed like we had hit a lull in exciting news, we got hit with a bombshell out of nowhere. The Bills have traded four-time Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs (and two late draft picks) to the Houston Texans in exchange for a 2025 second-rounder. As a result of this trade, the Texans now have what is probably the most talented receiving room in the league, and the Bills have … not that. Let’s take a look at the fantasy football winners and losers from this surprise move.

Fantasy Football Winners & Losers From Stefon Diggs Trade

Big Winner: C.J. Stroud

I have gone on the record saying that Stroud was one of the most overvalued fantasy quarterbacks in early Best Ball ADP … but that might not be the case anymore. My big problem with Stroud was that managers were projecting a level of production he simply didn’t show in his rookie year when there was no real reason to expect a huge step forward. But adding Stefon Diggs counts as a reason to expect a step forward. Stroud will probably still end up going a bit too high for my taste; he has already climbed into the top five quarterbacks in ADP following this move, a group he seems a bit out of place in given his lack of rushing upside. But if anyone is going to put up an elite fantasy season without rushing upside, it’s this man with these weapons. Stroud is now my favorite pick from the Elite-Pass-First-Quarterbacks-Who-Aren’t-Patrick-Mahomes tier, meaning I would rank him around QB6, right above Joe Burrow and Dak Prescott.

Big Winner: Buffalo’s Other Weapons

I, along with the rest of the world, absolutely expect the Bills to add at least one, if not multiple, quality receivers before Week 1. But unless they pull off another shocking trade for a guy like Brandon Aiyuk or Tee Higgins, those additions are not going to demand the same level of targets that Diggs did. That means more to go around for the few receiving threats still remaining in Buffalo, so let’s take a look at each of them individually:

Dalton Kincaid

I was very pessimistic about Kincaid in my Bills 2023 season review a few weeks back, but this news is a huge boost for his chances to see elite TE target volume. I’m still a little suspicious of the fact that he never played an every-down role with Dawson Knox healthy, but that’s understandable for a rookie TE adjusting to the NFL. He’s a much more natural fit in the Kyle Pitts/George Kittle/Evan Engram tier of tight ends than he was a week ago.

Khalil Shakir

I was also down on Shakir in my Bills season review, and I’m afraid that isn’t going to change much following this news. My big issue with Shakir’s profile was that he struggled mightily whenever he was asked to line up out wide, averaging a disgustingly low 0.64 yards per route run on his 91 routes from outside the slot (that number was a much more respectable 2.08 on his routes from the slot). I’m sure Buffalo’s coaching staff knows this as well as I do, so I don’t see them trying to force Shakir into a role he simply hasn’t shown he can fill. With all that said, the departure of Diggs and his 29% target share still should mean an increase in looks for Shakir, so there’s no way he’s not a winner from this news … I just fear hype will push him higher than I would be comfortable drafting him.

Curtis Samuel

At first glance, Samuel has the same issue as Shakir: 70.2% of his routes last season came from the slot. However, unlike Shakir, the veteran has a track record of success when lined up as a traditional wide receiver. He averaged 2.37 yards per route outside the slot in 2023 (on 121 routes), and has multiple seasons where the clear majority of his snaps came out wide under his belt. I still don’t expect the Bills to roll Samuel out as their WR1, but I do expect him to win the WR2 job if they only add one top-quality option. And while Samuel is a very different player to the Bills’ former WR2 Gabe Davis, I think he could manage similar flex-level production, perhaps with a less boom-or-bust profile, as Josh Allen’s WR2.

Big Loser: The Texans’ Other Weapons

We can debate whether or not Diggs is washed (more on that later), but he is absolutely going to demand (probably literally) more targets than Noah Brown/Robert Woods. In a game where volume is king, that can’t be good for these guys:

Nico Collins

Listen, I love Nico Collins. In his first year with a real quarterback, he ranked as a top-five receiver in both PFF Grade (tied for fourth) and yards per route run (second). ESPN’s Receiver Tracking Metrics had him as the third-best receiver in the league. However, I can’t justify spending top-10 WR draft capital (his current Underdog ADP is WR9) on someone with this much competition. I think a very fair comparison for Collins is Brandon Aiyuk: Aiyuk also has elite metrics, ranking second in PFF Grade, sixth in yards per route run, and as the WR1 in ESPN’s model. But he’s being drafted as “just” the WR13 in ADP because we’ve seen that even with all that talent he will have off weeks while playing alongside Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey. I think Collins should slide down draft boards to right next to Aiyuk, as a WR1 talent who may finish the season with WR2 production thanks to off weeks when his talented teammates eat.

Tank Dell

I think Dell takes a bigger hit than Collins due to Diggs’ arrival for one simple reason: Someone has to come off the field in two-WR sets, and he is the obvious candidate at 5’8″ and 165 pounds. Dell proved plenty of doubters wrong by excelling both in the slot and out wide as a rookie, but I still find it hard to believe that NFL coaches will play someone that small over two prototypical outside receivers in Diggs and Collins. I still think Dell will have his share of big games, but they might be mixed with enough duds to make him a very frustrating player to roster in traditional leagues. He will probably land in the WR3 range in my rankings, if not slightly lower.

Dalton Schultz

I am entirely out on Dalton Schultz for fantasy at this point. In order for a tight end to be a true difference-maker, they almost always have to be a top-two target on their team, and Schultz is now destined to be Stroud’s fourth option. He might still have enough spike weeks to finish right around the top-12 tight ends, but a fringe top-12 TE isn’t actually worth anything outside of Best Ball, 2-TE, or TE-Premium formats. Pass on Schultz for tight ends who actually have a chance to break out and win you games every week.

Medium Loser: Stefon Diggs

Diggs was fourth in the league in targets last year, and we simply can’t expect that same level of usage given the weapons already present on the Texans’ roster. Stroud is an elite quarterback, but so was Josh Allen, so this is a lateral move on the QB front for Diggs. The only silver lining for Diggs’ fantasy value is that this trade offers a potential explanation for his steep decline in performance over the back half of the 2023 season — maybe he saw the writing on the wall for his time in Buffalo and checked out. But we also can’t ignore the possibility that Diggs, who turned 30 last November, is simply no longer the player he once was. Combine that with the added target competition, and I think Diggs projects similarly to Dell as a WR3 who will have big weeks but also weeks of lackluster production.

Medium Winner: Joe Mixon

One thing is certain: This Texans’ offense is about to be absurd. And while a rising tide doesn’t always lift all boats, adding another stud WR certainly lifts the boat of a team’s RB1. This offense is going to be in the red zone early and often, and Mixon should be the one punching in goal-line TDs. Situation is the most important factor for running backs, and this might have just become the best situation in the league; I would draft Mixon as the RB12 overall, so just barely in the RB1 range, following this move.

Small Loser: Josh Allen

Obviously, losing his top weapon isn’t good for Allen’s fantasy value. But Diggs was a shell of himself for the second half of last season, and Allen was still the fantasy QB1 with an insane 23.9 fantasy points per game. He’s still my top QB on the board heading into 2024.