Midseason NFL trades are rare, especially those involving name-brand players. But two deals have gone down since the end of Week 6 that register solidly on the fantasy seismic scale.
The most prominent name dealt on Tuesday was wide receiver Chris Chambers, who was sent to San Diego from Miami in exchange for a second-round draft choice. It's a somewhat surprising price for the Chargers to pay considering that more productive veteran receivers Randy Moss and Darrell Jackson were had for mere fourth-round picks prior to April's NFL Draft.
There's no denying Chambers' athleticism. His skills make him a dangerous vertical threat, and he's adept at pulling the ball out of a crowd in jump-ball situations. But, although he's been the fourth-most targeted receiver in the league through Week 6, he hasn't been able to turn that attention into an impacting fantasy line.
Since '04, Chambers has been able to garner just 46 percent of the passes intended for him (241-for-523). For comparison sake, St. Louis All-Pro Torry Holt has seen a similar amount of targets during the same span, but he's hauled in 60 percent of those looks (321-for-532). Certainly an assembly line of second-rate quarterbacks has hindered Chambers' production over the years, but the finger also can be pointed at Chambers for dropped passes and a perceived lack of effort and focus at times.
In his new surroundings, Chambers goes from being the clear go-to guy in the Dolphins' aerial attack to second fiddle behind TE Antonio Gates and, perhaps, receiver Vincent Jackson. Further casting a shadow on Chambers' fantasy prospects is the fact that Miami has attempted the eighth-most passes per game (35.2), while San Diego has attempted the eighth fewest (29.8). Chambers will have a lesser role and fewer opportunities in San Diego. Given his natural ability, he's still worth owning in 12-team or deeper fantasy leagues, but plant him on the bench for now – and don't be surprised if he doesn't work his way off of it.
With this deal, Miami has signaled that it is moving in the direction of the future. Top pick Ted Ginn Jr. is expected to see his role increase significantly with Chambers out of the picture. However, he's more of a vertical threat than an over-the-middle possession type. Given his inexperience and the tenuous nature of Miami's passing game, nothing more than spotty production can be expected from Ginn. His blazing speed and increased opportunities should result in a couple big days down the stretch, but guessing when those performances will take place will likely be a frustrating exercise that fantasy owners will want to avoid. Ginn's a decent flyer, but the best plan of attack for his owners is to take a wait-and-see approach. Former Arizona St. product Derek Hagan also will see his role elevated, so keep an eye out for him, as well.
In the other trade that went down on Tuesday, Tampa Bay added depth to its injury-depleted backfield, acquiring Michael Bennett from Kansas City in exchange for a future draft pick.
Bennett should figure into the mix almost immediately in support of last-man-standing in the Bucs' backfield, Earnest Graham. As Bennett gets more and more familiar with Tampa Bay's offense, expect his carries to increase. Ultimately, this should be another running back-by-committee situation, with Bennett seeing time mostly as the open-field back while Graham handles short-yardage duty in addition to sharing some of the between-the-20s work with Bennett.
Bennett hasn't seen more than 126 carries in a season since '02, but his sprinter's speed and newfound opportunity in Tampa Bay make him worth a waiver claim in fantasy leagues. With 10-15 carries a week, he might wind up being a useful flex filler for some of the softer competition he'll see over the final 10 games of the season.