Former Raiders Tight End Darren Waller Traded To New York Giants
The Las Vegas Raiders have finalized a trade sending star tight end Darren Waller to the New York Giants.
In a bit of a surprise move that seemingly came out of nowhere, the Raiders shipped Waller off to New York for a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. That pick is the 100th overall pick. After monster seasons in 2019 and 2020, the soon-to-be 31-year-old tight end has seen his production decline over the past two seasons for numerous reasons. Injury has been a major factor as he’s only played 20 total games over the past two seasons, as well as subpar quarterback play, the addition of Davante Adams, and perhaps declining skill. However, he has still shown plenty of flashes when he’s been on the field and healthy that he can still be the guy that lit up the league just a few years back.
This move would seem to suggest that the Raiders are in a bit of a rebuild. Despite bringing in Jimmy Garoppolo and still having Adams on the books, it’s clear to anyone with eyes that this team is nowhere close to competing for a Super Bowl. Conversely, the Giants are starting to push their chips to the middle of the table. Coming off a surprisingly strong year that saw them advance to the second round of the playoffs, they believe they can be in that mix in the next few years. These are clearly two teams going in very different directions and this trade magnifies that.
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Fantasy Impact Of Darren Waller Trade
For Waller, this move is a slight upgrade for his fantasy value. The quarterback situation is essentially a wash and may even be a slight downgrade. However, he now goes to a team where he could legitimately be the centerpiece of the offense once again. That was never going to happen in Vegas as long as Adams was there. Daniel Jones also loves targeting his tight ends. His top tight end last year was rookie Daniel Bellinger and he saw more than three targets per game and that’s not even considering he left two games with injuries. That may not seem like a huge number, but it’s significant for a rookie. Waller could legitimately be his top target in 2023. There isn’t a ton of competition as of now.
The biggest winner is Daniel Jones for obvious reasons. He is in desperate need of weapons in the passing game. Last season, he put together a nice year. Enough to earn him a four-year contract a $40 million per. That was with one of the worst sets of pass-catchers in the league. The addition of Waller and hopefully another wide receiver could help him ascend to the next level in his development. There are still plenty of people skeptical about how good he is. This could be a big step in silencing those voices.
There is one more player this trade could put back on the fantasy radar. That man is Hunter Renfrow. After a big 2021 campaign, he saw his usage cannibalized by Adams and Waller last season due to the addition of Adams. Nevertheless, over the past two seasons he has played eight games without Waller. In those eight games, he has caught 48 passes for 506 yards and three TDs. If you expand that over a full 17-game season he is topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards.
More importantly, are the numbers from just last season because Adams isn’t going anywhere. In seven games with Waller active last year Renfrow caught 26 of 34 targets for 173 yards and one TD. In just three games with Waller out, he caught 13 of 16 targets for 157 yards and one TD. If you expand this over a 17-game season Renfrow has about 890 yards and six TD projection without Waller and a 420 yards and two TD projection with him. That is not a small difference and should put him back on your sleeper radar.
The obvious losers here are Jimmy Garoppolo and Daniel Bellinger. The Raiders’ new QB immediately loses one of his top targets a day after signing with the team. No matter how you look at it it’s very unlikely they add a tight end who is as talented or productive as Waller this offseason. Bellinger coming off a rare strong rookie tight end season for the Giants essentially just lost his job barring some unforeseen turn of events. Neither of these men can be thrilled with this trade. The good news for Bellinger is that he’s still young and Waller is getting up there in age so his long-term future could still be in good standing with New York. For Jimmy G we will just have to wait and see what moves the Raiders make. Nevertheless, history has shown us that having faith in the Raiders’ front office is a fool’s errand.
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