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In a year when most view the free agent market as below average, the most significant moves have come via the trade. First, we had D.J. Moore to the Bears, and now, Darren Waller is on his way to the New York Giants. Just hours after the Raiders acquired Jakobi Meyers, they sent another of their playmakers packing. So let's see how this move will shake out for both teams in fantasy football.
The Giants gave up a third-round pick, the 100th overall, for Waller. This pick happens to be the one they acquired in their trade of Kadarius Toney. So, for New York, it was Waller for Toney.
Outside of Saquon Barkley, there is questionable talent at critical positions for the Giants. However, a healthy Darren Waller solves some of those issues. Last season, Waller only appeared in nine games. He finished with 43 targets that he turned into 28 catches, 388 yards, and three touchdowns. While the overall numbers are far from great, a tight end with a 65% catch rate and 13.9 yards per catch has undeniable potential. We've seen Waller as a top-five tight end in fantasy football, and there is hope he ends up there again.
While the Giants only targeted the entire tight end position 61 times last season, that is an indictment of the talent they had at the position. Rookie Daniel Bellinger led the group with just 35 targets while appearing in 12 games. He flashed some talent but was still raw. A few years playing behind a 30-year-old Waller should be great for his development.
With close to 200 vacated targets, depending on what they do at wide receiver, it is very likely that Waller will see his usual 5-6 targets per game as the team's best pass catcher. That volume translates to 85-100 targets on the season, plenty enough to be a top fantasy option.
There is good and bad in this signing for the other Giants. Daniel Jones desperately needs weapons. A player like Waller, who can operate close to his quarterback, should be an excellent option for Jones, coming off his most efficient season as a pro. On the other hand, Saquon Barkley should be unaffected. He is the best player on this team and will remain so with Waller.
Wan'Dale Robinson and Isaiah Hodgins are the top receivers on this team right now. As such, early projections likely had them with a hefty target share. Waller will bring that back down to earth and slot them in as third and fourth options, both in fantasy and real life.
It's anyone's guess as to what the Raiders' plan is right now. With the additions of Jimmy Garoppolo and Jakobi Meyers to the established Davante Adams and Waller, it looked as if Josh McDaniels had a solid core to build his offense. Instead, Waller is gone, and last year's backup, Foster Moreau, is also a free agent. This trade opens up target share for Meyers and might bring Hunter Renfrow back into the fold, but overall, this doesn't feel great for Garoppolo and this offense.
It's been a roller coaster for Darren Waller's stock. First, when they added Garoppolo, he rose in value. Then, when they brought in Jakobi Meyers, Waller took a dip. Now, the trade to New York makes him, for at the least the time being, his team's No. 1 receiving option again. If New York does not make a splash at wide receiver, Waller could work his way back into the top-five tight end conversation.
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