Once all major sports leagues decided to cancel or delay their seasons, many were left wondering what to occupy their time with during these next few challenging weeks. Yesterday the NFL Free Agency period kicked off and quickly answered this question for us with a wild flurry of activity featuring cuts, signings, and trades galore. The Minnesota Vikings kicked off the day by franchise tagging safety Anthony Harris, shortly after extending quarterback Kirk Cousins for another two seasons. The Vikings then also extended restricted free agent fullback C.J. Ham with a four year deal of his own, perhaps providing a glimpse into head coach Mike Zimmer’s ongoing focus on the running game. These moves were then met with yet another cryptic message on social media by disgruntled wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs had several well publicized run-ins with coach Zimmer and Cousins during the 2019 season and trade rumors seemed to dog him throughout the year and into the offseason. The Vikings repeatedly denied Diggs would be moved but these rumors persisted.
Finally, on the evening of March 16, the Vikings traded Diggs and a 2020 7th round pick to the Buffalo Bills for a 2020 1st, 5th and 6th round pick and a 2021 4th rounder. Considering the controversial return the Houston Texans acquired for stud wideout DeAndre Hopkins earlier in the day, this seems like a solid return for the Vikings. It does however leave a fairly significant hole in the Minnesota passing attack, but this can be addressed a number of ways through the draft, trade, promotion from within, or free agency.
There is no doubt that Buffalo is getting a premiere talent in this deal. Diggs, entering his sixth season, is still under contract through the 2023 season with a salary cap hit of $12 million per year. He is coming off back to back 1000+ yard seasons and has finished as the WR24, 10 and 19 in each of the past three campaigns. He has also proven his ability to shine in big games, having provided one of the most re-watchable highlight catches in modern history a few seasons ago. Diggs will join an ascending Bills team that is coming off an overtime loss in the wildcard round during the 2019 playoffs. Buffalo boasts an impressive defense and an emerging young offense featuring third year quarterback Josh Allen(who finished as the QB6 in 2019), impressive 2019 rookies in running back Devin Singletary and tight end Dawson Knox, and a pair of 100 target wide receivers in veterans John Brown (72 receptions 115 targets 1060 yards 6 touchdowns PPR WR20) and Cole Beasley (67 receptions 104 targets 778 yards 6 touchdowns PPR WR34).
The question is whether there are enough targets to feed all of these mouths on offense. Allen attempted 461 passes this past season, which was the 17th most of any quarterback. He completed 271 passes for 3089 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. His 59% accuracy will need to improve if he wishes to continue to develop as a professional, and the attempts should continue to increase as he begins his third full season. While leading the Bills to a 10-6 record, Allen often proved he is capable of leading this offense to victories and is able to take control in key situations to move the ball down the field. The addition of a proven reliable weapon in Diggs should do nothing but improve his outlook and fantasy production.
Buffalo targeted their other wideouts Isaiah McKenzie, Robert Foster, Duke Williams and Andre Roberts 83 times last season while passing to the tight ends and running backs 82 times each. There were certainly enough looks in the 2019 offense to satisfy Diggs, Brown, and Beasley and if Allen continues to grow and develop, there should be more targets available going forward. All three of the Bills wideouts should remain fantasy viable in 2020, while Diggs should continue to be looked upon as an upside WR2 across all formats. He should once again flirt with 100 targets, 1000 yards and 6-8 touchdowns with the opportunity for much more, assuming he develops chemistry with his quarterback early. This trade happening March 16 provides an entire offseason to get up to speed on the offense and develop this rapport. As one of the top route-runners in the game today, Bills fans are very much going to enjoy their new weapon. Diggs’s stock is mostly unchanged at this point, but the arrow is certainly pointing up for Allen and this Bills offense. I still expect Brown and Beasley to garner a lot of targets and produce though they may take a slight hit with Diggs establishing himself as the lead receiver in Buffalo.