The Bills are going all-in and trying to surround Josh Allen with as much talent as possible. After sending cryptic tweets all winter and spring, Stefon Diggs finally got the trade he was looking for. In a blockbuster move, Minnesota sent Diggs and a 2020 7th-round pick to Buffalo in exchange for 1st-, 5th-, and 6th-round selections in 2020 and a 4th-round pick in 2021. The Vikings compensation for Diggs just further highlights how deranged the DeAndre Hopkins-to-Arizona trade was.
Let’s breakdown what this move means for Diggs, Allen, and Adam Thielen’s 2020 fantasy outlook:
Diggs’ Value and Why Josh Allen is Still Underrated in Fantasy
Adding Diggs will allow the Bills to run one of the league’s most diverse 11-personnel (3WR) packages. With Diggs and John Brown wreaking havoc and creating separation on the boundary, Cole Beasley will man the slot underneath. OC Brian Daboll steadily increased the Bills 3-WR usage as the season progressed last year, using 11-personnel on 60% of plays (17th) in Weeks 1-8 and then dramatically spiked the Bills 3-WR usage to 77% (2nd-most) in Weeks 9-17.
While Diggs is undeniably one of the NFL’s best route runners, and that will greatly help Allen’s development, it’s hard to see this move as a boost to Diggs’ fantasy stock. First, he has more competition for targets here in Buffalo between Brown — who is coming off the best year of his career — and Beasley (who just set a career-high in targets with 106). It was largely just a two-man show between Diggs and Adam Thielen in Minnesota.
How Diggs meshes with Allen is just as important, though. Kirk Cousins certainly isn’t flashy, but he is rarely inaccurate. That can’t always be said about Josh Allen. Last year, Cousins was tied with Dak Prescott for 5th in adjusted completion percentage (for drops and throwaways) on passes of 10 or more yards (60%). Allen was 20th-of-28 in adjusted completions (50%).
Watching Diggs and Brown work off of each other will be a treat, but both now profile as WR3s in fantasy. Both Diggs and Brown are bound to have monster performances, but Allen’s erratic passing style coupled with three mouths to feed doesn’t bode well for consistent production. I’ll be interested in Diggs as a high-upside pick if his average draft position ends up near the fifth round, but my most likely strategy this year is to just target Allen in all of my leagues.
Even with a below-average receiver corps in his first two seasons, Allen is the QB13 in fantasy points per game. Granted, most of Allen’s appeal for our game comes from his rushing upside. Over the last two seasons, Allen leads the Bills in rushes inside of the 10-yard line (22-of-63) and has scored 13 TDs on these carries (tied for 9th-most in the NFL). Only Lamar Jackson (61.3) has averaged more yards on the ground than Allen (40.8) among quarterbacks in this span.
However, giving Allen another receiver that can create separation on his own will really help in his development. While Allen will never be a precision pocket passer, adding Diggs will not only give him another weapon but it’ll open up the Bills passing offense as a whole. Allen won’t have to anticipate many throws when he targets Diggs, simply because he’s always open. Having to account for Brown’s deep speed, Beasley’s quickness underneath, and Diggs’ route-running prowess will give defenses a formidable challenge. I can’t wait to see how much Allen progresses in 2020.
Impact on Adam Thielen and the Vikings’ Offense
After a hamstring injury ruined his 2020 campaign, Adam Thielen was going to be a trendy bounce-back candidate for obvious reasons. That will especially be the case with Diggs gone.
This could certainly change with the NFL Draft around the corner, but even if the Vikings do add a talented rookie, Thielen will be walking into at least 135 targets in 2020 with Diggs gone. Over the past three seasons, Thielen has played only three games without Diggs on the field but has seen an enormous 10.7 targets per contest with Diggs sidelined. Thielen will be 30 when the upcoming season kicks off, but just remember we’re only a year removed from Thielen finishing his second-straight season with at least 90 receptions and 1,200 or more yards. As Cousins only main target remaining, I’m penciling in Thielen as a borderline WR1 this coming season.
I’m also expecting Irv Smith Jr. to be more involved without Diggs around, especially after he was slightly more involved in the Vikings passing attack in their playoff stretch run. Once Minnesota returned from their Week 12 bye, Smith ran 143 pass routes (and saw 18 targets) while veteran Kyle Rudolph saw 23 passing looks on 131 routes run. Still only 21 years old, Smith is a sharp dynasty trade target this offseason.