From a fantasy standpoint, three of the biggest "winners" at the NFL trade deadline were guys who didn't go anywhere.
ESPN Denver Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold and Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky have been touting receiver Courtland Sutton and running back Aaron Jones, respectively, as sleeper candidates since this summer. And now both of those players have even more opportunity to break out with bigger roles.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Eagles reporter Tim McManus wrote about why quarterback Carson Wentz was poised for a monster second half even before the Eagles added another go-to guy for him in receiver Golden Tate.
Sutton's opportunity is obvious. Legwold wrote that the Broncos' trade of longtime receiver Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans means "it's Sutton's time." The 6-foot-4, 216-pound rookie was already leading the Broncos with 19.1 yards per reception (17 catches for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns) as their No. 3 receiver before the trade. General manager John Elway specifically said, "We thought this would give Courtland a chance to get out there and play more and be a bigger part of it because we think he's ready to go."
Legwold cautioned that Sutton will now be facing more No. 2 cornerbacks, and even No. 1 cornerbacks on occasion, than he did before. But Legwold said Sutton's ability to make contested catches should help him.
Also, Sutton was playing a healthy 47 snaps per game already, but Legwold said he almost always came off the field in two-receiver/two-tight end sets, which won't be the case now. And he should get more red zone looks as a result.
Jones' situation isn't exactly the same in Green Bay, since veteran RB Ty Montgomery was averaging fewer than six offensive touches per game before being traded to the Baltimore Ravens this week. But Jones' role was already -- finally -- starting to increase even before the Montgomery trade. And now the Packers' backfield is just a two-man timeshare with Jones and Jamaal Williams instead of a three-headed headache for fantasy owners.
"It's finally the 'Aaron Jones show,' although I've thought that before," Demovsky said of the second-year running back, who had season highs with 14 touches, 86 rushing yards and a touchdown coming off the bye week last Sunday.
Demovsky wrote last week that the bye should help spur more touches for Jones, since the Packers did some extensive self-scouting and talked about their need to establish more of a run game. Jones leads all qualifying NFL running backs with 6.2 yards per carry this season, though he has just 44 total carries since returning from a two-game suspension to start the season.
"Now there's no good reason not to get the ball in his hands 16-18 times a game, which is about the max for a Packers back when you have Aaron Rodgers at QB," Demovsky said.
As for Wentz, the main reason for optimism is that his health continues to improve the further removed he is from last year's torn ACL.
McManus pointed out all of the areas where Wentz has been "looking like his old self" recently -- and even better than his old self when it comes to his improved accuracy. And now Wentz adds a standout receiver in Tate.
McManus also wrote that it will be interesting to see how the Eagles use Tate, since he was used so heavily in the slot with the Detroit Lions. The Eagles' second-best receiver, Nelson Agholor, operates out of the slot. So it's possible Tate will play more outside, where he has also played a lot in the past. That could mean fewer catches, but more yards and touchdown opportunities.
And "one thing you can bet on is [Eagles coach Doug] Pederson will use Tate in the screen game," McManus wrote.
McManus thinks Tate's fantasy value will remain about the same with his new team. Although it will take time to adjust to a new system and possibly a new role, he's joining one of the game's top quarterbacks and one of the game's top offensive minds, who will find ways to get him in open space.
McManus said Eagles No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery's fantasy value should stay the same. Obviously there are reasons to be concerned about Agholor's fantasy value, though.
Detroit's trade-deadline "winners": Clearly, the loss of Tate will provide an opportunity for others in Detroit's offense, since he was leading the team with 10 targets per game. But it's not as simple as identifying one specific player who will benefit.
Lions reporter Michael Rothstein said outside receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. and running back Kerryon Johnson should all get a boost -- making them all even better fantasy options than they were before. But "Swiss army knife" receiver TJ Jones and Brandon Powell should both see time in the slot in place of Tate, as could pass-catching RB Theo Riddick. And emerging young tight end Michael Roberts could also see more targets.
Fallout for Thomas, Texans: Thomas' value should stay around the same after his trade from Denver to Houston. Again, it can be hard for a receiver to switch systems in the middle of a season. But Legwold said Thomas should recognize some of the concepts since coach Bill O'Brien's offense shares roots with former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels'. And Legwold thinks Thomas should get a little more work outside the numbers in Houston after being asked to "do most of the dirty work" in Denver with slants and crossers, etc.
Finally, Legwold said, "DT is one of the most savvy guys I've ever covered, and he'll work like crazy to get up to speed. ... He's got plenty of football left in him."
From a Texans standpoint, this should keep quarterback Deshaun Watson's value intact after he just lost one of his favorite targets, Will Fuller, to a torn ACL (though Thomas isn't quite the same type of deep threat). Texans reporter Sarah Barshop wrote that Watson insisted "nothing should stop the train."
Even more promising for Watson's fantasy owners: The quarterback has healed up enough from his rib and lung injury that he now has permission to fly on the team plane instead of taking the bus to road games.
Fallout in Cleveland: The Cleveland Browns kept their same players this week -- they just swapped out the offensive coaches when they fired coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
As Browns reporter Pat McManamon told ESPN fantasy analyst Mike Clay, it would be nice to think the switch could finally produce a boost for underused runner/receiver Duke Johnson Jr., "but the Browns seemed to treat him this season as if he has an incurable disease."
McManamon thinks Johnson's lack of production could be one of the reasons why Haley was fired. And he pointed out that new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens said Johnson has been involved in the game plan, but he got banged up a bit when he touched the ball on each of the first two plays last week.
"Of course we're always trying to get the ball in our playmakers' hands, and he's certainly one of our playmakers," Kitchens said.
Miami Dolphins: One player who didn't get dealt at the trade deadline was Miami receiver DeVante Parker -- partly because of the Dolphins' need at the position and partly because they're holding out hope he can still tap into his lofty potential after a career-high 134 yards last week, as Dolphins reporter Cameron Wolfe wrote.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bucs reporter Jenna Laine wrote that the switch from QB Jameis Winston to Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't good for tight end Cameron Brate's fantasy value. The numbers show that while Winston loved throwing to Brate, Fitzpatrick prefers TE O.J. Howard.
New England Patriots: Leave it to the Patriots to surprise fantasy owners with their running-back usage yet again. Patriots reporter Mike Reiss explained how New England turned to receiver Cordarrelle Patterson while awaiting the return of injured rookie RB Sony Michel.
Indianapolis Colts: Patience has been the key to Marlon Mack's breakout as a running back and fantasy asset -- both in his running style and in his recovery from a hamstring injury, as Colts reporter Mike Wells wrote.
San Francisco 49ers: RB Raheem Mostert's emergence didn't last long. He is expected to miss the rest of the season with a broken arm, as 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner wrote, meaning Matt Breida and Alfred Morris should return to being San Francisco's one-two punch. Whether they will be complementing the ultimate breakout player, QB Nick Mullens, remains to be seen, as San Francisco suddenly has an unexpected decision to make at the position.
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints: Not only will NFC supremacy be at stake in Sunday's marquee matchup between the 8-0 Rams and 6-1 Saints, but the NFL's MVP honor could be on the line, too. Rams reporter Lindsey Thiry wrote about Todd Gurley's quest to become the first non-QB to win the award since 2012. And as ESPN's Saints reporter, I wrote about Drew Brees' chances of finally winning the regular-season MVP for the first time in 18 years after three runner-up finishes.
Washington Redskins: Speaking of that 2012 MVP award winner, Redskins reporter John Keim spoke to a handful of veteran NFL running backs who are jealous of Adrian Peterson's "superhuman" renaissance at age 33.
Carolina Panthers: Panthers reporter David Newton argues QB Cam Newton should be an MVP front-runner, as he is off to an even better start than when he won the award three years ago. Newton has been thriving under offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Pittsburgh Steelers: James Conner's start to this season has been so impressive that he's got Ben Roethlisberger's son mimicking him, as Steelers reporter Jeremy Fowler wrote. Pittsburgh will have a tough decision to make on how to use its running backs whenever Le'Veon Bell returns.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher wrote that teammates were excited to see Sammy Watkins get his turn for a breakout game. ... The Chiefs are also plenty happy with dynamic speedster Tyreek Hill as their top receiver, Teicher wrote.