The NFL managed to sneak in one last blockbuster seconds before the NFL Trade Deadline came to an end. On Thursday afternoon, the Carolina Panthers shipped wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a 2018 third- and seventh-round pick. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported terms of the deal.
From a fantasy impact, the focus starts in Buffalo. The biggest beneficiary from this deal is quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who will welcome the arrival of a 6'5" receiver that can go up and fight for contested footballs in the air. Taylor, who primarily relied upon LeSean McCoy and Charles Clay as his primary targets in the passing game, will look to build chemistry with Benjamin as quickly as possible.
In the short-term, fantasy owners should plan for Benjamin to miss this week's game. He won't arrive at the Bills' headquarters until Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, which would have given him only a Wednesday walkthrough before Buffalo suits up for its matchup against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football.
Benjamin, who entered this week 24th amongst fantasy wide receivers by ESPN's PPR scoring, likely won't see any change in terms of his fantasy stock. Taylor is primarily known for his deep ball and in order to catch deep passes, Benjamin would need to show he could create separation deep down the field and he hasn't showed that in recent years. So while he can make some plays happen and provide a target in the red zone, there is little fantasy change for the mid-range WR2 with his arrival on a run-heavy team. Overall, the biggest fantasy winner from this deal in Buffalo is Taylor.
As for Carolina, this move is certainly questionable. While it landed a third-round pick from Buffalo, it took a weapon away from its franchise quarterback. Newton targeted Benjamin quite often this season, especially in the red zone as demonstrated by the stats above from Graham Barfield. Newton's inconsistency has left fantasy owners frustrated throughout the year and now they'll have to expect even more of that with one of his top targets gone.
There is one big winner in this deal and his name is Devin Funchess. The third-year wide receiver bust onto the scene this year with an unexpected breakout and has already set career-best marks in receptions (33) in seven fewer games. He now emerges as Carolina's top passing option in an offense that is still without Greg Olsen. With over 20 percent of Carolina's targets now open for the taking, it's reasonable to assume Funchess takes up a significant amount of that in addition to the red zone looks.
Available in over 20 percent of ESPN.com leagues and over 50 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues, owners should be sure to rush to the waiver wire and scoop him up.