No matter which reason you believe for the Patriots shipping WR Randy Moss to Minnesota, this much is clear: The trade has far-reaching fantasy effects for both clubs.
Desperate for an impact receiver and in win-now mode, the Vikings didn't have much to lose by acquiring the future Hall of Famer, who put up monster numbers during his first tenure with the team. With WR Sidney Rice (hip) not having played a game yet, QB Brett Favre clearly was one weapon short in the passing attack.
But whether Moss will greatly improve the team's aerial situation remains to be seen. While he had 4-81-1 in his first game back with the Vikes while Favre had 264 yards and three TDs, Moss mustered just five catches for 55 yards Sunday vs. Dallas, and Favre had a barely noticeable 118 yards and a score. It's very possible that Favre's best days are behind him, meaning that the addition of any one guy, no matter how good, won't give him a drastic boost in value. The 41-year-old still is only worth using in favorable matchups.
One guy who looked like he'd benefit from Moss being around is Percy Harvin, who exploded for 5-97-2 in Week Five. But after he chipped in with a mere three catches for 21 yards against the Cowboys, it looks like he'll continue to be an inconsistent player.
In New England, meanwhile, the Pats opted to replace Moss by trading for a former member of the organization, Deion Branch. After making a minimal difference during his four-plus seasons in Seattle, Branch immediately made his presence felt for the Patriots, grabbing nine balls for 98 yards and a score in an overtime win vs. the Ravens. Branch already appears to be Tom Brady's favorite target, so fantasy owners would be wise to pick him up.
Without any trusted deep threats now, the Patriots are likely to become a more conservative offense, using intermediate weapons like Branch, Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez to pick opponents apart. While that limits Brady's upside somewhat, he should throw enough — he chucked it 44 times Sunday — to remain a quality fantasy option.
Moss owners obviously have to stick with their guy, but his move to Minnesota could hinder his value in the long run. While Favre may target him more than Brady was, the gunslining veteran simply isn't as reliable as his counterpart in New England right now.