Stock Watch: Deion Branch traded to Pats 

October, 12, 2010
Less than a week after trading wide receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings, the New England Patriots filled the spot, in theory, by reacquiring former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch from the Seattle Seahawks on Monday. While the world watched Moss catch four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in the 29-20 loss to the New York Jets on Monday night, the Branch deal was being announced. Of course, this isn't 2005 anymore. Branch has had multiple knee surgeries just in the past two years, so fantasy owners shouldn't get too excited.

While Branch's stock has to rise just by virtue of leaving a messy Seahawks offense and joining a productive Tom Brady-led one, I have doubts that this is anything more than acquiring reasonable depth. Branch should increase production, but seeing as how he's tied for 60th in standard wide receiver scoring in fantasy right now, there's nowhere to go but up. His 13 receptions led Seahawks wide receivers, and his lone touchdown from Week 1 tied for the team lead, so it's faint praise. He'll get more opportunity in New England, and he should be on ESPN's most-added list this week. Branch is currently owned in 3.8 percent of ESPN standard leagues.

Joe Nicholson/US PresswireDeion Branch has just 112 receiving yards.
The Deion Branch the Patriots get back isn't likely to be as productive as the one who left before the 2006 season. That was five seasons ago, and Branch was never much of a fantasy factor with the Seahawks, whether due to declining skills or the team's oft-moribund passing offense. Then again, Branch wasn't such a fantasy bargain with the Patriots, either. Branch has never reached 1,000 receiving yards in a season (23 players did it last season, for example), nor has he caught more than five touchdowns in a season. His stock rises by default, but some of the explosiveness is surely gone. So if you rushed out to add second-year speedster Brandon Tate in the wake of the Moss trade, don't assume the Branch trade makes your recent pickup irrelevant.