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Offseason Lowdown

Giants Fantasy Preview

by Evan Silva
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Giants Offensive Profile with Ben McAdoo

2014-2016 Pass Attempts Rank: 9th, 6th, 8th
2014-2016 Rush Attempts Rank: 10th, 19th, 22nd
2014-2016 Play Volume Rank: 4th, 11th, 16th
2014-2016 Yards Per Play Rank: 15th, 9th, 23rd
Unaccounted for Targets from 2016 (Rank): 161 (11th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2016 (Rank): 198 (3rd)

Projected Starting Lineup

QB: Eli Manning
RB: Paul Perkins
WR: Odell Beckham
WR: Brandon Marshall
WR: Sterling Shepard
TE: Evan Engram
LT: Ereck Flowers
LG: Justin Pugh
C: Weston Richburg
RG: John Jerry
RT: Bobby Hart

Passing Game Outlook

One year after his big brother’s farewell season, Eli Manning followed Peyton off the cliff in an abysmal 2016, posting an eight-year low in yards per attempt (6.7) and committing 20 turnovers in an offense that barely moved the ball beyond catch-and-run slants to Odell Beckham. As the Giants finished 25th in yards and 26th in points, Manning was the main culprit as Football Outsiders’ No. 20 DVOA-rated quarterback among 34 qualifiers and Pro Football Focus’ No. 31 passer among 36. Never a good athlete, Manning’s 2016 tape revealed a dead-armed thrower whose lack of trust in his protection severely hindered Eli’s on-field results. Although this year’s Giants added passing-game weaponry, they all but ignored the offensive line and are banking on Eli suddenly rediscovering pre-2016 efficiency, which wasn’t especially impressive in the first place. Manning has finished outside the top-12 fantasy passers in per-game scoring in five straight years with three finishes below QB18 during that stretch. Even at Eli’s reasonable QB16 (FF Calc) and QB18 (MFL10s) ADPs, I’m having trouble buying in. I would rather draft Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Carson Palmer, and Ryan Tannehill at similar and lower costs.

Wide receivers deal with dependency on quarterbacks, who deal with dependency on offensive lines. Neither latter two units were effective for the 2016 Giants, yet Odell Beckham remarkably was. A truly situation-transcendent talent, Beckham’s 2.77 average yards of separation (Next Gen Stats) led all NFC perimeter receivers and ranked second in the league behind Antonio Brown. Beckham put last year’s offense on his back as a crossing-route assassin, routinely catching Eli’s passes in stride and outrunning defenses to the crib. We can talk about Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram “stealing” targets, but the Giants know or at least should know where their bread is buttered. Beckham has spent three years in the league, and his per-game PPR finishes are WR1 (2014), WR3 (2015), and WR6 (2016). His target count still growing every year, Beckham fully warrants his WR2 (MFL10s) and WR3 (FF Calc) ADPs.

Cut by the Jets, Brandon Marshall accepted Markus Wheaton money to stay in New York on a two-year, $11 million deal. Age 33 ½ when the season starts, it’s fair to question what’s left in his tank. Marshall’s 2016 efficiency metrics were horrific with decade lows in yards per route run (1.44) and yards per target (6.16), although his quarterback situation bears much of the blame. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Marshall saw the NFL’s fourth-most passes charted as “off target” (39), accounting for 30.5% of his volume overall. Whereas last year’s Ryan Fitzpatrick-Bryce Petty-Geno Smith Jets triumvirate combined for an ugly 56.5% completion rate, Eli completed 63.0% of his throws even in a down year, including 64.3% to non-Beckham pass catchers. While Manning inarguably presents a big quarterback upgrade whether you’re down on him or not, Marshall is also likely to see a significant reduction in opportunities that cap his ceiling and increase his touchdown dependency, concerning after last year’s Giants finished bottom seven in the league in points (just four spots ahead of the Jets!). A true conundrum as a 2017 fantasy commodity, I’ve found Marshall hard to fully embrace at his WR29 (FF Calc) and WR35 (MFL10s) ADPs.

Filling a complementary, possession role behind Beckham, Sterling Shepard led all NFL players in slot snaps (801) as a rookie and drew a team-low 9.3-yard average depth of target as a chain mover lacking big-play chops. He topped 50 yards in just 4-of-16 games and cleared 75 yards once. Shepard kept some semblance of fantasy viability by scoring eight touchdowns, although that number appears poised for potentially severe regression with Marshall in town, especially after Shepard converted 5-of-6 targets inside the ten-yard line into scores, probably unsustainable for a 5-foot-10, 194-pound slot receiver. Shepard scored more red-zone TDs (6) than Beckham (5) despite drawing nine fewer red-zone targets. While Shepard would likely need a Marshall or Beckham injury to return legitimate 2017 re-draft value, fantasy leaguers are down enough on Shepard that he maintains deep-league and best-ball appeal with a secure role on a pass-first team. His low-risk July ADPs are WR56 (MFL10s) and WR60 (FF Calculator).

The Giants made Evan Engram the 23rd pick in April’s draft after getting nothing from their 2016 tight end corps, and will pair catch-first Engram with block-first $18 million addition Rhett Ellison. Although Engram is listed at tight end, he played slot, H-back, and in-motion flanker at Ole Miss and was almost a total non-factor as a blocker, concerning for Engram’s early-career snaps. Certainly a dynamic athlete, Engram blazed a wideout-like 4.42 forty at the Combine after weighing in at 6-foot-3, 234 and averaging 14.3 yards per reception as a four-year starter in the SEC. While Engram is a high-ceiling long-term prospect with similarities to Jordan Reed, immediate obstacles include New York’s deep pass-catching cast, Engram’s uncertain playing time due to blocking deficiencies, NFL tight ends’ historical first-year struggles, and the presence of Ellison, whose role may be bigger than anyone expects as assistance for a poor offensive line. At ADPs of TE19 (FF Calc) and TE22 (MFL10s), Engram is often being drafted ahead of Jason Witten, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Jared Cook, and Antonio Gates, all of whom are likely to outscore him.

Running Game Outlook

2016 fifth-round pick Paul Perkins will get the first crack at feature back duties on a Giants team missing the NFL’s third-most carries (198) from last year. Coach Ben McAdoo went as far as to name Perkins the starter in May, and RBs coach Craig Johnson has openly characterized Perkins as a “three-down back.” While Perkins lacks worrisome lead-back competition, it is surprising the Giants sound so sold on him after a pedestrian rookie year in which Perkins just barely earned a timeshare with washed-up Rashad Jennings. On 112 carries, Perkins finished 26th among 42 qualified backs in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and 31st in success rate. Just two runs spanned longer than 20 yards, and Perkins went scoreless on nine red-zone touches. Perkins was a 28th-percentile SPARQ athlete out of college. Also working against Perkins is the healthy return of Shane Vereen to cap his passing-game ceiling and an offensive line that finished 21st in PFF’s yards created before contact per attempt and 24th in Adjusted Line Yards. Still, Perkins bears enough early-career similarities to Devonta Freeman and has enough opportunity to warrant his RB30 (FF Calculator) and RB31 (MFL10s) draft slots. I had Perkins at RB32 in my July 4 PPR Top 150 rankings.

The RB26 in PPR leagues with the Giants in 2015, passing-game specialist Shane Vereen tore his triceps last Week 3, returned in Week 14, suffered a concussion in his first game back, then re-tore the same triceps the very next week. Vereen accepted a $1 million pay cut and was cleared for OTAs. While he was injured and ineffective in his small 2016 sample, Vereen was as active as ever in his three full games, averaging 13 touches and playing 50% of the Giants’ offensive snaps. If Vereen’s role is as solid as it appears, he’ll be a cinch to smash his MFL0s ADP of RB67. He is much less of a non-PPR target.

I thought fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman was a tough watch on college tape, perhaps along the lines of a poor man’s Mike Gillislee who won with determination and grit at Clemson but lacked standout traits and too often missed in pass protection. Gallman tested as a 22nd-percentile athlete with sub-par explosion, speed, and agility numbers. Gallman is an overachiever whose high-effort style could still endear him to the coaching staff if Perkins doesn’t pan out. The Giants have also continued to talk up coaches’ pet Orleans Darkwa, a fourth-year special teamer who received “extensive” first-team reps at minicamp. Darkwa has averaged 3.83 yards on 75 career carries with minimal use in the passing game.

2017 Vegas Win Total

Back from an 11-5 resurgence following a three-year sub-.500 run, the G-Men carry an 8.5-game Win Total with a heavy lean (-155) to the over. Last year’s club severely outplayed its 8.8-9.0 Pythagorean Win Expectation, while this year’s team is littered with offensive questions beginning at quarterback and including low-end run-game personnel. The Giants do have a manageable schedule, rated 17th in difficulty by Rotoworld SOS analyst Warren Sharp with the seventh-toughest pass-defense slate, which will obviously put the revised passing game to challenging tests. While the best sports-betting value is probably on under 8.5 wins simply because it’s around a coinflip and the payout is so much better on the under, I do believe over 8.5 wins is the superior outright bet. I think this is an 8-10 win team.

Evan Silva
Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .