It’s easy to crack jokes about the New York Giants. However, the defense has looked surprisingly strong, Saquon Barkley is returning, Kenny Golladay joined the team, and Daniel Jones is entering his pivotal third season in the NFL. Could these factors align in a way that greatly benefits the Giants from both a real and fantasy football perspective?
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Quarterbacks – Daniel Jones
For as much as Jones has struggled throughout his time in New York, there is no real competition at this position. Mike Glennon has essentially secured the backup job, but he likely won’t see the starting role unless Jones suffers an injury. This is good for Jones’s fantasy stock as it means he is someone who can be rostered for the entire season.
In terms of 2020 production, Jones struggled. He completed 280 passes for 2,943 yards and just 11 touchdowns. He also threw 10 interceptions and fumbled the ball six times. The Duke product did show a solid rushing ability in his second pro season, toting the rock 65 times for 423 yards and one additional score. His 13.57 fantasy points per game ranked 21st among quarterbacks who appeared in at least 14 games. He finished 24th in total points, which would put him at the very bottom of the QB2 tier in a 12-team league.
Going forward, while Jones will be a solid streaming option, it’s hard to make a case for drafting him. Sure, Barkley is returning to the field and should help to open up the offense. However, Jones has shown terrible decision-making skills and is likely headed for another season of at least a dozen turnovers. Further, while the Giants did bring in more weapons in the passing game, plenty of questions remain about whether Kenny Golladay can still be an alpha receiver. He’s a fine streaming option and can be stashed in superflex leagues, but he’s probably not worth drafting in non-superflext redraft leagues of 12 teams or less.
Running Backs – Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker, Corey Clement
Barkley took the NFL by storm during his rookie campaign in 2018. The Penn State product appeared in all 16 games, rushing 261 times for 1,307 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also added 91 receptions for 721 yards and four more scores. There is no doubt that Barkley is an elite talent, but injuries have plagued his young career. He has appeared in just 16 games over the past two seasons combined, and there is no guarantee that he sees the field during the first week of the regular season.
New York is not expected to play Barkley until he is fully healthy; Week 3 has been thrown around as a potential target date. Thus, with questions about his health and a return date, you might not want to draft Barkley at his current ADP of RB6. He could explode for a huge season, but he could also get injured again. It’s tricky to justify taking such an extreme risk in the first round of drafts.
Behind Barkley is Booker, who ran with the Raiders in 2020. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman views Booker as a three-down back, so there is clearly faith that he can be a productive asset for the team. He’s one of the better handcuff options in all of football and is worth drafting with a later pick. Booker, who posted 517 scrimmage yards and three rushing touchdowns as the No. 2 option in Las Vegas last season, was the RB23 from Weeks 5 to 10.
With Barkley likely out for the first two weeks of the season, Booker should carve out a large role early this season. While he should be benched when Barkley returns, the 29-year-old does not deserve to be dropped to waivers given the value he brings if Barkley were to go down again. He finished as the RB56 in 2020 but has an ADP of RB65 heading into the 2021 campaign, putting him behind players like Marlon Mack, Chuba Hubbard, Mark Ingram, and Javian Hawkins. You should feel comfortable snagging him as your fifth running back in a 12-team league.
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The final piece of this backfield puzzle is Clement, who stays in the NFC East after completing a four-year stint in Philadelphia. He amassed just 100 yards last year while scoring once. He doesn’t figure to be a factor with the Giants this year, though there have been some rumors suggesting he has outperformed Booker in training camp. Still, midsummer hype does not deserve to carry too much weight. Unless he excels in the preseason, Clement isn’t worth drafting.
Wide Receivers – Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton
The Giants brought in Golladay this offseason to help bolster a receiving corps that was merely mediocre last season. Golladay showed flashes of potential in 2020 but didn’t reach his ceiling due to injuries and conflicts with the Lions. His 55.8 fantasy points ranked 103rd in the NFL while his weekly average of 11.2 finished 32nd. He combined for over 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns between 2018 and 2019 before dropping to just 338 yards and two scores last season.
Now, Golladay is facing a massive quarterback downgrade from Matthew Stafford to Jones. He won’t be the focal point of the offense, either; those honors go to Barkley. All of these factors make Golladay somewhat risky at his ADP of WR23. If you’re drafting him, you want him to be a low-risk pick with high-end WR2 upside. Drafting him as a top-24 receiver is just too pricey. It would be smarter to snag someone like Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Aiyuk, Ja’Marr Chase, or even Jerry Jeudy in this range.
Shepard currently projects as the Giants’ No. 2 wide receiver. He was an incredibly reliable opinion in the second half of the 2020 season after recovering from an injury. (Think a lesser-known Cole Beasley or Jarvis Landry.) Shepard finished the year with more than 700 scrimmage yards and four touchdowns through 12 games. His 117.3 fantasy points from Week 7 to 17 ranked 22nd in the NFL. At his current ADP of 203 (WR69), Shepard is somewhat of a sleeper. Unlike in 2020, when he was the team’s clear top option and thus required top-tier coverage, the now-28-year-old should benefit from the addition of Golladay. He’s worth drafting as a high-end WR5 this season. With that said, I would even be content with getting him as my WR4 on a running back-heavy squad.
Toney, a rookie, was a surprise pick in the first round of the draft. He has a current ADP of 231 (WR77) and probably isn’t worth drafting in most formats. Midsummer struggles and a couple of absences early in camp mean Toney might not even start in three-receiver sets to open the season. At the end of the day, reaching for a team’s No. 4 wide receiver isn’t a wise decision. In this range, I would much rather select a clear starter with a lower ADP such as Terrace Marshall Jr., Olamide Zaccheaus, Parris Campbell, or Jakobi Meyers.
The final relevant piece in the mix here is Darius Slayton. The deep threat has built a modest rapport with Jones, who has an air-it-out mentality. After logging 740 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019, he posted 751 yards but just three scores last season. There is hope that he might have a more clear scoring role in an organized offense. However, there are also new mouths to feed. Ultimately, Slayton seems to be receiving accurate hype with his current ADP of 251 (WR82). That puts him as a waiver wire option to keep an eye on in most 12-team leagues, especially if he secures the Giants’ No. 3 role as expected.
Tight Ends – Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph
Engram is the clear top tight end option in the Giants’ offense. He even earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2020, although many people will feel that this honor wasn’t quite deserved. While playing in a career-high 16 games, Engram logged 654 receiving yards and found the end zone just once through the air (as well as once on the ground). This is a major concern with the 26-year-old. He has logged just seven receiving scores over the past three seasons and, at 6-foot-3, isn’t exactly a lethal threat in the end zone. Thus, he needs yardage in order to have relevance.
The Mississippi product finished as the TE16 season last season and currently has an ADP of 170 (TE16) for 2021. This is a fair price tag. You shouldn’t draft him to be your No. 1 tight end, but he’s still a top option who can fulfill a TE1 role when injuries or bye weeks occur.
The Giants also signed Rudolph this offseason after he lost his job in Minnesota. The 6-foot-6 weapon averaged 4.3 fantasy points per week last year, which ranked 37th among all tight ends. He logged just 334 yards (his worst mark since 2014) and a career-low one touchdown. He’ll have a clear red-zone role in New York, meaning he’s a boom-or-bust option. In a situation where you can’t know how he will perform on a weekly basis, it is hard to justify drafting him as a top-24 tight end. This falls right in line with his ADP of 279, which makes him the TE32. He’s going to command plenty of waiver wire attention thanks to some big weeks here and there. However, the ever-valuable consistency is something he will lack all season long. There are better options in this range, such as Dalton Schultz or Dawson Knox.
Despite stringing together a few miserable seasons, the Giants’ defense came up strong in 2020. The unit finished as the No. 5 defense from Week 5 through 13, logging seven fumble recoveries, eight interceptions, and two touchdowns during this span. The team re-signed pass-rusher Leonard Williams and also signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a three-year deal, so there is no doubt that this team can be special in 2021. Their current ADP of 293 makes them the 22nd-ranked defense, which is ridiculously low. Evidently, you can draft this team in the late rounds of your draft and benefit from their emergence as a top-12 unit in the NFL.
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