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Team Previews

New York Giants 2021 Fantasy Football Preview

by Patrick Daugherty
Updated On: July 16, 2021, 9:51 am ET

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2020 Stats (Rank)

Total Offense: 4,794 (31st) 
Offensive Touchdowns: 25 (32nd)   
Offensive Plays: 966 (30th)   
Pass Attempts + Sacks: 567 (24th)     
Rush Attempts: 399 (26th) 
Unaccounted for Targets: 134 (15th)  
Unaccounted for Carries: 294 (Second)  

Coaching Staff

Shockingly, OC Jason Garrett wasn’t up to the challenge. Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week 2 and the Giants were out to sea. With no running game to speak of, Daniel Jones was on his own, and on his own was where he left it. Jones produced only one more passing touchdown (11) than interception (10) as he once again led the league in fumbles with 11. Jones’ turnover numbers would typically indicate a wildly reckless player, but that was not the case as a passer. Jones attempted just 43 throws longer than 20 yards in 2020. He rated replacement level in Next Gen Stats’ “aggressiveness” metric. Jones threw as many deep balls as Gardner Minshew and fewer than Teddy Bridgewater. For what it’s worth, Jones did seem to pick his spots well, as Pro Football Focus graded him with its highest quarterback rating on 20-plus yard attempts. For 2021, Jones will somehow have to thread the needle of reducing his turnovers while going down-field with greater frequency. That seems to be on the Giants’ agenda after they signed Kenny Golladay and invested a first-round pick in explosive-play threat Kadarius Toney. In addition to taking better advantage of their deep, versatile receiver corps, the G-Men will undoubtedly look to re-establish balance after finishing 26th in rush attempts sans Barkley. We doubt increased pace will be on the agenda after Garrett called the league’s 21st “fastest” offense last season. 

Passing Game

QB: Daniel Jones, Mike Glennon         
WR: Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney    
WR: Darius Slayton, John Ross    
WR: Sterling Shepard  
TE: Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph       

Through two years in the league, it has been difficult to pinpoint what Jones does well as a passer beyond his cherrypicked deep stats. PFF found Jones to be a dismal play-action quarterback in 2020, checking in 37-of-42 in play fake QB rating amongst qualified signal callers. Next Gen Stats charted Jones as middle of the pack in average intended air yards. Jones did flash some intrigue with his legs, as his 423 rushing yards were seventh amongst quarterbacks. That was more than Josh Allen delivered on the ground. 

Jones’ receiver corps was good but not great. That was aggressively addressed for 2021, with the G-Men lavishing $72 million on Kenny Golladay before drafting Kadarius Toney. On paper, Golladay is a horrendous fit with Jones’ skill-set. Jones does not go down field, and that is where Golladay does his best work. For Golladay’s last full healthy season in 2019, Pro Football Focus evaluated him as its most effective deep receiver. This was as Next Gen Stats measured him generating the least cushion. Golladay is a wideout who makes contested catches in tight spaces down the field. Jones needs to be a different player for Golladay to provide WR2 returns. Any WR1 hope is out the window. 

Behind Golladay is lid-lifter Darius Slayton and slot man Sterling Shepard. We’ll start with Sterling, who should vie with Evan Engram to be the Giants’ second most targeted pass catcher behind Golladay. Failing to stay healthy remained Shepard’s biggest issue in 2020, as he was held to 12-or-fewer appearances for the third time in four years. When he was on the field, Shepard commanded a sterling target share of 23.3 but fell further down his slot rabbit hole, averaging 9.9 yards per catch and 54.7 yards per game. The 5.5 weekly catches were nice. There just isn’t much you can do with that in fantasy beyond digest empty compiling calories. With Golladay and Toney aboard, Shepard has little shot at matching last year’s robust usage. Struggling for even a WR6 ADP this summer, Shepard is being appropriately faded by the drafting public. There is no ceiling here as the floor sinks inexorably lower.

One of 2020’s great hype hopes, Slayton’s season fizzled along with that of his quarterback’s. It didn’t help that Slayton’s unsustainable 2019 touchdown rate predictably plummeted. After finding the end zone eight times on 84 rookie targets, those numbers crashed to three on 96, respectively. Slayton’s average intended air yards of 14.1 remained amongst the league leaders, and he turned that depth into another strong yards per catch of 15.0. Slayton is a good young player with a proven niche, but there is essentially zero shot he matches last year’s workload. Although Slayton is a true burner where Golladay is not, his down-field skill-set is ultimately redundant to his highly-paid new teammate’s. Slayton would need multiple injuries ahead of him to get into even the WR5 conversation. 

Rounding out the relevant receiver corps is rookie Toney. We can’t ignore Toney’s rare athleticism and first-round draft capital. The same is true of his red flags. 5-foot-11 Toney has just 18 games of official experience at the receiver position and feels in limbo between the outside and slot. He profiles as a rookie gadget player in a deep offense with a shaky quarterback. Toney needs time to develop, but Daniel Jones’ huddle is a dangerous place for an in-progress wideout. Undervaluing the Giants’ most recent first-round wideout didn’t exactly work out in 2014, but Toney’s odds of an “Odell Beckham campaign” are between slim and none. There is zero re-draft appeal here. 

Which brings us to the seam. Engram’s 109 2020 targets were fourth amongst tight ends, but he managed a disastrous TE16 finish by total half PPR points. He finished even further down the line in average points. Engram’s 2020 “value” was tied directly to his usage, as he found the end zone all of one time in the G-Men’s decrepit offense. With last year’s staggering raw volume all but certain to decrease, Engram lacks a TE1 case. Engram will remain a priority TE2 streamer, but Kyle Rudolph’s addition cuts the heart out of any ceiling potential. Although Rudolph is the clear-cut No. 2, he is yet another mouth to feed in a crowded offense, one who will undoubtedly jump Engram on the red zone targets totem pole.

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Running Game 

RB: Saquon Barkley, Devontae Booker, Corey Clement     
OL (L-R): Andrew Thomas, Will Hernandez, Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux/Zach Fulton, Matt Peart

2020 was another lost season in the Giants’ backfield, with the “generational” one Saquon Barkley derailed by injury for the second consecutive year. Whereas Barkley gutted through his 2019 high-ankle sprain to questionable effect, there was nothing he could do about his torn ACL. Barkley handled the ball only 25 total times before going down in Week 2. The Giants’ run game was an abject disaster in Barkley’s absence, with Wayne Gallman “leading” the team in rushing as Jones, Alfred Morris and Devonta Freeman occasionally mixed in. Employing the “great man theory” at one of football’s most replaceable positions, the G-Men had no back-up plan to losing Barkley.    

Despite Barkley’s durability woes, the Giants made no meaningful changes to their backfield, adding spare-part players Devontae Booker, Corey Clement and Ryquell Armstead (since cut). Those meager additions make it difficult to believe spring reports that Barkley could be on an early-season pitch count. The Giants still want Barkley to be their engine as they wait on something, anything from Jones under center. Amazingly just 24 years old, Barkley has a safe RB1 floor while only Christian McCaffrey might be able to match his three-down ceiling. Barkley’s summer ADP in the RB5-7 range could end up a league-winning bargain. 

If Barkley fails to stay healthy for the third straight season, the Giants once again have no Plan B. Neither Booker nor Clement would take the every-down reins. It’s quite possible Barkley’s primary insurance back isn’t even on the 53-man roster right now.   

Win Total 

One name we have yet to mention is head coach Joe Judge. Although Judge’s offense struggled even as scoring exploded league wide, his defense went the opposite direction, surrendering 94 fewer points than the year prior. A strong defensive core combined with the G-Men’s skill corps upgrades make for an intriguing roster, with the critical exception of the offensive line. The Giants’ blocking is poised to remain amongst the league’s worst. That, combined with Jones’ wild card status, make it difficult to bet the Over for a team generally installed at 7.0.

Patrick Daugherty

Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. He can be found on Twitter .