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Team Previews

Giants Fantasy Preview

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: July 24, 2020, 5:22 pm ET

2019 Stats (Rank)

Total Offense: 5,416 (23rd)

Offensive Touchdowns: 41 (15th)

Offensive Plays: 1,012 (19th)

Pass Attempts + Sacks: 650 (7th)

Rush Attempts: 362 (29th)

Unaccounted for Targets: 126 (10th)

Unaccounted for Carries: 15 (25th)

 

Coaching Staff

After a failed two-year stint as the Browns’ coach earlier in the decade, Pat Shurmur was given a second chance as a head coach by the Giants in 2018. After going 9-23 in Cleveland, Shurmur produced the same exact record with the G-Men across his two seasons before getting fired on December 30. In his four seasons as a head coach, Shurmur has produced records of 4-12, 5-11, 5-11, and 4-12. Some coaches are just meant to be assistants, and Shurmur is one of them. He’s back to focusing on offense as the Broncos’ new OC. Replacing Shurmur with the Giants is 38-year-old Joe Judge. A virtual unknown, all we really do know about Judge is that he comes from the Bill Belichick/Nick Saban coaching tree. Judge was a special team assistant for Saban at Alabama before making the jump to the NFL in 2012, coaching special teams in some capacity for eight seasons under Belichick. Judge added WRs coach to his resume last season, but the Patriots had one of the worst receiver groups they’ve had in recent years in 2019. We’re not sure how the Giants landed on Judge, but we’ll see how it plays out. He started his tenure by literally refusing to say the names of his new players. Judge brought aboard longtime Cowboys coach Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator. Garrett’s play-calling leaves a lot to be desired, but he should function as an experienced sounding board for the first-time head coach. On defense, Judge stole DC Patrick Graham away from the Dolphins. The two have a history after coaching in New England together under Belichick.

 

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Passing Game

QB: Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Cooper Rush
WR: Sterling Shepard, Cody Core
WR: Darius Slayton, Corey Coleman
WR: Golden Tate, Da’Mari Scott
TE: Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo

 

Last year’s No. 6 overall pick, Daniel Jones quickly leapfrogged Eli Manning on the depth chart and took over QB1 duties in Week 3. He lit the Bucs up that Sunday for 336 yards and two touchdowns as a passer while adding 28 yards and two more scores with his legs on his way to the week’s overall QB2 finish. The rest of the year was full of extreme highs and many lows. Jones had a pair of four-touchdown games and another five-TD effort, but he mixed in seven one-score outings. Jones also had an ugly 2.6% interception rate, took 38 sacks and fumbled a league-high 18 times. He flashed, but Jones also left a lot to be desired as a rookie. Jones is entrenched as the starter for at least another year, but he needs to show improved consistency and ball security, especially under a new coaching staff that has no real ties to Jones. The Giants drafted first-round RT Andrew Thomas to help keep Jones upright. Otherwise, New York returns essentially the same offensive starters it had in 2019. Better health around Jones would help a whole lot, as Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley were all injured or suspended at different times last season. Jones is best treated as a best-ball asset for fantasy purposes after a rollercoaster rookie campaign.

Slayton became just the 14th rookie wideout to score at least eight touchdowns since 2010. He showed that his worst-case scenario is as a boom-or-bust field-stretching receiver with blowup 5-154-2 and 10-121-2 performances against the Eagles and Jets, respectively. Only A.J. Brown (12.5 yards per target), Deebo Samuel (9.9), Terry McLaurin (9.9) and DK Metcalf (9.0) were more efficient than Slayton (8.8) among 10 rookie receivers with at least 50 targets in 2019. Slayton didn’t test exceptionally well coming out of Auburn in the pre-draft process, but he played fast at times as a rookie. Slayton deserves to be the first wideout drafted from the Giants after finishing as the overall WR34 in half-PPR points per game across 14 contests last season. After the Giants did nothing at wideout in the offseason, Slayton should be locked into three-wide sets as the lone field-stretcher of the group. Shepard and Tate don’t have that skill.

Shepard was funneled 27 targets over the last three weeks of last season, producing receiving lines of 9-111-0, 6-76-1, and 5-39-0 in those three outings. Shepard saw at least six targets in all 10 games he appeared in last year, finishing as the overall WR30 in half-PPR points per game. The presence of Golden Tate caused Shepard's once-robust slot rate to dwindle in 2019. He was the sixth-most sensitive receiver to non-slot usage when accounting for the difference in yards per route run from the slot versus outside, according to Pro Football Focus. A very-solid WR3 on his worst days, Shepard is being drafted as the WR44 in half-PPR formats at the moment. Only 16 receivers averaged more than Shepard’s 8.3 targets per contest last season. If nothing else, Shepard should soak up plenty of volume. He’s just not a big-time playmaker.

Tate saw at least eight targets in 6-of-11 games during his debut season with the Giants following a four-game suspension to open the year. The soon to be 32-year-old didn't look like he lost a step, averaging more yards per reception (13.8) than he had since his final season with the Seahawks way back in 2013. An elevated average target depth of 10.8 yards was one reason for the boom, although Tate impressively still averaged a robust 5.94 yards after the catch per reception. Tate has long been one of the premier after-the-catch wideouts in the game. Tate will be a staple in the slot alongside Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard in three-wide sets after commanding 8.4 targets per game with Daniel Jones last season. After finishing as the overall WR29 in half-PPR points per game in 2019, Tate is being drafted as the WR50 in that format right now. Even if we’re to factor in Tate’s wrong-side-of-30 age, he showed no signs of slowing down last season on heavy volume. A second-year leap is expected for Slayton, but Tate’s ADP is a bit out of whack in an offense that will likely be in the top half of the league in total plays. Jason Garrett’s Cowboys were No. 6 in offensive plays last season.

Engram finished as the per-game TE7 overall in half-PPR points, but a Lisfranc foot injury sidelined him from Week 10 forward. Before the injury, Engram was leading the Giants in targets per game (8.5) and all receiving categories. Lisfranc injuries are tricky, but he should be ready for Week 1, though it’s impossible to rule out a setback. Engram will also be facing more competition for targets in 2020 after Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate all missed games when Engram was healthy last season. This offense is littered with skill-position talent, but there’s no denying Engram’s talent assuming his foot injury doesn’t linger. Engram, who has averaged 52 yards per game through three NFL seasons, is more boom-or-bust than he was entering last season, but his upside makes him a borderline top-six option at tight end.

 

Running Game

RB: Saquon Barkley, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman

OL (L-R): Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, Spencer Pulley, Kevin Zeitler, Andrew Thomas

 

Saquon Barkley’s electric rookie year gave way to a sophomore slump. After superb Weeks 1 and 2 when he averaged 137 yards from scrimmage, Barkley suffered a Week 3 high-ankle sprain against the Bucs that cost him three games and limited him for many more after he probably returned too soon. After admitting he had not been his normal self following a Week 14 defeat to the Eagles, Barkley finally returned to top form over the final three weeks, piling up 539 yards from scrimmage Weeks 15-17 while averaging a gaudy 6.23 yards per carry. Despite his cursed year, Barkley still managed to finish as the RB6 in half-PPR points per game. It stands to reason the G-Men will feature a more up-tempo offense with the athletic Daniel Jones under center. The Giants also made another big investment in their offensive line in the form of No. 4 overall pick RT Andrew Thomas. Only Dion Lewis was added behind Barkley, who will continue to gobble up snaps and monopolize touches in the Giants’ backfield. Well established as an every-down talent capable of making game-breaking plays as both a runner and receiver, Barkley remains Christian McCaffrey’s top competition for No. 1 overall status in fantasy. Lewis and/or Wayne Gallman will only become fantasy-relevant in the event Barkley misses time.

The Giants were 25th in adjusted line yards created on the ground last season, but the addition of No. 4 overall pick Thomas should help tremendously after Mike Remmers handled right-tackle duties last season. Zeitler remains one of the better guards in the sport, and Hernandez is a young mauler headed into his third season. Solder is a 32-year-old the Giants vastly overpaid as a free agent, signing him away from the Patriots. Thomas will likely replace Solder at left tackle by 2021 at the latest. At the pivot, Pulley is the favorite to replace Jon Halapio, who was one of the league’s worst centers a season ago. Pulley isn’t very good, but the talent surrounding him on the offensive line will hopefully be able to hide him. Pulley made nine starts for the G-Men during Saquon Barkley’s rookie 2018 season.

 

Win Total

FanDuel Sportsbook has the Giants’ win total set at six. Only Carolina, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, and Washington have lower win totals set. The slight juice (-115) is on the “over” for the Giants. Warren Sharp rates the Giants’ schedule as the second-toughest, with only the Falcons facing a tougher 16-game slate. The G-Men have a pretty wicked Weeks 1-5 start to the season. They open at home against the Steelers, travel to Chicago in Week 2, come back home to face the 49ers in Week 3, go to L.A. to face the Rams in Week 4, and then go to Dallas for Week 5. Other notable out-of-division games on the Giants’ schedule are Week 8 at the Bucs, Week 12 at the Bengals, Week 13 at the Seahawks, Week 15 vs. Cleveland, and Week 16 at the Ravens. It has the looks of a real tough Year One for coach Joe Judge and a difficult Year Two for Jones.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.