Preseason - 2021 New York Giants Outlook
New York Giants Outlook
Joe Judge made the jump from special teams/wide receiver coach for the Patriots in 2020 to New York's head coaching. He went 6-10 in his first season. Judge worked in the New England system since 2012. Over the previous 11 years, he was part of three Super Bowl wins (2014, 2016, and 2019) and two National Championships (2009 and 2011) for Alabama.
Jason Garrett returns for his second season as the Giants' offensive coordinator. He went 85-67 over 10 years as the head coach for the Cowboys with three trips to the postseason, which included three NFC East titles (2014, 2016, and 2018). Garrett has been a coach in the NFL for 16 years.
New York finished with a disaster offensive season in 2020, leading to a 31st ranking in yards and points (280) allowed. In addition, the health of Saquon Barkley has been a problem in back-to-back seasons.
For the second year in a row, the Giants didn't name a defensive coordinator. Instead, the duties will be split between Sean Spencer (defensive line coach), Jerome Henderson (defensive back coach), and Kevin Sherrer (linebacker coach).
Their defense climbed from 30th in points allowed (451) to ninth (357) while pushing to 12th in yards allowed.
The top signing by New York in the offseason was WR Kenny Golladay. He gives the Giants a deep threat with upside in scoring ability. His role should be the WR1 while expecting a career year in his new home.
They brought in Kyle Rudolph to upgrade the tight end depth. Mike Glennon takes over the backup role at quarterback. WR John Ross adds speed to the passing game. They also threw three darts (Devontae Booker, Ryquell Armstead, Corey Clement) to compete for the backup running back job.
The Giants lost DT Dalvin Tomlinson to the Vikings. He played well in his four years in the NFL against the run while delivering 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons.
New York signed CB Adoree Jackson to upgrade the secondary. He missed almost all of last year with a knee injury.
With the 20th overall selection in the first round, the Giants invested in WR Kadarius Toney. He came to the Gators as a quarterback before transitioning to wide receiver. Toney missed time in two seasons with injuries, which restricted his development. His route running has a running back feel where he relies on head and shoulder fakes to create space and separation. His play grades well in the open field, thanks to his wiggle in space.
Over the next three rounds, New York focused on improving their defense with the additions of DE Azeez Ojulari (2.18), CB Aaron Robinson (3.7), and DE Elerson Smith (4.11).
Ojulari brings fire to a defense when attacking the run. His strength and quickness set the tone for his success while owning the commitment to push even higher. His next step is developing his pass-rushing moves and improving his vision and the timing of his attack.
Robinson grades well in coverage over the short areas of the field while owning an upside foundation to handle press coverage. His skill set works well in a trail position. Robinson gets in trouble off the ball when peaking into the backfield, leading to missteps on ball fakes and double moves by receivers. He plays hard in run support with some risk in the deep passing game against elite speed players.
Smith gets off the ball quickly with the acceleration to disrupt. His base remains a weakness despite adding more bulk and strength. Smith competes through the whistle and shows up on every down. Beating the big bodies on the offensive line will be an issue if his first step doesn't create an edge. He will need time to develop.
New York added RB Gary Brightwell and CB Rodarius Williams with their final two picks in the sixth round.
Brightwell attacks the line of scrimmage with the mindset to win with power or hit on a cut-back lane. Once in free space at the second level of a defense, he lacks separation skills in the open field. His vision and patience hold him back from reaching a higher ceiling. Brightwell has limited experience in the passing game with questions about his ability to pass protect.
Williams had work to do to become a viable press coverage player. His speed grades well with a chance to win in jump ball situations. He will struggle against top-tier receivers in man coverage. Williams gains value in his red zone assignments with the talent to limit the damage in the deep passing game when using off-the-ball coverage.
The Giants finished 19th in rushing yards (1,916) with 13 rushing touchdowns and only nine runs over 20 yards. Their ball carriers gained 4.4 yards per rush with 24.9 attempts per game.
New York dropped to 29th in passing yards (3,336), with a league-low 12 touchdowns plus 11 interceptions. They gained only 6.5 yards per pass attempt while allowing 50 sacks.
LT Nate Solder
Solder had a long career of success as a run and pass blocker for the Patriots over seven seasons after getting drafted 17th overall in 2011. However, his game slipped backward in run blocking in 2019. He gave up too many sacks since the move to the Giants. Solder opted out of the 2020 season.
LG Will Hernandez
Hernandez played his way out of a starting job after starting 32 games in his first two years in the NFL. The Giants drafted him in the second round in 2018. His run blocking has been a liability each season with too many down days in pass protection. Hernandez plays with power, and his footwork plays well in pass protection while owning the strength to lead runs over his area of the field. His speed and quickness limit his blocking window if asked to reach beyond his small piece of real estate. Hernandez will be in a dogfight in training camp to win back his starting job.
C Nick Gates
After holding his own off the bench in 2019, Gates made 16 starts last year. He finished the year with minimal pressure allowed while ranking as a below-par run blocker. However, Gates improved as the season moved on, pointing to him winning the starting role again this year. New York signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2018.
RG Matt Pearl
Due to weakness at guard, the Giants may ask Pearl to move inside this year. In limited snaps in 2020 after getting drafted in the third round, he came up short in pass protection with some flashes in run blocking.
Peart has the look of an upside tackle, but he needs to add more fight and strength to his game. Peart moves well for a big man (6'7" and 320 lbs.), and his frame should accept more bulk without losing a step in his game. His quickness and footwork set the tone for a developing skill set in pass protection. Peart needs to improve his vision, hands, and decision-making in space to secure a long-term job in the league.
RT Andrew Thomas
With Nate Solder skipping 2020, New York had to start Thomas at left tackle. Unfortunately, he allowed too many sacks and pressure, suggesting his home this year will begin on the right side.
Thomas brings a power/vision combination to the offensive line. His foundation technique grades well while having the quickness to handle his responsibilities outside his blocking area. Thomas can lose his edge when making the first move, and a defender doesn't attack off the snap. His hands help his wins while needing to improve his base when attacked by quick-moving pass rushers with follow-through in strength.
The Giants addressed some of their offensive line issues in last year's draft. They need all of their young talented players to play at a much higher level in 2021. The outside of the line is in much better shape than the guard position. New York must band-aid one guard position, and I don't expect the center position to be an area of strength. This offensive line projects to below the league average.
New York didn't air the ball out despite a losing season (6-10), leading to only 32 passes per game. Better defensive play led to a ball-controlled offense. The Giants finished 30th in offensive plays.
QB Daniel Jones, NYG - Quality Backup
Jones failed to deliver a playable fantasy game in his sophomore season with the Giants. He had seven games with no passing touchdowns. In the end, Jones gained 6.6 yards per pass attempt that matched his value in 2019.
Over two seasons, he has 29 fumbles, with 17 balls landing in the hands of the defensive team. His completion rate (62.5) increased slightly while being a lost soul in the passing touchdown department (12). Jones continues to play well in the run game (65/423/1), helping his floor.
Fantasy Outlook: The Giants added a big-play wide receiver, and a healthy Saquon Barkley would help their offense become much more competitive. The structure of the receiving corps points to a better passing game. Jones flashed four times in his rookie season (364/4, 335/4, 328/4, and 364/5), giving him sneaky upside as a QB2 in 2021. Keep an open mind as 4,000 combined yards with a run at 30 touchdowns isn't out of the question if his offensive line minimizes the damage in sacks.
Other Options: Mike Glennon, Clayton Thorson
RB Saquon Barkley, NYG - Gamble (high risk)
After an excellent running back season in 2018 (2,492 combined yards with 17 touchdowns and 113 catches) with Saquon Barkley in the fold, New York regressed in back-to-back seasons in running back production. Their backs gained 1,731 combined yards last year with 14 scores and 57 catches while only 4.10 yards per rush and 7.0 yards per catch.
Barkley has been a first-round bust in back-to-back seasons due to injuries. He scored 141.7 fewer fantasy points in PPR leagues in 2019 while missing three games due to a high ankle sprain. His season ended in Week 2 last year after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee. Barkley finished with only 94 combined yards with six catches.
He gained 3,563 combined yards with 23 touchdowns and 149 catches over his first 31 games in the NFL. His success breaks down to 115 yards, 0.74 touchdowns, and 4.8 catches per game or 20.30 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues.
In his rookie season, Barkley ranked second in running back scoring (385.80 fantasy points – 2,028 combined yards with 15 touchdowns and 91 catches).
Fantasy Outlook: Barkley is a beast when healthy (the entire caveat this season) with three-down ability. A successful season would make the whole offense better in New York. My conservative projections in June came to 1,500 combined yards with a dozen scores and 75 catches.Injury Status: Out - Ankle
RB Devontae Booker, NYG - Fantasy Handcuff
A move to the Raiders led to Booker playing better in the run game (93/434/3), thanks to his best success on long runs (four of 20 yards or more and one 40-plus carry). Over his first three seasons in Denver, he played well in the passing game (99/815/1) with only one real opportunity to prove his worth as a runner (174/612/4 in 2016).
His ceiling is relatively low. Booker will compete for the backup running back role for the Giants this year.
RB Gary Brightwell, NYG - Dynasty Only
Over the last three seasons in college, Brightwell failed to reach 550 yards in any year. He gained 1,569 combined yards with 10 touchdowns and 19 catches. In 2020, Brightwell led Arizona with 101 touches over five games with one touchdown and 13 catches. This season, he'll compete for an early-down backup role for the Giants.
Other Options: Corey Clement, Taquan Mizzell, Sandro Platzgummer
WR Sterling Shepard, NYG - Quality Backup
The Giants gave Shepard a floor of six catches in eight of his 12 starts. He gained fewer than 60 yards in eight games. His best play came over the final two weeks (9/77/1 and 8/112/1). Shepard missed four weeks early in the year with a toe injury. He also had minor bouts with hip and rib issues.
Over his five seasons with the Giants, Shepard has between 57 and 66 catches while failing to gain over 900 yards in a season. His best production in scoring (eight touchdowns) came in his rookie season. Shepard has a career 66.7 percent catch rate with fading value in his yards per catch (9.9).Fantasy Outlook: His possession skill set works well in PPR leagues, but Shepard missed 15 games over the past four seasons. His ADP (190) in 12-team PPR leagues is more than fair. Pretty much a 5/60 type player with a 25 percent scoring, making him a viable flex play.
WR Kenny Golladay, NYG - Bust (overvalued)
The Giants' wide receiver had a similar opportunity last year as in 2019, but lower passing attempts led to a sharp decline in catches (177), receiving yards (2,126), touchdowns (9), and targets (280).
After two productive seasons (70/1,063/5 and 65/1,190/11), Golladay battled a hamstring issue early in the year, and a hip injury led to him missing the final nine games. When on the field over four starts, he posted two 100-yard contests (4/105 and 6/114) with two other productive showings (6/57/1 and 4/62/1). Golladay averaged 16.8 yards per catch in his career while gaining 20 yards or more on 53 of his 183 catches. His catch rate (58.1) remains below the top receivers in the game due to most of his chances coming well past the line of scrimmage.
Fantasy Outlook: New York desperately needs to extend their passing game, and Golladay brings them the ideal skill set they were looking for in the offseason. His ADP (60) works well for his recent resume but there's risk of chemistry and continued injury with the high profile pickup. If healthy, his next step should be 80 catches for 1,200 yards and six to eight scores but we're betting against in his first season and are predicting no better than a Top 30 finish. Sure he's an okay WR3, but don't expect more. He's a bust at current ADP.